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Sep 30, 2015

Philippine residential property prices continue to surge

Philippines house pricesThe Philippine residential property market continued to perform spectacularly, amidst robust economic growth. During the year to Q2 2015, the average price of a luxury 3-bedroom condominium unit in Makati central business district (CBD) surged 7.91% (6.61% inflation-adjusted) to PHP149,300 (US$3,179) per square metre (sq. m.), according to Colliers International.

During the latest quarter, condominium prices in Makati CBD increased 1.35% (1.1% inflation-adjusted) in Q2 2015.

Other major CBDs in Metro Manila, the country’s capital, also showed strong house price rises.

  • In Rockwell Center, the average price for a 3-bedroom condominium rose by 11.5% (10.2% inflation-adjusted) to PHP158,000 (US$3,364) per sq.m., or a 3% q-o-q growth.
  • In Bonifacio Global City, the average price for a 3-bedroom condominium increased by 9.7% (8.4% inflation-adjusted) to PHP148,000 (US$3,151) per sq. m., or a 1.2% q-o-q rise.

Demand remains strong. Residential real estate loans in the country soared by 25.9% y-o-y to PHP411.44 billion  (US$8.76 billion) in Q1 2015, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the country’s central bank.

Residential property prices in the country’s CBDs are expected to continue rising in the coming year.


Location Q2 2015 Q2 2016F y-o-y change
PHP per sq. m. USD per sq. m. PHP per sq. m. USD per sq. m. %
Makati CBD 104,000-194,000 2,215-4,131 110,000-206,000 2,342-4,387 5.77
Ortigas Center 119,000-198,000 2,534-4,216 126,000-208,000 2,683-4,429 5.32
Fort Bonifacio 114,000-182,000 2,427-3,875 120,000-191,000 2,555-4,067 5.09
Source: Colliers International  

Since Benigno (Noynoy) Aquino III became president in June 2010, he has instituted a no-holds barred anti-corruption and good governance campaign which has wowed foreign investors and caused consumer confidence to surge.  Rising investment, plus low interest rates, have increased condominium prices by 42.2% (22.6% inflation-adjusted) between Q3 2010 and Q4 2014.  Property prices have risen as much as 113.3% (34.1% in real terms) from 2004 to 2014. Philippine property experienced the fourth highest price rise in the world during the year to Q2 2015, according to the Global Property Guide’s Q2 2015 report

The Philippines is now one of the fastest growing economies in Asia, with 6.7% growth forecast by the IMF for 2015, almost at par with China’s 6.8%. Moody, Standard & Poor’s, and Fitch Ratings, all affirmed the Philippines’ investment rating upgrade to investment grade, amidst strong economic growth and efforts to curb corruption. Based on the Global Competitiveness Index of the World Economic Forum (2014-2015), the Philippines ranked 52 out of 144, up from 59 and 65 in the past two years.

However, all these improvements depend partly on the political environment.  The next presidential election is less than a year away. The fate of the housing market and the economy as a whole will significantly depend on who will be elected as the next president of the Philippines. The Philippine one-term presidential system reposes enormous power in the hands of the president, and a repeat of the disastrous experiences under presidents Joseph Estrada (1998-2001) or Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (2001-2010) could reverse many gains made by the present administration.

In the second quarter of 2015, the Philippine economy grew by 5.6%, up from the growth of 5% in the previous quarter, but down from last year’s 6.7% growth, amidst a regional slowdown, based on figures from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). Economic growth is expected of between 6% and 6.5% this year, after GDP growth rates of 6.1% in 2014, 7.2% in 2013 and 6.8% in 2012.

Philippine residential property is still below pre-Asian Crisis values!

Philippines luxury 3 bedroom condominium

Surprisingly, despite so much price appreciation, the Philippine housing market has still not recovered from the crash after the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis. Between 1997 and 2004, luxury condominium prices dropped 30.4% (53.7% in real terms), in the biggest property crash of all countries affected by the Asian Financial Crisis.  

In current price terms, both rental rates and property values are back above 1997 levels. However residential property prices in Q2 2015 are still 35.2% below pre-Asian Financial Crisis levels in real, inflation-adjusted terms.

Land values continue to appreciate

Land prices continue to rise in all major areas:

  • In Makati CBD, the average land value increased 2% to PHP452,704 (US$9,638) per sq. m. in Q2 2015 from the previous quarter, according to Colliers.
  • In Fort Bonifacio, land prices rose by 1.97% to an average of PHP394,133 (US$8,392) per sq. m. in Q2 2015 from the previous quarter.
  • In Ortigas Center, land values rose by 2.1% to an average of PHP164,866 (US$3,510) per sq. m. over the same period.

