The Philippine housing market is on a roll. The 2014 Global Property Guide shows that our property market has the fifth highest price increase in the world, with condominium prices going up by 36.4% from 2010 to 2014.
While this certainly makes it an attractive investment, the whole process of getting a condo can be nerve-wracking for first-time buyers. And as we’ve seen more condominiums being built, how do you know if you’re making the right choice in the sea of high-rises? Not doing enough research may cost you money in the end. So before making the commitment, ask yourself these questions:
1. What rules and restrictions of a property, particularly a condo, are important to know?
Always be aware of a list of things you may or may not do in your condo. There may be some restrictions in installing permanent fixtures, leasing, and pet ownership. A real estate agent commented that some property managers and lessors disallow the use of LPG. Be sure to get a copy of the laws and restrictions before making up your mind.
2. Is the property in a good location?
Without a doubt this is a key factor in your choice. You can always change how your condo looks from the inside, but you can never change where it’s located.
o Neighborhood – If you’re getting the condo for yourself, consider the people who will be your neighbors since you’ll certainly want to have some of them as friends. Their lifestyle, habits, and work schedules will have an impact on your life there. On the other hand, if you plan on leasing the property, the people already living there are likely to attract more of the same. Take a look around and ask yourself if you’ll fit right in.
o Environment – Other potential concerns to note: is flooding an issue? How safe is the area during an earthquake? Is there a fire station located nearby? Are there environmental hazards, like air pollution, toxic wastes, or possible land slides?
o Convenience – Are there enough nearby amenities and other establishments to support your lifestyle? Look for areas with accessible public transportation or near major roads, or perhaps close to the central business district. If you work away from home, you’ll want a place near your office. If you travel a lot, perhaps a place near the airport will be attractive. If you have a family, a place where there a good schools nearby is a definite plus. Finally, you’ll always want a way to reach the nearest hospital.
One simple way to cover all of the above is by buying into a housing estate. Housing estates aren’t just living spaces but also their own communities. The latest prime example of a modern estate is ALI’s Arca South, described by project development manager Stephen Comia as “a 74-hectare development situated in a prime location within Metro Manila and a gateway of the south… ALI will also put in place all the essential elements required to build a city all at the same time and within a five-year period. That would include residential projects, retail and office buildings, a hotel, and a hospital.”
Not only will having these commercial establishments within walking distance save you time and money—living in an estate designed to be pedestrian-friendly creates a safe and healthy environment. “To prioritize pedestrians, we have decided to integrate certain areas of our basement parking so that vehicles will be moving around the estate underneath and the roads are left for pedestrians,” Comia adds. “About 40 percent of the entire development will be dedicated to roads and open spaces.” The idea is to provide “ease and convenience of access to everything that they will need to have a holistic lifestyle within the metropolis.”
3. How good is the property management team?
You won’t be able to take care of the property all on your own, so a professional management team is must.
If you’re looking at a pre-selling property, be sure to check the reputation and work history of the developers. In the case of Arca South, for example, “the planning benefits from ALI's long history of developing large-scale, integrated mixed use communities. All of the lessons learned and expertise gained from developing business districts such as Makati, Alabang, Bonifacio Global City, Cebu Business Park, NUVALI, among others, are brought to bear on Arca South”
For existing condos, the residents themselves can tell you where the major problems are: plumbing, electricity, security, and so on. Another indicator is the association fees delinquency—if fewer people are paying their dues on time, that’s a red flag that something’s amiss with the administration’s performance.
4. Do I have an adequate budget?
Seems obvious, but this is definitely the bottom line. If you plan on getting a housing loan, ask yourself: is my credit in good standing? Can I cover the required down payment and monthly mortgage? One real estate agent recommends you provide at least 20% of the condo’s buying price as an initial down, while keeping your monthly amortization to 30%-40% of your gross income.
Owning a condo is a big financial commitment, but history and the market have shown that few assets beat good real estate. Whether you’ll be selling it, renting it out, or living in it, odds are that owning a condo is highly profitable for you in the long run.