Hidden Charges in Buying Property

“Hidden charges” is what buyers consider an amount being asked as an additional payment after reservation or after paying off the property price, a concern that future buyers should be aware of.

What are Hidden Charges?

Let's define first the word hidden-  not shown or undisclosed. This could mean any additional payments hidden or not disclosed to buyers before and during their reservations are considered as hidden charges.
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In the real estate industry, hidden charges can be committed by a developer or a seller alone and the purpose is to intentionally hide any additional expense in selling properties to attract more buyers. It is illegal and unethical in business to deceit buyers to make reservations and rakes in buyer’s hard earned money that result to not being able to pay or be charged penalties or worse, get into forfeitures.

When is the Developer accountable for Hidden Charges?

Before anything else, I always recommend a proper project briefing before making reservations because there are a lot of things needed to be clarified and discussed. Making reservation on the site or at main office for proper briefing is recommendable but if you have a trusted and credible seller / agent then it is okay if you meet up somewhere else to reserve.

The price set up of developers in the Philippines is different from one another, depending on the projects or classifications of properties. Price setup includes the selling price and the miscellaneous expense, generally, if the developer is going to process the title. Miscellaneous expense varies based on selling price as it includes processing of documents like the transfer of title, documentary stamps, real property tax and others.
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  • During the reservation of property you will be provided with an official computation. It should be discussed upon signing the reservation agreement and payment scheme must be discussed in detail and any difference on the price set up could be a hidden charge.
  • Another case is when the buyer availed a property and made a spot cash payment for faster processing of documents and for faster turnover then later found out they need to pay move-in fees before the property is turned over. If during project briefing or before making reservation this concern was not raised or disclosed, then it could be hidden charges.
  • Another hidden charge instance: If you availed a property and you paid the full price then you find out that you are going to process the transfer of title and other documents - if this concern was not discussed before or during reservation then could be a hidden charge. 

The miscellaneous or transfer of title might be more than 10% of the selling prices and is a big amount of money that sometimes equivalent to a down payment. So, before making reservation buyers must be detailed on this price setup.

To give you some idea here are some of the price setup available in buying properties:
  1. Property Price = Selling Price + Miscellaneous 
  2. Property Price = Selling Price (excludes of Miscellaneous but still payable to developer - in separate payment) 
  3. Property Price = Selling Price (excludes of Miscellaneous still payable plus Move-in Fees during turnover) 
  4. Property Price = Selling Price (excludes of Miscellaneous and Move-in Fees - the buyers will process the transfer of title plus to pay the Move in Fees during turnover) 

Any of the above price setup is not a problem; the price setup is a marketing strategy of developers that generate different reactions from buyers and may be beneficial for developers to out-stand competition because a property price without miscellaneous expense looks affordable. A hidden charge takes place if there is future additional payment that have not been properly disclosed, verbal or written, that may influence buyer’s decision to avail.

I just want to make it clear, whatever price setup is okay because an expense is an expense, only undisclosed additional payments makes a hidden charge.

When is the Seller or Agent accountable for Hidden Charges?

The seller committed non-disclosure of hidden charges if before or during reservation he purposely or intentionally hid future additional payments like miscellaneous or move in fees to persuade buyers to make the purchase.
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The developer may not be accountable if the seller did not disclose the information intentionally to get a sale. Buyers must be aware of this and the only way to avoid is to verify it with the developer. So far, it's not a business way of developers I know - only some desperate agents / sellers who keep doing this for a commission.


The buyer should never base on a sample computation especially those found on the internet because those were made for example purposes only to give buyers an idea, thus, it contains few details. With so many price setups above, it is really hard to tell how they arrived at the result of the sample computation. Property buyers should have due diligence by being aware, should make a research and clarify the details to developers main office before making reservations.


Better to avail with developer a property with complete package that includes all processing of transfer and with no move-in fees. 

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Finally, you can avoid this: "Sir/Ma’am, pwede na po kayong lumipat!..pero kailangan nyong magbigay ng 20,000+ as Move-in Fee!....(Buyer) Whaaat!!"

Thank you for reading, please share this site if you find it useful.

About the Author


Realtor & Webmaster

Good day! I'm Jerome, your friendly Real Estate Broker with PRC License 0012399 and HLURB registration. Just sharing simple tips, please share if you find it useful! Thanks!

4 (mga) puna:

  1. Hello, plan ko kumuha sa grass residence ng 1 br yung rent to own promo nila. Which is 5 percent amg spot dp then installment na yung iba. If ever may alam kayo sa developer ng grass residence, usually how much ang move in fee? Babayaran naba yun kasama ng 5 percent spot cash dp? Plus transfer of title? Thank you

    1. Good day Ma'am, pasensya wala akong contact sa SMDC Condos, try nyo e-search SMDC Condo Grass Residence sa Google. Salamat, Jerome

    2. Hi, What about Vivaldi Residences in Cubao, are you connected with it? Would like ask if a buyer of a pre-selling condo is required to pay for Title Transfer Fee of about 5.5% of the TCP?

    3. Good day po! Pasensya, I'm not connected with Vivaldi Residences, more of condo and houses ako sa South - Cavite / Laguna / Alabang. All properties requires Miscellaneous or Fees for Transfer of Title, in some developers this fee is included in the price (especially prices posted in internet) and some are not but discussed in presentations. Fee even pre-selling, it's normal a process while other developer give an option this fee be paid on the last month of down payment. Some developers I know the Miscellaneous is around 6% for Bank financing and bigger if In-house and Pag-IBIG financing.

      Thanks for viewing!


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