Transaction costs are very high in the Philippines

November 22, 2017


How high are realtors’ and lawyers’ fees in the Philippines? What about other property purchase costs?

Transaction Costs

Who Pays?
Notary Fee 1% - 2% buyer
Local Transfer Tax 0.50% - 0.75% buyer
Registration Fee 1% buyer
Documentary Stamp Tax 1.50% buyer
Capital Gains Tax 6.00% seller
Real Estate Agent´s Fee 3.00% - 5.00% seller
Costs paid by buyer 2.50% - 3.75%
Costs paid by seller 4.50% - 6.50%
See Footnotes
Source: Global Property Guide

How difficult is the property purchase process in the Philippines?

Foreigners cannot own land, but can own condominium units or apartments in high-rise buildings as long as the foreign proportion does not exceed 40%. They can also buy a house but not the land on which it is built. Leases on land up to 50 years, renewable for another 25 years, are available.

philippines luxury houses

If a foreigner is keen on acquiring land, there are several options. One, if married to a Filipino citizen, is to have the ownership of the land under the Filipino’s name. Even though a foreigner cannot buy land, he may acquire land through inheritance. Another option is to acquire land through a corporation. Corporations can only be, at the maximum, 40% foreign-owned.

The maximum area that may be acquired for residential purposes is 1,000 square meters of urban land or one hectare of rural land.

When buying new property, it is important to look for properties backed by established developers and licensed real estate agents/ brokers, especially in cases of off-plan or pre-selling (the property is at the planning stages and non-existent during the time of the sale).

In general, property can be acquired by simple agreement. After deciding what property to buy as well as inspecting the premises and documents, the buyer usually signs a binding notarized Deed of Sale. Employing the services of a reputable sales agent is convenient because they not only provide vital information regarding the transaction and property, but also assist the buyer in getting mortgage loans.

Buying condominiums

A down payment of 10% to 30% is usually required. Ownership of condominium units is evidenced by the Condominium Certificate of Title (CCT) but the transfer of title is usually not executed until the property is fully paid. Foreigners can only own up to 40% of a condominium project.

Holders of Special Resident Retiree’s Visa (SRRV), a non-immigrant resident visa, can get additional benefits aside from being allowed to buy a condo unit or lease a parcel of land or a house and lot. The SRRV holders can reside in the Philippines permanently, with multiple-entry privileges and zero travel taxes. Other benefits and information about the SRRVisa is available on the Philippine Retirement Authority Website.

philippines luxury condominiums

Buying land

The process of buying land in the Philippines is cumbersome and tedious. Aside from the fact that foreigners are not allowed to buy land, the system of land registration and classification should make any investor think twice. The farther you are from the capital the more caution one must take.

However, serious land problems also exist in the NCR. There are 11 laws directly related to land registration and nine others indirectly related to land disposition and administration. Aside from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Bureau of Lands, there are several agencies that have direct and indirect control over land. The courts also have the authority to award land ownership.

Legal Procedures in transfer of title (land and apartments)

  1. Owner and Buyer agree on sale of a piece of land. Through a lawyer, a Deed of Absolute Sale (DOAS) is created and notarized.
  2. A Land Tax Declaration is secured from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and submitted to the city or municipal Assessor’s office.
  3. Buyer pays real estate tax to the City Treasurer’s Office.
  4. The Assessor´s office assesses the market value of the property.
  5. Transfer taxes are paid by the buyer to the Assessor´s Office.
  6. Capital Gains Tax and Documentary Stamp tax are paid to BIR.
  7. The Registry of Deeds (RD) cancels old title and issues a new one in the name of the buyer.
  8. The buyer, now the new owner, obtains a photocopy of the new title and requests tax declaration from the Assessor´s office.

philippines residential property

Ownership is evidenced by the Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) in the case of single houses and raw land, and The Land Registration Act requires the owners of property to register titles with the Registry of Deeds. The titles must be registered in the same province as the property. However, the records are inaccurate in such that overlapping might exist. There is a proliferation of fake and double titles. The completion of survey of all the lands in the country, mandated by the 1903 Public Land Law, is nowhere in sight.

The whole process of registering property may take around 39 days to complete eight procedures.

