“I'd rather regret the things that I have done than the things that I have not.”
― Lucille Ball

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Lot for sale

It's a while ago that I wrote in my blog, but it was too busy and no Internet in the Philippines.

This week I went back to Thailand via Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur where I had to initiate two new projects.

After my three weeks project work in Cabuyao, Laguna, I took a week leave to start processing the purchase of a piece of land (lot) in Pangasinan, north Luzon. 

I asked my wife to come from the Netherlands to join me the last week in Laguna and Saturday 29 August we left together heading to Pangasinan, where we met the family again.

On Sunday we went to the lot that was offered to us half a year ago, to see it again. It was really magnificant, the view over the rice fields to the moutains of the Sierra Madre, quiet, along a barangay road. We loved it both, it was love at the first sight.

Meanwhile - this was reported a few weeks ago already - there were also a British and a Canadian interested to buy the lot. But because we were the first ones that offered a price half a year ago, the old lady wanted to sell the lot to us if we were willing to agree with her asking price, being 240 peso per square meter.

Given the fact that there was competition - I checked of course if it was really true and not a sales trick - I agreed with the price under the condition that we could do an investigation to check the ownership, location, lay-out etc. The area was 7.228 square meter, so a price of ca. 1.7 M peso, a bit above my budget, but anyway we had to agree.

It seemed that she had the right papers (Absolute Deeds of Sale). but very old (from 1947) and a description that did not match with the layout plan that was made in 2006. So I decided to have our surveyor involved to measure the land and investigate the papers and finally to get a "clean" title for the lot. He told me that these days this takes maximum 3 months. Before it could last one or even more years, I know examples where after 2 years and 60.000 peso procedural costs, the title is still not available.

A title in the Philippines is a government registered proof of ownership and description of the lot, including mortgages if any. This is the most safe way to by a lot in the Philippines. My wife didn't like the surveyor as she was afraid that it was bad luck, as the previous times it ended up in a no buy due to unclear papers.

Monday we went to the surveyor - it was a holiday, the remembrance day of the guy who had established the "Iglesia ni Cristo" - so he had nothing to do and a chance to earn some money. He is 70 years old, but still active, the people call him Engineer. He is a certified geodetic engineer.

We agreed on the price, 5.000 peso for the land survey and 3.000 peso for the paperwork. It was my intention to do the paperwork first and if clean then the land survey, but everyone else wanted to do it the other way. I knew already the procedure for measuring the land from a previous survey 2 years ago. It takes about two hours in the heat of the day. My wife organised a lunch in the field. After completing all measuring we went back to the old lady for the real lunch, Filipino food like sinigang. In total I think we had to feed 15 people, our own family members who joined us that day and all the neighbors of the old lady. The lady herself did not join. Total cost 1.500 peso.

After lunch we went to the old lady to get the papers for making xeroxes and the surveyor even tried to convince the old lady that the price was too high, but she was not willing to lower the price. She was born in 1923, so 86 years old and she had even more and bigger lots, so a real millionaire, but very greedy. That is why the people in the barangay don't really like her I was told.

When we had all copies, the party was over and we went home. The surveyor asked us to get the next day a "true certified copy of the tax declaration" of all the lots she had as input for his investigations. You can get such a copy from the city assessor office. Next day it was organised by my family, but it turned out they asked for the wrong documents. So I decided to do it myself and went to the assessor's office. The man was very helpful and the whole archive came upon the table, even the tax books from 1947 and later. On the maps in the office the lot was identified. It took him an hour until lunch and after lunch he continued. In total he must have been busy for me 2-3 hours, but finally he concluded that some papers were missing and it was not possible to clearly proof that the old lady was the owner of the whole lot.

The problem was that the lot had a "tenant" for already 60 years. We met the brother of the tenant before. It seems that in such cases the tenants have certain rights. The old lady had offered the tenant 300.000 peso to exit the lot, but she said she could only pay if she had received the money from the buyer of the lot.

From the archive in the assessor's office it was not clear who the owner was of a partial piece of the lot, so it could be that later on someone would claim it, perhaps the tenant or another clever Pilipino. The assessor went to an office around the corner, where they work on reforming of the farming land in the Philippines, but also there they could not find proof of ownership. Hence he advised us to cancel the deal with the old lady and the fear of my wife came true, we failed again.

By the way did you recognize the picture I used for my blog intro on top? Indeed it is the lot that I was talking about now.


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