The Great Escape

Rediscovering life in Palawan Philippines

Boots on the Ground: The Best Way to Search for Property in Palawan

On the hunt for property.

On the hunt for property.

We got a text from Emma. We had only met her the previous afternoon at a birthday party and now she wanted to show us some properties. We said sure and off we went in a tricycle following Emma in her own personal trike. The first property was just outside the town proper. It wasn’t what we were looking for but we decided to see it anyways for comparison’s sake.

Have you ever thought about moving to an island paradise? Let me just say it isn’t easy especially if it’s in a developing third world country half way around the world. When we first visited Palawan in 2012 we casually toyed with the idea. Back then we were told property prices were still very good (very affordable by western standards ) but it was on the upward climb.

Not what we were looking for.

Out of our budget and not what we were looking for.

Fast forward just three years and with a rapidly growing tourism industry you’d be shocked at what you’d pay for a piece of land now. In the last two years prices have doubled. Land that at one time cost 50 to 100 pesos a square metre are going for 500, 1,000 and even a staggering 5,000 pesos a square meter.

The first hurdle is actually finding something. In Coron there is no form of organization. You can’t just hire a real estate broker. Believe me I’ve tried. The brokers you’ll find on the internet are based in Manila or some other big city so they may know of one or two for sale and that’s about it. They have little knowledge about the area. They may not even be legitimate.

A great property but too small for our farm.

A great property but too small for our farm.

I did find one broker who had a few listings, a splashy website and a Facebook presence and although she agreed to work with us it led to a dead end. She knew our requirements but just steered us towards her existing two listings.

While researching for properties online I was surprised to see a for sale listing for a resort we stayed at. We’re friendly with the owners and asked them about the ad. They didn’t know anything about it. Someone was trying to sell their resort. That’s something that’s common here. A property can be sold by some unscrupulous person three times to three different buyers.

It's important to develop relationships and make contacts.

It’s important to develop relationships and make contacts.

The most important thing to do is develop relationships and make contacts. You need to talk to a lot of people because someone will know somebody else who is selling property. You need to get to know people like Emma who through word of mouth can show you places.

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6 thoughts on “Boots on the Ground: The Best Way to Search for Property in Palawan

  1. I do hope you find something, but as you said, you need to have your wits about you. We lived in Spain for almost 8 years and even there, quite a few people got their fingers burnt, so to speak. Properties get sold without the full permission of all of the family members who have inherited it and next thing there’s the grandson or granddaughter on the doorstep saying they have a share in your home. A good lawyer should be of great help. Best of luck with it all.

    • It sounds just like the Philippines. We saw one property which was also inherited by family members. We saw the document with all their signatures. We wouldn’t have to deal with it but the current owner did. He told us when each signed off he took a photo for proof! Yes, a good lawyer is essential especially in such an poorly regulated trade.

  2. Yes, careful is the word. I bought a property in Baguio City and even though one realtor was known by a close family member, the owner of the property wanted me to pay first the inheritance tax. In short, I didn’t pay it because I wanted to know right away who’s the legitimate owner. Some properties are claimed by several family members. I used another broker referred by a college friend and I bought it with a bank involvement to make sure that the titles are what they say they are.

    Be careful!

  3. Good luck with your dream because it sounds like maneuvering the real estate market there is a real hurdle.

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