12 Questions You Should Ask Before Buying Foreclosed Properties

Foreclosed residential units appear to be attractive options for buyers looking to own new properties, but as enticing they can be, interested buyers should always proceed with caution and make necessary research before agreeing to a transaction and writing checks.

Properties are foreclosed for certain reasons including failure or refusal of occupants to settle their financial obligations. So unlike conventional procedure of acquiring a residential property, this is a special case that needs a special attention.

As part of due diligence on the part of the buyer, here are some questions that he or she should ask the agency responsible for disposing foreclosed properties:

(Have pen and paper handy to jot down notes.)

1. Is the property currently occupied?
This should be the first question to ask. A “no” would be more straightforward, but a “yes” puts you as a buyer in a precarious situation. While it is assumed that occupants will be leaving, that remains as an assumption unless it becomes a reality. So what is the assurance a buyer can get? If at this point there is uncertainty, take a pass on this property and look elsewhere, and you’ll be out of trouble.

2. Does the property have clean title?
Getting the assurance that you are about to purchase a property sitting on a legitimate title helps you obtain a certified true copy at the registry of deeds along with a previous version, if any, that was overridden by the current one by virtue of change ownership, and mother title.

3. What is the payment terms?
One drawback of foreclosed properties is that they’re not brand-new and the condition of the house could deteriorate a bit. So you might expect to get some compromise in terms of payment terms to offset expenses for minor renovations. Get to know how much is the minimum down payment, length of payment, interest rates, monthly amortization and other money-related matters.

4. Can you describe this property?
As a buyer you’d like to acquire a house that fits your needs. Does it have a parking space for your car? How many bedrooms does it have? Is it a townhouse or a multi-door apartment? Getting as much information as possible — like photos, vicinity maps and nearby facilities — if visiting it in the short term is not possible — can give a clearer idea if this property suits your requirements in size, location, accessibility and other factors. Otherwise, it may just be best to move with the next available property being offered.

5. Are there outstanding taxes payable?
There are several tax considerations when you acquire properties and it’s important to know who will shoulder them. This includes capital gains tax, which is imposed on sale of assets at 6% of gross selling price, documentary tax, real property tax and creditable withholding tax, which is withheld by the buyer or withholding agent from payment to the seller for the sale of the seller’s ordinary asset/services. Not only this gives you an idea who is paying what, but also by how much and is the buyer inheriting outstanding tax dues or not.

This is a helpful step to be aware of what else should you be paying, anticipating that one big reason for the property foreclosure is that the occupants failed to pay dues in a timely manner and arrears and penalties have accumulated since. Seller likely will disclose this information but make sure to remind if you haven’t been told about it.

6. Are there other fees to pay besides taxes and advertised property value?
As the property you’re about to acquire has foreclosed so there are financial issues involved that led to such situation, you should particularly pinpoint outstanding payments and arrears that were not paid by previous occupant. Payable arrears also depend on type of property you’re looking at. For example, condo unit owners might get charged with monthly dues computed by floor area, or association or maintenance dues owed from property owners living in villages or subdivisions.

7. Are there arrears in utilities?
Unpaid electricity bills could mean the unit is a candidate for disconnection, if not yet disconnected from the grid, and requires extra money and time to get them restored. If not, maybe the unity was not yet occupied and no utility connections like water, telephone or electricity has been installed yet, so check this as well. If electricity/water connections are not available, ask how much would it normally cost for a connection to become available for your property.

8. When will the buyer be given authority or take control of the property?
Will it be enough when he or she pays the down payment or once he or she gets hold of the updated certificate of ownership? The earlier the owner gets the key to the property, renovation can start earlier if one is necessary, and property can be leased to tenants or become ready for occupancy. This also helps you, as a buyer who may have taken a loan to finance the acquisition, make use of the property investment and move out of your current dwelling to save costs.

9. Around how much is the rental rate in the area for this type of property?
If you are planning to acquire the real estate property and convert it as an investment vehicle, it will be good to get an idea how much is the prevailing rental rates, so you can better decide to take this route, or even consider proceeding to buy this foreclosed property to begin with.

