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The Makati Diaries - from a newcomer to Manila

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The Makati Property Diaries - from a newcomer to Manila ... mp




I originally sent these Notes out as emails to friends in Hong Kong and elsewhere, who had expressed an interest in investing in,

and maybe living in Makati or Bonafacio Global City (BGC).





Makati and BGC's office skyscapers have many high-paying jobs


MAKATI, as described by a newcomer,

who has arrived to take the handover of a flat, and get to know the place better




Hello my friends,
Here's an update on my trip to Manila
Overall, it is a decent trip where I am achieving most of what I intended.
There have been some surprises, both negative and positive. The biggest surprise is how long it takes to get things done, and how almost everything seem to be left half done, or needs to be redone. I am used to HK efficiency, and the idea of efficiency here, and what is acceptable are wildly different. I might give you an example or two shortly. On the good side, Filipino people have a genuine empathy. And if they see people who need help, they will often throw themselves in and help simply out of a spirit of hospitality and generosity. (You will also find this sometimes in Hong Kong, but not with the same regularity.)
The new flat has a view of Manila Bay... but you might need binoculars to see it
In the opposite direction, you will find the attractions of Greenbelt...
Av-San%20Lorenzo2e_zpsqtlfpe9k.jpg: Map
... and some very nice streets of Makati

My flat is good, as good as expected. Nevertheless, there are one or two items which need remedy. The most serious one is that the air-conditioner platform is not level. I am expecting Avida to fix this. But I do not have yet a precise time and way that it will be remedied. They seem to be handling my complaint in a professional way. But the remedy may not come as fast as I want it to. I have still not finally decided whether I will rent the flat bare, semi-furnished, or put some furniture in... or instead if I might use it myself for a few months. There are arguments in favor of each of these options, and there is no clear favored option. My present inclination is to rent it out "almost bare", but I will need to sort of what to do with the PDC's (Post-dated Cheques) that the new tenant will hand over. I expected Avida Leasing to handle the deposit of the cheques at the beginning of each month. But as of right now, this is something that they are merely "considering" to do, rather than offering it as part of the service.

To give you guys some idea of the returns, I paid a little under P2.1 million for the flat, and I think it may genuinely be worth something like P2.4-2.5 million (at 22 SM and 2.4 mn, that would be P109 per SM.) My flat is on the fringe of Makati, not in the heart of it. It is about a 12-15 minutes walk from Greenbelt. and very near a smaller shopping mall called Waltermart, which also has its own cinema. But this is a mall appealing to locals, not well-healed corporate chieftains and their families, and highly paid expats, as GB does.


I start out with a bare studio flat on the Fringe of Greater Manila's top CBD
What rent can I achieve? P12,000 (net of association fees, but before ALC's 1/12th commission) - after the commission that's just 5.5% p.a. on a P2.4 million notional valuation. I did expect to make more than that. But on my P2.1 Mn cost, the Net yield rises to 6.28%. If I spend say P250-300k, I can probably achieve something like P6,000/ month more. After taking into account the commission to the agent, that increase in rents would amortize P250k of outfitting costs in 3.8 years. Is that a good investment? Maybe, since most of the things that I buy should last at least 3-5 years. So long as I make the right choices of what to buy. But it might be easy to spend the money badly, and turn some potential tenants off. ALC tells me they have only two flats for rent "bare" at about P12k monthly, and they have 4-5 offered at P17-18k Net, or P19-20k Gross. So leaving it bare seems likely to get a tenant more quickly. Apparently, many potential tenants already own some furniture and appliance they want to move into a flat that they would rent.

As for living in the flat myself, I could do so for a year or two. But the flat is really too small for me to live there comfortably, as my own actual residence in Makati. But once furnished, it would beat staying in a sterile hotel room, and be much cheaper. Something I like is the location being reasonably close to Greenbelt, and that it has a decent mall (Waltermart) next door. Some seemingly minor things may prove important to me as a tenant, like the lack of internet in public areas, and the appallingly poor state of the sidewalks in the immediate area. The frequent train whistles, which are hear all over this part of the city (including Oriental Place, where I am as I write this), are something that I would have to get used to. So at this stage, I am thinking: if Avida Leasing (ALC) can take care of the PDC's there's a high probability that I just rent it out, as is, with only a few small changes I am planning to make.

This city seems quite livable, if you have a nice residence in a good area. There are things to do. I just came back from a Sunday morning stroll to the farmer's market at Legazpi Park, and I spend most of an hour relaxing in SyCip Park (next to Legazpi) reading a paper back. This is very walkable from Orientral Place, SanLo, or Kroma - three locations a that I know well. I also attended a meeting at a Meditation Centre yesterday, and had a nice lunch with some HK friends (A-- and G---A---) yesterday at the Jazz Mall. In the morning I saw their new flat at One Central. A-- paid less than P120K per SM, and got a real bargain on that. The flat is in excellent condition, and has a good view towards the Rise. I will have to ask him to take a photo every six months or so to show the progress of construction there. I think I could live very comfortably at Kroma, and probably also at The Rise. But there's a wait of 2-4 years, respectively, before those properties that I bought will be ready for occupancy. What to do In the meantime? Should I rent out my small studio, and rent somewhere larger and closer to the heart of Makati? Or can I somehow figure out how to make every centimeter work, and somehow jam into a 22 Square meter flat? (That's just XX sf, for those who do not like metric measures.)

I am trying to get the photos of Avida Towers San Lorenzo (SanLo) transferred from my mobile. If I can do that, I will send a part-2. But I thought it was better to send this message as is, and struggle with the transfer of photos later.

