With a myriad of laws and regulations to navigate, investing in property can seem overwhelming even on your home turf. This is even more true if you are looking to purchase real estate overseas, where everything from the local customs to the legal requirements will be unfamiliar.
As a guide for investors, Pakistan’s best property website Lamudi.pk, takes a closer look at the laws international buyers are likely to encounter when hunting for real estate in some of the leading investment destinations in the emerging markets.
Asia: Invest through Leasehold, Not Freehold
At first glance, it may seem that buying property outright is out of the question in many countries. In the Philippines, for example, non-Filipinos are not permitted to own land. However, they can lease private land for a period of 50 years, and this lease can be renewed for a further 25 years. Additionally, the Condominium Act permits non-nationals to buy condominium units as long as total foreign ownership in the development does not exceed 40 percent.
Similarly, owning property outright in Indonesia is a right that is reserved for citizens. Hak Milik, or right of ownership, can only be held by Indonesian nationals. However, Hak Pakai, or right of use, can be issued to both foreign individuals residing in Indonesia and foreign-invested entities.
In Myanmar, a country which has attracted record levels of foreign investment following political and economic reforms, similar restrictions surrounding ownership apply. However, under the foreign investment law introduced in November 2012, international investors are eligible for land leases of up to 50 years, which can then be renewed for two 10-year periods.
Middle East: Ownership Allowed, with Restrictions
In Saudi Arabia, foreigners can own property outright but should still expect to face some restrictions. Foreign companies must have a legal presence in the Kingdom, while individual investors have to live in the country and must also hold a permit from the Ministry of the Interior. An important exception is the holy cities of Mecca and Madinah, where only Saudi nationals are entitled to buy property.
In Jordan, similar rules apply. Individual foreign investors can buy property for residential purposes, provided that their country of residence has a reciprocal relationship. International buyers will need to seek approval from the Cabinet (Council of Ministers), as well as from the Minister of Finance or the General Director of the Survey Department. Investors from other Arab nations are exempt from this requirement.