Adventures in Negotiating Land Purchase, Part II

peter's picture

So, to continue the saga of our ongoing purchase - we had negotiated and agreed upon a price for a property, but then upon closer inspection, found that a quarter of the property was occupied by squatters.

We went and talked to the barangay captain and the former barangay captain, and nobody officially wanted to say anything. "Maybe a survey?" they suggested. It reminded me of a tip I had received when I first arrived in the Philippines - most people won't tell you the truth about something, but they might tell you who to ask to get a more truthful perspective.

However, I didn't need a survey. I'm perfectly capable of reading a map, and about one fourth of the property was clearly occupied by squatters, and had been for many years.

So we went to the owners. They didn't know anything about it, of course. Squatters? That's on the next property over! But they did agree to go walk the property (we'd only walked it with other people).

We went there with three of the owners (out of about 20 who might eventually have to sign the sale documents), and they immediately walked the land, not including the portion that had been squatted. One of them quietly admitted in private, "Well, we've given that family a part, you know the farm was very big."

We talked as a group with the squatters and the owners, and the squatters reluctantly agreed they had no claim to the portion of the farm other than what they were occupying, with the owners reluctantly agreeing that in fact they had given the squatters one portion and couldn't claim it - but the surveyor would have to make the final determination of the size of the land for sale.

A week later, the owners had completed the second round of document-collection, presenting a stack of birth certificates, death certificates, and "lack of certificate" certificates to our lawyer, who is now reviewing them.

The owners have agreed that a lower price is appropriate considering that the land does not comprise all that was originally hoped to be conveyable, but thus far haven't come up with a commitment of how to decide on that lower price. They'd like, of course, for us to pay for the survey, after which they'll tell us a new price. But we're not interested in paying for a survey just to have them give us a 1% discount after the land size goes down 30%. So we're back to the waiting on each other game, as they get a little hungrier and we try to focus on other things, until maybe they are ready to be reasonable.

We'll keep you informed - though not sure how long this waiting stage will require.