Another in my series on owning your own home in the Philippines.
(last updated 17 May, 2017)
Build Your Philippine Home Now And Beat Inflation!
- 0.1 Build Your Philippine Home Now And Beat Inflation!
- 0.2 There Is More To Fear Than Inflation
- 0.3 “Informal Settlers”
- 0.4 Doesn’t Have Anything To Do With Me
- 0.5 You Can’t Really Control What’s Happening By Remote Control
- 0.6 Are You Hard Enough?
- 0.7 And Even If You Win, You Lose
- 0.8 If It’s Working For You, Great, But Remember, You Are The Exception, Not The Rule
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How many times have I heard that advice? On and on and on the arguments flow, often fueled by the figures some real estate guru churns off his computer, based on the “Good Old days” of the US housing market bubble, when every house was going to appreciate in just a few years, and every owner was a real estate investment “expert”.
And there’s there’s grouchy old Dave, advising “don’t do it people”, “not in the Philippines.” The amount that you might save by “beating inflation” can easily be eaten up, and more, by the pitfalls of “remote control” property ownership when you are not living here in the Philippines.
There Is More To Fear Than Inflation
Just today I received a request for help. A couple built their retirement dream home here in the Philippines before it was time for them to retire. Clever them. They “beat inflation”. So what’s their problem?
Otherwise known as “squatters”, this is a huge, huge problem in the Philippines.
First of all, there are nowhere near enough dwelling units to accommodate the population.
Secondly, people can’t afford the cost of ‘real’ accommodations.
Third (oh, and by the way, I only ‘heard’ this story, I can’t prove it). certainly politicians over the years have paid folks from the provinces to come to Manila and ‘squat’ in their districts. Informal settlers vote, same as those who live legally.
Forth and finally, courts and law enforcers are notoriously unwilling to grapple with the situation. I’ve watched nationally sanctioned resettlement efforts under the supervision of the President himself, grind to a halt on national TV.
Doesn’t Have Anything To Do With Me
Now you may ask what does this have to do with me? I plan to have someone from my family live in my house when I’m not in the Philippines.
Well, good luck with that. It can work. But it can also be a huge recipe for disaster. Uncle Joe and his family move in. Then, a few months later, likely without even any notice to you, Uncle Joe’s widowed sister and her little brood come to stay, because the children are starving and there’s no shelter for them anywhere.
Then a few months later, Uncle Joe’s sister’s former mother-in-law moves in to help care for the children and subsequently falls and break her hip … confined to bed.
You Can’t Really Control What’s Happening By Remote Control
Meanwhile, you are off earning a living in the US, blissfully unaware of what’s going on at your “Inflation-beater” residence. No one is going to call you to convey bad news, you can virtually bank on that, my friends. (that is until they notify you that since she got hurt in your home, you are paying the hospital bills and medical expenses for this old lady you never even met … you won’t escape that, either, it happened in your home, you’re paying)
Then, finally, the magic day arrives when you can set the date to move into your home in the Philippines, for good.
Guess what? You really don’t have a home here any more.
Not unless you can evict a bedridden old lady, the beloved lola of some of your favorite nieces and nephews … who also will have no home, by the way?
Are You Hard Enough?
Are you hard enough to do that? Can you insist upon your “rights” to that degree? Maybe.
But even if you are, are you sure the law is on your side?
The sentiment of many, including many judges (by the way it may take years to get a case into court) is that those “informal Settlers” have actually been performing a service for you by using and ‘maintaining’ your otherwise wastefully, sinfully empty house.
And Even If You Win, You Lose
And if, indeed, the court rules in your favor? Who will enforce the court’s ruling? Your local police? The local mayor to whom the police look to for guidance who has been enjoying the votes of those squatters for years? Good luck with that.
Any other thoughts of who might want to enforce your court order for you and risk getting pelted by rocks, stabbed or shot, and hated throughout the community for life, because they threw poor Filipino children out on the street for the benefit of a boorish, loud, always pissed off rich American? Good luck with that too, my friends.
Here’s the copy of the response I would have sent to the person who wrote for help this morning (as so often happens, they used a phony or inoperative email when they contacted me .. afraid I would spam them I suppose *sigh*):
Thanks for writing in. I really don’t know a good answer to your problem.
In most cases the law here in the Philippines is mostly useless … Even the president of the country and the Philippine National Police can’t move squatters sometimes.
Now “if” you know someone influential, like the local mayor, and “if” s/he is on your side, maybe you have a chance of filing a case … But I have a Kano friend here, married to a Filipina who had owned land beck before their marriage, even. They found, when they went to build on the land, that it had been “Informally Settled”. Three years and P270,000 in legal fees and “gifts” later the squatter is still there and the next court hearing is not for months now.
What about family resources? Is there a respected, trusted lolo or tito who might intervene on the family level?
Resign yourself to one thing for sure … You are going to have to pay them to get them out … Sick, like sort of ‘reverse rent’, you have to pay them for using your home. *sigh*
Wish I could help more, but this is a big, big, big problem in the Philippines. Owning property which you don’t physically occupy is fraught with nasty traps like this.
I know some of you will disagree. I know some of you are going to say, “But Dave, we built our home and family is taking care of it for us, it’s working just fine.”
If It’s Working For You, Great, But Remember, You Are The Exception, Not The Rule
More power to you then, I say. It CAN work, but it is often a disaster. Financially, family relationship wise and morally … even when you win, you lose.
As we like to say here in the Philippines,”Damaged if you do, damaged if you don’t”.
Philly advises … DON’T. Of courser, when living in the Philippines, YMMV.
What else can I say about owning your own home in the Philippines?