Land prices in the country are projected to continue rising in the medium term.


Location Q2 2015 Q2 2016F y-o-y change
PHP per sq. m. USD per sq. m. PHP per sq. m. USD per sq. m. %
Makati CBD 333,000-572,000 7,091-12,180 355,000-617,000 7,559-13,138 7.37
Ortigas Center 127,000-203,000 2704-4,323 137,000-219,000 2,917-4,663 8.24
Fort Bonifacio 277,000-511,000 5,898-10,881 292,000-556,000 6,218-11,839 7.65
Source: Colliers International  

Residential licenses to sell increasing

Residential licenses to sell increased 2% in Q2 2015 from the same period last year, based on figures from the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB).

During the first half of 2015 (based on the report released by Colliers International):

  • For open market housing, new licenses rose by 5% y-o-y to 12,551 units.
  • For mid- and high-end condominium units, new licenses to sell dropped 2.3% y-o-y to 35,241 units.
  • For mid-income housing, new licenses soared by 43.5% y-o-y to 2,208 units.
  • For low-cost condominium units, new licenses to sell more than doubled to 2,052 units from a year ago.
  • For socialized housing, new licenses soared by 164.5% y-o-y to 11,431 units.

Housing supply continues to rise

In the second half of 2015, about 5,500 units are projected to be completed in Makati CBD, Fort Bonifacio and Ortigas Center, according to Colliers. These include Park Terraces Tower 2 (Makati CBD), West Tower at One Serendra (Fort Bonifacio), Meranti and Sequoia Towers in Two Serendra (Fort Bonifacio), and One Shangri-la Place North Tower (Ortigas Center).


Location Residential Stock Forecast New Supply
2014 2015F 2016F
Makati CBD 18,337 1,768 4,857
Rockwell   4,159 - -
Fort Bonifacio 19,427 3,729 6,599
Ortigas 13,820 2,756 1,227
Eastwood   7,548 -    988
Total 63,291 8,253 13,671
Source: Colliers International

In Q2 2015, three upscale residential condominium buildings entered the market in Metro Manila, totalling 1057 units:

  • Avida Towers BGC 9th Avenue Tower 2 in Fort Bonifacio– 256 units
  • Robinsons Land Trion Towers 2 in Fort Bonifacio – 711 units
  • Discovery Primea in Makati CBD – 90 units

Low interest rates

Philippines bank average lending rates

The BSP kept its policy rate at 4% for the overnight borrowing or reverse repurchase (RRP) facility in September 24, 2015, and 6% for the overnight lending and repurchase facility (RF). The reserve requirement ratios were also left unchanged.

Most borrowing is short-term. Housing loan rates charged by major commercial banks range from 5.3% to 7.8% for one-year fixed loans, and from 7% to 10% for mortgages with fixed rates for five years.

Real problems impede the growth of the mortgage market. Few major banks offer housing loans, although loan-to-value ratios of 90% are now being offered, and loan tenors can be as long as 30 years. Different banks’ loans have strangely similar terms and conditions, and approval of loan applications takes a long time. Land titling and registration problems are prevalent, as are delays in the foreclosure process.

Philippines residential real estate loans

Property buyers also face high transaction costs, corruption and red tape, fake land titles and substandard building practices. Plus, the large informal housing sector and their incentives, make it less attractive for low to middle income families to buy or rent properties.

Because of these factors, the ratio of residential mortgage loans to GDP remains small, at around 3.1% of GDP in 2014. Most houses in the Philippines are sold for cash or pre-sold, with the developers offering financing.

Residential rents up, vacancy rates down

Residential rents continue to increase in the major CBDs, mainly due to strong demand and lack of new completions.

In the second quarter of 2015:

  • In Makati CBD, monthly residential rents rose by 1.6% q-o-q to PHP590-1,135 (US$13-24) per sq. m.
  • In Fort Bonifacio, monthly residential rents rose by 1.9% q-o-q to PHP770-1,100 (US$16-23) per sq. m.
  • In Rockwell, monthly residential rents rose by 1.8% q-o-q to PHP670-1,070 (US$14-23) per sq. m.

Rents in these locations are projected to increase further by 4.7% to 5.1% in the next 12 months, according to Colliers.

In Makati CBD, residential vacancy rates across all grades fell to 7.64% in Q2 2015 from 7.96% in the previous quarter, based on figures from Colliers.

  • For the luxury segment, the vacancy rate dropped to 3.85% in Q2 2015, from 4.3% in Q1 2015
  • For the other segments, the vacancy rate dropped to 8.21% in Q2 2015, from 8.66% in Q1 2015

The residential condo rental market remained tight in the rest of the country’s major CBDs.

