Real estate in the Philippines – A great investment option for OFWs
Overseas Filipino Workers, more commonly known as OFWs, often prefer to invest in their home country. Buying real estate in the Philippines via remittances can be a very attractive option. However, multiple factors determine the effectiveness of such investments. Here is a quick look at some options, along with some of the merits and demerits they bring.
Real estate – an overview
The real estate market in the Philippines is on an uptrend. Properties are the cash cows and OFWs can expect healthy returns. Official statistics published by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), The Philippines’ central bank confirm this. The real estate price index surged by 27.1% year-on-year in Q2, 2020. Prices of single houses appreciated by 24.1%, townhouses by 10.8%, and condominiums by a whopping 30.1%. Leasing out their properties is also a great way for OFWs to generate passive income, which is consistent and inflation-proof.
Like any other investment real estate requires research and diligence. OFWs must ensure that they buy properties in rising real estate markets such as Baguio City, Makati, Cebu, and the like. OFWs work hard to send money to Philippines to support their families and to invest. Buying the wrong type of property or in the wrong region can invite disaster. Such investments can stagnate or even lose value. Another mistake would be to ignore the falling values of one’s properties, and continue to hold on to them. Disposing of such loss-generating investments and reinvesting elsewhere is often a much better alternative. Property owners must stay up-to-date on the latest market sentiments.
Investing in land
It is easy for OFWs to buy land in the Philippines. Under the Balikbayan Program rolled out in 1989 OFWs are accorded the same benefits as resident Filipino citizens. Buying land is generally cheaper than buying developed properties. This makes it accessible to a larger population of OFWs. Filipinos who work abroad generally earn 7-8 times compared to their resident compatriots in similar jobs. As a result OFWs can often save enough to invest in land within a couple of years of going overseas.
Certain restrictions apply to those OFWs who gave up their Filipino passports to become citizens of other countries. They can only own up to 1,000 sqm plots of residential land. Buying agricultural land is capped at 1 hectare. Investments in commercial land are only allowed up to 5,000 sqm in urban regions and up to 3 hectares in rural areas. OFWs who enjoy dual citizenship are not subject to any of these restrictions.
With many developers competing for buyers’ attention, condominiums have become increasingly affordable in the recent years. Prices of single units range between PHP 50,000 (about $1100) and PHP 150,000 (about $3,100) per sqm depending on region. Condos are considered good investment alternatives for OFWs who migrate to another country for a short duration of 3-5 years.
The Condominium Act of 1966 allows an OFW with a citizenship of another country to own multiple units in a condo. However the act restricts any one individual from buying units that exceed 40% of the total value of the condominium. As with owning land, dual citizenship holders are exempt from these limitations. One major aspect in the condo market is goodwill. Investors sometimes commit based on the convincing sales presentations made by developers. Instead they should conduct their own thorough research. Some condo projects are scrapped before completion, and investors stand to lose heavily. Be sure to do some diligent fact-finding on the developer and the property before investing.
Single attached/detached houses
The Philippines is a robust destination for tourism. As per Philippines’s Department of Tourism statistics the country welcomed 730,000 visitors in 2018. 54.7% of these were vacationing tourists. OFWs often consider buying single houses in tourism hotspots like Boracay, Cebu, Manila, and Visayas. Listing your property on short-stay services like Airbnb can generate continuous passive income during the tourism season. This is in addition to the significant appreciation in the market value of the property over time.
Note however, that properties intended to generate tourism income demand regular maintenance. Because OFWs are busy working overseas, many of them hire caretakers. Engaging the services of a good agent to lease out such properties is also a good option. OFWs should look beyond their friends and family, and engage professionals with proven reputations. This is an effective way of ensuring uninterrupted passive income through real estate investments.
The Role Of Technology In Real Estate Investment
Many Filipinos are tech-savvy. They enjoy social media browsing, creating videos, shopping, and availing delivery services online. Technology is essential in the lives of many Filipino OFWs, especially when communicating and sending money to their families at home.
Today, OFWs can invest in real estate using a real estate investing app, perfect for those who want to invest more conservatively. An excellent real estate investing app should provide a savings account feature plus an investment feature that offers more significant returns than bank account interest rates.
Real estate investment companies make private equity real estate accessible to investors using apps. They use investors’ money to acquire fixed-income first-lien mortgages, providing higher potential returns than a regular savings account. These companies are different from crowdfunding organizations because their investments enable non-accredited investors to participate through Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) A+ Tier 2 offerings or up to US$50 million securities offerings in 12 months.
In addition, real estate investment companies implement a cash flow strategy, usually used by private equity funds and hedge funds for wealthy investors. Real estate investment is more manageable for OFWs nowadays using real estate investing apps. While many OFWs are new to real estate investing, they acknowledge the importance of this investment in growing their wealth and preparing for their retirement.
The perfect opportunity
OFWs in the US can now take advantage of a new limited-time promotion launched by Ria. There will be a $0 fee charged on remittance transfers from any US bank to PHP Bank sent via Ria Money Transfer. For OFWs in Canada it gets better. Ria will add $5 on the send amount on second money transfers from Canada to the Philippines via Ria.
About the author:
Hemant G is a contributing writer at Sparkwebs LLC, a Digital and Content Marketing Agency. When he’s not writing, he loves to travel, scuba dive, and watch documentaries.