Top Considerations When Buying a Condominium in the Philippines

When buying a condominium unit, several things should be considered. Knowing these ahead of time can help one better understand the process and deal with the pressure that comes with it.

While residential houses are regarded as the indispensible property purchases for people, some see condominiums as being an even better option.

For expats, first time homebuyers and balikbayans (Filipinos who have become citizens of another country and have returned to the Philippines for an extended visit), buying a condominium unit seems to sometimes be a great investment. With all the changes transpiring today, life can become hasty, and what homebuyers want on the sometimes-difficult journey towards owning a home is relaxation, convenience, and flexibility.

Any home-buying decision can be influenced by family, emotions, and personal reasons. Nobody also knows what the future might hold for one’s finances. So before jumping into buying a property, the first things to do is to create a secure plan. Buying condominiums in the Philippines the right way will definitely save you a lot of legwork and money.

Here is a list of considerations to give you an idea on what to look for in a condominium unit.


When buying real estate, location should be one of the major factors on the top of your list. It helps create the tone of your experience, while determining other elements in condo living such as proximity and accessibility to needed comforts and conveniences.

Also, it is with the location of the property that price appreciation is greatly affected. Makati, for instance, being a prevalent metropolis in the world and the financial center of the Philippines, has always proven to be a good investment area.

2. MASTER PLAN (Amenities and Population Density)

A condominium with a good master plan is definitely a great deal. Your master plan includes several factors like the density of the area (the number of tenants in the building which has an inference on foot traffic, intervals on elevator ride, tenant’s privacy, etc.), security management, and the designation for open spaces such as the landscaping and parking areas.

Photo: philipines.jpeg  Despite being situated at the heart of the city, most condominiums in the Philippines control the number of tenants in their area.

When searching for a condominium, it is important to have a site visit to be able to identify its strengths and weaknesses. True, the model unit looks good in the brochure, and the virtual tour which you had viewed on the Internet was quite convincing – but have you considered the overall structure of the building? Look at the floor plan closely and make an evaluation. Keep in mind that the more residents a condominium has, the less space is available and the more inconvenient amenity sharing gets.

Similarly, parking areas should be considered. A parking space gaging from 7 to 10 square meters may cost around half a million pesos, so make sure that the space is worth the payment. But if you could not afford it, rental parking spaces are available and may only cost Php3000 to Php5000 per month.


The developer’s reliability is significant when looking for a good condominium. The track record of the developer is one of the most important details that a homebuyer should be aware of when buying a condominium unit. References and testimonials from people may help assess and determine a developer’s performance in the real estate industry.

For a condominium that is in the pre-selling stage, it is critical that the operations move forward until completed. If halted, refunding becomes difficult and there may be a chance that you won’t get your money back. One of the reasons why people are investing in a condominium is because they would like to use it right away. In the case of the typical balikbayans, it would be flexible to have a place of their own when they visit the Philippines and have it leased out for rental income when they’re abroad.

Many investors and homebuyers are convinced by developers on low monthly payments in return for a longer turnover date (waiting time). Be cautious before securing your reservation check.

Equally, condominiums that are ready for occupancy (RFO) should be evaluated by their reputation in property management. Property management is essential when buying a condo as it reflects the efficiency of the maintenance and security of the common areas and amenities.


Association dues are your additional expenses every month. Usually, they’re a fixed amount multiplied by the total floor area of your unit and parking slot, if you have one. Also, they represent your contribution to the shared costs acquired by all condo owners. These include electricity and water in common areas and wages of security and maintenance personnel. The penalty interest rate for late payment can range from 1 to 4% per month, so make sure that you pay these association dues on time.

Payment Terms
Value Added Tax (VAT). Check whether the price that is being priced to you includes the 12% VAT. BIR has released a new law concerning VAT openings on real estate properties in the Philippines. This threshold started on January 1, 2012.

Closing costs and down payment. The closing costs usually cover the registration fees, transfer taxes, documentary stamps tax, etc. Some developers may require you to pay in 30 days or after the reservation. Down payment, however, varies for every type of project. The typical amount of down payment required in the Philippines ranges from 10% to 30% of the package price.


