However there are some people who are still duped into purchasing properties from unscrupulous real estate developers. Buying houses and condominiums from developers without seeing it completed.
With that in mind, what government agencies are in-charged of implementing real estate laws? What other laws state how people can own property?
Especially now where there are so many pre-selling condos and even subdivision lots. Some developers keep saying that they would deliver the completed condo unit after a year. But after a year, they don't even say that it's nearing the finishing part of the project. So, I guess it's timely to discuss what the buyer's rights are.
1. What laws can protect the buyers of residential properties like subdivision lots, condo units and house and lots?
Let the buyer be aware. If you're the buyer, you have to be vigilant of your rights. There are certain laws which protect you like the Presidential Decree 957 which is known as the "Subdivision and Condominium Buyers' Protective Decree". We have also the so-called "Realty Installment Buyer Act" or the "Maceda Law". And also the provisions of Civil Code and Condominium Act. And the rest are spread on different various laws.
Presidential Decree 957 (PD 957, 1976) Otherwise known as the Subdivision and Condominium Buyers Protective Decree regulates the sale of subdivision lots and condominium units to buyers. It defines sale to be covered by registration.
2. Who can buy real estate properties in the Philippines?
Generally all Filipinos can acquire properties in the Philippines. If you're a former Filipino citizen, even if you don't have dual citizenship, let's say you remain American, Singaporean, Australian or whatever, you can still acquire (buy or own) land in the Philippines. But there are certain limitations that former Filipino citizens can acquire a property. If the property is located in urban, they can only acquire 1,000 square meters. If it is located in rural, only 1 hectare, provided they will be residing here in the Philippines.
3. What if you already waive your Filipino citizenship and you're residing abroad and you wanted to buy a land (property) in the Philippines? Do you have still the right to buy a property?
Yes, but there are certain requirements. You have to execute an affidavit stating that you have the commitment to stay or live here in the Philippines. This usually happens when you retire here in the Philippines.
4. Can foreigners own land in the Philippines?
No. Foreigners (non-Filipinos) cannot buy or own land in the Philippines. They cannot own house and lots. If you're a foreigner married to a Filipina, it is your wife (Filipina) who has the right to buy a property (land). On the other hand, foreigners can buy or own condominiums.
5. When it comes to foreigners, how much condominium units can be owned?
Foreigners can buy condominium units in the Philippines but there are restrictions. You can find this on Republic Act 4726 commonly known as "Condominium Act". This is one of the exemptions where an alien (foreigner) can acquire properties in the Philippines. Technically, it's not the members of the condominium corporation who owns the land where the condo is being built. The condominium corporation actually owns the land. That's the reason why foreigners can own condo units. But how much? Foreigners can own only 40% of the total ownership.
6. What government agencies can you approach when purchasing a property in the Philippines?
It's the House and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB). This where you're going to verify the details of the project, whether it's a condominium or a subdivision. Because from there, you're going to see the records, the track records of these real estate developers. Because they can't develop a real estate project without this clearance from HLURB.
7. Do real estate developers already hire a lawyer when you file the complaint with the HLURB against a subdivision developer or against a condominium developer?
Yes. If you're already initiating a case, they have to be represented by a counsel (group of lawyers) unless they can protect themselves. They know how to go about the procedure. But if you are simply inquiring regarding certain documents in the HLURB, you can do it by yourself.
HLURB is quasi-judicial. It will go through a judicial process to determine who's right or who's wrong. It has a judicatory power and administrative functions.
8. Can you buy a real estate property without a written contract (thru oral only)?
In terms of documents, does buying a property (land, house and lot, condominium) needs to be written? Can you buy a land without a written document (contract) or through oral?
Yes. You can still buy but the best evidence should be in writing. If it is oral, there's a technical issue there. There's unenforceable contract. It has to be reduced into writing.
If you're buying a property, if it is land, you really have to insist that there's a written contract in order for the sales contract to be enforceable.
9. There's a written contract but it's not notarized. Can the buyer still have the right to possess the real estate property even if the contract is not notarized?
For purposes of registration, it should be a public instrument (or notarized). Although it's a private instrument, it is actually binding between the parties. Not binding against the world. So, if you want to buy a property, the written contract should have to be notarized. It has to be a public document.
In case you bought real estate property; land, house and lot, or condominium and the contract was not notarized, the seller cannot use it as a defense to say that you're contract was not valid. It's still a valid contract. But for your protection, it has to be notarized in order to prevent the seller from selling the property to another person.
10. What if the seller commits a double sale of the property? The seller sold the property to you first, then, he sell it again to another person? Assuming the written contract is not notarized.
Example in that situation. It's a private document or not notarized. The seller resells the property. So, two buyers bought the same property with a non-notarized contract.
Let's say the seller sold it to you through a private document and not notarized. Then, the seller sells it again to Juan dela Cruz. And Juan gets its and want to have it registered to his name. The status of the property is in double sale. Who has the right to own the property? The first buyer or the second buyer?
In case of double sale, whoever is the first possessor (buyer) in good faith, he's the one who has the right to own the property. The second possessor (buyer) loses the right to own the property. So be careful with situations like this.
Do you have any problems or questions regarding real estate properties? You can post in the comment below.