Foreign retirees: Tips for buying a condo in the Philippines |
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Foreign retirees: Tips for buying a condo in the Philippines

by Jillian CariolaPublished: July 31, 2017Updated: July 31, 2017

For expats planning to retire in the Philippines, there are certain ways to ensure that your condo purchase is done as efficiently and safely as possible

Foreign retirees buying Philippine condo MyProperty Philippines senior citizens dancing

For many years, several experts have been touting the Philippines a top retirement destination. In fact, just this year, global retirement and relocation expert International Living ranked the country 19th out of 24 nations considered to be retirement havens. According to the website, the Philippines ranked highest in the categories ease of fitting in (95/100) and entertainment and amenities (90/100). This could explain the rise in the number of expats who eventually come to our country not just for work or vacation, but also for permanent residence.

To a foreigner who chooses to eventually settle down in the Philippines, property buying can be a tricky issue; after all, a foreign national cannot own land in the country (with a few exceptions). When it comes to condos, an expat can only buy a unit in any development so long as foreign ownership in said project will not exceed 60 percent. Alternatively, foreigners are allowed to lease land for 25 years, which can be extended for another 25 years, and build a home on it.

All these may seem complicated, but once you understand the rules by which you can actually purchase a property, here are some tips on making the process a bit easier.

Get a Special Resident Retiree’s Visa

Issued by the Bureau of Immigration through the Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA), the Special Resident Retiree's Visa (SRRV) grants its recipients permission to retire and live in the Philippines indefinitely, and to leave and return to the country whenever they want, among other benefits.

There are four types of SRRVs—SRRV Smile, SRRV Classic, SRRV Courtesy, and SRRV Human Touch—but the SRRV Classic is the option that specifically allows retirees to use their Visa deposit for the purchase of a condo unit or the long-term lease of a house and lot. In this case, the value of the investment must be at least $50,000.

Foreign retirees buying Philippine condo MyProperty Philippines senior citizens SRRV
Permanent residence is only one SRRV benefit. Photo via Depositphotos

According to the PRA, the SRRV can be obtained by “any foreign national or alien who is not included in the Excluded Classes under Section 29 of the Immigration Act of 1940.” To get an SRRV, an application fee of $1,400 is required of the principal applicant and US$300 for each dependent. An annual fee of $360, which covers three family members, will be charged for yearly renewal.

Ask experts for help

Granted this is your first time to buy a property in the Philippines, you will need all the help you can get, which makes it almost a no-brainer to work with a licensed real estate broker. A great emphasis should be placed on “licensed,” as these individuals work within the bounds of the Real Estate Service Act (RESA) or Republic Act 9646, which legally obligates them to practice ethically and with your best interests. Ask friends and colleagues here in the Philippines to recommend property brokers they have worked with before and know to have a stellar history of finding excellent properties and closing deals. What is also great is there are brokers who specialize in specific locations, which should simplify your search for a condo to buy in the neighborhood of your choice.

Foreign retirees buying Philippine condo MyProperty Philippines real estate agent house keys
Get help from a real estate broker to find the ideal condo. Photo via Depositphotos

Another person you should work with is a real estate attorney, who will help guide you through the legalities of the purchase. Aside from helping you with the contracts and documents you need to create and file, they can also ensure the authenticity of the purchase, that the title has no annotations, and that you know your rights as a property buyer.

Find out which neighborhoods are most expat-friendly

It is no surprise that adjusting to a new place is difficult, especially for those hailing from different countries. Finding places in the Philippines where many expats tend to congregate will help you assimilate into life in the country when you come across like-minded individuals who have made the move long before you did.

Foreign retirees buying Philippine condo MyProperty Philippines Bonifacio Global City Taguig
Taguig's Bonifacio Global City has a high expat population. Photo via Depositphotos

Metro Manila is arguably the most likely place to start, specifically cities such as Makati and Taguig due to the presence of large business and commercial districts, often a magnet for expats. As for provincial locations, overseas relocation website Expat Exchange chose Tagaytay, Subic, Cebu, Baguio, and Leyte as expat-friendly places away from Metro Manila. Meanwhile, financial education website Investopedia listed the most retirement-friendly Philippine cities as Baguio, Cebu, Dumaguete, and Tagaytay. Conveniently enough, all of these provincial places now are seeing the rise of more condo developments due to their growing local economy. But do note that the high presence of expats should not be your only basis; make sure you also choose a neighborhood for other factors such as overall safety, proximity to institutions such as embassies and hospitals, and access to public transportation.

Use the Internet to aid your search

The Internet can be your best friend when it comes to learning what you need to know about living in the Philippines, from the most magnificent tourist destinations to the best restaurants offering native delicacies. But you can harness its power for another thing: searching for a condo. Recent years have seen the emergence of many online real estate platforms that contain thousands of property listings (with photos) from all over the country. These websites are also designed to help you find a property not just by location or price, but also by other specifics such as size, number of bedrooms, and condition, saving you the time and effort you would have spent physically viewing numerous properties right away.

Foreign retirees buying Philippine condo MyProperty Philippines senior citizens using laptop
Browsing for condos online will save time and effort. Photo via Depositphotos

Research the developers of the condos you are considering

There are many top condo developers in the country, and chances are you have heard of many of them before, especially if you have seen brokers representing them handing out brochures in malls. Some developers are known for developing certain types of condos; there are those who construct only high-end projects, or those whose expertise lie in resort-type developments. Whichever type of condo you go for, do not take for granted the developer’s reputation. Find out which developer has a good track record of delivering well-built condos with excellent amenities to make sure you make a smart purchase.

Foreign retirees buying Philippine condo MyProperty Philippines condominium development heavy machinery
A good condo developer is one who is known to deliver quality units on time. Photo via Depositphotos

Mind the condo’s rules

The expenses do not end even after fully paying for the unit and the corresponding closing costs and fees. Condo owners are expected to pay monthly association due to cover the expenses of maintaining the condo’s shared spaces and amenities, and to pay the employees that keep the place running in good condition. There is no standard amount across all condos, as this is computed based on many factors, such as the size of your unit and the amenities the condo offers. To give you an idea, condo fees in Metro Manila are said to range from Php1,500 per month to Php25,000 per quarter.

Foreign retirees buying Philippine condo MyProperty Philippines dog on couch
Are dogs allowed in the condo you want to live in? Photo via Depositphotos

Also, to ensure peace among residents, all condos enforce rules that should be followed, ranging from pet ownership to parking regulations to garbage handling. Before signing anything, you need to get to know them and see if these are rules you are willing to live by forever, or for however long you intend to keep your unit.




Main photo via Depositphotos

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