10. How old is the property?
Having an old property is a double-sided perspective. If it is old and visibly needs thorough renovation, its price should reflect such condition. On the other hand if it’s built for a number of decades but looks durable, it’s an indicator of good structural condition and requires minimal maintenance work, enabling you to save on repairs for the long term. That is why a physical visit should be done for properties that are not built recently.

11. Is the property accessible?
If you are not familiar with the neighborhood, or live far away from the property, get a vicinity map, or pay it a visit to experience how long does it take to the place from public transport hubs (bus or jeepney stop or highway), public infrastructure such as hospitals, church, market and steady source of water or no power shortage.

Initially you’ll have a bias against it since you can’t help but compare it with your current property, plus the foreclosed property is in decrepit condition after years of neglect and lack of upkeep. But have a neutral mindset, since most likely, you have not yet discovered its inherent advantages or you are already used to the disadvantages of your current residence (scheduled brownouts, dimly lit streets or one-hour commute to work).

12. Is there anything I should know but failed to ask?
Foreclosed properties may have other factors outside of the house. Was there an unsolved murder case or former resident who committed suicide in the neighborhood? Is the place far from police station that robberies or burglaries in the neighborhood are a common incidence? Is it near a dump site or a factory that discharge toxic fumes? Or is it far from the pleasant neighborhood as advertised as it suffers from various forms of pollution?

Such due diligence on the part of a buyer is very important because in many cases properties are sold on a “as is where is basis” which means what you see is what you get. Get help from your future neighbors or assign someone to pay the property/neighborhood a visit if you can’t visit physically.

Have this copy printed out as you go through the details with an agent or selling party. Conversation should be very brief — less than half an hour — to evaluate if this foreclosed property is for you or not.


5 Top Reasons Why Single OFWs Should Consider Investing in Pre-Selling Homes

It’s a common myth that OFWs feel better when investing or making big purchases since they are generally paid better abroad than when they work in the Philippines. Filipinos working abroad have all realized that it’s not easy to find even when they are offered bigger paychecks.

Owning a new home or improving their current homes are among the top listed wishlists for OFWs. There are plenty out there in the market, with a variety of factors such as size, price, features and locations. But what matters and on top priority among OFWs? While many have families and children and housing them in a decent dwelling place is a source of pride, there are also Filipino migrant workers who are single and whose priorities are slightly different — save now and secure their future.

This brings the argument about finding the right investment vehicle or type of property single OFW would like to part their earnings with.

Single OFWs still send money to families for daily expenses such as food and utilities, education of siblings or extended family members, medical expenses and savings or investments. But when it comes to acquiring properties, many of them are unwilling or unable to shell out big amount of money to buy a house in the Philippines they won’t enjoy unless they are still employed abroad.

Then comes the idea of pre-selling properties frequently advertised as cheaper, better alternative avenue for single OFWs to carve their way into owning properties in the Philippines. Why so? Let’s find out the five reasons why pre-selling properties — be it condo unit or subdivision housing — and unmarried OFWs appear to be meant for each other.

1. Affordability
Because of their current state, pre-selling units are more affordable compared to advertised homes that are ready for occupancy. OFWs sure get bigger monthly salaries but they don’t expect to spend them all in a single property acquisition; they also have other living expenses to cover. With prices between 30% to 50% cheaper than finished housing units, pre-selling units are certainly more affordable to buy, with some cash to spare for an OFW’s living expenses abroad and remittance money for the parents in the Philippines.

2. Practicality
It seems out of line when OFWs purchase homes in the Philippines while they don’t get to live in them as they’re still working and living abroad. That’s an accurate assessment if the unmarried Filipino migrant worker is based indefinitely abroad, find a spouse and raise family there.

But many OFWs have finite years abroad, then decide to go home and settle down. It makes sense to get a house on the cheap, pay in smaller installments and return to the Philippines once the house is ready for occupancy. That sounds like a better idea than buying a more expensive ready-for-occupancy unit that nobody lives. If it’s meant for investment like rental home or AirBnB, yes, you’ll earn money to pay for installment balance, but its condition deteriorates by the time you arrive and supposed to enjoy this fruit of your labor.

