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Can Foreigners Invest and Own Properties?

PropertyAccess Team |

Let us give you a straight answer: Yes. Unknown to many, there are a few ways foreigners can actually own some property in the Philippines, should they decide to settle or do business here. Yes, there are limitations like an absolute ban on land ownership, especially on farmland, but nevertheless, foreigners can live in a property they comfortably own. 

Specifics on foreign ownership
Let us mention the only instance where foreign ownership is allowed even on titled land. If you can remember your Philippine history, we were under American colonial rule for 48 years, including 11 years of self-rule as the Commonwealth of the Philippines. As an independent republic, we inherited the American-supervised 1935 Constitution of the Philippine Commonwealth, which allowed foreign ownership of land, particularly Americans obviously, and their heirs or successors. 

As we follow the principle of no ex-post facto law, all foreign-owned land prior the abolition of the 1935 Constitution in 1972 is still held in trust by their foreign owners and successors. But of course, that's only a microscopic fraction of the already microscopic Philippine elite. Fortunately, the proliferation of condos nationwide made foreign ownership of property possible, as long as the foreign buyers of a condominium project doesn't exceed 40% of the total occupancy.

For foreign entrepreneurs and start-up founders, and their foreign staff, their Philippine-registered companies with 60% Filipino ownership may purchase properties for their use. Another way is for them to buy the house or residential structure and co-opt a property management firm, under which the actual lot is titled after. This way, it gives the foreign owner a firm security of occupancy as compared to company-owned properties which use they may forfeit after leaving the company.

Land ownership for former Filipinos
While the law is strict on foreign ownership, it gives some leeway for former Filipinos who may otherwise be legally considered foreigners after taking in another citizenship. For example, an unmarried ex-Filipino may own an urban property of up to 1,000 sq. m. or a rural property of 1 hectare, but for residential purposes only. But, the same size of properties may also be used for commercial purposes if the properties were bought by legally-married ex-Filipino couples.

However, if properties larger than the legal limits were purchased before the said Filipino lost his/her Filipino citizenship, he/she retains legal ownership. Fortunately, an ex-Filipino may circumvent property size limits simply by reacquiring Filipino citizenship as a dual citizen. Also, as the Philippine laws allow retention of Filipino citizenship even after marriage to foreign nationals on foreign jurisdictions, the Filipino spouse may own both residential and commercial properties without restriction.

The PropertyAccess advantage
Should these facts clear some doubt and encourage you to now tap foreign buyers, fortunately, you may start selling property to the international market straight away via PropertyAccess. With PropertyAccess, PRC-licensed real estate brokers may take advantage of our 60 day free trial and already gain exclusive access to over 200,000 Japanese investors actively seeking new property investments in Southeast Asia. Just sign-up for our Agent Program at https://propertyaccess.co/ph/agent