Hope to see some of you in Makati Soon. I expect to see M-- tomorrow. He's staying very nearby.
Very Best Regards,
- D. B.
Footnote: how delays happen
AES Electric heaters - buy the (cheaper) red one, and you start out where I did
Here's a story - installing an electric heater - note: SanLo flats are purchased without Air Conditioners, light fixtures, or electric heaters.
V-- and I went to CW Home Depot, about a kilometer from SanLo. I decided when there to buy light fixtures and an electric heater. (In hindsight, I should have bought the heater right next to me, few steps away at Wilcom, and probably for the same price.)
There were various models, and I asked the sales person, which one I should get. He did not tell me what factors to think about, so I went with the one made by AEG, a German company, which matched the water heater in V--'s Oriental Place flat. I thought: this is cheaper, and if it is less powered that the others, it might save money in future electricity usage. I was comforted by the fact that the store said they would send an electrician to install it.
The electrician was supposed to arrive on Monday at 11am. I waited in my non-airconditioned flat and, once I was hot and sweaty, in the building lobby almost 1 1/2 hours before giving up on him. I went to lunch. And when I returned over one hour later, the guard said: There's someone waiting for you on the podium. I went there and found the electrician - he was about three hours late! He explained there had been an unusual traffic jam - which the newspapers confirmed the next day. But three hours late, is amazingly late, without phoning someone. Maybe I haven't adjusted to "philippines time" yet.
We went to the flat. And I showed him the electric heater. He immediately said: I don't think that I can install that. He checked the Circuit breaker box, and told me that my connection was 32 amperes, and the electric heater that I purchased had a maximum rating of 20 amperes. I asked him what to do, and he said, I should exchange it, and the store would send another electrician.
Soon after he left, I gathered up the box to take it to the store. There was a huge traffic jam, so I decided to walk over 1km with the box under my arm in the heat. When I got to the store, they exchanged it - with me paying the difference, another 20% or so.. The appropriate model was about P7800, versus P6200 for the lower rated one. There was also a problem with the traffic going back, so I walked back with the new model under my arm. The walk was not pleasant, because there are not proper sidewalks in this part of Manila. Every property owner constructs his own sidewalk or driveway, and different heights. And there is no notion that pedestrians deserve consideration, so they will happily park their cars where a walkway might be indicated. When you have a bad ankle, this sort of obstacle course is not easy to negotiate.
Pedestrians need to stay aware in Manila
On Friday, just four days later, another electrician came. He was on time. This one looked at the electric heater, and the area where he was to install it and said: "I cannot install it." Shocked, I asked him: Well, why not? He said: You need an electric socket there - you have only a plate. After getting over my puzzlement, that the first electrician had not told me this, I asked him what to do. He said: You can buy a socket. I said, Can you come with me while I do that? (I did not want the buy the wrong thing a second time.) He agreed to do so. This would not have happened in HK. We walked next door to Wilcom, and I bought an electric socket, and he returned with me. That trip took an extra 15-20 minutes. But he got the thing installed, and it now works fine. I suppose the very late arrivals and unreliable time schedules do tend to create a people with more "flexibility" than you will get in a more orderly country.
The story has a happy ending, But there was much time wasted.
I will spare you further details of similar incidents. You may have some yourself, when you come over here.
At-SanLo : on Facebook
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# 2
Hello Friends
There's been a slight change of plans.

I am writing this from the lobby of the Eurotel, a small hotel just 3 minutes walk from my San Lo flat.
I have decided to stay in my bare unit at SanLo longer than the 2-days that I expected. By giving back to the airBNB guy, V--, another week of my scheduled stay in his place, I can save some money - and that will help pay for some things like kitchen cabinets, etc. that I plan to add to my tiny studio unit.
This will also help me to get to know Avida Towers San Lorenzo a little better so I might do a better job with the furnishing or renting it. The bad news is that I do not have an internet connection in my unfurnished new flat. Hence my visit to the lobby of this hotel.
I just had dinner with an American guy, R--, who has recently retired from the US airforce. He is here for some medical treatments, and he came with his elderly parents, who are from the Philippines. They are having some medical treatments too. It is much cheaper here than the same treatments in the USA. And he thinks the quality of medical care is good. He has the same problem as I do no, no internet in his room, so he suggested I come here, He has sent emails from the lobby of this hotel once or twice. It is good to know about this hotel, since it is convenient to my new flat. And it is not pricey. Maybe I will stay here on future visits, or recommend it to others.
It is still very hot here in Manila, and I get by at night, because it cools down quite a bit. I also bought a nice electric fan from Waltermart, and I used it in the room last night, and found I could sleep much better without sweating. But it is not quite as comfortable as V's air-conditioned AirBNB place.
I am finding some good places to eat, so my health is pretty good.
I will try and attached some photos of my flat - Done
Looking into the flat, or outside the window. At the extreme right of the photo is Oriental Place, on Chino des Roces
The area of low rise buildings tends to get flooded in heavy rains, so does not get built up
The flat is pretty small. But apart from the problem with the AC platform, I am pretty happy with it.
The main problems, are the horrible conditions of some sidewalks near the flat, and the challenge in getting work done on furnishing the flat with any sort of efficiency. I tried to buy three bathroom items today, things like mirrored cabinets and towel racks. A three items were out of stock. It really makes me wonder why the store is in business, and why they seem to have hired three times as many workers as they need. Instead, they should hire far fewer workers and train them better. And not waste money displaying object that they do not have in stock. ("Yes, we have no bananas. We have no bananas today") I won't go back to that particular shop. I wonder how many other customers have been lost patience in shopping there. Why bother to spend time shopping, when you are likely to be told the item is not in stock. You are told that you can have partly-damaged display item at full price!, or wait six months for the replacement to arrive. There must be other shops that manage their inventories better.
Opening a back account is another challenge. I know some that have done this with their passport alone, but 3 of the 4 banks want me to also present an Alien Certificate of Registration, which costs $50 a year to get and keep current. I suppose this is another way that the Philippines uses to squeeze money out of regular visitors.
I hope you are all well, and getting ready for the holiday season.
Happy Thanksgiving to all the Americans, and others who appreciate the holiday.
- D. B.
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# 3
I have had very little access to the internet the last few days.
R-- from ALVEO, and his girlfriend, L--, gave me nice tours on Sunday and on Monday - which was a holiday here. I will tell you all more about them later. I wrote some short tour reports.
Then, yesterday, the contractors came to finish the repairs on my A/C platform and beginning installing some cabinets that I have ordered. They should finish the job today. I will send you some photos.
I got the contractors started this morning, and went out to look for an internet shop. My usual internet place was closed. "Joy has not showed up today," I was told. I thought to myself: I know what you mean, No joy today.
Eventually, I walked around and found another place that was open. The good news is that it is right next to a laundry, and I handed over my 2 KG of dirty clothes, and paid for 3KG, their minimum. At about P 75, that's HKD 13, and is still very cheap. So if I move here, I may not bother to buy a washing machine.
I am still trying to open a bank account here. This afternoon or tomorrow, I will try again, armed with a letter from Avida saying I own a flat in their complex. Fingers crossed it will work.

