If you were to ask an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) why they work abroad, the answer would most likely be to build better lives for their families, and one way they do so is by purchasing a property. They either buy it as a home for their families or as a way to earn more money, but one thing’s for sure: this is a costly financial decision so you need to be on your toes as an OFW, especially if you’re not around to do it yourself.
Countless horror stories of negative buying experiences are enough to render anyone scared, but you shouldn’t be as long as you know how to go about it. Here are some helpful tips on choosing and buying a property as an OFW.
What’s your reason for buying a home? As mentioned above, you might buy a home for your family to live in or as additional income by either renting it out or selling it. Recognizing what the property will be for will help you narrow down your choices as far as other essential deciding factors like location, type of property, price, and features are concerned.
If buying a home for your family, you’d want one that’s in a prime real estate location, accessible to local amenities, and priced within your budget. For a home you want to rent out, you’ll probably be looking for the same thing, plus another important element: the person who will manage the property while you’re away. If you want to buy a condo to lease out, some developers offer property management services so you don’t have to worry about looking for an occupant or maintaining the unit. Otherwise, you’ll need to get someone you can trust, preferably one that has experience in property leasing.
Who’ll be acting on your behalf? If you can’t be here to do the buying yourself, you need someone who can represent you. Since it’s a major financial decision, choose someone who you would trust with your life, like a family member or a close friend who knows your preferences extremely well. It also has to be someone who’s responsible since buying a property will require them to sign legal contracts and keep an accurate account of the real estate transactions to be made for you.
Once you’ve chosen who to entrust your property transactions to, you need to declare them as your attorney-in-fact in a Special Power of Attorney (SPA) document to make things official.
Picking the right developer is a doozy but it can be done. There are a lot of projects and developers to choose from, but you can narrow down your choices to the best ones by going for companies that have a good reputation. If you’re planning to buy a preselling home, choose a developer with a great track record for turning over high-quality projects and units on time. Large developers usually have websites where you can see for yourself the progress on the property you’re interested in to make sure it’s actually being done.
Find out from people close to you who have recently bought properties about their buying process, as well as their experience of actually living in them. You can also do some sleuthing by going to online forums about Philippine real estate to see what people have to say about these developers and their projects.
Choosing a broker is just as tricky. This is one of those instances when working with a real estate broker is essential, but make sure it’s a good real estate broker. Lots of buyers complain of having brokers who were responsive at first but went MIA later on, taking their hard-earned down payment with them. As with choosing a developer, it will help you tremendously to ask family and friends for recommendations on brokers they’ve worked with and trust. If the broker is working for a brokerage firm, find out if that company is legitimate and if they have an actual office rather than just an online operation.
If getting a loan, your requirements will be different from those of locally based employees. For instance, as a Pag-IBIG member working abroad, some of the requirements you’ll be asked to produce are a consularized SPA, an employment contract, an employer’s certificate of income, and a health statement form for OFWs over 60 years old.
If obtaining a home loan from a bank, requirements include a consularized SPA, an employment contract, a POEA-validated crew contract and exit pass (for seamen), and proof of monthly remittances.
Can’t do the ocular yourself? Let your broker do it and make sure they take lots of pictures and even a video of the property itself and its surroundings. Ask them to take note of the nearby conveniences, any infrastructure being build close by, what public transport is like, and schools within the area. In fact, give them a list of all the questions you have about the property. Remember: you’re the one who’s buying the property, not them, so you need to be as thorough as possible.
Make sure your broker takes with him your attorney-in-fact. Your broker might be able to tell you facts about the property, but your attorney-in-fact can be your subjective eyes and ears of the property and the neighborhood and tell you if there’s something about the property you won’t like.
Owning a property as a personal home or an investment opportunity is a dream for most OFWs. You don’t want your years of hard work away from your loved ones to go to waste, so be sure to buy a property only after you’ve done extensive research and with the help of people and companies you can rely on.