3. Appreciating value of property
In many cases, pre-selling homes are built on places that’s less suitable for living: far from markets, lack of smooth pavements and less accessible by public transport. So it doesn’t make sense for owners to dive in and purchase finished homes outright only to find out it’s not convenient to settle there.

As pre-selling properties are continuously built, the surrounding community starts to develop. More street lights installed, drainage system in place, more transport options as the population in the neighborhood increases, and so on. While you as an OFW may not notice such development in the community, you’ll soon find it out when you return, hopefully settling everything and formally claiming ownership of a residential property whose value increases as its location becomes more conducive to community living.

4. Income generating potential
On another side of practicality in item #2, OFWs who shell out minimal amount of cash as downpayment for a pre-selling property will have extra resources to refurbish it and turn into an income generating property if they decide renting it out is an option (it has to be attractive enough — close to schools, factories and downtown — to make that happen). The payment can be used to pay the mortgage, saving the OFW from shelling out monthly payments and keeping his or her income savings intact. Such savings can then be used to renovate the house once he or she decides to go home for good, after the pre-selling property is already paid up.

5. Flexibility
Buyers of pre-selling units often have fair chances to choose their desired location, whether in a condo block or a townhouse development. This gives the element of excitement as the ones who get to make an early commitment have plenty of options available for them — top floor, better views, and so on.

6. Sense of security and inspiration
Filipinos working abroad feel a sense of security that one day, when their days as OFWs are finally over, they have something to look forward to. Whether that’s a growing poultry business, seeing your children go to school or moving to your newly-paid residential unit you started paying 10 years ago. There’s a sense of inspiration as you look at your desired goals.

Such feeling of anticipation making a countdown to that day is similar when you commit to that pre-selling property and gradually investing your way to a homeowner. That’s certainly more future-focused than aimlessly spending on any random item, only to find out you have nothing to show after years of working abroad.

While these are enticing prospects for single OFWs to get hold of pre-selling units, utmost diligence and research must be done before parting with hard-earned cash. This is especially applicable for Filipinos who are based abroad and have limited amount of time to inspect the location and limited amount of engagement with developers, agents and advertisers who might turn out as fraudsters and fly-by-night operators.

OFWs are now more intelligent and know where they should put their money in, thanks in part to technology and equally informed family who can help them make informed decisions.


Guide To Bidding Foreclosed Pag-IBIG Properties

In case you are hunting for a new property in the market, one viable option to explore is Pag-IBIG Fund’s list of foreclosed properties. These list of properties offer distinct advantages being in line with market rates and a well-established route to acquiring properties in the Philippines.

Through its website, Pag-IBIG Fund lists down a list of foreclosed properties for scheduled bid for interested parties.

Although the steps are relatively straightforward, it is understandable for first time bidders to feel confused on getting them right in their attempt. We’re hoping this article helps them proceed with their bid attempts with more ease.

1. Review the list of foreclosed properties for bidding 
But before you make your bids, you have to identify which property or properties you have an eye on acquiring. Visit the Pag-IBIG Fund’s Acquired Assets page and look for Schedule of Public Auctions section. Listings are grouped according to a city or provincial location.

One foreclosed property up for bidding is listed per row.

  • Item number – property counter used for easy reference when relating to the specific list of properties.
  • Property number – reference number to refer to the specific property.
  • Property location – the address of the property, usually specific down to phase, lot and block number in a barangay, city or municipality.
  • Type – the type of property.
  • TCT – Transfer Certificate of Title.
  • Lot area – the size of area of the lot of property in square meters. Certain properties such as condominium units don’t sit on a particular lot so this field has zero value.
  • Floor area – the size of area of the property in square meters.
  • Minimum bid – the lowest value of bid allowed for this part in Philippine pesos.
  • Appraisal date – the date which the property was inspected and assessed its value.