X--, drove all the way from the South with two nurse friends of hers. They wanted to "help me with the gout." Which meant telling me about all the foods that I should avoid - the list included the same foods that I am already avoiding. They also offered me a P6,000 packet consisting of a special juice formulated in Canada, and some pills. Because they had come so far, I felt obligated to buy some nutritional pills, and they were expensive enough that it should at least help to pay for the gas. I did want to pay the full P 6000, since that might have encouraged X-- to pitch to me every new MLM scheme she comes across. There are many of these right now in the Philippines, I am told. I will be more careful next time, when she tells me she has someone wants me to meet who can help me.
I had considered staying here longer to get more of the furnishing done. But getting a visa extension and booking a later flight, is not as trivial as expected. Most of the flights are very full as we approach Christmas. This is not surprizing, since there are many Filipina helpers flying back and forth from Hong Kong over the holidays.
The temperature is now warm and pleasant, and probably much nicer than HK, which I am starting to miss.
I return on Monday night, so I hope to see some of you next week.
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# 4 : Circuit tour
Circuit is Ayala Land Intl's latest CBD development in Makati. ALI took over the old Santa Ana racetrack (see photo above), and has begun to turn it into the family-friendly entertainment area of Makati. With the traffic congestion that plagues Greater Manila, it is not easy for hard-working people of Makati's thriving main CBD along Ayala Avenue to enjoy the cultural attractions of Manila. Unpredictable travel times, mean that most of those attractions are out of reach. Arrival for the 8pm (or whatever) performance time cannot be guaranteed. Circuit and its planned transport enhancements will change that. With the dedicated bus lanes that Ayala is planning, it should be possible to make a predictable journey from North Makati to Circuit inside 30 minutes (for example*), and from the center of Ayala station within 40 minutes (perhaps). This will enhance the cultural experience of Makati, and also make Circuit an attractive - and fun - place to live, with easy access to the high-paying jobs in the main financial district.
Eventually, as the Pasig River (above) gets cleaned up, and now that factories are shut down, the appeal of living next to this body of water should increase too. And one day, you may see enhanced use of ferries from nearby areas like Rockwell.
Circuit's cultural attractions will include a 400 -seater black box arena/theater, and smaller playhouse, as well as the already popular outdoor shell musical venue. There will also be cinemas and a shopping mall. So Circuit should be one of the lively places to live. Restaurants are already opening, and two floors of restaurants and shops are beginning to fill in, as restaurant diners and shopkeepers take advantage of Ayala's temporary bargain-rent policy (with short term discounts on rents of up to 50%) to launch their restaurants.
18 months ago when I first saw the Circuit area, it was not easy to imagine how it might look when it was complete. No buildings were finished, and the model was mostly a map. It showed where buildings were planned, but gave very little idea of what most of them would look like. Ayala has unparalleled experience in launching successful new CBD's. It is beginning to be apparent that they have done it again. The two first residential Towers, Solstice 1 and 2 are underway. Presently, the first tower has its foundations in place up to the 8th floor. That is where the amenities such as the gym and swimming pool will be. Solstice Tower 1 is expected to be completed only in late 2018/early 2019.
Ayala has decided to give the area a good head start by making Circuit a popular and restaurant destination. The obvious strategy is to enhance the value of the flats by making the place come alive, and showing potential tenants the quality of live that is on offer at their doorstep.
Most impressive, in terms of creating the lively fabric of the place, is the main walkway and restaurant area, called Circuit Lane, which will have over 20 shops and restaurants, as well as a outdoor performance area next to the so-called Spanish steps. Bands are already using this area. An event under the stars was being prepared for the evening of the Sunday when I visited the place. There were plenty of restaurant goers and curious people walking around, so I could imagine the band having a good audience.
Without taking an actual count, it seemed that on the ground level, about 1/3 of the restaurants or shops had already opened, another 1/3 had named tenants who were preparing to open, and about 1/3 were still available for rent. Most of the shops on the second floor were still available for rent. One or two second floor restaurants, including those with the best views towards the Makati skyline were already open with customers. The shopping mall with cinemas will probably not be completed for some years. And it will be next to the office complex called Stiles that ALVEO is presently selling at prices in the region of P 140-145,000 psm.
When I first saw Circuit, I was surprised to see that prices were only about 10% under the P120-130k levels that were available for Kroma and Lerato in early 2014. I wound up buying a high-floor flat at Kroma for about P 126k per SM. And both Kroma and Lerato are now (nearly) sold out. Open flats, when they get them, are sold at P130-140k on lower floors of those buildings. Prices for Solstice have not been increased so fast, so present prices of P114 - 120k (= HKD XXX per sf) now look like bargains, especially now that ALI has sold out near all of its stock of Makati flats, and other developers are routinely offering P150K for flats in buildings like Greenbelt Hamilton.
In Solstice, ALVEO is selling 2 BR for P 9 million and up, and 1 BR of about 58 SM and up, for P 6.5 million and higher. 2BR are expected to appeal to couples with children, and the lack of schools in the immediate area could be a concern right now. Perhaps that requirement will be addressed by the developer or educational entrepreneurs later. The 1 BR flats might be a better buy. They may be easy to rent to single professionals and couples who want to be close to Circuit's restaurants and entertainments. As the offices are completed, there will also be jobs in the area, with an easy walk to one's job. The area should also be good for outdoor sports like jogging and bicycling, since it is less threatened by traffic and pollution from cars. The center area of Circuit Lane should remain forever from from cars.

Some Makati residents dream of a nearby oasis with fewer cars. That's what Circuit should be.
On my trip to Makati in early 2014, I met a young Irish IT professional. He was sitting outside Starbucks in front of Columns Ayala. I asked him how he liked living there. He said the easy walk to work, less than 10 minutes away was the key reason he lived there. As we watched the traffic circle around the island that is Columns Ayala, he said, "on weekends, I long to escape from all this", with a gesture towards the traffic. But it required at least two hours sitting in horrible traffic to get away. Maybe if he lived in Circuit, he would not have the same urge to escape Makati and its attractions.
- D.B.
*I think the transport link will be a key factor – the time frames I gave above are my own estimates of times that seem acceptable. These need to be confirmed. Ayala has announced plans to have dedicated bus lines running back and forth on South Avenue, which is the direct connection between Circuit and Ayala Avenue in Makati. The street will be renamed Ayala Avenue extension. I was told that there are some negotiations to me completed with Makati city officials, and nothing would be announced before next year's election, in Q2-2016.
> New thread on the Attractions of Circuit Makati:
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# 5 : ARCA South tour

ARCA South : The Half-way house that's half-way home



Manila's traffic and the long duration journeys from the provinces have encouraged Filipinos to buy homes in and near CBD's like Makati and BGC so that they can live close to their jobs (and children's schools) during the week, and drive home on the weekends. This makes traffic particularly bad at the end of the week (Friday nights and Saturday morning), and again at the beginning of the week. The short journey from Makati to FTI might take 45 minutes or more when there is heavy trafffc. Some Filipinos are aiming to own their weekday "half-way house" closer to the ultimate working destination to cutdown on the time required for the long journey to their weekend homes.




