WITH savings to purchase a new home a key motivator for local workers to seek employment overseas, the overseas Filipino workers’ (OFW) market is a potentially robust part of the Philippine property sector.
However, the difficulties of searching for a property and completing the many steps necessary to purchase it while still posted in a foreign country can be challenging for many buyers.
Online property services site MyProperty.ph and financial services firm Loansolutions.ph, two of several online resources catering to OFW property hunters, said there are three basic tips to follow to make the process secure and relatively easy:
Find a trusted representative: Because the OFW obviously cannot be physically present to inspect properties and sign and submit required documents, a trusted representative who will serve as “attorney-in-fact” is an absolute necessity.
“An attorney-in-fact is someone who will represent you throughout the property-buying process. You can appoint your spouse, one of your adult children, one of your parents, a relative, or even a close friend, but be sure to choose wisely,” MyProperty.ph said. The person should be someone the OFW can trust to understand and be capable of carrying out the necessary tasks, who will be acting solely in the OFW’s best interests.
“Once you have selected your attorney-in-fact, they need to sign a Special Power of Attorney (SPA) form and have it consularized (notarization by the Philippine consulate) so they can officially act on your behalf, MyProperty.ph explained.
Study housing loan options: Both MyProperty.ph and Loansolutions.ph pointed out that most banks, other lending organizations, and government agencies such as the Pag-IBIG Fund and the Social Security System (SSS) have special housing loan options for OFWs.
The OFW can research most of these online, but Loansolutions.ph stressed that special care must be taken to find out what documentary requirements must be met, as these differ from one agency to another. Lending companies or financial facilitators—such as Loansolutions.ph, which is not a lender but helps connect borrowers to loan sources —can assist the OFW in reviewing all the available financing options and requirements.
The Pag-IBIG Fund, for example requires that an OFW submit a copy of their employment contract, the original employer’s certificate of income (if photocopy, it must be validated and certified/initialed by HDMF Information Officer assigned in the country where the member works), and other proofs of income validated and certified/initialed by HDMF Information Officer assigned in the country where the member works.
Banks typically have more documentary requirements, such as the OFW’s employment contract or other certification of employment, crew contract and exit pass validated by the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (for seafarers), proof of monthly remittances, and a notarized/authenticated SPA.
Property developer Megaworld also pointed out that it is crucial for the OFW to get an idea of the total cost of buying a property—including expenses like Philippine Capital Gains Tax, Documentary Stamp Tax, Transfer Tax, and Registration Fee. The real estate agent can explain any documents, and the OFW should not hesitate to ask for a complete breakdown of both monthly or yearly payments and larger, one-time fees, Megaworld added.
Seek the assistance of a licensed real estate broker: It is not mandatory to use the services of a licensed broker, but the Real Estate Brokers Association of the Philippines (REBAP) highlighted several advantages of doing so.
A licensed broker serves as experienced “eyes and ears” for the OFW homebuyer in inspecting properties, gathering photographs and other vital information about the property and its neighborhood, checking the status of titles, and helping to direct the OFW to loan providers. Working with a licensed broker also provides a certain measure of peace of mind, REBAP said, as they are held to strict professional standards.