2. Perform due diligence from buyer
Since data provided in this document is limited — price, property type and floor area — it’s best to make due diligence once you have a property or properties you have in mind. This includes visiting the property itself and verifying the lot and floor area, evaluating its accessibility and environment in the neighborhood. For example, answer these questions: is it near the highway and easy to access through public transport or is the area easily flooded when it rains?

One caveat that commonly appears in Pag-IBIG Fund auctioned property listings is that they are “as is where is”. This means that properties are being sold with the buyer getting everything that comes with a property, at its present condition, good or bad. Leaking roof or rowdy neighborhood comes with the cost.

Another word of advice to prospect buyers: do not bid on properties that are occupied. Occupied properties can get complicated especially if occupants are unwilling to move out of the house.

Once you are certain that the property fits your desired conditions and financial consideration, it is then the right time to proceed with the bidding.

Note that there is a cutoff date on which you should come up with a decision and provide certain requirements.

In the example above, the date of bidding is September 20, 2017 for Cavite area listed properties. This means that you must have inspected the property and decided to proceed or not prior to that bidding day.

3. Prepare documentation
Interested bidders are then invited to formalize their desire to acquire certain properties by providing the following requirements:

  • Filled out OFFER TO BID (HQP-AAF-103) (DOWNLOAD HERE), stating details of the property (TCT, location, phase, block, lot number, etc), along with details about the bidder (name, address, SSS, Pag-IBIG and TIN numbers, employer and address, etc). You may use PDFfiller tool to fill out data before printing. Print two copies once done.
  • Bidder’s Bond. As a bidder, you need to prepare a bidder’s bond which is equivalent to 10% of your bid amount for the property you desire to acquire. For example, if the minimum bid in the property item number 143 is P176,983.26, you may want to place your bid at P250,000 hoping nobody bids higher than that amount. The computed amount for bidder’s bond is as follows:Bidder’s bond = P250,000 x 10% = P25,000

    The bidder’s bond can be in cash or manager’s cheque from any commercial bank, and made out to Pag-IBIG Fund. This amount shall be returned back to the non-winning bidder or serve as downpayment for the winning bidder for the property once the bidding process has concluded.

  • Envelope. This sealed envelope shall contain the filled out OFFER TO BID and Bidder’s Bond.

The Bidder’s Bond can be paid prior to the date of bidding, depending on the location. Typically this can be done at HDMF offices or member services branches. Just confirm with the Pag-IBIG Fund office supervising the foreclosed property bidding.

4. Attend the scheduled bidding day. Interested parties are encouraged to attend the day of bid at a pre-announced venue and time. Should you, the bidder, be unable to attend, you can appoint a representative. If so, get the following documentation:

  • Special power of attorney (DOWNLOAD HERE)This filled out document shall include details of bidder and representative, along with scheduled time, day and venue of bid, affixing signature of both notary public and bidder and bidder’s spouse, if applicable.
  • Acknowledgment. A notary public’s corresponding acknowledgment (with signature and notarial seal) of such appointment of representative.

5. Register at the day of bidding. On the day of bidding, have your presence acknowledged by registering in the entrance counter.

6. Announcement of winning bids. The bidder who offers the highest bid as determined by the Bidder’s Bond shall be declared the winner. But there are cases when highest bidding isn’t even the case when selecting winning bids.

  • In case there is only one bid brought forward, the bid is automatically declared winner.
  • In case two or more bidders have exact amount of bids, determining the winner can be done through the following process:
    (a) Mode of payment – bidder who offers cash payment gets higher priority over one who offers on installment basis.
    (b) Toss coin – if there are only two tied highest bids.
    (c) Time of registration of bids – The bidder whose bid was brought forward earlier is declared winner.

