Can foreigners own real property in the Philippines?
By. Atty. Nikko G. Lagmay

As a general rule, ownership of real property in the Philippines is reserved for Filipinos. Section 7, Article 12 of the Philippine Constitution provides:

“Real properties are reserved only to Filipinos, or corporations and partnerships 60% of which is owned by Filipinos.”

 

There are some instances however when foreigners can own real estate in the Philippines.

 

1. Hereditary succession.

 

Foreigners can inherit real estate if they are compulsory heirs of the decedent (person who passed away). The foreigner however must be a legal heir. A foreigner cannot inherit through a provision in the last will and testament of a Filipino.

 

2. Marriage to a Filipino.

 

3. A former natural born Filipino who subsequently acquired foreign citizenship.

 

4. Acquisition of Condominium Units.

A condominium unit may be 100% owned by a foreigner. It can be registered under a foreigner’s name. It is however subject to the rule that the entire condominium corporation, is 60% Filipino owned. To illustrate, if there is a condominium project that has 100 identical rooms, 40 rooms of said project can be owned by foreigners.

 

5. Acquisition through a corporation.

 

Under the law, corporations can own real property. Foreigners can own shares in a corporation, making them technically owners of real property.

 

As a general rule, the corporation however must be 60% Filipino owned. 

 

6. Buildings, houses and structures, separately from the land.

 

What is prohibited by the Constitution is ownership over land. In the Philippines, land can be owned by one person, and the structures built thereon owned by another. Thus, a foreigner may purchase or erect a structure in a land owned by a Filipino.

 

Can foreigners lease real properties in the Philippines?

 

Yes. Foreigners can lease real property for a period of 50 years, renewable for another 25 years.

 

If you are a foreigner and you wish to purchase or invest in real estate in the Philippines, you can contact the author for assistance at ngl@lordlaw.ph.

Real estate lawyer Greenhills