As a foreigner is not allowed to own a house and lot in the Philippines, if you’re a foreigner who frequently travels to the country and you want to invest in a “home” for your you next visit, what you can buy is a condo unit. Condos are easier to maintain as it has full-time security and it offers services and options beneficial to those who don’t regularly stay there. There are condo units that can also provide individuals or even families good options to live near commercial areas and the most happening places, while also getting fully-serviced amenities beneficial to regular urban dwellers.
According to the Condominium Act of the Philippines, (R.A. 4726), “foreigners can acquire condominium units and shares in condominium corporations up to 40 percent of the total and outstanding capital stock of a Filipino-owned or controlled condominium corporation.” Other foreigners form a corporation with Filipino colleagues to divide ownership of the property. This usually applies to foreign businessmen who presently reside or those who intend to conduct business in the Philippines. For those with a Filipino spouse, there is no problem owning the property (or any type of real property such as a house and lot or a townhouse) as long as it’s under the Filipino spouse’s name.
Buying a condo in the Philippines is no different from buying land, townhouse, or single-detached houses. The primary distinction is that a condo allows you to own a space in the building property, but you don’t own an actual land unlike other real properties. These are the basic steps to guide you when you’re a foreigner intending to buy a condo in the Philippines:
1. Decide your price range for the condo purchase and the type of unit you want. There are at least a dozen of condos in major cities and nearby suburban areas. List your initial requirements to properly trim down the options right away. If you want a condo in Metro Manila, particularly in Makati or Ortigas, these bustling areas are the top business districts in the Philippines. And so, the cheapest units here may already be the most expensive ones in other places. If you want a condo in sub-urban or provincial areas, units are definitely cheaper.
For a condo in Makati, you need at least PHP3.5 million ($78,000) and the more expensive ones can go as high as PHP12 million ($267,000). For a condo in a developing suburban area or province, you need at least PHP800,000 ($17,800) to PHP3 million ($67,000). There are more available condos in big cities than in small towns as most real property developments in provinces are townhouses and single-detached houses.
2. Decide which mode of payment is best for you. You may pay in cash, through a bank loan, government housing loan from the Philippines’ Home Development Mutual Fund/Pag-IBIG Fund (this can be used if you’re buying a condo with a Filipino spouse who has a Pag-IBIG Fund account), or through private loans offered directly by real estate developers.
3. Choose the type of condo unit you want: studio type, one-bedroom (or with more bedrooms), loft (bi-level), or penthouse. If you’re willing to spend more, you can choose a more spacious condo with more bedrooms, a loft unit, or the condo’s penthouse. Those with conservative budget usually choose a studio or a one-bedroom unit. Some units are sold fully-furnished (complete with all furniture, appliances and fixtures) already, while some provide choices for buyers if they want it fully-furnished or not.
4. Decide where to buy. One of the most important considerations is the unit’s location. Most condos are near commercial districts with easy access to malls, movie theaters, dining establishments, grocery stores, hospitals, and churches. Others prioritize the proximity of the condo to the place of work, business, or children’s school.
5. Make a shortlist of your initial choices coming from your top locations. Research your options online and real estate sales announcements in newspapers and magazines, then contact real estate brokers or agents so you can personally discuss your options with them. While it is always wise to research on your own first, this requires much time and effort. If you are too busy, you may go directly to the licensed brokers and agents.
6. Provide the agents with your basic requirements: budget, intended terms of payment, type of condo unit and the initial list of locations and condo units from your research (if any). Discuss your options to the agent and start scheduling personal location checks of your prospective units.
7. Go to each condo unit with the agent. Take photos and videos for your reference. List down other considerations for each unit: monthly association fees and other payables (for services like security, utilities, garbage collection and condo amenities); condo rules and regulations; long-term management of resources and agreements on possible damage due to accidents and wear and tear; parking space allotment (this usually costs an additional PHP100,000 ($2,230) to PHP500,000 ($11,112); and available amenities such as pool, function room, children’s playground, and park.
8. Review all the photos and videos you took and trim down your options. Take into consideration all the other information such as the budget, terms of payment, reputation of the developer, location, amenities, utilities, parking space, and other important considerations. After which, it is best to go back to check each unit in your list. Trim down the final list to three or five.
9. Make your final decision after checking all the legalities and financial agreements for each one in your final list.
“Tips When Buying a Condo Unit,” Pinoy Money Talk.
“Tips On How To Buy Philippine Condominiums,” Arizona4Pinoys.
“Buying Property in the Philippines and Japan,” Escape Artist.
“Tips Before Buying Real Estate in the Philippines,” Real Estate Guide.
Other guides for foreigners traveling to the Philippines:
A Guide to Tourists Driving in the Philippines
Airlines with Flights from the U.S. and Canada to the Philippines
Types of Health Insurance Available in the Philippines for Filipinos and Non-Filipinos