7. If you won the bid. Your Bidder’s Bond worth 10% of your proposed bid will automatically be considered your downpayment of the property. The remaining 90% of the balance can be paid (unless you won the bid through tie-breaker and won via mode of payment) through the following options:

  • Cash – on which the approved purchase price shall be paid not later than 30 days after the receipt of notice of award.
  • Short-term installment – on which the approved purchase price and interest shall be paid in equal monthly installments not to exceed 12 months.
  • Long-term installment – on which the approved purchase price and interest shall be paid in form of monthly amortization up to 30 years with following considerations:(a) Loan approval and terms shall be subject to eligibility requirements under Pag-IBIG End-User Home Financing Program guidelines.
    (b) The loan amount shall be the bidder’s offer, net of the 10% downpayment.
    (c) If loan application has been disapproved, the 10% Bidder’s Bond shall be forfeited in favor of Pag-IBIG Fund.
    (d) The buyer shall be required to file for Pag-IBIG Fund loan application and complete documentary requirements and pay incidental fees within 30 days of receipt of Notice of Approval of Sale: processing fee, equity (if applicable), one year advance in insurance premiums for fire and allied perils.
    (e) If the Bidder’s Bond is higher than the assessed value of property, the excess amount shall be treated as equity. It shall be paid by the buyer within 30 days upon receipt of Notice of Loan Approval.
    (f) Original borrowers who wish to join the public auction shall not be allowed to avail of housing loan and instead permitted only to bid through cash or installment basis.
  • If there was no mentioned preferred payment mode, default mode shall be long-term installment. Otherwise, the buyer enjoys certain discounts for cash or short-term payment option:(a) Cash – 20% discount
    (b) Short-term installment – 10% discount
    (c)  Long-term installment – No discount

8. If you lost the bid. If someone else offered a higher bid in the public auction, your Bidder’s Bond shall be returned to you, together with an acknowledgment receipt soon as a winning bidder has been declared.

9. If winning bidder fails to comply with conditions. In case the winning bidder fails or refuses to purchase the property, or fails to comply with payment conditions, he or she loses right as winning bidder and the 10% Bidder’s Bond shall be forfeited in favor of Pag-IBIG Fund.

Bidding for foreclosed properties in Pag-IBIG provides excellent opportunity to gauge market value of a certain location, even when you don’t proceed making a bid or losing out in an auction. However, a proper research trumps everything else and helps guarantee a property worth investing in. Failure to do so might lead to forfeiture of Bidder’s Bond especially when the winning bid realizes the disadvantages and hazards associated with the property in question and backs off from a deal.


Interior Design and Decoration Tips For Your Home

Making your home a more conducive living space not only depends on available interior space but also factors in choice of colors and materials to make it a warm, convivial place.

1. Softer, lighter colors can help make a small room feel larger.
Just like mirrors that accentuate space and make a small room feel larger, the use of lighter color, whether from natural sunlight or interior paint can also make a small room feel large. In contrast, darker colors create an illusion of a smaller living space.

2. Use rugs to create accent on hardwood floors.
While you try to adopt a certain theme and aim to use consistent tone such as matching furniture and wooden floor space, use of throw rugs often add warmth and create texture and personality to your living space. Depending on season or occasion these rugs can be replaced to allow living space to portray a warm or cool personality.

3. Save space with cheap, elegant wicker baskets
Wicker baskets can be a good complement to interior theme of space conscious places at home such as the bathroom. Wicker baskets are economical way to add storage for towels, laundry, tissue paper or toiletries without disrupting the overall look and feel.

4. Add plants to your living space.
Typically placed in a corner, plants not only convey green living and add color and texture but also provide air purifying and humidity balancing characteristics. Bamboo palm, tiger plant, snake plant or asparagus fern are a few examples.

5. Use contrasting cushion colors to complement your sofa.

Having both sofa and cushion adopt the same color may look dull, but using contrasting colors helps create good accent.

6. Use lamps inside bedroom.

Instead of a typical indoor lamp, using lamp shades inside bedroom helps create a more cozy atmosphere and more inviting for a restful sleep.

7. You can save energy by choosing specific lighting system.
Your kitchen, for example, can utilize low-wattage lighting specific to certain parts of the kitchen, adding a flair of cozy dining experience while saving energy costs on lighting while working on certain parts of the kitchen (cooking, baking, dishwashing, etc.)

