Thursday, October 1, 2015

Foreign ownership of real properties in the Philippines - By Marlon C. Magtira

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Ownership of real property in the Philippines by foreign nationals remains unclear to a lot of ordinary buyers or individuals who would like to acquire lands or real estate properties.

To guide prospective foreign buyers of properties in the country including Filipino citizens married to foreigners---here are some of the Frequently-Asked-Questions and basic legal facts including the requirements for foreign acquisition of real property:

Are foreigners prohibited from owning real property in the Philippines?

Answer: No. (Foreigners can also acquire or purchase real property in the Philippines but only under the following circumstances):

1. Acquisition of real property by hereditary succession – Example: Peter Parker inherited the Philippine property (the property may have been acquired under the 1935 Philippine Constitution) from his relative.

2. Acquisition of real property under the 1935 Philippine Constitution.

3. Purchase of not more than 40% of the units in a condominium project in the Philippines.

4. Purchase by former natural born Filipino citizens, subject to the requirements or limitations prescribed by law:

5. Acquisition shall not exceed 1,000 square meters for urban land or 1 hectare for rural land to be used solely for residential purpose of the transferee (Batas Pambansa, Blg. 185) (under the Foreign Investment Code, Republic Act 8179, 5,000 square meters for urban land or 3 hectares for rural land for business or other purposes’ of the transferee);

• In case of married spouses, one or both of them may avail of the privilege provided that the total area shall not exceed the maximum limit in paragraph i;

• When the transferee already owns urban or rural lands for residential purpose, he shall be entitled to acquire additional urban or rural land for residential purpose which, when added to those already owned by him, shall not exceed the maximum area allowed by law.

Q. If my daughter will marry a foreigner, can she still be allowed to acquire and own real property in the Philippines?

Ans: Under Philippine law a Filipina who marries an alien or foreigner retains her citizenship unless by her act or omission, she is deemed to have renounced her Philippine citizenship. If your daughter has not renounced her Philippine citizenship (example through swearing allegiance to and becoming a citizen of her husband’s country) she is not prohibited from acquiring and owning real property in the Philippines.

However, under the Dual Citizenship Law of 2003, natural born citizens of the Philippines who have lost their Philippine citizenship by reason of their naturalization as citizens of another country may reacquire Philippine citizenship by swearing allegiance to the Philippine. Once they reacquired their Philippine citizenship, they can buy and own real property in the Philippines.

Source: Andy Manalac, Chairman, National Real estate Association (NREA)

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