Prior to buying a condominium, identify what certain rules and regulations need to be observed. This way you won’t be surprised once you move in the area. It will help you choose which condominium development to purchase. As a resident, you are bound by these rules.

In addition, getting to know the competence of the property management is vital, as they are the ones that ensure the maintenance of amenities and common areas of the condominium and proper implementation of rules and regulations.

Making the right move in condo acquisition is essential, whether you are buying as a resident or an investor. Knowing all the considerations can make the difference between a carefree lifestyle and possibly regretting the condo buying decision.

Boom Rizal is the writer and editor for She helps Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW’s) make good decisions when investing in various businesses and/or real estate. You could email her at

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  1. wayne January 25, 2013 at 7:36 am

    Interesting – a price guide would have been very much appreciated, especially if it compared condo to apt to property.

  2. jo veno January 25, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    i leave the u.s. to escape ornerous association dues and rules among other things. why would i subject myself to that all over again? go buy yourself a farm buddy.

  3. Tony Vella January 29, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    Just left the Phillippines after spending five weeks in the Manila / Makati areas, having spent most of my time in San Lorenzo Village. The Philippines does not seem to be aware that the world is in deep recession. The amount of high rise buildings going on ,is out of this world everywhere you go.
    There are more high end shops in one area of Makati than one can find in Rodeo Drive, very clean, air conditioned , and very secured. The economy seems to be really fired up, unlike here in the USA.

    The only negative I could see, is the huge amount of traffic in the cities, and the amount of dirty exhausts coming out of the tricycles, motor bikes, jeepneys and buses.

  4. Ed April 5, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    There are several things to be aware (and careful) of when buying a condo in the Philippines.

    1. DO NOT fall into the trap of “AS LOW AS” and “EASY PAYMENT PLANS”. They would not mention to you the AS SMALL AS size corresponding to the AS LOW AS. I believe that there is coming to be an oversupply of units and developers are getting creative with their offers. RFOs (Ready For Occupancy) and Lease-Options are signs that there is already a glut in the market.

    2. DO NOT be fooled or tricked by their SHOWROOMS or MODEL UNITS. What they show you are fully made up and fully interiored units. What you will actually get is a concrete box using the cheapest materials in the market. These concrete boxes are sometimes devoid of exhaust system and do not have hookups for washer – dryer.

    Unlike in the US wherein you get what you see together with color and other options, Philippine condos do not have that. There is no such thing as DISCLOSURE here that’s why the developers can do away with DECEPTIVE MARKETING.

    You’ll be surprised there are even no good quality cabinets in the units.

    3. DO NOT make the mistake of making any deposit unless you are really ready to buy. It is very difficult to refund those deposits, should you decide to back out. I personally lost a P50,000 deposit.

    4. Before you buy, I would suggest you look at some units for sale (5 to 15 yrs old) so you can have an idea of the quality of maintenance and upkeep of the condo buildings where the units are located. Sad to say, condo buildings in the Philippines do not get an uplift nor maintain their “good as new” look over the long term. Condo buildings here seldom (or never) get any window wash in its lifetime. You don’t even see buildings being repainted or at least washed.

    Once you’re inside, look at how the walls and floors are maintained. Don’t be surprised to see pin lights dropping or busted light bulbs.

    5. They will tell you that it’s a “good investment” and you can have it rented out. As far as renting is concerned, I’d say “good luck”. It will sound as good investment because the cost per sqm on year X will be higher than now and that will be the price you can sell it at that time. Please note, prices of condos here are not dictated by the market. Prices are based on the current cost to build more than the law of supply and demand. With the forthcoming glut, can you expect to sell your unit at a profit? Of course you can sell it, but who will buy??

    6. DO NOT expect your unit to come furnished (washer/dryer, range, ref, aircon). As earlier mentioned, you get a concrete box with a base paint, cheap flooring material and low cost toilet / bathroom fixtures.

    SUGGESTION, AVOID buying a condo in the Philippines

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