Verifying the Title of a Philippines Real Estate Property

One of the worst things to happen to anyone when buying a Philippines Real Estate Property is to be given or presented with a fake title. In fact, here in the Philippines, Lawyer Asteria C. Cruzbara, the head of the Registry in Davao says their office gets three to four complaints monthly..which would mean 48 complaints on the average, and that’s just for one region in the Philippines alone! Scary isn’t it? So what can a buyer like you do?

Be aware of the signs of a fake and authentic land title
Consult with a licensed real estate broker or representative
Do some leg work.. investigate!

According to Cruzbara, there are 3 ways to determine a real title – the paper fiber, official seal and serial number. The paper used for titles is similar to the paper used in Philippine money. A strip of thin fiber can be found in the middle, and can be seen clearly when exposed to light. A seal of the registry of deeds should also be found. However, you cannot rely on just the paper and seal – there had been reports of theft of title paper from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. Verify the serial number at the Registry Deeds to know if the property exists or not.

Learn how to defend yourself against fake titles, here are additional tips to avoid them:

Title Verification Process:

  1. Secure a photocopy of the certificate of title from the registered owner (owner’s duplicate copy) or authorized representative of the owner. Just to clear this up, there are 2 copies of the title – the ORIGINAL one which stays with the register of deeds, and the duplicate copy given to the owner of the land, or real estate property.
  2. Check the existence of the original copy of the above title at the Registry of Deeds with jurisdiction over the property.
  3. Get a certified copy of the above title.
  4. Check annotations (ex: liens, and encumberances) at the back of the original title whicn may not be appearing in the owner’s duplicate copy.
  5. Hold the certificate of the title against the light (original and owner’s if possible) to verify if it bears security marks or water marks such as “NLTDRA” or “LRA”
  6. The last 2 digits of the title number should be the same as the last 2 digits of the page number found at the top right portion of the title
  7. Verify from the Land Registration Authority (LRA) if the serial number (upper left side portion) corresponds to th series of titles assigned or allocated to the Registry of Deeds which issued the title;
  8. Verify from the Land Management Bureau (formerly Bureau of Lands) or the Land Registration Authority for survey plans approved by them if the survey plan number indicated in the title corresponds to the region where the property is located.
  9. Verify from the Entry Book of the Registry of Deeds if the contract of sale or conveyance which was the basis for the issuance of the subject title was recored in said entry book on the date and time stated on the face of the title;
  10. Check the name and signature of the Register of Deeds who signed the title. HE or she must be the REAL RD at the time the title was signed;
  11. Check the owner’s copy of title (photocopy) and the certified copy or original copy of title in the Registry of Deeds. Both copies should be exactly identical, in general.
  12. In cases of titles based on patents, verification should be made with the LMB, DENR-Secretary/RED/PENRO and DAR Office concerned. Check if the land covered by the patent falls within the territorial jurisdiction of the DENR and DAR Field Office issuing the same. If the municipality where the land covered by the patent is situated not under the jurisdiction of the issuing DENR or DAR Field Office, the patent is null and void.

Don’t let the fear of encountering fake titles prevent you from making a Philippines Real Estate Property purchase. Know what to look for in a title, and we’re confident you’ll be able to safeguard your money against fake titles.

Read more Additional Pointers on How to Detect Fake Titles

(this is a continuing series.. stay tuned for the following parts – next on the series is verifying a sale of lot with a building)

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