Value Added Tax

According to RA 9337, the following sales of property are VAT-Exempt

  1. Sale of real properties not primarily held for sale to customers or held for lease in the ordinary course of trade or business;
  2. Sale of real properties utilized for low-cost housing as defined by R.A. No. 7279, otherwise known as the “Urban Development Housing Act of 1992” and other related laws, such as R.A. No. 7835 and R.A. No. 8763 wherein the price ceiling per unit is PHP450,000 (US$9,000) or as may from time to time be determined by the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA);
  3. Sale of real properties utilized for socialized housing as defined under R.A. No. 8763, wherein the price ceiling per unit is PHP450,000 (US$9,000) or as may from time to time be determined by the HUDCC and the NEDA and other related laws;
  4. iv. Residential lot valued at PHP1,919,500 (US$38,390) and below, house and lot, and other residential dwellings valued at
  5. PHP3,199,200 (US$63,984) and below: provided, that not later than January 31, 2009 and every three (3) years thereafter, the amounts herein stated shall be adjusted to their present values using the Consumer Price Index, as published by the National Statistics Office (NSO).

It takes around 32 days to go through the nine procedures needed to register a property in the Philippines.

Footnotes to Transaction Costs Table

The round trip transaction costs include all costs of buying and then re-selling a property – lawyers’ fees, notaries’ fees, registration fees, taxes, agents’ fees, etc.

Notary Fee
Notary fees are generally around 1% to 2% of the property value. Notary fees are negotiable.

Local Transfer Tax:
Local transfer tax is 0.50% for properties located in provinces, and 0.75% for properties located in cities and municipalities in Manila.

Documentary Stamp Tax
Documentary stamp tax is around 1.5% and it is levied on the selling price or fair market value of the property, whichever higher.

Capital Gains Tax:
Capital gains tax is really a transaction tax on selling or transferring real estate properties classified as capital assets. The capital gains tax is levied at 6% of the gross selling price or fair market value of the property, whichever is higher.

For taxation purposes, properties are treated as capital assets if it is not used in trade or business, and properties are treated as ordinary assets if it is used in trade or business, such as rental property. Ordinary assets are not subject to the 6% Capital Gains Tax.

Real Estate Agent´s Fee:
The real estate agent´s fee is generally around 3% to 5% of the property value. Real estate agents will usually do the registration process without any additional payments aside from the commission. br>


ricardo | March 15, 2010

hello. i just want to ask if i could sell a house and lot all by myself. What I mean is could i and the buyer facilitate it without any other persons getting involved with exception of the lawyer who provides the deed of sale?

Your Mamma | March 24, 2010

Ricardo, the answer is yes. You don't need an agent. All you need is a lawyer to make up the deed of sale. And if you are smart, you can get that for about 1500 pesos ($35).

carmen | March 31, 2010

Iam a Australian citizan and Iam interested to buy a 6 door old apartment. Am I allowed to purchase this or Am I dual citizen. The price is 4Million. Also can you recommend some honest lawyers who can honestly help.

Ronnahlyne Doyle | June 07, 2010

Hi! I'm a filipino citizen. I am planning to buy a house and lot for 90,000.00. Its residential house and lot. How much will it cost me with all the fees, such as transferring of the titles? How will I know that the lot is titled and not fake? Please help me. I need some information. Thank you!

Ronnahlyne Doyle | June 07, 2010

The land area is 543 sqm for 90 thou. How much will it cost me all in all?

Vanjojin | June 25, 2010

There is a lot to be sold to us. however, the lot has no title since it was just being awarded by the city government. there is a certificate of award. Is selling this lot a legal one? if we will purchase the lot, is there a posiblity to work out its title? thanks

Edd Bautista | July 29, 2010

We are purchasing a House and Lot in Philippines but the person who own the property was in USA and she had given his nephew the SPA from the USA with seal and stamp from Consulate. My Question is; in the Deed OF Absolute Sale whos name should be appearing was the Authorize person? Orb would it be the person whos name was on the title? If the name was the name of the original owner then what type of clause or reference could it be legal to used if the Authorize representative will be signing in behalf of the original owner.Please can you provide sample of Deed Of Absolute Sale with this scenario. URGENT please and thank you in advance.

annie | August 17, 2010

hi,im planning to buy a property in the pihl.i have a person whos handling all the paper works you need to pay the seller to photo copy the title of his land that his selling?if so how much?do you have this title check up if its legit?where nad how much would it cost nad notorized?approximately..?thanks do much

Concon | August 21, 2010

My dad died back in 1987. he disposed of his parents properties among his 2 brothers and one sister. he left a 12 hectare beach property (agricultural also)under his parents name and told my mom that it was his property. the property was not transferred under his name when he died in 1987. now, we have a quitclaim signed by one of his brothers and his sister over the land. the other brother died in 2002, survived by his four childredn who told me that they are willing to sign a quit claim. How do i go about all of this from making the quit claim and transferring the property under "the Heirs of my Father"?how much will I pay for procedure of transfer?what government agency should I go to?thanks...

earl bing | August 22, 2010

I have a question I bought a lot here in cebu city and i have a deed of absolute sale but haven't transfer it to my name. my question is if i have a deed of absolute sale am i already the owner even if i haven't transfer it to my name..