  • In the Rockwell Center, the vacancy rate fell to 4.35% in Q2 2015
  • In Fort Bonifacio, the vacancy rate stood at around 7% in Q2 2015
  • In Ortigas Center, the vacancy rate stood at about 9.5% over the same period


Location Type Minimum monthly rent Maximum monthly rent
Forbes Park Exclusive Village 250,000 5,323 600,000 12,776
Dasmarinas Village Exclusive Village 200,000 4,259 500,000 10,647
Urdaneta Village Exclusive Village 200,000 4,259 500,000 10,647
Bel-air Village Exclusive Village 130,000 2,768 300,000 6,388
San Lorenzo Village Exclusive Village 120,000 2,555 280,000 5,962
Magallanes Village Exclusive Village 90,000 1,916 200,000 4,259
Ayala Alabang Village High-rise Condo 75,000 1,597 250,000 5,323
Apartment Ridge/Roxas Triangle High-rise Condo 120,000 2,555 285,000 6,069
Salcedo Village High-rise Condo 140,000 2,981 280,000 5,962
Legaspi Village High-rise Condo 120,000 2,555 250,000 5,323
Rockwell High-rise Condo 140,000 2,981 220,000 4,685
Fort Bonifacio High-rise Condo 115,000 2,449 285,000 6,069
Source: Colliers International

Gross rental yields remain high, but beware of taxes

Philippines vacancy rate

According to research by the Global Property Guide, gross rental yields in Metro Manila remain good, ranging from 7.04% on the very smallest condominium units of 30 sq. m.  to 7.7% on 80 sq. m. condominiums.

These yields are before taxes and other expenses.  They are for the high-end areas:  Makati CBD, Ortigas CBD, Rockwell, The Fort, and Eastwood City.

This does not mean that foreign investors should necessarily rush to invest in Manila, because transaction taxes (known as ‘capital gains taxes´, but not actually such), and (if observed) official income tax rates applicable to non-resident investors, are high.

Manila’s segmented market

Lower down the income scale there is cause to worry.

There are three identifiable segments in Manila’s housing market:

  • The high end. Local high-earners and expatriates occupy this segment.
  • The middle tier. The mid-end condominium sector, with monthly amortization of around PHP 10,500 (US$ 235), presently requiring a dispensable income greater than PHP 34,962 (US$ 783), to obtain a housing loan of PHP 2 million (US$ 44,801).  This segment has been targeted by many developers, and is attractive to overseas foreign workers (OFWs). 
  • The low end.  This is where the mass of the population live. 

We believe that the middle tier is over-supplied.  Many of these lower middle-class condominium developments are ghost cities.

Manila’s ghost cities

Philippines filipino remittances

A visit to any ‘Barrio Fiesta’ in any city where Philippine OFWs work abroad is dominated by condominium offerings from developers like Megaworld, DMCI, Ayala Land, etc..  The Philippines is one of the world’s largest remittance recipients, with 10.5 million Philippine Overseas Foreign Workers (OFWs) living and working in 210 countries and territories worldwide, 47% of them permanent migrants, 40% temporary, and the rest "irregular migrants". Among the permanent overseas Filipinos, 65.2% live in the US, followed by Canada (13.1%), Europe (7.1%), Australia (6.8%), and Japan (3.4%), according to the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO).  In 2014, total remittances reached a record high of US$24.3 billion (or about 10% of GDP), up by 5.9% from a year earlier. In June 2015, remittances rose by 6.1% y-o-y to US$12.18 billion, the highest level since December 2014.

It is estimated that 60% of these remittances go directly or indirectly to the real estate sector, according to the World Bank. These OFW remittances power the low-end to mid-range residential property market, housing projects and mid-scale subdivisions in regions near Metro Manila, such as Cavite, Batangas, and Laguna Provinces.

According to the Philippine Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board, 452,198 condominium units were built in Metro Manila from January 2001 to March 2014. There are around 807,496 families or 27.5% of the NCR population who have a dispensable income greater than PHP 34,962 (US$ 783), which is the required monthly income to be able to afford the monthly amortization of PHP 10,500 (US$ 235). PHP 10,500 (US$ 235) is the minimum monthly amortization for a housing loan of PHP 2 million (US$ 44,801), with accommodating loan rates of 90% LTV, with an annual interest rate of 5.7%, and a loan tenor of 30 years.

So for all these newly-built condominiums to be occupied by those who could afford to rent or buy (we calculate for the buying case, but given current interest rates it may be more expensive to rent), 56% of locals who have the financial capacity to occupy them would need to do so, i.e., 56% of the 807,496 families with the financial capacity to do so, should purchase or rent a unit, for the available supply of condominium units to be taken up.

