Make Sure You Have Secure Road Access or Your Property May be Useless
Having secure road access for your property in the Philippines is, to put it mildly, not something you should take someone’s word about. Always do your due diligence before buying a property with special consideration to ensuring the secure road access you have been promised is actually that.
The best scenario is if your property abuts directly on a government road. This can be National, Provincial, municipal or Barangay, and usually the easiest way to check this out is a trip to the local municipal office.
If it turns out the property you are interested in is not on a government road, the next thing is to find out the status of the the road access property you have been shown by the seller or their representative. The first thing you should do in this case is ask the seller to provide you with the official sketch plan of the road so you can determine who owns it. If they are able to provide to you a sketch plan, that sketch plan should tell you the lot number, and whether the it is a separated “road lot” or forms a portion of a larger lot. In either case, once you know the title numbers, you can visit the registry of deeds to get a Certified True Copy of the title, which will show you who the owner is and whether there is already an agreement in place to allow the owner of the lot you are considering access. This should be shown clearly on the title on the back page as an annotation. (ie: the owner of this lot grants access along a piece of land properly identified by a technical description, to the owners of the lot you are considering purchasing). One thing to study closely is whether this annotation granting right of way is specifically to the current owner, or whether it is general, meaning that ANY future owner is granted that secure road access. The key to this will be in the wording and is something you definitely want to get legal advice on.
This whole process will of course be easier if the seller already has the agreement in place, however if this is the case, there is still due diligence you should be doing. The following are some guiding points
- check that the names on the agreement are identical to the one on the title
- ensure that the agreement is notarized by a respected Attorney and that he has checked all ID’s properly
- have a relocation survey done by a licensed geodetic engineer to ensure the technical description listed on the agreement match the actual position shown to you on site
The last scenario is that there is no agreement in place, but the sellers claim that there is a verbal agreement and tells you “Don’t Worry”. That is when you should worry, however it would probably be too early to thrown in the towel and give up on the purchase. If this is the case, you basically review everything as I written above and then set about doing it yourself. (I would not necessarily recommend trusting the seller blindly on this). So, do your homework and find out who owns the lot then track them down. Once you are sure that the people you found are the rightful owner of the land, then treat this as if it were any other purchase. First negotiate the price, then have the survey done so that the agreement you will enter into will well defined, then have the owners sign off, making sure that the agreement is transferable to some one you may sell your property in the future. Once the agreement is signed and notarized, bring it down to the ROD and have your agreement annotated on the title. This last step will ensure that these people do not sell the land to some unsuspecting third party who is not told of the agreement. If that person does his due diligence properly, he will pull out his own certified true copy of the title from ROD and see that there is an agreement with you in place that he will have to honor.
Once last piece of advice. If the lot you are shown “appears” to have a well traveled road to it,, just do not take it for granted everything is kosher. There have been many sad examples where soon after purchase, a person comes home to find out that there is a barricade obstructing his way ont he road he though was public. This tends to happen especially to foreigners when the locals see a buck to be made from some one they think has bottomless pockets!