Irma Caldino | August 25, 2010

I have a house&lot at Dasmarinas Cavite, I just finished paying it April this year thru In house financing (Bank Loans)I want to ask the procedure for transferring the title in my name from my Developer and how much it will cost and the necessary documents that I need to prepare since I have only 2 months vacations in the Philippines and I want to finish the transaction. As per my Developer, they told me that it will cost me about 35,000 Php for the said transfer of title. Need your insight for this. Thanks-Irma

Luke | August 28, 2010

I own a 2-br, 130 sq M condo in Mckinley Garden Villas at McKinley Hill. I am looking to sell this unit and would like to find a reputable, hard working licensed real estate agent. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Concon no.13 | September 03, 2010

I am a lawyer. So, go to a lawyer (give the details like your family tree, so she or he can picture who are the heirs and how the property will be passed on) for him to make Extrajudicial Settlement of your late grandparents (since they were the registered land owners) with Waiver of Rights and Interests (of your uncle and aunt and late uncle's children) in favor of the children of your father (that is you and your siblings). Let your uncle and aunt and late uncle's children sign said document. Bring the document and go to BIR for assessment and let the paper be assessed for payment of taxes (estate, transfer, etc.) Go to Assessor and then to Register of Deeds, all these agencies must have jurisdiction over the land of your grandparents. For example: the land is located and registered in Manila City, go to BIR, Assessor and then to Register of Deeds and not in Quezon City.

Laarni Ontal | October 31, 2010

i need your assistance regarding buying lots from an organization...

marites_a | November 08, 2010

how can i buy a property in the philippines even if i'm overseas, can my relatives be my representative but my name still appears on deed of sale and the TCT?

laarni | January 10, 2011

Hi marites! Im laarni from Century Properties Development Corporation, Im a property consultant or also called as a real estate agent. Yes, you can do that marites. It is still allowed even if your not physically present. We have a project here in my company, The Moderno at Canyon Ranch, We offer a very flexible terms of payment. You can send message thru my email it's [email protected] I just dont want you to think that Im just fooling you or It's a scam. Anyway, you can search naman our company's background. We are 24 years in the industry. Thanks. God bless.

myra | March 18, 2011

i would like to ask how much does it cost to transfer a a residential house and lot title that has an amount of P700,000.

Eugene | March 22, 2011

Sir, i would like to ask about the odds that i can cancel the deed of sale made for a house and lot ( worth 2.5M) of my late grandparents which was inherited by their 10 siblings. (which by the way, haven't been transferred in their names) So far their was no payment made yet, but the buyer said that they had spent much for the preparation. (i have no idea what it means, or what stage in the buying process are they already) is there anyway that i can intervene so that i can buy the said property. (by the way i'm one of the siblings) thanks. hope to hear from you as soon as possible.

paolo quireno | June 15, 2011

hi! can i ask how will i know the current market value of my piece of land in the province because I want to sell it and I don't have an idea how much will I ask with my prospective buyer? thanks

Jan Aldrin Urlanda | August 03, 2011

hi im buying a condominium unit, and will use pag-ibig financing. is there a transfer fee that will be charge to me? they said it is 4.8% of the amount to be financed is it legal?

anthony fenton | October 23, 2011

hi im an Australian and would like to know if land that was given to the people of the Philippines under Agrarian Reform program can be sold to another Philippine person tony Oct.23 2011.

elmabc | January 01, 2012

Hi there. Our house and lot in Makati is under my father's name. My father wishes to transfer the title(s) to my brother. What is the best option to do that and what are the procedures? Thank you in anticipation for your response.

