Philippine Land Title Search
People often come to us with the need to check Philippine property information.
A Philippine land title search can help verify:
- Who the registered owner is
- If there are any loans or annotations on the property
- Technical descriptions of the property
Buyers usually request this to ensure they aren’t scammed.
Potential heirs also often need this to find out who the registered owner actually is, as the property might be in another relative’s name instead of their parents.
This post discusses how to check your land title and the information you’ll need.
Not what you’re looking for? If you have lost your owner’s title and are trying to replace it, check out this detailed post on the only way to do it. Or, click here if it is the Registry of Deeds who has lost its copy of your title and you need to reconstitute it.
Why you need to conduct a land title search
To become the new owner of Philippine property, the title has to be transferred to your name.
It can only be transferred by the registered owner.
A buyer will certainly be interested in making sure that the owner is actually the one selling the land.
With the proliferation of fake titles – some estimates say as many as 10,000 are circulating – and with rising property prices, it’s necessary to make sure you’re buying from the owner and not a conman.
A potential heir may also often request a land title search.
In many cases, the property title cannot be found. Heirs may be unsure as to who the registered owner of a property actually is. The registered owner will determine who inherits so it is a top priority to find out.
What you should expect a land title search
There are a few things you should expect when you are doing a Philippine land title search:
- There is really no easy way of doing this online or on the phone
- It is time consuming and often confusing
- You will have to spend some money on fees at each agency
- You will usually do your search by inquiring at the local Registry of Deeds or the Municipality where the land is located even though there is some computerization.
If you are abroad, this can be a problem.
If this is your situation, give someone a red-ribboned SPA so that they can go to the agencies on your behalf. Note they may have to spend several days to do this.
What to prepare when doing a land title search
When you do a land title search, you will need sandwiches for the expedition. 🙂
But kidding aside, often just getting information on a Philippine title can be tedious and time-consuming.
It will depend on what information you have and what you are trying to find out.
Do you have the title number? A title number identifies the property and is assigned by the registry of deeds
Do you have the tax declaration?
Do you have the address?
Or, is all you have a name?
You might just be confirming that the person selling to you is really the owner.
In this case, you might already have the title number or even a photocopy of the owner’s duplicate title, which is often provided by genuine sellers so that you can do your due diligence.
You’ll still need to go to the Registry of Deeds in person however. You will need to fill up an application form, pay for your certified true copy of title and then come back on a succeeding day when it is ready.
If you only have the address and don’t have the title at all, it becomes more difficult.
If you have just the address, the best place to go is to the tax assessor’s office at the municipal city hall where the property is located. They can help you find the title number so that you can go to the Registry of Deeds. This can take several visits.
Now, if you only have a name, you’re in a bit of a pickle.
Say a mother and son had fought and weren’t speaking to each other. She dies and the son inherits everything but cannot find his mother’s documents to prove ownership, even though he knows she had several properties all over the country.
In this case, you really need to hire a professional because this is going to take a lot of work and a lot of expense; in some cases it may be near impossible.
Summing it all up
This is a brief primer discussing how to do a land title search to verify property information.
There are other agencies to check with but these two are the most often and most used. You might want to check with other agencies for other concerns, or if you are tracing the title all the way back. It will depend on what you want to accomplish.
There are many reasons to check property information. It protects buyers from being scammed. It also allows heirs to figure out who all the heirs are – property that should have been in their parent’s name might actually be in their grandparent’s name, so there may be more heirs than originally thought.
We have too often seen defrauded buyers who paid good money only to realize that they weren’t dealing with the actual owner. Or a buyer may have been dealing only with one of the owners while the other owners were not willing to actually sell.
And in cases of inheritance, all too often, heirs don’t have any of the documents they need and so cannot figure out how to go about settling their estate.
So, whenever there is property involved, always check the title with the Registry of Deeds.
It gives you peace of mind.