Land titles – specific performance (title not turned over by the broker)

Dear Atty. Duran-Schulze,

I hope this email reaches you well. I’d like to ask for advice on a situation regarding land. My mother and I purchased several parcels of land when we visited the Philippines. We had our full trust in my cousin’s mother-in-law to handle the transactions and process the papers for the land titles. However, recently I have become suspicious of her actions because there’d be no response, no receipts, and the only response we’d get was when she was asking for more money.

This person said that the title exchange would cost over PhP 70,000 per title because of surveys and other new laws. Since she was considered a family friend, we trusted her. But when we asked for receipts or the person she transacted with for the titles, we got no responses from her.

After a few days, I was able to reach out to the said agent/family friend and she withheld the titles until I paid an additional PhP 25,000. After recalculating all the money I’ve sent for the land, we realized that she still has around PhP 101,000 in excess in her possession.

She won’t release any names regarding where the money is going, no reference numbers for any of the transactions, and no paper trail at all.

Regarding the surveys, isn’t the government already paying for them?

Thank you.

Answer:

Dear Jeny,

The cost of transferring a land title depends on the size and value of the lot, its location, and the necessity of subdividing the lot. If the latter is present, then a surveyor is needed.

Based on your facts, PhP 101,000 does not seem very high if there are several titles involved. However, it still depends on several factors.

Some real estate firms charge around PhP 20,000 for the processing of the transfer of title alone. This excludes the fees for the taxes, the surveyor, and other fees. In fact, law firms charge even more. A surveyor usually costs around PhP 25,000 for land surveys, still depending on the total lot size and location. Surveyors are hired privately and their services are paid for by the property owner. It is the client/property owner who shoulders all out-of-pocket expenses.

The property owner must write a demand letter to request the breakdown and the accounting of the expenses that your agent/family friend incurred for the processing of the land titles, complete with the necessary receipts. If you are not the owner of record on the title, you need a Special Power of Attorney (SOA) from the title holder to transact with the said agent/family friend. You must also ask for updates on the result of her work and set a deadline with her. If the demand letter is not heeded, you may secure the services of a lawyer to write the demand letter for you.

We hope we are able to answer your query on the cost of making a title transfer in the Philippines and the best legal action regarding your problem. Please be informed that the foregoing legal opinion is based solely on the facts that you have provided us and our appreciation of the same. In case you need further assistance, Duran & Duran-Schulze Law is ready to assist you. Call us at 632-8478-5826 or send an email to info@duranschulze.com. You can also send your message to us here. Thank you.