8. Create breathing space for furniture.
Avoid overcrowding a room by stuffing all available space with something that fits — CD rack, vertical speaker or lamp shade. Allow space for maneuverability and avoid accidents at home especially those with small square footage.


Sample Bedroom Designs For Your Home

It’s where you spend a significant amount of time while at home, a place to recharge your energy and prepare for another day of challenges. Bedrooms are supposed to provide you with a comforting vibe. Therefore it is essential to have a well decorated bedroom for your comfort and healthy sleeping.


Sample Living Room Interior Designs For Your Home

Living rooms are where family members ideally gather at the end of the day, recollecting memories and sharing them or watching favorite TV shows together. Therefore the ambiance of a well-planned living room interior designs should help alleviate stress and provide positive energy in a relaxing atmosphere.

Here are some of our handpicked layouts that may fit your idea of a living room.


How to Handle Squatters, Informal Settlers in Your Property

Even as the Philippines marches on towards development, many Filipinos remain poor. In 2016, a survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations revealed that 10.5 million Filipinos identify themselves as poor.

With general lack of livelihood opportunities, inflation, high unemployment and underemployment rate and low wages for those who find work, a persistent problem among low-income families is lack of housing options.

So it is not unusual to find families living in makeshift shanties built with whatever material is available on hand. Though this illustrates the typical resourcefulness Filipinos are characterized for, building houses on government or private lands gets them in trouble sooner or later, while earning the formal term “informal settlers” or the derogatory “squatters”.

As a means to mitigate the problem of squatting in many urban communities, President Ferdinand Marcos in 1975 signed the Presidential Decree No. 772, otherwise known as Penalizing Squatting and Other Similar Acts. Under the Decree, people found to be occupying or possessing the property of a legitimate owner against the latter’s will were either imprisoned or fined depending on degree of violation.

However, PD 772 was eventually repealed by Republic Act 8368, also known as Anti-Squatting Law Repeal Act of 1997. R.A. 8368 not only ordered that informal settlers cannot be imprisoned, but also dismissed pending cases based on P.D. 772. The Act may have become sympathetic to poor families but many informal settlers have abused this provision, making it harder for rightful property owners to assert their ownership. The proper handling of such situation has been an issue among squatters, landowners, and law enforcers for a long time since both parties involved have rights that should be respected.

“With abusive squatters taking advantage of a tedious and expensive court action, it is sometimes better for property owners to take advantage of the principle of self-defense for new or ongoing intrusions,” according to Philippine Association of Real Estate Boards National Chairman Atty. Rey Cartojano.

According to Cartojano, the principle of self-defense takes place when a property owner uses reasonable force to physically resist intruder, or forcibly evicts them using reasonable amount of effort. However, he warns that this principle “must be used with calculation and much restraint with the advisable participation of barangay officials and police officers.”

Another option for property owners, who don’t want to invoke their right of self-defense which can easily turn violent, is to seek help from the barangay for amicable settlement or hire a lawyer to settle the conflict.

“The legal remedy for property owners for squatters and informal settlers are detailed under Republic Act No. 7279, otherwise known as the Urban and Development Housing Act,” Atty Cartojano said. He suggested the following steps for a property owner involved in a situation with an informal settler squatting his property.

  1. Establish the identify of involved informal settlers. Notify and seek help from barangay officials who are expected to mediate and initiate contact with the other party.
  2. Document instances of intrusion incidents in writing or video. Report incident to a police station that has jurisdiction over the property and record a police blotter relating to the incident.
  3. Seek the help of the barangay to arrange a possible settlement if a peaceful negotiation does not produce good progress.
  4. If barangay intervention proves to be unsuccessful, the property owner must then hire a lawyer who will handle the matter of evicting the squatters. The lawyer will be handling tasks such as serving the demand letters and filing the necessary court cases.

How long does the process take?

