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Philippine Property Rights of Foreigners Married to Filipina Women

A photo of a house in the suburbs The purchase of a home is always a big decision and is something you should not take lightly, consult experts before making a decision.

“A house can symbolize big changes in your heart”

- Sasha Emerson

Purchasing your first home might be frightening at first, especially if you are unsure of what to look for. If you’ve chosen to live in another country, this will be a far more challenging task.

It represents major changes in your heart, as Emerson observed, and rightly so.

But what should you know before boarding that airline and flying hundreds of miles to this tropical paradise?

What are the land ownership rights of foreigners in the Philippines?

Only Filipino citizens have complete legal ownership of land in the Philippines, according to Philippine law and Philippine property rights. This aims to ensure that every Filipino citizen has the opportunity to own land.

Foreign nationals are permitted to own properties in the Philippines if they are situated on property held by Filipinos. A foreign national is allowed to possess a residence and other types of buildings, but not the land on which they are built.

How do we work around this restriction?

While there are no solutions for full ownership of private land, there are ways to obtain long-term residential property in the Philippines.

  • Buy a Condominium Unit

This is likely the most straightforward method of acquiring real estate. According to Philippine law, when you buy a condo, you have complete ownership of your unit but not of the ground on which the construction is built.

You can buy a condo unit if at least 60% of the condominium units are owned by Filipino citizens. Because residential land is becoming increasingly scarce, particularly in highly developed areas, more Filipinos are opting to invest in condominium units.

You should be aware that there will be monthly fees for general security, maintenance, and other amenities if you live in a condo. It’s also possible that you’ll have to share amenities such as pools and other communal areas.

It’s important to physically inspect the location to ensure that you understand what you’re paying for.

A photo of a Condominium unit with a city view Purchasing a Condo unit is one of the easiest options you have although you will have to compromise with other occupants of the building.
  • Marry a Filipino Citizen

Marriage to citizens offers certain advantages, just as it does in every other country. While this does not grant you full ownership of the land, it does provide you and your spouse with complete control of the property through a cunning workaround.

Foreigners married to Filipina women may be able to purchase land as long as the land title is in the name of their spouse. Your name can be on the contract, giving you controlling rights and, in a sense, private land ownership, even if it isn’t registered in your name.

The government will allow you plenty of time to sell the land if you file for formal separation or if your spouse passes away. All proceeds will be paid to you. Otherwise, the land will be passed on to your spouse’s next Filipino kin.

  • Purchasing land through a company

Corporations are permitted to buy land in the Philippines if 60 percent or more of the company is controlled by Filipinos.

To buy, sell, or act as a mediator in real estate transactions, corporations that fulfill the required equity ownership must register with the government’s Board of Investment (BOI).

The largest piece of land you can possess as a Foreign National through this process is 1000 square meters in an urban location, or one hectare or roughly 10,000 square meters on rural land.

Taxation Laws you will have to comply with

Tax rules in the Philippines and other nations would differ, particularly when it comes to taxes placed on real estate ownership.

For example, the United States of America is one of only two countries that collect taxes based on citizenship rather than residency. This means that Americans who own real estate in the Philippines must record all assets in their annual tax filings.

A photo of a tax return being filed Taxation laws will vary from one country to another. It is best to consult with authorities to avoid getting into any trouble.

Furthermore, Philippine real property tax requirements apply, however, these fees are minimal, especially given that foreigners are not permitted to own land in the Philippines.

An official from the Philippines’ local government will normally appraise the property’s current value based on market conditions and determine annual taxation rates.

It’s critical to seek advice from tax specialists to ensure that you don’t get into difficulty with the government agencies in charge of collecting annual levies.

Location is everything

Purchasing a property is a big decision, and the wrong choice can cost you more than monetary value.

  • Market Value and Annual Fees

The market value of a property must be considered. Property in highly urbanized areas, like many other countries around the world, has a substantially higher value. This is due in part to its proximity to the state’s commercial areas.

As a result, annual property tax rates will be higher as well. Taxation fees are calculated using the property’s current assessed market value multiplied by the property tax rate. The more developed a location is the higher the property tax rate.

  • Ruralness vs Urbanization

You will be pleased to learn that these houses are more inexpensive for individuals wanting a tranquil life outside of metropolitan cities. The annual fees will be reduced as well.

When it comes to the rural Philippines, one issue to consider is the lack of key services such as healthcare, banking, and other critical services.

Although living in densely populated locations might be stressful, they often provide superior services because organizations’ main headquarters are located in larger cities. The majority of vital services are concentrated in such metros, as most Philippine cities are either fully developed or developing.

When it comes to urbanization vs. rurality in Philippine regions, there is, nevertheless, a middle ground. In the majority of Philippine states, urbanization is centered in a single bigger area.

Property in adjacent towns offers a more serene setting while still providing easy access to major cities, and here is usually where you may locate residential properties that meet your needs and wants.

A photo of the Cebu city skyline Philippine cities are often highly developed and offer diverse opportunities.

Research is your friend

Before making a real estate purchase, do as much research as possible. Remember that this will have an impact on you in more ways than one.

Research the various regulations that you will be required to follow, as well as the real property market. Assess your needs and wants, as well as your financial resources, and base your research on that. Opening an account with a local bank is also a good idea. This will allow you to handle your finances completely without having to call your bank from another country and deal with time zone differences.

Also, speak with a reputable real estate broker. A trustworthy broker would never tell you that all properties are good; instead, they will advise you on both the benefits and drawbacks of certain properties. To obtain understanding, ask as many questions as you can, and if you don’t feel comfortable with your broker, choose someone else.

Last but not least, consult a lawyer for legal counsel. They may not be specialists in the current market, but they can provide you with essential advice that will save you a lot of time and money, particularly when it comes to taxation and your real property rights as a consumer.

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