“There is one word which may serve as a rule of practice for all one’s life: Reciprocity.”
― Confucius, revered Chinese Philosopher and Politician
Sherry, a Singaporean, emailed me last May 20 stating that she is a licensed real estate broker in Singapore and wants to set up a real estate service franchise in the Philippines. She asked 2 questions.
First, can she apply to be a licensed real estate broker in the Philippines? And second, can she set up a company with 100% ownership if she holds an appropriate visa?
More than three years ago, I wrote an article entitled “Can a Foreigner Become a Licensed Real Estate Service Practitioner in the Philippines,” to discuss how an alien can become a licensed real estate service practitioner (RESP) in the country in light of the recent enactment of the Real Estate Service Act (RESA).
Thereafter, I wrote last year Part Two of the article in light of the passage of the PRC Modernization Act of 2000. I identified what requirements need to be submitted by foreigners and what is the procedure to be followed at the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) to practice as a licensed RESP in the Philippines.
I wrote this latest article in light of the upcoming deadline for the establishment of “a single market and a production base in all 10 member-states of ASEAN,” known as the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).
Sherry seems to be an astute professional who wants to be prepared for the influx of business that may or may not come when the AEC is established after December 31, 2015. What was my answer to the 2 questions of Sherry?
I emailed her back and said: Yes, she can apply to be a licensed real estate broker in the Philippines since I believe that Singapore has a reciprocity clause in its law regulating the practice of the real estate profession similar to Section 24, RA 9646.
Then I enumerated the documentary requirements she needs to apply for a Special Temporary Permit (STP) at the PRC. Here is the excerpt of the email I sent Sherry:
“The first requirement is a duly accomplished and notarized application form – Application for Special Temporary Permit (STP). You can download the form here: http://www.prc.gov.ph/international/?id=32. You are under Category B as shown in page 2 of the STP form.
“[Second], is a photocopy of valid passport as proof of citizenship, identification of visa issued, proof of entry in the Philippines. With regards the visa, ASEAN member countries are allowed visa-free entry to the Philippines. But for foreigners who wish to do business in the Philippines, they shall apply for a Special Investor’s Resident Visa (SIRV). You will need this considering that you will operate a business… here in the country.
“[Third], a professional liability insurance. This is a bond that can be applied for when here in the Philippines already. Filipino real estate brokers are required by the Professional Regulation Commission. Hence, foreigners are likewise required to apply for this. The application or processing fee is P3,000 which is non-refundable. Once the application is approved, the payment of P8,000 is required for the issuance of the STP.
“[Fourth], a copy of the Singaporean law showing that the requirement for registration or licensing from the country of origin (Singapore) are substantially the same as those required and contemplated in Section 24, RA 9646. This document must be duly authenticated by the Philippine Embassy or Consulate in Singapore and have a copy of the official English translation thereof (if the law is in another language).
“Finally, an official document issued by the appropriate government agency/office certifying that the applicant is a registered professional therein. This may be your certificate of registration or a similar document declaring you as a licensed real estate broker in Singapore. Likewise, this document must be duly authenticated by the Philippine Embassy or Consulate in Singapore and have a copy of the official English translation thereof (if the law is in another language).
“These are the requirements for the STP… A final thought on this process vis-a-vis the ASEAN [Economic] Integration in 2015. There may be a relaxing of these requirements once 2015 arrives. So, you may want to consider postponing your application until next year… if you can wait. However, real estate in the Philippines is booming at this time and the opportunities today may not be the same for next year.”
It must be emphasized that the AEC is expected to encourage the free flow of goods, services, capital and skilled labor in all countries belonging to ASEAN. If the boom in the real estate industry in the Philippines is expected to continue in the next 3 years, will foreigners be encouraged to apply to become RESPs when AEC is established in 2015?
Time will only tell, along with the opportunities that may or may not be present in the Philippine real estate market by 2015. For Filipino RESPs, the possible arrival of foreign RESPs to practice their professions in the country will be a challenge.
And, we hope that it will be a welcome challenge where the best practices are brought out of individuals – both local or foreign. So that in the end, the country will benefit and enjoy a corps of technically competent, responsible and respected professional RESPs whose standards of practice and service shall be globally competitive and will promote the growth of the real estate industry.
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