The majority of foreigners have regarded Cebu as one of the best cities in the Philippines to live in. With a reasonable cost of living and a large English-speaking population, expats and foreigners surely find it easy to settle down.
However, if you’re an expat, buying your own property, like a condo, is a complex and overwhelming task. It requires a thorough understanding of the process, not to mention figuring out the financial aspect.
But with condo owners and landlords expanding their market to include expats, buying a condo in Cebu has never been easier.
6 Steps to Buying a Condo for Expats
Step 1. Find a professional real estate agent.
Professional real estate agents work closely with clients to help them buy, sell, or rent office buildings, houses, and lands. They understand the market and the current trends, including properties. This means that they can provide you with a recommended list of realistic prices for both buyers and sellers.
Real estate agents also have wide connections with others in the industry, like appraisers, landscapers, inspectors, and contractors. So whenever complications arise during the buying process, your agent can recommend the best professional that can help you with your specific situation.
Another perk of using a realtor or Cebu real estate agent is that they’ll advocate for you when it’s time to make an offer.
Tip: Don’t hesitate to negotiate. Most sellers set a high price, knowing that buyers will bargain it down. Research the average price of the properties in the area to increase your chances for negotiation. You can also look for more information about how long the property has been on the market. These details will help you shape your offer.
Step 2. Seek a condo from reputable property developers.
Now that you have a professional real estate agent, they will help you find reputable property developers. There are many benefits to buying a condo in Cebu from a reputed real estate developer. One of which is the assurance of top-notch construction.
Good quality construction is an asset. Nobody wants to compromise a house or a condo at the cost of their lives. That’s why, as a homebuyer, you need to work closely with your real estate agent to make sure that the interior structure is strong.
With massive competition in Cebu real estate, how do you choose a reputable developer? Here are some tips:
- Research the licenses and certifications required for builders to ensure that the developer is reliable.
- Make site visits to gain insights on the quality of construction and finished homes.
- Check the number of homes built, completed, and occupied. It’s a reflection of reliability, scale of operation, and quality.
Step 3. Submit a Letter of Intent.
The letter of intent is the first document you need when buying a property. This document signifies an expressed interest in purchasing a certain property. This is a handwritten (mostly) document that contains the following: the initial deposit, price, mode of payment, deposit amount, period of diligence (when the buyer assesses the property prior to the actual sale), and deadline for the seller to sign in accordance with the conditions.
Step 4. Ask a lawyer to draft a deed of absolute sale (DoAs).
The deed of absolute sale is a legal document that is signed by both parties. It proves that the buyer and seller have reached an agreement regarding the purchase. They have fulfilled their obligations, and the transaction is sealed.
The deed of absolute sale of land states that the property has been transferred under your name. This document indicates all the terms and conditions of the sale.
Step 5. Pay any outstanding fees.
After you have a deed of absolute sale, you need to finalize your financing. If you’re sure about the condo unit, you need to pay for a reservation on the property so that the seller will not entertain other prospective buyers.
However, if you decide to cancel the reservation, remember that the reservation fee is non-refundable and non-transferrable. This will be forfeited if no subsequent payments are made after the reservation fee, as specified in the Reservation Application (specific month and date agreed upon by the seller and buyer).
The cost of condo ownership can sometimes exceed the property price. Buying a condo involves various fees. Some of these are notary fees, property taxes, and real estate taxes.
Note: If you agree to purchase a condo during the pre-selling stage, you’re required to make a downpayment. As a general rule, the reservation fee is always deductible from the final computation of the condo unit price.
Other Transaction Fees:
- Transfer Tax – This is for transferring the title or ownership of the condo unit to your name. It costs between 0.5-0.75% (approximately) of the total sale price (depending on where the property is located).
- Title Registration Fee – After you have the title, you’ll need to register it at the Registry of Deeds. The cost is approximately 0.25% of the total sale price (but always depends on the registration fee table of the city).
- Documentary Stamp Tax – This document is used to process relevant papers and other documents necessary for transferring and accepting property rights from one individual to another. This costs 1.5% (approximately) of the property’s sale price.
Step 6. Move in.
The final payment computation will cover documentary stamp tax, transfer fees, notarial and documentary fees, and other administrative and handling fees. If you have issued all the checks and obtained all the necessary documents, you can now move into your new home.
However, most of the condo units are bare when turned over to the owners. So you are expected to shoulder the cost of making improvements and furnishing the unit.
Tip: Allocate a budget for construction, materials, and labor for this purpose. Also, you need to allocate a separate budget for your expenses for a more convenient stay.
Requirements for Expats Who Want to Buy a Condo in Cebu
- Alien Certificate of Registration
- Proof of Legal Residence in the Philippines (you can use valid IDs and documents with your address indicated)
- Certificate of Employment
- Tax Declaration
- Buyer’s Information Sheet
- BIR Form 1904/1903 (form for foreigners to use for registering and applying for a Tax Identification Number)
- Contract to Sell provided by the broker or developer (where the buyer promises to buy the property and the seller promises to sell the property)
Are Expats Allowed to Own a Condo in the Philippines?
Yes, expats have condo ownership eligibility. It’s written in the Republic Act 4726, also known as the “Condominium Act.”
It states that foreign nationals can purchase condo units in any condominium development in the Philippines, as long as they do not exceed 40% of the condo development.
As mentioned, buying a condo in Cebu is a rigorous process, so make sure you hire the right people before making the big decision. You should be able to live comfortably and enjoy what Cebu has to offer, even in the real estate industry.
A huge investment such as this needs sufficient time and research to ensure the best results.
Best of luck!