Philippine Land Title Search

by | Nov 7, 2018 | Property Law, Title Issues, Sales & Transfers

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

    A man and a woman searching for a land title

    Looking for land title in the Registry of Deeds confirms important information.

  • 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

The issuance of title is the ultimate evidence that you are the recognized land owner.

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 man and a woman beside each other with land in the background, and an arrow indicating the transfer of property from one to the other.

The issuance of title is the ultimate evidence that you are the recognized land owner.

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

    Numerous documents with a magnifying class on top

    Beware of fake titles!

  • 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

A picture showing a clock to indicate the time involved.

It takes time and effort to check if a land title is valid!

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.

A person buried in documents indicating that verifying land title information itself requires information.

Verifying land title information can be tedious and time consuming depending on the information you have at hand

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 s

A picture showing the building of Registry of Deeds In Quezon City with an icon of a land title document beside it

Registry of Deeds is the primary government agency tasked in maintaining public records involving lands

on 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.

A woman holding a plackard with the words

It can take longer than expected if there are problems with the property’s existing documents or records, or the information you need to conduct a title search is lacking.

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.

A picture showing a man holding a telescope and the word agencies and several buildings in the background.

ROD and LRA are the most common agencies involved when verifying land titles, but there are other government agencies holding public records that may be of help.

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.

6 Comments

  1. Lemuel

    How to know if the land don’t really have a land title? The seller only have tax declaration proof of ownership. He told me that all the area in that place only have a tax dec and he said that we can apply for title of our own.

    Reply
    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      A tax declaration is not sufficient proof of ownership.

      He must show you the title in his name and you must check to make sure it is valid.

      If he has a tax declaration, it is possible to check if the property has a title but it it tedious to do. You will have to go to several government offices to double check.

      The Office does title verification as well.

      Reply
  2. Barry

    My wife and I are about to get a divorce here in America. I’m an American citizen and she is a Filipina who got her US citizenship in 1997. She owns a house and property valued at around 10 million pesos. I have some of the information regarding the property such as the address but not the land deed.. Can my lawyer here in the states obtain the copy of the land title for me? If so, how do we go about doing it because she refuses to give us a copy and I think she may have used a fake name to obtain it? Any information would be a great help so we know what our next move is. We are in the beginning stages of getting the divorce and I don’t want to waste time running around trying to figure out what we need to do next. Thanks in advance for your help.

    Reply
    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      Sent an email.

      Reply
  3. Jose

    A relative of mine purchased a parcel of land in the province many years ago. The person selling the land only provided a tax declaration (which as you mentioned isn’t proof of ownership). A government agency who purchased land adjacent to the property is now trying to claim that they own the land. What is the best course of action? The original seller of the land is already dead but his son is alive and willing to attest that they sold the land to my relative. Can you email me so we can talk about it?

    Reply
    • Atty. Francesco Britancio

      Sent an email.

      Reply

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