These are problematic numbers given that many of these families already have houses in the first place.  The World Bank assumes only 10% of these capable end-users as prospective end-users, indicating a gross oversupply.

In terms of affordability, property developers are building more mid-end condominium units than locally-based Filipinos can afford to occupy.  Many of the buyers are OFWs, causing a mismatch between demand and supply.

Average annual growth of remittances was only 6.7% from 2009 to 2014, compared to 16.8% annually from 2004 to 2009. The World Bank believes the slowdown in remittances is due to:

  • Stricter Implementation of the migrant workers’ bill of rights;
  • Political uncertainties in host countries; and
  • The slowdown in the advanced economies.

A puzzle – why are call-centre workers under-housed

The Philippines has a thriving business process outsourcing (BPO) sector. The BPO industry is now one of the country’s biggest sources of revenues, providing employment to a large number of workers.

The country’s revenues from the BPO industry is expected to reach US$25.5 billion in 2016, according to FT Confidential Research. By that year, it is estimated that as many as 1.3 million people will be employed in the BPO sector.

BPO agents are likely to wish to rent residential spaces near their workplaces due to their night shift schedules.  Since BPO agents have foreign countries as their clientele, their work hours follow suit. This means that most BPO employees work at the night time where commuting is risky while taxi cab fares are expensive.

There is a puzzle here.  The income of this rising demographic overlaps with the investments made by the OFWs.  Many call-centre agents are in the targeted income-bracket.  But anecdotal evidence suggests that many of condominiums bought by OFWs are in the wrong place for call-centre agents.

In any case, the bottom line is that their spending-power is not yet strong enough to absorb supply.  Many have family obligations and prefer to live at home or with relatives.

Maybe this will change.  The Philippines will also soon experience a demographic ‘sweet spot’.  The country has the third youngest population in the ASEAN region, next only to Lao PDR (median age of 21 years) and Cambodia (median age of 22 years).  Based on its demographic profile, we can expect a strong demand for starter homes.

“Affordable” housing

The Philippines has a huge housing need at the low end. There are as much as 300,000 households in Metro Manila residing in informal and uninhabitable housing units which composes 8.7% of the total Metro Manila population.

These people live in appalling conditions. Many others live in very poor conditions.

To meet the needs of these families, the government embarked on the National Shelter Program to provide housing for informal settlers and other families who do not have enough income to rent nor buy houses in the prevailing markets rates.

Socialized housing units, or those which cost less than PHP 450,000 (US$ 10,800) can be purchased with a monthly amortization of PHP 2,302 (US$ 56). The Pag-Ibig Fund, (which is the Filipino word for love), the country’s state-owned and subsidized housing loan provider, provides a fixed rate of 4.5% for 30 years for socialized housing units.

The problem is that these low-end housing units are usually far from work.

Robust economic growth

Philippines gdp inflation

In the second quarter of 2015, the Philippine economy grew by 5.6%, up from the growth of 5% in the previous quarter, but down from last year’s 6.7% growth, amidst regional slowdown, based on figures from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). This can be attributed to the strong performance of industry and services sectors, and robust government spending.

The robust economic growth in Q2 2015 reflects the country’s "resiliency from the prevailing weaknesses of the global economy," said NEDA chief Arsenio Balisacan.

Economic growth is expected between 6% and 6.5% this year, after real GDP growth rates of 6.1% in 2014, 7.2% in 2013 and 6.8% in 2012, according to government estimates. The Philippine economy is boosted by consumer spending, private investments and a recovery of government expenditures, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB). In addition, election-related spending is also expected to buoy domestic demand through May 2016, when the national and subnational elections are held.

In July 2015, the nationwide unemployment rate fell to 6.5% from 6.7% in the same period last year, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). The country expects unemployment to fall between its target range of 6.6% to 6.8% this year, buoyed by strong job generation in manufacturing and tourism sectors.

In June 2015, the country’s inflation rate slowed to 1.2%, down from 1.6% in the previous month and the lowest level in about two decades, according to NEDA. The tamed inflation was mainly due to the steady and sufficient supply of food and reduced electricity prices due to lower fuel costs. The government’s inflation target for this year range from 2% to 4%.

The country’s inflation is projected at 2.8% this year and 3.3% in 2016, from 4.4% in 2014, according to the ADB. "There are risks to this forecast from El Niño weather conditions that are expected to last through the first half, as well as from possible power shortages and pending petitions for higher electricity tariffs," the ADB said.


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