OFWs and the real estate boom in PH

WITH overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) turning in billions of dollars in remittances every year, their purchasing power has become a force to reckon with. With this in mind, major players in the Philippine real estate industry want a share of this booming market, encouraging OFWs to invest in properties that range from low-priced condominium units to upscale spaces depending on their budget and preference.

Noli Hernandez, property giant Megaworld Corp. senior vice-president for sales and marketing, told Hong Kong News that investing in real properties is not only lifesustaining for OFWs, but also incomegenerating.

“From interviews I’ve done with (OFWs), I think one of their biggest problems would be that they don’t know where to put their savings, if they have savings at all. So we try to provide that vehicle for them to invest,” he said.

OFWs are advised purchase a condominium unit or any real estate property while working abroad.

“They can earn from rental payments with it… More often than not, they make money [overseas] for a couple of years, five or 10 years… And when they start settling down here, they end up with nothing and when they reach old age they have nothing to support them,” Hernandez said.

He said the value of a purchase can appreciate from 5 to 10 percent a year depending on a property.

SM Development Corp. marketing head Nita Claravall, for her part, said investing in real estate is also equivalent to fulfilling a lifelong wish.

“If you were to look at their wish lists, most studies that cover OFWs, [it says that] owning their own house whether it’s a house or a condo is always up there, together with being able to give their children a good education,” Claravall explained.

Affordable condos

Megaworld International managing director Marivic Acosta said the OFW market has been “the impetus for the recent uptake in the real estate market in the Philippines,” citing various condominium developments all over Metro Manila, offering affordable rates for OFWs.

“When we started our international marketing in 1999, what the OFWs initially wanted were landed properties. But  for the past three years, the OFWs are shifting to condos. Probably because no. 1 is their exposure to overseas culture, which is more into condo-living for instance in Hong Kong. The no. 2 reason is because of the price. Kasi it has become very, very expensive here in Metro Manila to buy landed properties. So kung condo mas affordable, mas kaya nila [OFWs],” Acosta explained.

Acosta said condominium units can sell for as low as P1 to P1.5 million, payable through a monthly amortization from P5,000 to P10,000, depending on payment scheme–which is quite affordable for migrant workers earning P20,000 to P30,000.

Suntrust Properties Inc., a Megaworld subsidiary, offers this kind of payment scheme. Acosta said Megaworld also offers units in upscale locations in Makati, The Fort, and Global City with payment scheme of as low as P10,000 monthly amortization for higher-earning OFWs.

SMDC meanwhile offers a more “universal” price range, with condo developments located in Makati, Ortigas, Quezon City and Bicutan.

“The payment terms that we offer are actually very attainable, very affordable to everybody. For instance, if you are an OFW earning P20,000 to P30,000 and depending if you have a family already, puwede kang magkaroon ng property with monthly amortization of P12,000 to P15,000. After three years, you can actually have it rented out. We give stretch payment plans. We have a zero percent interest for 3 years at 20 percent down payment. So ‘yung 20 percent na down payment sa property you will pay that in 3 years,” Aye Luna, SMDC assistant vice president for marketing, said.