Once the designated lawyer issues demand for the informal settler to vacate the property the clock starts ticking in the legal remedy to settle the issue of occupying property against the owner’s will. Once the informal settler does not heed the demand, the case will have to be filed in court. Cartojano explained that depending on the caseload of the court, skills of the handling lawyers and the disposing ability of the handling judge, the entire process may take years to be completed.


How to Make Your House Safer During Earthquakes

The Philippines is known to be part of the earthquake belt, as part of the ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’ which spreads across the northwestern tip of North America towards the western Pacific Ocean.

But what’s not known is the occurence of earthquakes and the magnitude of their strength. That is why Japan, one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, but also part of that region where earthquakes are a frequent occurence, devised plans to make building structures withstand this force of nature, such as inclusion of seismic isolation and vibration control features.

In the Philippines, where technology is catching up, and plenty of buildings are both fire- and quake-hazard, the danger of eathquake does not only result in toppled buildings, but also fires, gas leaks and other forms of destruction. To prevent or minimize damage at homes during an event of an earthquake, here are things to check out:

1. Check electrical connections: Consult with an expert electrician to check electrical wirings, exposed connections and other potential source of fires triggered by an earthquake.

2. Check gas supply: cooking stoves powered by LPG as well as building gas supply lines should be checked appropriately to ensure prevention or mitigate damage caused by gas leaks once earthquakes occur.

3. Tighten security to stabilize electrical appliances and furniture: In an event of earthquake, home appliances such as refrigerator and cabinets might vibrate and topple down. To prevent this, provide enough security by tightening its grip or bolt them to the floor or wall.

4. Check automatic shut-off valves of utility lines. Check with your gas supplier if there is a shut-off valve installed to automatically disable gas supply once strong vibration is detected.

5. Check hanging appliances and decoration: Reinforce fastened wall decorations such as wall paintings, mirrors and floating shelves whose grip or hooks may have loosened.

6. Place heavy objects closer to the floor.

7. Store bottled foods, glass, china and other ceramic ware on lower shelves of the fridge or cabinets that are closed and locked.

8. Identify location where family members can seek refuge in case they’re inside the house during earthquake. This can be the space under a sturdy dining table.

9. Identify escape routes and clear them from any obstruction.

10. Hold earthquake drill with family to go through the standard procedure when earthquake strikes at home.


Additional Costs You Are Expected to Pay When Buying Condo Properties

Just when you think that condo advertisement is where you need to invest your hard-earned dollars abroad or bounty from the disposal of another property, think again. In the guise of investment, and low upfront payment, plus your genuine desire to own a piece of that dream home in a desirable address, you could easily commit to a tantalizing offer.

Before making a commitment to acquire on be sure that your computations do not only include the price tag as mentioned in the advertisement and potential earnings, but also other related costs that are normally hidden behind unit price and attractive offers that appear on flyers handed by property agents.

One thing is for sure: buying a condo unit doesn’t come cheap.

Even if purchase by cash isn’t required — but gets perks such as steep discount and preferential treatment – a fraction of cost as down payment may still require mortgage loans to cover cash deficiency on hand.

It’s not unusual for buyers to take the route of availing of housing loans from banks or government pension funds to get that dream fulfilled. Yet the decision often leaves the buyer with higher cash liability as he or she gets to pay more interest for the condo in an installment scheme, but also pay interest for the bank loan. And we’re not yet even in the topic of other extra expenses associated with buying condos!

So what are the other costs expected to pay when I buy a condo unit?

Apparently it sounds scary but if you can’t conquer your fear, you’ll never be able to own your dream home. What’s important is to be aware of what to expect, and make calculate decisions before making a commitment.

So get to know how much are you willing to spend for a condo unit without getting cash-strapped for years or decades. How much do I earn a month or do I have other income streams? How much can I allocate to finance a new house from that income? If I need to take up home mortgage loans, how long can I (or my children) pay for it? What sacrifices do I need to make just to get that dream home — a symbol of success and source of pride to many Filipinos?

Many Filipinos who have dipped their toes into buying a condo unit out of persuasion from agents did not think long and deep enough. They don’t have enough cash or other income streams, even if the condo unit itself can become an income generator through lease income, Airbnb accommodation or appreciate its initial value as location becomes more attractive.

