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House for Sale in Makati: Can Foreigners Own Them?

The Philippines has always been a fascinating destination for many tourists and holidaymakers turned expatriates who enjoy not only the country’s tropical climate, beautiful nature, and friendly people, but its relatively low cost of living. In fact, the country is home to an ever growing community of expats from all over the world, most of whom are retirees. While foreigners are generally prohibited from buying and owning land in the country, they are allowed a legal residence, meaning you can buy a house for sale in any city, but not the land it stands on. The simplest way to acquire land is to have a Filipino spouse or relative purchase the property in their name. When deciding to own a residence in Makati or any other major city in the country, you have several options like:
 
  • A condominium unit – Perhaps the easiest property option for a foreigner, a condo unit fits right into the allowable legal residence type as you get to own the structure but not the land beneath. The Philippine Condominium Act states that a foreigner can own a condo unit, as long as 60 percent of the units within the building is Filipino-owned.
 
  • A house – Foreigners may also legally own houses as well as other types of buildings, as long as they don’t own the land on which the house sits. A good workaround is buying a freestanding home and leasing the property. The Investor’s Lease Act of the Philippines allows a foreign national to enter a lease agreement with a local landowner with an initial period of 50 years (maximum) and a one-time renewal option for up to 25 years.
 
  • A corporate land – Corporations are allowed to own land in the state, provided that at least 60 percent of the company is Filipino-owned. Corporations need to be registered with the BOI or Board of Investment in order to buy or sell, or act as intermediary in any real estate transaction.