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Guide When Buying Real Estate in the Philippines

This is the standard sharing of expenses between the buyer and the seller when transferring the real estate property title (TCT – Transfer Certificate of Title or CCT – Condominium Certificate of Title) to a new owner:

The SELLER pays for the:

  • Capital Gains Tax equivalent to 6% of the selling price on the Deed of Sale or the zonal value, whichever is higher. (Withholding Tax if the seller is a corporation)
  • Unpaid real estate taxes due (if any).
  • Agent / Broker’s commission.

The BUYER pays for the cost of Registration:

  • Documentary Stamp Tax – 1.5% of the selling price or zonal value or fair market value, which ever is higher.
  • Transfer Tax – 0.5% of the selling price, or zonal value or fair market value, which ever is higher.
  • Registration Fee – 0.25% of the selling price, or zonal value or fair market value, which ever is higher.
  • Incidental and miscellaneous expenses incurred during the registration process.

The above sharing of expenses is the standard practice in the Philippines. However, buyers and sellers can mutually agree on other terms as long as it is done during the negotiation period (before the signing of the “Deed of Sale”).

The “Deed of Sale” or “Deed of Absolute Sale” is the document showing legal transfer of real estate property ownership. The deed of sale is then taken to the Registry of Deeds to be officially recorded after paying the documentary stamp, transfer tax and registration fees. Always verify from the Registry of Deeds the authenticity of a Transfer Certificate of Title before buying a property. If the seller only has a tax declaration, be extra cautious and check with neighbours, the Barangay captain or anyone in the know in the community to verify the seller/owner’s true identity and the property’s history.

Your Agent / Broker will usually do the registration process (sometimes for a fee). However, all government taxes, transfer fees and incidental or miscellaneous expenses will be shouldered by the buyer.

Documents needed when transferring the title (TCT or CCT) to the new owner:

  • Certified true copy of the title
  • Notarized copies of the Deed of Sale
  • Latest tax declaration of the property
  • Certificate from the Bureau of Internal Revenue that the capital gains tax and documentary stamps have been paid
  • Receipt of payment of the transfer tax and registration fees

An adapted form of the “Torrens” system of land registration is used in the Philippines. The system was adapted to assure a buyer that if he buys a land covered by an Original Certificate of Title (OCT) or the Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) issued by the Registry of Deeds, the same will be absolute, indefeasible and imprescriptible.

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