Behind in their amortization payments, they have given up ownership as their long desired home got swallowed into foreclosure.

So even if the agent says the you only need to pay P6,000 every month, don’t fall for such promises — there will always be expenses you can’t avoid from paying.

According to Arlyn Santos, national treasurer of Real Estate Brokers Association of the Philippines, such fees are not really hidden as they come directly next in the agenda soon as a buyer commits to buying a condo unit.

Let’s take a look at what you might expect to pay once you agree to purchase your dream home.

  • Documentary Stamp – 1.5% of selling price of property
  • Transfer and Registration Tax – 1.5% of selling price of property
  • Association fees – varies depending on cost of repair, maintenance and upkeep of common areas (elevators, security cameras, etc)
  • Broker’s fee – 2 to 3% of gross price of the property
  • Parking fees – varies and usually comes with a slot that needs to be bought separately
  • Utility charges – varies (cleaning and collection of trash, power and water on common areas)
  • Insurance premium for unit – varies depending on value of property, location, and other factors)
  • Real property tax – varies, depending on the value of property as evaluated by an authorized assessor, paid yearly

That’s quite the minimum you’ll pay on top of the monthly amortization obligations. Should you decide to sell it a capital gains tax worth a whooping 6 per cent of the selling price on Deed of Sale or zonal value, plus the broker’s commission. So there’s little relief of getting your hands off that property.

And even when you die, your grieving family will still need to pay estate tax imposed when transferring ownership of your real property so entering into the transaction of acquiring a condo unit is littered with fees that are legally collected from you the owner.

The purpose of this article is not fearmongering but a reminder to all those who wish to avail of properties such as condos, house and lot and other real property to look beyond the price and amenities. Consult with a competent, licensed real estate broker while making computations before deciding on any property transaction.


Property Investment in the Philippines: A Guide for Foreigners and Expats

The Philippines is in a midst of a property boom, yet compared to more mature markets where real estate prices are beyond reach to many, it’s still priced reasonably. Adding allure to the attraction is that the Philippines is home to among the friendliest people in the planet and a choice destination for retirees.

Even if the country is mired in bureaucratic red tape in many transactions — unnecessary steps and procedures litter around — acquiring property in the Philippines is fairly straightforward for foreigners.

Limit of Ownership
Under RA 4726 or the Condominium Act, foreigners can buy units as long as interest in the entire property does not exceed 40%.

Assistance by Registered Real Estate Brokers
Foreigners can own property in the Philippines, only that they have to meet certain eligibility requirements, which is not different from what other investment-friendly countries impose. So it helps to transact with legitimate and licensed real estate agents when planning to acquire properties for investment such as condominium units.

Besides local knowledge on most sought-after properties and legal know-how, real estate agents help in securing required documents, filling out forms, assist in signing a notarized and binding deed of sale, payment of taxes and fees, and issuance of title deed at the registry office.

With a typical rate of between 3-5% for transactions, fees paid to an agent is a reasonable amount for the knowledge and effort he or she assists in completing a deal.

Land Ownership
Although foreigners can own up to 40% of condominium units, they cannot own tracts of land, say the land where a house they plan to erect on. There are a few exemptions such as if their family ancestors acquired the land before the establishment of the 1935 Constitution, and passed on to them as heirs or; marriage to a Filipino citizen, although paperworks will show name of spouse.

In most cases land use for foreign-owned corporations are leased for long-term contracts, typically 50 years and renewable every 25 years. If a foreigner becomes a shareholder of a Filipino company that buys the land, keeping in mind that ownership is at least 60% Filipino, land acquisition becomes possible under the law.

Former Filipino Citizens and Balikbayans
Former Filipino citizens who have renounced their citizenship are considered foreigners and can no longer own similar ownership rights as domestic Filipinos. However, with many countries supporting dual citizenships, such right to property ownership in the Philippines becomes possible although the process may be more time-consuming.