ARCO South is Ayalaland's new development south of the airport, at the intersection of two major highway arteries, SLEC and C5. This area was previously called FTI, for Food Terminal International, an idea that has by now outlived its time. ALI bought 74 hectares at a healthy price (over P30k per SM?) to turn it into one of its major new CBD's in the Metro Manila. The first residential buildings will be completed in about 2018-19. Each of ALI's top three home builders have a presence there: ALP (Alaya Premier) with prices centering on perhaps P 180k per SM, ALVEO at around P 150k, and Avida, near P 120k, or higher. These prices are not far off Makati prices. And there is a reason. Heights are limited to perhaps 15-20 stories, because the area is in or near the flightpath of aircraft landing at Aquino International airport, and skyscrapers are not permitted by the zoning restrictions. With the lower maximum building heights, the developer is not able to enjoy the economies of scale that come with building 30 stories and above. Thus, while the land is cheaper than in Makati or BGC, the end price to the condo buyer is not significantly lower.


A nice feature of the Veranda development, ALVEO's offering, is the "air-flow" concept where air openings between buildings, including internal courtyards will help hot air to circulate through the buildings and escape out openings near the skylights. The mid-rise and more spacious building plan, when compared with Makati or BGC - will make this feature highly functional, and will give homeowners more pleasant breezes year-round, and may even help to lower A/C bills.


ARCA has a nice mix of development coming. The commercial buildings sold quickly, and the residential units are being offloaded at a reasonable pace. There have been several price rises, totaling more than 10% since the initial launches. No doubt, people are attracted by the location on the major highways. And the attractive design of the main street with its restaurants, and shopping, plus a high end mall are other key features. People are thrilled with the idea of having something like Greenbelt closer to home. A hospital and a SEDA hotel are also planned for Arca South.


This will be an interesting development to watch, but I do not think it is (yet) the most suitable for overseas investors seeking higher yields. Prices are not substantially lower than what can be found in Makati / BGC, and it may not be as easy to rent at Makati type prices, especially initially. I expect that it will be a success, because of the number of local people seeking a convenient half-way house, in a area that will be pleasant to live in.


Footnote: Regarding the railway connection

There is a PNR railway stop called FTI station on the Fringe of ARCA South. There is a definite plan to combine this with the integrated terminal that will be built there. This might be a part of ALI's long term planning. But since they have little or no control over the railway, the main part of their development strategy must revolve around Arca itself, nearby land, and bus and car flows that will come through the road arteries, and the integrated transport terminal.


During the APEC conference in Nov. 2015, Japan announced that it would provide loans of up to P 80 Billion for development of rail on Luzon island. Most of this will reportedly be spent on extending the northern rail link beyond Quezon City. But some may be spent on the Southern lines to, and it could make the link from PNR's Pasay station to FTI (just 3 stops, and maybe less than 20 minutes?) more pleasant and useful to middle class commuters, who until have shown a strong preference (until now) for traveling in their private cars. That may work so long as gasoline prices are reasonable, and there is sufficient parking. But these factors can shift, along with the quality of the train journey, making travel by rail a viable choice even for those who own cars.


Stations going South from Makati :


Buendia > Pasay Rd > EDSA > Nichols > FTI / Arca South … and on to Calamba


> MORE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Philippine_National_Railways_stations


During the tour, I considered how far a walk there would be from the FTI rail station to the Arbor, Veranda, and Union South properties. Most of the walk may be covered, and protected from rain and sun. But it is a long way. So it seems likely that those who travel that distance will prefer to take a shuttle bus or to bicycle. I could see no evidence than ALI was considering a shuttle bus for such passengers. And I do not know if they are making provisions to allow bikes to park near the station.)






Ayala Land to invest P80-billion for Arca South

“At 74 hectares in size, Arca South is roughly the size of the Makati CBD and Bonifacio Global City Center. This is the kind of scale required to create a new center for Metro Manila with a variety of living, business and recreational options,” she added.


It was estimated that some 60,000 residents and 400,000 office workers will find a home at Arca South. The estate will be equipped with 24/7 operations center for efficient traffic and road management as well as real-time alerts and emergency response system.

According to ALI, Arca South will capitalize on two important infrastructure projects of the government. The first will be the Southeast International Transportation System (ITS) to be located on a 5.5-ha parcel reserved by the government beside Arca South. Second is the Skyway/C5-C6 connector road project. This connector road project will have separate ramps connecting to both the Southeast ITS and the Arca South development. This means that Arca South will be one exit away from Makati via the Skyway, about 5-10 minutes away from the CBD, Dy said.


> Thread on Arca South, etc : http://www.greenenergyinvestors.com/index.php?showtopic=20396

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The Niggling Details of Property Owning in Manila

Hong Kong is an easy place to buy and rent out properties.
It is not so easy in the Philippines, especially for foreign investors who may not have friends of family in Manila whio can assist them with their property investments. The market is becoming more mature, but it has not yet reached the stage where passive investments can easily be made headache-free. Some careful planning is needed to help minimize potential delays and inconveniences.

Buying is reasonably straightforward. Foreigners cannot buy land, but they can purchase up to 40% of a condo project. And developers from the Philippines have now gone out to look for foreign buyers, beyond those Overseas Foreign Workers, who hold Philippines citizenship. If the new buyers have patience and luck, they may find that their new properties are ready when they expect them to be finished. A notable problem is that target completion dates, are nothing more than targets - and some developers wind up missing them by many months, or by years in some cases. Even Ayala Land, which has a strong reputation for delivering its properties on time, has begun to have problems getting the people and materials it needs to finish on schedule. A few of their projects have experienced multi-month delays. Some developers, like Eaton, at their Eaton Tower project has been 1-2 years late. And for Eaton Tower, the finished project looks unlike the original render.



The finished Eton Tower looks little like the original render

These potential problems are not good news for buyers, since the Contracts are light on deadline and penalties. So the buyer can suffer penalties and even foreclosure if they do not pay on time, but the penalties for late completion on the developers' side are mostly light, or non-existent. If a buyer points this out this lack of symmetry to an agent, he is likely to be met with a shrug of shoulders, and an inadequate explanation such as, "this is the Philippines; get used to it." Dealing with top-class developers, with reputation to protect is recommended Otherwise, buy something that is complete, or nearly complete, so you can see what you are getting before you pay over all your money.

