How Foreigners Can Buy A House in the Philippines

More than just a temporary stop over for foreign tourists who got fascinated by its fine beaches, more foreigners have decided to settle down in the Philippines.

There are plenty of perks for a foreigner to live in the Philippines. For citizens who wish to trade plowing snow with year-long sunshine, you got it here. Cost of living in the Philippines is ranked 92nd among 115 countries, and perhaps the most valuable asset are the friendly Filipino locals.

Expats can live comfortably at $1,000 a month, including housing costs, food, basic healthcare and leisure activities. That’s huge savings compared back home, and for retirees it’s a great deal even more.

When it comes to property ownership, foreigners are prohibited from owning land in the Philippines, though they can legally own a residence.

Here are some of the options foreigners who wish to buy residence in the Philippines.

Buy a condominium unit
One of the easiest option is to purchase a condominium, a hybrid type of residential unit that falls outside traditional structures that sit on a lot no foreigner is able to own under current Philippine constitution. With a condo, you only own the condo unit itself – not the land beneath it. The Philippine Condominium Act specifies that foreigners can own condominium units, as long as 60% of the units in the building are owned by Filipinos, a very likely scenario with how Filipinos have adopted this modern way of living.

Buy a house and lease it
By law, foreigners can legally own houses and other types of structures, but they are prohibited from owning the land on which it sits. To work around this, you can buy a freestanding house, but lease the property. Under the Investor’s Lease Act of the Philippines, a foreign national can enter into a lease agreement with a Filipino landowner for a long-term lease with an initial period of up to 50 years, with a one-time option to renew for 25 years.

Marry a Filipino citizen
Foreigners who marry Filipino citizens can buy property in their spouse’s name. Although the foreigner’s name won’t be on the title despite financing the purchase, his or her name can be included in the contract to buy the property. In case the couple legally separate (no divorce law exists in the Philippines), or the Filipino spouse passes away, the land can’t be transferred to the foreign wife or husband since he or she is still prohibited from owning land the Philippines, but will be granted a reasonable amount of time to sell the property and collect the proceeds; otherwise, the property will pass to on to the Filipino spouse’s heirs and/or relatives.

Establish a company and buy property under its name
Corporations with at least 60% Filipino ownership can own land in the Philippines. But before they are permitted to make property purchases, eligible corporations must be registered with government Board of Investment for permission to buy, sell or act as an intermediary in a real estate transaction.

There are also area restrictions that apply to foreigners who buy house in the Philippines. The largest piece of residential land one can own – either with a Filipino spouse or through a corporation – is 1,000 square meters of urban land (0.2471 acres), or one hectare of rural land (2.47 acres).

While there are certain restrictions on foreigners owning residential units in the Philippines, it’s not impossible for them to own one. And that is good news to aspiring foreigners who wish to settle down in the Philippines and enjoy what the country has to offer.