Understanding Philippines Real Estate Laws and Regulations

Navigating the Philippines Real Estate Laws and Regulations


Buying or selling property in the Philippines can be complicated. There are many rules and laws about real estate, and they can be different depending on the type of property and where it is located. It’s important for buyers, sellers, and investors to know these laws to have a smooth and legal transaction. This article will give you a basic overview of the main laws and regulations about real estate in the Philippines and help you understand the process.

The Philippine Real Estate Service Act (RESA)

One of the main laws that control the real estate industry in the Philippines is called the Philippine Real Estate Service Act (RESA). This law was made in 2009 and it says only licensed real estate professionals can work in real estate. This means it’s important to hire a licensed real estate broker or salesperson to make sure your transaction is legal and valid.

Ownership of Real Estate in the Philippines

The laws about owning property in the Philippines can be complex, especially for foreigners. In general, only Filipino citizens and Filipino-owned companies can own land in the country. But there are some exceptions. Foreigners can own condominiums as long as they don’t own the land the building is on. There are also special places called economic zones where foreigners can own land with some conditions.

Foreign-owned companies can buy land for business purposes, but the amount of land they own cannot be more than 40% of their total company value. They also need to register with government agencies like the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) or the Board of Investments (BOI) to be allowed to own land.

Contracts and Titles

When you buy or sell property in the Philippines, you need to have a written agreement. There are different types of agreements like the Deed of Sale, Contract to Sell, and Lease Agreement. These agreements need to be notarized and registered with the correct office.

Titles are very important because they show who owns the property. The two main types of titles are the Original Certificate of Title (OCT) and the Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT). OCTs were used before 1978, and TCTs are used after that. It’s important to check if the title is real and if there are any problems or debts connected to the property before you finalize the transaction.

Taxes and Fees

When you buy or sell property in the Philippines, you have to pay different taxes and fees. The most important taxes include the Documentary Stamp Tax (DST), Capital Gains Tax (CGT), and Value-Added Tax (VAT). Usually, the seller pays these taxes, but sometimes the buyer and seller can agree to share the cost.

There are also registration fees and transfer taxes that need to be paid when the property’s title is transferred to the new owner. The cost of these fees depends on where the property is and how much it is worth.

Foreign Investment Laws

Foreign investment in the Philippines, including real estate, is regulated by the Foreign Investments Act (FIA). This law explains the rules for foreign investors and lets them invest in different sectors, including real estate development, if they meet certain requirements.

Foreign investors need to register with government agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to get the benefits and protection under the FIA. They also need to follow reporting and money transfer rules to keep their investment legal.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can foreigners buy land in the Philippines?

Foreign individuals and companies usually cannot own land in the Philippines. But there are exceptions for owning condominiums and land in special economic zones. It’s a good idea to talk to a real estate professional to understand the specific rules and limitations.

2. Do I need a real estate broker or agent when buying property in the Philippines?

It’s not required by law to hire a real estate broker or agent, but it is highly recommended. Licensed real estate professionals know a lot about the process and can help you follow the laws and protect your interests.

3. Are there special laws for real estate transactions involving indigenous communities?

Yes, there is a law called the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA) that protects the rights of indigenous communities. When you buy or sell property that belongs to indigenous peoples, it’s important to talk to the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and follow their rules.

4. How can I make sure a title is real?

To check if a title is real in the Philippines, you can ask for a certified copy from the office that registers property. You can also search for any problems or debts connected to the property. It’s a good idea to ask for help from a lawyer or a title company to make sure everything is okay.


1. Republic Act No. 9646 – https://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/2009/06/29/republic-act-no-9646/
2. Guide to Foreign Ownership of Land in the Philippines – https://www.investphilippines.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Guide-to-Foreign-Ownership-of-Land-in-the-Philippines.pdf
3. Bureau of Internal Revenue – https://www.bir.gov.ph/
4. Department of Trade and Industry – https://dti.gov.ph/
5. National Commission on Indigenous Peoples – https://www.ncip.gov.ph/

Please remember that this article is just a general guide and not legal advice. It’s a good idea to talk to a qualified real estate lawyer or professional if you have specific questions about your real estate transaction in the Philippines.

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