Renting also has some headaches in the Philippines. For instance, the usual method of rent payment is different. Many HK tenants will pay their rents by setting up a regular direct debit and transfer, on the same day of each month, so the landlord is assured of getting the rent on time. For some mysterious reason, this method is not used. Perhaps banks charge too much for this handy service, when the money is remitted to a different bank. Instead, a tenant will typically pay two month's security, and two month's advance rent before getting the key - and also hand over ten post dated cheques. For luxury flats, some tenants may even pay a full year's rent in advance. This may be most common with furnished flats rented by expats, where the company is paying the rent, and no one wants delays or headaches. For locals renting Furnished or Unfurnished flats, the Post-dated Cheque (PDC) method is common. It was suggested to me when Avida Leasing was talking about finding a tenant for my new flat at SanLo.


The problem for me to receive PDC's is how do I deposit them? I asked my bank. HSBC, if I could turn over the cheques to them, and they might peal off the relevant cheque each month and deposit it. HSBC has no such service. ALC, Avida Leasing, is "considering" offering this service, in return for a small payment. But they will not have a clear decision on this until January 2016 at the earliest. And it might be no. ALC suiggested I find "a trusted friend of family member" to do it. But it is a responsibility that few would welcome. Eventually, I found someone who would do so, but it seemed to be a unfair favor to ask. Another possibility, was the tenant could be required to deposit the cheque each month. But my bank, HSBC, is a 10-15 minutes walk away from SanLo. I can imagine that some tenants might agree, but after the first month or two, they may regret the long walk and the inconvenience, and my rent would become chronically late. I would rather not take that chance. Why not open an account with a local bank, and have the tenant deposit rental payments there? Makes sense, so I spoke to the top three local banks in terms of size, BDO, Metrobank, and BPI. BDO and BPI both asked for "two ID's": my passport, and copy of "my ACR". I did not know what an ACR was. It turns out that they wanted an Alien Certificate Of Registration. If I stayed beyond 59 days, i could obtain one in return for a payment of about US$50. Metrobank said that they might accept my US passport plus a letter from Avida confirming that I was the owner of a flat in their building. On my last full business day in Manila, I got a copy of such a letter, and appeared at the branch at 4:33 to try to open a bank account. Unfortunately, Metrobank closes at 4:30 pm. and they were not willing to let me in. I was taken by surprise because other banks like BDO and BPI stay open until 5pm or 6pm. No wonder Metrobank was so empty the first time I visited them, and asked about their requirements to open an account.

Eventually, I found an answer. The clue came from a friend in Hong Kong. He opened his account with Bank of the Philippines Islands (BPI) in Hong Kong, and then he can open a Peso account in Manila when he needs one. I asked BDO, if they had a branch in HK, and they confirmed they did. And it should be easy to open an account in Manila if I was already a customer of BDO in Hong Kong. (I will confirm this after I get back to HK.)* Having an account with a local bank with many branches will make it easy for a tenant to deposit a rent check at a local branch, if indeed I go that route. For the time being, I plan to leave my studio flat mostly empty, and use it as my base when in Makati.

Other issues that I investigated, were paying the monthly bills ahead of time. I wanted to pay the Associate Fees (AK, or management fees) for my flat one year in advance. Avida was not ready to accept this, because the AF had not yet been set, or even collected for Tower 1. The arrangement that Avida has, is that it will not charge any AF fees until all the amenities are open. The opening of the swimming pool and other amenities is expected to happen in January, or at least sometime during the first Quarter. I pressed them on this point, and suggested that I might pay a notional amount in December, such as P.2,000 per month, or almost P.24,000 for the year - so long as they would give me a discount for early payment. (Other nearby properties such as Beacon Tower are said to offer a 10% discount, if AF's are paid in December of the prior year.) I was promised an answer, and was told on my last day there that they would offer a 2% discount for early payment of AF's for 2016. But such payments would only be accepted between Jan 1 - Jan. 31st, 2016. To be fair to Avida, I understand they what to see the actual amount of fees before accepting prepayments. Their best estimate was that the amount would be between P85 and P115 per square meters. If it turns out to be P95, then the monthly AF cost for my flat of 22.08 SM would be: P 2,098.


Avida's admin office handles the water bills, and they did accept a prepayment of P 500 for future water bills. After handing over this prepayment, and getting a receipt, I checked the water meter on my floor as I was turning off the water just prior to leaving for the airport. It was close to zero, just 0.7. So I am sure my P 500 will cover many months of water usage. Electricity is bill directly to tenants by Manila Electric (MERALCO). I tried to pay the bill through the business service center in at the Robinson's store in Walmart. I had a letter from Avida showing I was the owner of my particular unit. They refused my payment, saying they needed a billing number before they accept any payments. This was a sort of Catch-22 problem for me. Avida had told me that I would have to pay Meralco directly, since electricity supply was now in my name. But Meralco would not accept a payment from me. The usual solution, is to wait to receive the bill, and then pay it. Since I had been owner of the flat for less than a month, no first bill had yet been generated when it was time to leave. So I had no way to pay the bill. I explained the catch-I-was-caught-in to Avida's Admin office, and they agreed to make a temporary except. They took my cash and agreed to pay the first bill when it arrived, and to also try to make a prepayment with the cash left. I found the people in the office to be very willing to help. But they explained to me that my case was unusual. Although Tower-1 had another America expat living in it, nearly every other flat had a local owner, or people with friends or family who would attend to bills. They said that they would try to make some new policies that would allow them to deal with these future sorts of clients when they arose. My case was a test case, and so they were solving the issues on an adhoc basis. I thanked them f or their understanding, and they thanked me for mine. The conversation and relationship remained friendly, and we all wanted that.

There is also a property tax to pay. Unlike the practice in Hong Kong, the administrators of the tax do not send bills directly to the property owners. You need to visit their office, and find out how much tax you owe. I heard that some homeowners forget to do that, and then they discover that they have back taxes and penalties to pay before they can complete their sale. i wanted to avoid those surprises. Avida admin did some checking and told me that the tax for 2015 had likely been paid already on my property. I will wait for my next trip to sort out the 2016 tax payments. At the moment, I am expecting that this amount will be less than one month's rent (say P 10-12,000 or less.) but this is just an estimate.

This installment has included some slow and careful explanations. It may be boring to those who are not interested in the "niggling details". But for those who own property in Makati and BGC, or are anticipating becoming owners, it may prove to be a very useful and practical record. It is better to know of these matters in advance, rather than discovering them later, when they more be more expensive to fix.


