SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan
Can anyone (including foreigners) own and occupy real estate in your jurisdiction (including shares in property owning companies)? Are there any restrictions?
Only Filipino citizens or corporations owned to the extent of at least 60% by Philippine nationals may own land in the Philippines (i.e., foreign equity interest is limited only up to 40%). However, any person, including foreigners, may own a building. If the building is a condominium, foreigners may own up to 40% of the units therein on the basis of floor area. All unit owners in a condominium building will be stockholders of the condominium corporation which, in turn, will own the common areas, including the land on which the condominium building stands.
Are there restrictions on lending for the purchase of real estate by foreign companies? If so briefly give an outline?
We are not aware of any such restriction. Foreign companies may lend to a person who is qualified to own land (see the nationality restriction on land ownership, discussed above) or to any person who will own a building.
Please provide a short summary of the fees and costs (including tax) relating to buying real estate in your jurisdiction.
The taxes will depend on whether the real estate (land and/or building) is a capital asset or an ordinary asset. If it is a capital asset, the purchase is subject to capital gains tax at the rate of 6% of the gross selling price or current fair market value, whichever is higher, and documentary stamp tax (DST) of 1.5% of the actual consideration for the sale. If it is an ordinary asset, the purchase is subject to creditable withholding tax at range of 1.5% to 6% depending on the status of the seller, 12% value added tax, and DST. In addition, the purchase is subject to local government transfer tax payable to the city or municipal treasurer at a typical rate of ½ of 1% of the gross selling price or current fair market value, whichever is higher. Moreover, the transfer of the certificate of title to land (please see item III below) is subject to payment of fees (with a schedule/ scale) to the Register of Deeds.
Are there tax breaks or other incentives for foreigners to buy real estate in your jurisdiction? If so what are they?
We are not aware of any such tax breaks or incentives. (Please note the nationality restriction on land ownership, discussed above.)
How is the ownership of Real Estate evidenced in your jurisdiction?
Ownership or title to land is evidenced by an Original Certificate of Title (initial owner) or a Transfer Certificate of Title (all subsequent owners) issued by the Register of Deeds where the land is located. Ownership or title to buildings/ other immovable property is typically evidenced by a Tax Declaration issued by the City or Municipal Assessor of the city or municipality where the building is located.
Is it possible to keep the identity of owners of real estate confidential in your jurisdiction?
The evidence of ownership or title to land and buildings as discussed above are considered public documents. They may be accessed at the office of the Register of Deeds or the City/ Municipal Assessor. In this context, the identity of the owners of real estate may not be kept confidential.