Planning to Purchase a Condominium Unit in the Philippines? Read this Newbie Condo Buying Guide (1 of 2)

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Looking to buy a condominium anywhere in the Philippines? Read through some of the questions below and find some answers to common newbie buyer questions. 

Here's an overview of what's in this article:

  • What is a Condominium?
  • What To Know Before Buying a Condominium Unit
  • I'm a Filipino Living Abroad, Can I Still Purchase a Condo in the Philippines (PH)? 
  • I'm a Foreigner, Can I Buy/Invest in Condominiums in the PH?
  • What Documents are Required to Own a Condo?
  • Should I get a Broker, Can a Real Estate Agent Assist me or Do I Hire a Lawyer to Buy a Condo Property?


Now that I got that covered, let's start!

real_estate_investing(Photo credit: Pixabay. Edited by ArtGirl)




♠     What is a Condominium?     ♠

A condominium (or condo for short) is a vertical structure or building which is composed of several condo units per floor. The building can be a low, mid or high rise depending on the number of floors. It also holds various common areas and amenities owned and shared by residents like the elevators, lobby, swimming pool, gym, etc.

A unit can stand as an individually owned home within a floor together with other units beside each other. It can be a studio, a garden unit, a one, two or three bedroom unit or a penthouse unit. Parking slots can also be purchased and are either in several levels of the basement or a parking podium.

Price can range from the most affordable or low priced to the really upscale and then most luxurious condominiums. There are plenty to choose from so you have to narrow down your choices and check your finances or else you will be overwhelmed.

As an example, here's a short video I took last year. It shows some of the really affordable condominium properties in Boni/Pioneer, Mandaluyong City, NCR, Philippines.

(Video credit: Lucy Stephanie via YouTube)


These are already sold out but there's a new affordable condo launching here soon and it's all studio units. (I have the project details of course.) 

The above is an example of a purely residential condominium complex. Other such properties can also have commercial and residential units combined in one building. Some developers have properties with separate buildings each for commercial units and residential units. Others have a combination of hotel and residential units either in just one building or separated into two or more.


(Photo credit: Robinsons Land Corporation


An example of a combination of hotel and residential units in one condominium would be the Chimes Greenhills by Robinsons Land Corporation (RLC). It is still affordable but it is an affluence inspired condo. It has five floors dedicated as hotel rooms while the upper floors are residential units.

Another mixed-use condominium development example would be The Residences at The Westin Manila Sonata Place, a wellness centered and luxury property. It's the only Westin-branded residences in Southeast Asia and as such has two main structures within the property. See below.

buying_condominiums_in_the_philippines(Photo credit: Robinsons Land Corporation)


As you can see in the image above, the shorter building is the The Westin Manila hotel at 30 stories high. It is a Westin hotel through and through with amenities from the ground level to the fourth floor. All the rooms above it are for guests to check into. Across it would be The Residences which is 50 stories high. Its first to fourth floor would be the entire exclusive amenities area while the 5th floor going up are purely residential units.

Now that you know what a condominium is, how will you know which one to buy? 





♠     What To Know Before Buying a Condominium Unit     ♠

First things first, you need to know your wants and needs when buying a property. There are several factors you need to consider. Should it be entertainment, sports or family oriented? Do you prefer convenience? Do you want a garden unit in a condominium so it will feel more like a house? Or what are the things you are looking for in a condo property? Remember you are not only buying a unit to live or invest in, you are also buying the benefits it offers. Plus you will have quick access to anything else surrounding it.

things_to_know_before_investing_in_condo(Photo credit: Pixabay)


Think about everything then decide by knowing most of the answers to the following:

  1. Location: Have you chosen a specific range or area to live and/or invest in? Do you want a park, malls, a renowned hospital or prestigious universities nearby? Should it be near where you work?
  2. Purpose: Why buy it? Is it for you, your family, your friends, significant other or relatives? Will you sell it after 5 years? Is it for investment like rentals or what will you do with it in five or ten years?
  3. Number of bedrooms: Who will live in it and/or who will pay and own it? Do you prefer to live in a unit with or without parking slot/s and/or balcony? 
  4. Pre-selling or Ready for Occupancy (RFO): Do you need to live in it or lease it out now or can you wait until construction is finished after a few years? Can you pay for an RFO unit or a pre-selling one? 
  5. Budget: How much can you pay monthly? How many units can you afford? Is your salary and other sources of income enough to pay for a condominium of your choice over several years or more than a decade? Who will pay for the property, just you or including someone else? Can your company buy bulk units?
  6. Developer: Which company is developing the condominium? Is the property developer reputable? Do they have a great track record or are they new to the business? Are they known for any bad condominium developments? Are the amenities focused on families, entertainment, sports, health or is it a generic development?
  7. Lastly, are you willing to compromise on certain wants and needs? I mean, not everything you prefer can be in just one condo property right? If it is then buy in it, if not you will have to compromise and prioritize some things over others. 


Consider things like if pets are allowed or if it's possible to use it as a commercial or rental unit in the future, etc. Commercialization of residential units is usually not allowed but some can be turned into leased units depending on the property and developer. A prime example of a residential condominium with units you can convert to a rental one would be The Radiance Manila Bay along Roxas Boulevard.

With regards to pets, not all condominiums allow animals in the building. Most condos do not but The Residences at The Westin Manila Sonata Place in the Ortigas Business District will allow small pets like chihuahua or cute little poodles. Even cats or small birds can live with you too. All animals must be declared and approved first before you bring it in upon turnover.

q_and_a_condo_buying(Photo credit: Pixabay)


The Westin Manila hotel offers pet services to guests among other things, thus the unit residents can avail of it as well! 





♠     I'm a Filipino Living Abroad, Can I Still Purchase a Condo in the PH?     ♠

The answer is a big resounding YES! Even if you are an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) or just prefer to live outside the country, you can still buy a property here in the PH. There's no problem with it. Just have someone represent you legally here if you cannot go back and forth from abroad.

Get a Consularized (consulate notarized) Special Power of Attorney (SPA) and the person named in it can also be the one to sign documents on your behalf here in the PH. Otherwise provide a locally notarized SPA before you leave the country temporarily or permanently.

investing_in_philippine_properties(Photo credit: Pixabay)


In case you are a natural-born Filipino who have changed citizenship and are living abroad, you can still purchase a condo unit in the PH. As per Batas Pambansa 185 (BP 185) and Republic Act No. 9225 (R.A. 9225) your children can also purchase a condo in their name because you are a Filipino by birth. Therefore, your offspring retain Filipino citizenship even if they were born outside the country. All or most of the immediate family members can also file for Dual Citizenship at the nearest Philippine Embassy/Consulate.





♠     I'm a Foreigner, Can I Buy/Invest in Condominiums in the PH?     ♠

Yes of course! There's no one stopping you but you. Haha. If you are not a Filipino citizen, just make sure the condominium you will purchase from can still accommodate you. Foreign ownership per condominium is at a 40% maximum. Meaning only 40% of the total condominium units of any condo can be sold to foreigners, 60% will belong to Filipinos.

what_to_know_before_buying_a_condo(Photo credit: Pixabay)


Section 5 of the Condominium Act of the Philippines R.A. 4726 or The Condominium Act states the following:

Any transfer or conveyance of a unit or an apartment, office or store or other space therein, shall include the transfer or conveyance of the undivided interests in the common areas or, in a proper case, the membership or shareholdings in the condominium corporation: Provided, however, That where the common areas in the condominium project are owned by the owners of separate units as co-owners thereof, no condominium unit therein shall be conveyed or transferred to persons other than Filipino citizens, or corporations at least sixty percent of the capital stock of which belong to Filipino citizens, except in cases of hereditary succession. Where the common areas in a condominium project are held by a corporation, no transfer or conveyance of a unit shall be valid if the concomitant transfer of the appurtenant membership or stockholding in the corporation will cause the alien interest in such corporation to exceed the limits imposed by existing laws.

