One of the things that can discourage investors from real estate investing is the fact that the “transaction” – the act of purchasing the property and becoming its legal owner – can take at least a few months. This happens during the Due Diligence stage of the purchase process, after the seller has agreed to your price.
First-time investors have a tendency to jump the gun because of their excitement in finding what they believe is the “perfect” property for them. In doing so, they forget to check certain things that sellers might neglect to disclose. This can range from something minor like needing to replace some fixtures to major like the property having been flooded before or the fact that it is built on a major fault line. For the record, sellers are not legally required to disclose any of this information, so the fault of finding out certain facts too late rests solely on the buyer’s shoulders.
All that can be mitigated if you’re already working with a trusted independent licensed real estate broker. He or she should already know everything to check for and will be the one to pre-screen units and sellers for you.
But if you haven’t found a broker yet, and would like to start shopping around anyway, it’s important to know the top 5 things first-time real estate investors forget to do before buying a property:
1. CHECK if the property is on a fault line or has been flooded before.
- Don’t find out the hard way! Your broker and the seller are NOT required by law to disclose this information. If they neglect or forget to do so before closing the sale, you can’t file a lawsuit against either of them for damages or compensation.
- Check in http://nababaha.com, ask current residents, the village association, maintenance and security staff, etc.
- For a condominium, check if the parking area is elevated or basement and check if whether it was flooded during the typhoon season
- With regard to the fault line, check in http://tremors.instigators.io, and Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS)
2. REQUEST for a copy of the property Title and Tax Declaration and CONDUCT your own research into its authenticity.
- Get a certified true copy from the Registry of Deeds of the City where the property is located (You will need an authorization letter from the owner to do this)
- Check if the contents of the certified true copy (CTC), owner’s copy (OC), and Tax Declaration (TD) are exactly the same on all 3 documents. More specifically, check if:
- Title number, technical descriptions, lot size, signatories, dates are the same;
- All owners are indicated;
- Spelling of owners name are the same, by the letter:
- If a second name appears in the CTC, the second name should also appear in the OC
- If the maiden name of one of the owners appear, the maiden name should also appear in the OC
- The property is clean or if it is not (mortgaged or has any other encumbrance, annotation, or lien);
- Check if the persons listed in the Title and all their spouses are alive;
- The Tax Declaration of the Improvement (if any) is up-to-date and reflects all improvements (e.g. swimming pool);
- Important Note: When the new title is transferred to the buyer’s name, make sure this information is also correctly written in the new OC. The Registry of Deeds manually types all these and as such it is prone to human error.
3. ENSURE that all the title owners are currently residing in the Philippines for the duration of the sale.
It is a legal and logistical nightmare to transfer a title while one or more people involved are not in the country because:
- The person abroad must appoint an attorney-in-fact by executing a Special Power of Attorney that he must have notarized then sent to the nearest Philippine Consulate for consularization.
- This is a process that can take anywhere from one week to several months. There wouldn’t be any delays if all parties are in the Philippines and able to execute the legal decisions on-the-spot.
4. ENSURE that the owner is currently settled (paid) on all property and utility bills which include:
- Real Property Taxes
- Homeowner’s/Condominium Association Dues
- Utility Bills
- Cable TV
- Phone Bill
5. Get a copy of the House/Village Rules to ENSURE that what you’re planning to install, change, or build on the property is allowed by the Homeowner’s / Condominium Association. Some usual things to check are:
- 24 hour operations
- Building is Fiber-Ready
- Provision for air conditioning systems (e.g. where to place condensers)
- Number of telephone lines allowed
- Water/Electrical Provisions for Appliances (e.g. Dishwasher)
- Small/Big Pets are allowed
- Letting more than 2 people stay in the unit
- Design of the house (for villages with themes)
- City Restrictions on Height of Structure
Bear in mind that this is not a comprehensive list. The things you have to check for will change depending on the type of property, its location, and the seller’s background. The process can easily get overwhelming, especially if you have other priorities and investments to manage. This is where your trusted independent licensed broker comes in.
Disclaimer: This material, which is strictly for information purposes only. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Juan Patag’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of RE/MAX Capital, or any other RE/MAX franchise. Any information is subject to change without prior notice. No liability whatsoever is accepted for any loss that may arise (whether direct or consequential) from any use of the information contained herein. Information Each RE/MAX franchise is independently owned and operated.