From April to September 2020, a total of 1.77 million Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) were deployed in over 100 countries around the globe, according to a report released by The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) last March 07, 2022. Majority of these OFWs and migrant Filipinos are women, comprising of about 59.6 percent (1.06 million) with the remaining 40.4 percent being male.
With this large number of Filipino citizens residing and working abroad, it is not surprising for them to find their long term partner overseas as well– in short, a foreign spouse. And, it’s also not very surprising for them to purchase a couple of residential properties or vacation houses and settle down on the beautiful islands of the Pearl of the Orient.
Which then leads us to this question, can a foreigner own a land in the Philippines?
As stipulated under Philippine laws, particularly in the 1987 Philippine Constitution, only Filipino citizens and corporations have the exclusive right to own land in the Philippines, with 60% percent of the capital being Filipino-owned.
To answer the question laid earlier, yes, foreigners are allowed to own properties in the Philippines, but cannot buy and own land.
Still, foreign nationals can own properties in the Philippines subject to the following conditions:
- The property was acquired before the 1935 Constitution
- The property was acquired through hereditary succession– meaning the foreign national is the direct heir or successor of the property
- Purchase of units or condominium units– subject to 40% foreign ownership limit
- Purchase of land under a domestic corporation, also subject to the limitations prescribed for foreign ownership
- Purchase of a foreigner with a Filipino spouse
- Property ownership for natural born Filipino citizen who lost his Filipino citizenship is subject to limitations prescribed by the Philippine laws
Properties acquired through succession
The Philippine laws are clear in setting boundaries and limitations for property and land ownership for alien nationals. However, there had been exemptions to the rule, especially if the foreign national is the direct heir of the said property.
According to Article XII, Section 7 of the Philippine Constitution, “Save in cases of hereditary succession, no private lands shall be transferred or conveyed except to individuals, corporations, or associations qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain.”
What about former natural born Filipinos?
Under the Batas Pambansa 185, natural born Filipino citizens who have lost their Philippine citizenship can still acquire a maximum of one thousand (1,000) square meters of urban or one hectare of rural land for residential purposes.
Moreover, under the Philippine Republic Act 8179 or the Foreign Investments Act of 1991, former natural born Filipino citizens can still acquire five thousand (5,000) square meters of urban land or three hectares of rural land, which can be used for business and other purposes.
For married couple covered by this rule, one or both of them can still own a property in the Philippines, granted that the total area acquired do not exceed the maximum limit indicated.
Foreigners with a Filipino Spouse
Foreigners who married a Filipino citizen, are still allowed to buy a land, but he or she needs to register the property under his or her spouse’s name. His or her name could be included in the Deed of Sale, but not in the Transfer Certificate Title or TCT.
Purchase of land under a corporation
Foreigners can also opt for a domestic corporation– basically, they will establish a company and have it registered under Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Once registered, the company may now purchase any type of real estate property, whether be it commercial, residential, or even condominium units and reap benefits and profit off it as being the part-owner of the said corporation. However, his combined stake is still subjected to the 40% limit rule. Filipinos still have the majority of ownership of the said corporation.
In the event that the corporation is dissolved, the foreigner is entitled to his share with the company, but still cannot gain ownership of the corporation-owned land. However, the land can be sold and its sale proceeds are divided among the owners, including the foreigners.
How about condominium units?
Under the Republic Act (RA) 4726 or the Condominium Act of the Philippines, non-Filipinos who want to purchase or own units of any condominium project in the Philippines can only claim 40% ownership of the property.
Meaning, they can only own the building, but not the land on which the building was built on. The land is actually owned by the Condominium Corporations and in the event of its termination which is usually after 50 years, alien nationals owning a unit in the said condominium project can either choose among the following options on how to disseminate the land:
- They can demolish the old condominium building and erect a new one, while finding a new condominium corporation to handle ownership of the new structure
- Or they can sell the land and divide the proceeds among the tenants, depending on their ownership stake
The Current Philippine Real Estate Market
The Philippines is among the top choices for retirement destinations and property investment options not only for locals but for foreign nationals as well. Stunning beaches with pristine waters, breathtaking sceneries especially on the countryside, friendly locals, and more importantly, lower costs of living– what’s not there to love about this archipelago of 7,000 islands?
Aside from the wonders of nature, man-made enhancements and improvements also entice foreigners to settle down in the country for good. One good example of such improvement is the Build! Build! Build! Program– the Duterte administration’s legacy and is said to be the most ambitious macro-infrastructure development, aiming to serve as the panacea to the country’s congested traffic roads and at the same time, provide jobs for thousands of Filipinos, and a way to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
So aside from having a Filipino spouse, foreigners have an ample amount of reasons to invest in a real estate property in the Philippines. Such improvements will engage more investors to purchase a commercial or residential land, not only within the urban cities but also in the suburbs, driving more economic activity and job opportunities outside the metropolis.
Looking for an affordable property? Contact us today
A lot of Filipinos dream of owning their first apartment or house and lot. With today’s booming real estate opportunities, there are so many options to choose from.
Here at Vistaland International, we have a roster of affordable property listings from several locations across the country. Whether you’re looking for a place to live in Manila, Cebu, Davao and etc, we’ve got you covered. So contact our real estate agents today!
Vistaland International was primarily created to bring OFW closer to their dream of finally acquiring a home in the Philippines. And with the rising cost of living in the country, OFWs and their families are looking for ways to earn extra cash flow to support their daily needs. Luckily, you can also join the global network of Vistaland International as a real estate professional and earn a commission!
Vistaland International Marketing, Inc. (VIMI) is the international marketing division of Vista Land. Aiming to provide OFWs and migrant Filipinos a home in the Philippines, VIMI has established long-lasting relationships with brokers and clients around the world.