EVEN before the Asean Economic Community (AEC) commences, the real estate service law in the country has opened up opportunities to foreign real estate practitioners since 2009.

Former Oriental Mindoro congressman Rodolfo Valencia, who authored Republic Act No. 9646 or Real Estate Service Act of the Philippines, otherwise known as RESA Law, explained that the Philippines allows foreign real estate practitioners to render services in the country’s real estate industry through “special” or “temporary” permits.

As stipulated in Section 23 of the law, the “(Professional Regulatory) Board may issue (permits) to real estate service practitioners from foreign countries whose services are urgently needed in the absence or unavailability of local real estate service practitioners for the purpose of promoting or enhancing the practice of the profession in the Philippines.” Real estate practitioners cover real estate brokers, consultants, appraisers, assessors, and salespersons.

However, Valencia, also president of the Philippine Institute of Real Estate Service (PhilRes), clarified that a foreign real estate practitioner can only be granted these privileges if the origin country of the person also allows Filipinos to practice real estate service in their country. The official identified this as the “foreign reciprocity” clause.

“No foreign real estate service practitioner shall be admitted to the licensure examination or be given a certificate of registration or a professional identification card, or be entitled to any of the privileges under this act unless the country of which he/she is a citizen specifically allows Filipino real estate service practitioners to practice within its territorial limits on the same basis as citizens of such foreign country,” Section 24 of the law states.

Valencia, who was in Cebu for PhilRes’ Vismin Conference Friday, said that based on what he knows, no country in Southeast Asia allows the practice of real estate among foreigners. If one Asean-member country opens it up, that will entitle its citizens to practice real estate service in the Philippines.

“The Resa law is helping the country in its participation in the Asean integration,” Valencia said.

If there are sectors the Philippines is at an advantage over its neighbors, the official said real estate industry is part of the list.

He said the demand for more real estate projects will continue to climb. With more companies setting up offices in the country, this increases the need for more commercial and office spaces. Residential projects are also upbeat, with more international executives looking for a place to stay.

“The Philippines is the rising star for real estate investments,” Valencia said.