Branches of Philippines banks in Hong Kong - in order of Size of Asset base


+ BDO / BDO Unibank
G/F, Euro Trade Centre, 13-14 Connaught Road C., Hong Kong
Hours: Monday to Friday: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Telephone: (852)2901-0220 (English/Fukien/Tagalog)
> https://www.bdo.com.ph/branches-atms-locator


+ Metrobank

Shops 201-206m 2nd Floor Worldwide House Plaza

No. 19 Des Voeux Road, Central Hong Kong

Telephone : (852) 2877-9161 / (852) 2877-3569 / FAX: (852) 2856-3902

Email : worldwide@mbrchk.com


+ BPI / Bank of the Philippine Islands

Worldwide Branch
Shop 115, 1st Floor, Worldwide House,
19 Des Voeux Road, Central, Hong Kong
TEL: (852) 2521-5366 / 2522-7105 FAX: (852) 2866-2476
Email: bpiworldwide115@bpihk.com
Other BPI Hong Kong Branches in HK: Hung Hom, Yuen Long, Tsuen Wan

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Turnover Report for Acqua Private Residences
Another project on the Pasig River, near Rockwell ... PH.

The distinctive design, emphasizes the location on the Pasig River, and features a Rainforest garden
"Acqua Private Residences will have six (6) towers with uninterrupted views of the Rockwell-Makati skyline across the bridge, the vibrant city skyline to the North, and the tranquil waters down below. Acqua’s buildings are named after some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world. The Sutherland Tower, inspired by New Zealand’s famous falls, Iguazu Tower of Brazil, Detifoss Tower of Iceland, Victoria Tower of Zambia, Yosemite Tower taking its name from the famous North American national park and its waterfalls. And the first building set to rise at Acqua the Niagara Tower, the North America’s most renowned and one of the most photographed waterfalls in the world."
"Acqua’s unit ranges from 27sqm to 140sqm in size. A typical unit size of 27sqm to 32sqm 1-bedroom unit is worth about P2.4 to P2.8 million while a 2-bedroom unit of 42sqm to 50sqm is worth around P4.3 million" (these are historical prices, probably 2-4 years old.)
view of Century City and Makati from Acqua ... PH.
/ This Report was submitted to me by one of the readers of the GEI forum. /
Just wanted to let you know how my handover visit to the acqua private residences went... PH.
The property was unfortunately not ready for handover, which they declined to tell me until after I showed up for it... The unit was as expected, decent, small, nice view. I noted several defects which i asked to be fixed, which they noted down. The actually handover is now delayed until march (at the earliest). One thing I was not happy about, is there were three entrances to the property, but only a single entrance is currently open. I was interested in inspecting the entrance closest to the onramp of the bridge that crosses the river, but I was told that there was a chance this entrance would not be made available to residents of my units tower. If thats true, this means that residents would need to take a half kilometer circuitous route to reach the bridge and likely out of walking distance to the nearby mall.
I was pleasantly surprised how nice the nearby rockwell and power plant mall area was. It is clearly a luxury area, and reminds me a bit of pacific place in admiralty. Lots of expats and well heeled locals. I have no idea if it was a good investment, or how easy it will be to rent out, but this is certainly an interesting learning experience.
Unit size: 27sqm with 4 sqm balcony
purchased in 2011 for 2.4m pesos
carpark purchased for 450k pesos
Acqua is just across the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge from Rockwell and its new Proscenium Residences
Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge
Rockwell Land Corporation has launched Proscenium Residences,
the fifth tower that will complete the 3.6-hectare Proscenium enclave in Rockwell Center, Makati City. The 59-storey condominium tower will offer 563 units, ranging from 29-sqm studio units to 147-sqm three bedroom units. Amenities include an outdoor tennis court, a splash pad, a floating river, a gym and a dance studio


> http://www.ap.jll.com/asia-pacific/en-gb/Research/property-market-monitor-philippines-manila-201511.pdf?0ac77080-874e-4391-84cc-7b98865fb880






> SSC : http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=1469065&page=46

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  • 2 weeks later...

IMPORTANT DATA - so I have copied it here too


Will Rents FALL in Makati in 2016 (when huge supply comes out)? - Probably, but maybe by only 3-5%, or less


Keeping a Balance ? : OFFICE space versus RESIDENTIAL flats

This comparison is very interesting.
We cannot assume that everyone working in Makati will be able to afford to live there. In fact, most of the jobs there will not provide sufficient salary, but it is an interesting comparison to make. And here it is for BGC too.

First a simple ratio: if each desk represents a job, and each 5 sqM. is room for one job, then how many office-type jobs are in Makati, and in BGC?

Area- : End 2014 space / Sq-M= Estimated jobs
Makati : Office 2,847,397 / 5.0M = 569,479
B.G.C. : Office 0,975,157 / 5.0M = 195,031

Comb. : Office 3,822,454 / 5.0M = 764,510 jobs


Some of these people will want to live in Makati / BGC. and some will want to live elsewhere further away, but maintain a small flat near their office so that they can travel to /from work on key days (during the week perhaps), and not face the large traffic jams that ensnarle Greater Manila. So there a real demand.


Let's compare the number of condo flats in Makati/BGC with the office space:


Area- : End 2014 space / Condos= Office SqM per condo
Makati : Office 2,847,397 / 18,337 = 155.3 SqM
B.G.C. : Office 0,975,157 / 19,427 = 50.20 SqM
M./bgc : Office 3,822,454 / 37,764 = 101.2 SqM


These numbers pass my "make sense" test.

I assume that average condo might be 40sqM, and thus: 37,764 condos in Manila/BGC make 2.26 million SqM.

if there are 1.5 working persons per condo, then there are enough flats for just 56,646 workers in Makati.

The rest live in houses - where the stock is not increasing much - and is probably shrinking,

Obviously, most of those workers live outside Makati / BGC and commute to their jobs in the countries top CBD's..


If my crude estimates are accurate - then only maybe 7.4% of the people who work in Makati are actually housed in Condos there.

As I said, the rest live in houses, or commute from elsewhere. In practice, the percentage is lower, because some condos are empty,

held for overseas owners, with some also lived in by visitors or tourists - people who do not work in Makati.


The big jump in condo supply may be easily absorbed by workers who would like to live closer to their offices.

And a dip in rents, if it comes, might make those condos more affordable.


