The biggest pitfall in buying a property is trust

You come across a house for sale arrange to see it via an agent and all is going well. You want it and want to get the process moving as quick as possible. The first issue you should look at is are you dealing with an agent / developer or private sale. The reason for this is very simple firstly an Agent will be adding fees. Secondly if you’re using an agent they are not a guarantee payment to the developer.. A prime example of this is when you send your deposit fee etc. and as far as your concerned you have paid the developer because the agent is dealing with the transaction. The agent runs short of cash that month so borrows out of your money to keep afloat until they get the next few sales before putting the money back. Now this may be a minor issue or major one. Because if they get the sales they will put the money back and get your lot reserved. But if its late you may find that the lot you wanted has been sold by another agent. In extreme cases the agent has disappeared with several potential buyers deposits and first few months payments. So be cautious, there has also been a case where the receipts that were given are ones that are from the developer but the book was actually lost/stolen shortly after a lot of money was collected by the agent the agent disappeared into the wilderness. So your first port of call when dealing with an agent is make sure they are a good one and in it for the long haul.

Private sales are a bit more negotiable but still not a guarantee there has been cases of relatives selling land that belonged to someone else. E.g. an OFW and currently I have some property im looking to purchase soon which recently I discovered has two titles. Because the second was used to cover a gambling debt. In this like most situations dealing with large amounts of money seek out a good lawyer the forums are a great place to find them  via expats. But try to get one that several expats are using rather than one expat saying the lawyer is good because they may just be personal friends or have only had one transaction supervised by that lawyer.

Dealing with the developer. If you can deal with and find the developer they are the best people to deal with because you are cutting out the middle men. But also look at other projects they have worked on. The reason I say that is a lot of sub-divisions are packed in like sardines with 1.5 car wide roads and 1 drive space. OK we don’t live in the West where every house has 2+ cars but the problem is this is a developing nation sooner or later the amount of personal transportation will increase and so will the sub-divisions headaches. If you can find a few people in the sub-division to chat to try to get an idea of the quality of construction and any problems they had to overcome. E.g. concrete movements due to poor quality mixes, wall paint flaking, poor electrical circuits, leaks etc. etc. because when you get yours built no doubt these issues may reappear and worth getting it discussed with the developer before a single Peso is paid on a lot. Then get some guarantees from the developer (if possible) tied into a legal agreement. A lot of the developers are looking at this as a permanent project so there is a lot of quality standards that need improving but you might be surprised that the developer can be a bit flexible because at the end of the day the OFWs and the foreigners are the ones with the budgets and not only that they are used to higher standards. So you getting what you want also makes properties more sellable to the Western market if the developer takes note on some of the issues you have.

Most importantly * GET A GOOD LAWYER * and make sure they are good  a bad lawyer is just as likely to rip you off and maybe cut an agreement with the property sellers as some of the sellers being out to make a quick cash killing on someone who doesn’t know what they are buying…

Final note being NEVER buy from the internet. A friend of mine recently seen a small holiday resort at a very good price online. But after his relatives here visited he was surprised to find out it was land locked. Any disputes with neighbours could leave you with no access to your property. He swiftly dropped the idea but the same resort is still advertised online and does not show or tell you it has no road or footpath access except via neighbouring lots.