• Affordable housing sales on the rise

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    But industry seeks more govt support

    LICENSES to sell socialized housing projects jumped 82.42 percent in 2015 from 2014 levels, latest data from the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board showed. But developers are still drumming up more government support for them to fill the ever-burgeoning demand for low-cost housing in the country.

    According to HLURB data, the number of licenses to sell socialized housing projects nearly doubled from 16,876 in 2014 to 30,786 in 2015.

    Developers are finally taking notice of this long-neglected segment of the property market, where the real demand is, noted Julius Guevara, director for research and advisory in the Philippines of property monitor Colliers International.

    “There are a lot of developers going into it,” Guevara shared with The Manila Times, adding the direction now is going out of Metro Manila, where land prices have gone too high for affordable housing development.

    “I think, now, the focus of the developers is moving from condominium developments to affordable housing in the provinces outside of Metro Manila,” Guevara said. “So, I think, it’s a move towards the right direction.

    He said unlike in the previous years, when developers were focusing on the Metro Manila condominium market, developers are now shifting their attention to developing more affordable projects in the provincial areas.

    “Demand-wise, I think it’s been steady—the affordable housing market—unlike the decline in the condo market in Metro Manila,” Guevara said.

    He said the price of land in the provinces is much cheaper than in Metro Manila, where the scarcity of land has made land prices even more prohibitive.

    Guevara said land prices in the fringes of the capital region have also gone up, like in Cavite province, pushing developers to go further out.

    Good thing, he said, in the fringes of the cities, relatively cheaper land prices still exist.
    According to him, cheap lots can still be found in the easternmost part of Metro Manila like Pasig and Cainta, and also in the southernmost part of the capital region like in the fringes of Las Piñas City.

    Wanted: More govt support
    But Guevara said such circumstances are still wanting.

    “The demand is there, but the product is still not there,” he said. “A big portion of the housing backlog is in those who could not afford housing. So, it’s either you adjust your prices or sacrifice quality.”

    Guevara noted that while the government, through lower- interest loans from its agency Pag-Ibig Mutual Funds, another way is to subsidize low-cost housing.

    “…Subsidize it by either lowering the price or monitoring the prices,” he said.

    As for affordable housing firm Phinma Property Holdings Corp., the government needs to have a comprehensive program to address the housing backlog.

    “I think the government needs to be proactive in implementing a comprehensive program to address the housing backlog,” said engineer George Richard Siton, Phinma Properties’ vice president for socialized housing division.

    Phinma Properties is one of the local developers focusing on putting up low-cost housing subdivisions in the country.

    The company’s stance has been to put up housing subdivisions in downtown areas, where the local government units help by giving concessionary financing schemes for target project beneficiaries, such as government employees and indigent communities.

    Meanwhile, Guevara said several housing groups, such as the Subdivision and Housing Developers Association and the Organization of Socialized Housing Developers of the Philippines, have also been pushing for the serving of the low-cost housing sector.

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