ces sua | February 24, 2012

hi, I'm a US citizen. My brother, a US citizen as well owns a condo unit in Makati. It is fully paid but owes taxes and association dues. He is no longer interested with the property and decided instead of losing it he would transfer the ownership to me if i will pay for whatever the property owes and lift his debts in taxes and association. Can he transfer the ownership to my name and I will pay for whatever that was owed or does he need to pay for them first? He does not want to pay for it and does not want to waste his time doing papers as well, he just wants to sign a transfer documents that would lift whatever responsibility he has on the property to me. This property has a lot of fond memories of my parents and sibling and dont want to loose it. Pls help me. I need some information. Thank you

Mel R. Rabelas | July 22, 2012

To paolo quireno.. You can get a licensed appraiser to give an objective valuation of your property. it doesn't cost that much. its better to get the help of professionals to save on costs and give you advise on how to dispose your properly quickly and fair to both parties. but be sure to hire licensed professionals..

jimbo duran | August 12, 2012

Hi! my parents are planning to buy a house and lot, lot area is 600 sq meter, the house is about 300 sg meter in area.

When we check the lot title in the registry of deeds, the title is in the name of the seller with the correct total lot area (legitimate).

But, when we check on the property's tax declaration, the lot was subdivided in 3 lot titles, but there are only two lots with the name of the owner. The 3rd lot was not declared. In addition, the house was not declared as well. it is supposed to be on the same document as the lot declaration right? The owner says, this one (undeclared house in the declaration for tax purposes) is really not unusual, they do this to minimize the tax. She said that the important thing is the lot title from the registry of deeds. How accurate is this?

What are the necessary steps that we should take before purchasing this property? my parents are really interested with the property.

Thank you very much

Len Grindulo | August 24, 2012

hi! my fiance and I bought a townhomes in filinvest calamba (la brisa). It is our first property buy. When we bought it the agent that we talked to said that the normal processing of papers including approval of bank loan is 2-3 months only. we already made our full down payment last march and until now the status is still "processing". i just want to ask how long really is the normal leadtime of paper processing of tax declaration and land title? and bank loan approval... filinvest is so inefficient that until now there is an error in the land title whatsoever. it is so frustrating how they process our papers. pls help. what can we do for a faster processing and what can we do if still they can't process it. pls help. T_T

Ayala Bacolod Property Specialist | December 03, 2012


hi! can i ask how will i know the current market value of my piece of land in the province because I want to sell it and I don't have an idea how much will I ask with my prospective buyer? thanks.

Hello, Base on what i know, there are no publications to determine the current value of the real estate in the Philippines, However there is a publications to determine the zonal value of a real estate property, You can check it in BIR Website and go to the province and city where you real estate is located.
Remember Zonal value is not the market value, to compute your market value or say the Tax Base just divide it by 0.20. But dont trust the Zonal Value because most Zonal Values Published by BIR were not updated better to contact a real estate broker or consultant to determine a market value of the property. or if your afraid the cost of services of a realtor; Let him award him the transaction of the sale base on commission. Else to determine the market value: use the Comparative Approch Method ask the price of the adjacent lots.

emilyn | December 03, 2012

Hi My boyfriend and i planning to buy a house and lot in the philippines and were not married yet.. hes going to pay for all this expenses in thru full payment and is it possible to put our both name and even were not married? i am filipina and he is Australian.

Ayala Bacolod Property Specialist | December 06, 2012


Hi My boyfriend and i planning to buy a house and lot in the philippines and were not married yet.. hes going to pay for all this expenses in thru full payment and is it possible to put our both name and even were not married? i am filipina and he is Australian.

Hello emilyn; Foreigners can not own a real estate property in the Philippines,However, He can own a house a townhouse a condominium, but he cannot own the lot. Even you if you were married to him someday, only you a Filipino citizen can own a lot, unless he acquired a Filipino Citizenship. Then both your name may appear in the Title.

Wilmalyn Falcunaya | January 22, 2013

Hope you can assist me.

I am planning to buy a land in our province.The problem is, this land was awarded by the government to the owner. The owner still pays for it annually. So right now, they still don't have the mother title. What they have was the deed of sale and a certificate that the land was awarded to them. I would like to know the consequences of buying this land. And also, what can be the possible measures or steps I should make to be able to obtain the land.

abby | May 19, 2013

i have a filipina friend she is a real estate broker in california and she plans to buy a property here in the philippines, is it possible for her to get a full commission which is the 5% or she needs to have a sales consultant with regards to commission sharing since she is not a broker here in the philippines? please help URGENT! thank you...

