Let us say you saw a nice piece of land for sale and you liked it right away.
You like it so much in that you even made a promise to yourself that you will buy it as soon as you find its owner.
In order to fulfill such promise, you immediately searched for and fortunately found the owner.
Upon seeing the owner, you wasted no time and told him that you want to buy his land.
And, after some discussion, he finally agreed to sell the land to you.
Purchase price paid in full
Eager to be the owner of the land, you immediately paid the purchase price in full.
After paying the seller, you requested a receipt from him, which he readily issued to you.
Deed of absolute sale signed and notarized
On the same day, you and the seller signed the deed of absolute sale and had it notarized.
New certificate of title issued
Some time after, the Register of Deeds cancelled the certificate of title of the seller and issued a new one in your name.
Of course, with such certificate, it is already clear that you are now the owner of the land.
Ownership in sale acquired upon delivery
But when exactly do you become the owner of the land you bought?
Is it upon the full payment of the purchase price?
Or is it upon the signing and notarization of the deed of absolute sale?
Or is it upon the issuance of a certificate of title in your name?
By law, you become the owner of the property you bought from the moment it is delivered to you.
This holds true whether you already paid the purchase price in full or not.
Delivery in sale of real property
But how is delivery effected to acquire ownership in a sale of real property, such as a piece of land?
The Supreme Court in Chua vs. CA (G.R. No. 119255, April 9, 2003) gave the answer to this question.
Speaking through Justice Carpio, the Court said, “In a contract of sale of real property, delivery is effected when the instrument of sale is executed in a public document.”
The phrase “when the instrument of sale is executed in a public document” simply means that the deed of absolute sale is signed by the parties and notarized.
Once these are made, the seller is deemed to have delivered the real property to the buyer.
It is exactly at this moment when you become the owner of the land you bought.
This as stated holds true whether you already paid the purchase price in full or not.
This also holds true even before a certificate of title is issued in your name.
[References: Chua vs. CA (G.R. No. 119255, April 9, 2003)/Articles 1181, 1376, 1458, 1477, 1478, 1482, 1487, 1495-1505, 1582, 1592 and 1874 of the Civil Code of the Philippines]