The Shifting Balance

Let's look at a simple ratio - of Office space to Condos, and see how it is shifting over time:


-------- : ------ End 2014 ------ : : ---- End 2015 -est-- : :----- End 2016 -est-- : : ---- End 2017 -est-- : : ---- End 2018 -est-- :

AREA : 0ffice /Condo: Ratio : 0ffice /Condo: Ratio : 0ffice /Condo: Ratio : 0ffice /Condo: Ratio : 0ffice /Condo: Ratio :
Makati : 2,847 / 18.33 : 155.3 : 2,850 / 19.33 : 147.4 : 2,850 / 23.49 : 121.3 : 2,850 / 26.45 : 107.8 : 2,910 / 27.52 : 105.7 :
B.G.C. : 0,975 / 19.43 : 50.18 : 1,162 / 22.21 : 52.32 : 1,477 / 29.14 : 50.69 : 1,817 / 33.26 : 54.63 : 2,000 / 36.09 : 55.42 :
comb.- : 3,822 / 37.76 : 101.2 : 4,112 / 41.54 : 98.99 : 4,327 / 52.63 : 82.22 : 4,667 / 59.71 : 78.16 : 4,910 / 63.61 : 77.19 :
Ortigas: 1,299 / 13.82 : 93.99 : 1,380 / 16.25 : 84.92 : 1,440 / 17.61 : 81.77 : 1,455 / 18.50 : 78.65 : 1,494 / 18.93 : 78.92 :
Rockwl.: 0,??? / 4.159 : ?? ?? : 0,??? / 4.159 : 00.00 : ???? / 4.159 : 00.00 : ?? ?? / 4.505 : 00.00 : ?? ?? / 4.997 : 00.00 :



When I examine this data carefully, I am less worried about a possible large correction, than I was before.

Main thing which lends confidence is the rapid rise in Office space, mainly in BGC.

The jump from 975k sqm at 12/2014 to 2,000k sqm at 12/2018 is a huge jump of +105 %.


If those offices fill up, which seems likely then there will be a big jump in jobs in the area, and that will help greatly

to fill up the new condominiums. In fact, the rise in condos over the same period, from 19.43k to 36.09k, is only +85.7%..

Thus, the balance ratio in BGC shifts from 50.18 to 55.42 - ie there should be more office space (and more jobs?) in BGC

for every apartment at 12/2018 than there was at the end of 2014.(!)


Even so, the market will need to be monitored in 2016-17 in particular given the expected large jumps in condo supply:

Makati : +21.5% + 12.6%, in 2016, and 2017, respectively; and +31.2% + 14.1% in BGC //

Combined is : +26.7% in 2016 (!), and +13.5% in 2017.



The traffic jam between Makati and BGC is likely to get worse, and Makati remains more "walkable"


In terms of getting to and around the two cities, Makati CBD is much more accessible than Taguig BGC because buses and jeepneys that come from EDSA and other cities directly pass through the Central Business District. Meanwhile, to get to Bonifacio Global City, one has to get down in Makati or Taguig and take another jeep that goes inside of BGC. Both cities implement strict traffic rules: buses and jeepneys can only pass through and stop at specific points in the major roads. But since Makati has more one way roads, flexibility in driving and commuting is greatly limited in the CBD. Buildings are closer together in Makati, making it easier for pedestrians to get from point A to point B. In addition, pedestrian underpasses make crossing roads safer along Ayala Avenue. /

- See more at: http://ffemagazine.com/buying-beyond-home-taguig-makati/#sthash.F8BUsAq3.dpuf


Makati has no new offices in those two critical years, so landlords will need to attract new tenants who want to live closer

to their existing jobs. That is possible, of course, but they will need to compete with the existing supply, and so some

price cuts may be required.



BGC is also filling up with people and traffic


Overall, the very high RATIO (r155.3 at end 2014, falling to r105.7 at end 2018, must mean that there are employees who want to live closer to their jobs, if they can find an attractive place to live and a reasonable cost.)

I reckon that a large number of people who work in Makati now live in BGC, and they endure the traffic jams between the two locations, because they like the more spacious and more carefully planned environment in BGC. But as BGC us built out, the local BGC traffic jams will get worse, and the environment may seem more similar to Makati. So some of those living in BGC may shift back to Makati. Even if they do not, people living in other locations, such as Queson City, may prefer to live in Makati and walk to work.



> Note: Base data is from : Colliers Report-Q3
Colliers : EXCERPT comment on rents was:

"An average rental growth rate of 1.5% was observed during 3Q 2015 for premium residential condominium property in the major CBDs. The average monthly rent for premium three-bedroom units in Makati CBD amounted to PhP875 per sq m for the period, higher by 1.57% QoQ; along with Fort Bonifacio which also increased by 1.26% QoQ (PhP882 per sq m). Growth in rents was highest in Rockwell at 1.82% QoQ (PhP951 per sq m).
Should the completion of an unprecedented 13,400 additional units in the major CBDs by the end of 2016 materialize, Colliers foresees a downward correction in rental rates by as much as 5% by the end of 2016. With an estimated 60,000 units being completed in the entire Metro Manila area by the end of 2015, plus another 51,000 units in 2016, leased condominium units in the fringe areas will compete with available units in the major CBDs. However, worsening traffic conditions have made renting residential units in the CBD a more practical proposition for employees during the weekdays; this phenomenon may soften the impact of a more competitive leasing environment amid elevated levels of condominium stock."


> source: Makati thread, post#xx, http://www.greenenergyinvestors.com/index.php?showtopic=18811&page=11

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One Central comment - some room for improvement


(Here's a Note from a friend who lives in Makati already):





Recently I spent more time in One Central than planned due to the big typhoon we had in the province. So far I am really not impressed with the management of One Central. The building is new but I can already see some areas not well maintained in several parts of the building. I hope it will improve or the building won't age well.
I asked the brand and color codes used inside the units to many employees from maintenance engineers to managers but they do not know. Maybe later... which is the polite way to say never in Philippines.
Old Price List - from Aug. 2013 : source : example: 1BR: P.7.62mn / 46.5 = P 163.9K psm (before any discounts?)
I asked how to set an autopay to pay the monthly dues and it's just impossible. Monthly dues should be paid monthly by cash or cheque and even paying them in advance seems to be a problem.
I also asked the management what happened to the "Forest Park" which was one of the highlights of the One Central project. Today this area is unfinished and looks bad (I pity the guys who bought the units just over it)
They replied that they had problems with the fountains and so they just stopped that part. Maybe they will convert it into an ordinary garden in the future... or not. There is no plan at this stage.
... when buying pre-selling it's important to keep in mind that the project plan is just a plan which can be changed anytime at the developer's convenience. Buyers are not protected by law like in other countries.
The good part in our experience with One Central is the way the units are designed and the quality of appliances and finishing inside the units. I'm happy with that part.
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  • 4 weeks later...

UPDATE - I am back in Makati, completing the basic furnishing on my studio flat



An early design I rejected - It looked too much like a cheap office


It is still warm here. If anything, the temperature is on the warm side of comfortable - but I would describe it as temperate.