Otherwise if the condominium property already reached the 40% foreign ownership limit then there are only two other ways to buy a unit. You would either have to be a foreigner married to a Filipino citizen or you should have a Special Resident Retiree’s Visa (SRRV). Another option would be if you are part owner of an at least 60% Filipino owned business/corporation in the country. You can then buy local properties or lease land where you build a property. That's advanced information though and may be discussed in detail at another time.

For bank loans/mortgage, a foreign national must have been living in the country for three years or have a business here. You can also check with BDO bank to know more about the loan requirements. 

If you need more info and some advanced details, you can also watch this video published in 2014. It is mostly in English so you can still understand what they are talking about.

(Video credit: 9 News & Current Affairs via YouTube)




♠     What Documents are Required to Own a Condo?     ♠

Developers may have a bit of difference in requirements. As a foreign individual, you will surely need to have a passport, government IDs plus a one-time Philippine Tax Identification Number (TIN) from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). For Filipinos, you will be required to present 2 valid government IDs as well as proof of billing and proof of TIN among other things.

For a complete list of requirements, inquire from your agent or broker. We'd be happy to provide you details on everything that is needed.

philippine_condo_buying_101(Photo credit: Pixabay)





♠     Should I Get a Broker, Can a Real Estate Agent Assist me or Do I Hire a Lawyer to Buy a Condo Property?     ♠

A broker and an agent are usually two different people in the Philippines. Only a real estate broker is licensed to sell properties while an agent has a sub-license to sell. Meaning a real estate agent (like me) must be under a licensed broker and/or work in-house with a developer in order to be legally able to sell any property in the country. They both also have to be registered with government agencies like PRC and HLURB.

Decades ago until only several years ago, Filipino agents, brokers or anyone without a license could still just sell properties left and right. Imagine what kind of and how many shady dealings were happening back then. Lol. This is why the Philippine real estate industry is getting better and better because of the improvement in regulations happening over the past few years.

Both a broker and an agent can help you in acquiring a condominium unit. Either of the two is fine. Some brokers will have an agent assist you while others will help you out themselves. On top of that, a broker can have several agents working for and together with him. He/she can hire agents to sell properties he/she is handling and are accredited to sell.


(Photo credit: Pixabay)


Legally, an agent cannot sell a property to anyone if they are not under a broker/developer. Bottom line, agents are usually the ones who will assist you (buyers) with most of the things you need in order to acquire the condo unit. 

FYI, there are two kinds of agents: a general brokerage agent and an in-house agent. A general brokerage agent is someone who can sell you any property their broker handles and accredited to sell. Or they can sell any other ones to you, not handled by the same broker, as long as they have their own broker's consent. On the other hand, an in-house real estate sales agent would be someone who is hired and works directly for a developer like RLC. Most of the time this kind of agent is not allowed to sell any other property to anyone unless it is by the developer they work for. 

As for lawyers, correct me if I'm wrong but they are not allowed to sell any property to anyone unless they are also licensed real estate brokers/agents or they have an SPA. You can hire lawyers to buy in your behalf subject to certain conditions but they cannot sell properties to you without the aforementioned conditions. There are a few more possibilities but that's a topic for another day. But of course they can handle the documentation afterwards once the condo and all the required papers have been turned over to you by the developer or the broker. 

Hiring a lawyer is best if there are complications to buying and even selling a property not when purchasing a freshly launched pre-selling or brand new RFO condominium. If it's foreclosed, there's a legal case against the developer, or it already has a title but is mortgaged then those are matters they can help you with. You can also choose to work with a reputable brokerage company instead. They can also deal with any complicated purchases. 

Buying a new condo unit/s shouldn't be difficult at all. Talk to any property agent in mall booths or find one online (ahem!). 


* * * * * * * * * * *


So, do you think you are ready to purchase a condominium unit in the Philippines now? Oh but I know there are a few more questions to answer! In the next one I will share more questions and answers to some common or newbie condo buyer questions. Stay tuned! 

If you'd like to inquire about the properties mentioned here you can send me an email, reach me on Telegram or comment below.


Should you have other newbie condo buying related concerns, wait for my next blog or ask me in the comments. (^_^)

(Photo credit: Pixabay)



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