ANGUS LEE | July 31, 2013

1.Notary Fee 5.00% - 10.00% buyer
2.Notary Fee
Notary fees are generally around 1% to 3% of the property value. Notary fees are negotiable.
i'm wonder which on is correct?

Scott Convery | August 22, 2013

Are there any non Philippinos here who have obtained a mortgage for a condo puchase in Philippines? I'm British and looking to get a loan of roughly 50% of the propety value for purchasing a condo in Manila. I see that PNB offer mortgages to foreigners but at a rate which is about 2% higher than to locals. Anyone know if there are some good deals out there for foreigners? many thanks!

Scott Convery | August 22, 2013

Angus Lee - it is 1-3% for notary fee. I checked with brokers when I was in Manila recently. I think the 5-10% figure is a mistake.

yhanmar654 | August 27, 2013

Hi.....I have a condo which is not fully paid yet.....I'm planning to get a deed of transfer of rights because we are moving back to US next friend will continue the payments...I ask the Seller regarding the transfer of rights of the unit to someone.....they said that I have to pay the capital gains that is 7.5% of the actual price plus the processing fee...Is this legal because I'm not the owner yet I'm still paying for it I'll just want to transfer my rights...pls give me an advice....thank you!!!

cindy | November 01, 2013

My sister and I bought a house together in Manila 3 years ago. She wants to sell her share. I offered to buy her out but does not want to sell it to me, but she wants to sell it to my sister who I do not get along with. My dad and my nieces and nephew are currently living in the house. The other sister that wants to purchase her share wants my family to move out of the house and rent out the house instead to make profit. I do not agree with this at all.
I just want to know if I have the first choice of buying her share?
If my other sister does become my co-owner, does she have a right to kick out my family out of the house without my permission?

Mai Sison | February 25, 2014

I am from the Philippines. A third person who agreed to pay for the loan of a principal buyer because she cant pay for her land property anymore. I am now paying the monthly amortization to the bank.

How do I transfer the rights to me if the land property is already under bank loan. The bank gave me 2 options. 1. Apply for loan takeout OR 2. wait until land title is given to the principal buyer, then transfer the title to me.

May I know the pros and cons for the 2 options?

Thank you so much!

Sir Des | July 03, 2014

I am a foreigner and not resident in the Philippines but potentially interested in purchasing a condo there.

For me the big question is once I decide to sell the property how will I get the cash back out of the country? As far as I can see there are capital controls so doing a simple FX transaction via my bank is restricted. Any thoughts?

Gracie | July 14, 2014

Hi sir des,

I am currently in charge of selling my cousin condo unit in Makati City Philippines. Its in Greenbelt Madison center of Makati City. If you are interested you can email me @ [email protected]

Lucky Smith | May 19, 2015

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Mike | November 14, 2015

Hi Could you kindly advise the administration cost to have 2 building lots consolidated into 1 building lot at Paulo Amsec Angeles City Philippines -
I guess the Lot Title Deeds would require revising and registering
Thanks, Mike

alain john | January 21, 2016

I purchased a House and Lot in Philippines but the person who own the property was in USA and she had not given the SPA from the USA with seal and stamp from Consulate to her behalf. My Question is; in the Deed OF Absolute Sale whos name should be appearing was the Authorize person? Or would it be the person whos name was on the title? If the name was the name of the original owner then what type of clause or reference could it be legal to used if the Authorize representative will be signing in behalf of the original owner.Please can you provide sample of Deed Of Absolute Sale with this scenario. Is it possibble that without the DOAS the transfer of the title of the land to my name will be process? Where does the DOAS should come from US or Philippines?URGENT please and thank you in advance.

randall | April 28, 2016

can someone who is half Filipino and half white born in canada buy a house in the Philippines?

Juliet canon | June 11, 2016

I'm ready to purchase. Found property. Email me

Gly Alberastine | June 19, 2016

Hi, I want to buy property in Philippines for 150 sq meter Lot only in davao philippines. I'm Canadian citizen but born questions are; 1) how much do I pay property tax yearly? 2)where do I pay them? 3) am I allowed to own property? Thank you.

Cherisse | August 18, 2016

I bought a lot in Cavite, the per sqm is P5500. A total of 1.69M. My realtor did not informed me regarding the TAX. I only knew about it when I was about to sign the contract. The value of my lot was increased to P1.8M. What bothers me is, when I looked at my contract the VAT portion says N/A. I'm now confused, did they really indicate the tax? why did they put N/A. When I asked them, they said yes. I hope to get an answer here.

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