The "bargain" I found in my flat at Avida SanLo may be genuine (under P 100,000 psm still looks cheap), but it arises because this place is surrounded by traffic, and to get to the "high end" area near the Greenbelt Mall, you have to endure a very short walk on some of the worst sidewalks I have ever seen on a busy street anywhere in the world. It is a true obstacle course, especially when my ankles or knees are bad. But it is manageable, and so is the walk to Greenbelt.



Don Bosco school is a well regarded Boys School in the Makati area

Most of the people who live here, seem to be professionals who have a larger home in the provinces. They use their flats as a base for access to jobs during the week, and/or they have a child in the Don Bosco school across the street (or the girl's school behind it.) There is also a contingent of young accountants and other people starting their careers. Many of them are renting and sharing studios, or small 1BR or 2 BR flats with friends. When they have accumulated enough savings they may buy. But they seem to prefer new flats purchased off plan. They plow their excess income into installments on flats to be completed in 3-4 years when they buy them. If there was a better developed mortgage market, more of these people might be purchasing second hand flats, and making mortgage payments instead. The good news is, that when many people move into their new flats, they may have built up a significant amount of equity in those flats (through their payments and price appreciation.) The custom of prepaying, may make the market more resilient.



The Waltermart mall is next door to SanLon, and it has a cinema, with four films running simultaneously


All the SanLo flats that were available for rent a month ago, have been rented out, including the furnished ones - so properties do move. This is in spite of the fact that there is a HUGE supply (even YUGE, as The Donald would say). Within 2016, there are 4,148 new condos meant to be delivered, that is adding to a supply of 19,337 at year-end - so it represents a jump of 21.5% in one year. The new CBD at Bonifacio Global City is even worse, with 6,931 new condos coming on top of 22,206 - that's +31.2%. So 2016 looks like the crunch year - I have never seen such yuge jumps in supply in a single year anywhere that I have invested - so it will be interesting to see what happens. The good news is ... the continuing bad news that Manila's traffic jams just get worse and worse (it seems) and some people need to get to work on time, so they need accommodation close to their jobs - so I expect there will be strong demand, even for the small flats. The projected annual rises drop down to 2,962 flats (+12.6%) and 4,125 (+14.2%) respectively next year. Fingers crossed that rents will not come down. Colliers expects a 2-3% drop in rents, and flat condo prices in 2016.


==== : Makati : BGC--- :
2015 : 19,337 : 22,206 : year end
+Add: 04,148 : 06,931 : exp.2016
+ Pct.: 21.45%: 31.21% :
2016 : 23,585 : 29,137 : year end
+ Add: 02,962 : 04,125 : exp.2017
+ Pct.: 12.56%: 14.16% :
2017 : 26,547 : 33,262 : year end
+ Add: 01,072 : 02,831 : exp.2018
+ Pct.: 12.56%: 14.16% :
2018 : 27,619 : 36,093 : year end
Per Colliers, The Knowledge, for Q3-2015

The flats in my new tower two, are slow in getting released - probably 60% or more have still not yet been turned over. So I am lucky to have mine. Possibly, I got mine because it was due for early turnover, and also because I sent some polite letters by email inquiring when handover would happen. Maybe Avida did not want to lose face among foreign buyers? - But I have no idea if they think like that in the Philippines. But Ayalaland is now seeking more buyers overseas, so it is possible. Or maybe I was just lucky to get mine in 2015, while many buyers have had to wait until 2016. Someone I know with a similar studio flat in SanLo, also on a high floor will be getting his in mid-2016. But that was by choice, since he lives in Australia, and will return to the Philippines for a long stay only in the middle of the-year. Will there be a surge of turnovers in late Q2, or Q3 for the same reason? Maybe. I am still learning about this market. So if I decide to rent my flat out for a year or more, I may want to do that in Q1 and beat the possible surge in competition. Meantime, it provides a cheap base for me to stay here.

Furnishing is going well. Today the new mirrored wardrobe I am having built will be finished, and some furniture was delivered last night - so I am no longer sleeping on the floor, and I can do some useful things, like boil water for hot tea. I saw my neighbor's place last night. It is a corner flat and is about twice the size of mine. The designer did a great job - his name is Jun Sayson - readers can ask me for his phone number if they are interested. He had a look at my place and made some suggestions. But it is a bit late, since I have already purchased like 2/3rds of what I need to furnish the place. I am focused on having plenty of storage space, in case I decide to move all my stuff here from HK. And I want a small flat with great flexibility. So there's not as much room for creativity as a talented designer may like.


WIFI connections are possible using the pocket WIFI set-up I have, but they are HIGHLY erratic. I paid P 1500 to get an "open" pocket Wifi device, and I have been experimenting. The Globe connection seems to be better than the Smart net work, and after 1-2 days of both, I am now on a 5-day "unlimited" use program with Globe, which costs P200 (that's about HKD 33, so not expensive). You can call it halfway decent at best. It is nowhere as fast or reliable as what I can get in a decent internet cafe. Almost half the time it doesn't work at all, or I get 3-4 pages open and then it dies. I usually wait a few minutes and then try again. Sometimes after 2-3 unsuccessful tries, I just give up. I can almost never watch a Youtube video longer than 2-3 minutes all the way through. Frankly, compared to HK, this seems like a joke. I do put up with it because I don't like dragging my computer around to go to a coffee shop and pay P100-150 for a cup of coffee, so I can surf the web for 3o minutes or an hour. But I do that sometimes. Or I walk 10 minutes to an internet cafe which is very cheap (P15 an hour), but I might arrive and find the cafe is full of school kids, playing computer games. I suppose I will get used to it, and discover the right times to get reliable service and when to go to cafes.

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(Comments Received by email):




A light moment inside the People Support office. AT&T, JPMorgan Chase and Expedia use Philippine call centers

Subject: Interesting article on banks moving jobs to lower cost cities.


Wonder if we can see good evidence of this into Philly and Manila
- W.
"Morgan Stanley will be straying ever further from its Wall Street roots in the coming months as it shifts more operations to lower cost cities like Mumbai and Budapest as it aims to slash costs.
The investment bank on Tuesday announced an initiative to cut up to $1 billion by 2017 by using technology and outsourcing jobs now in its New York headquarters and other higher cost cities. However, it declined to give specific details about the number of jobs it would move to lower cost centres.
"We have too many employees based in high-cost centres doing work that can sensibly be done in lower cost centres," (CEO James) Gorman said on a fourth-quarter analyst call with analysts.




"Manila already one of the top BPO cities and I am sure they will get more. "
- R.

BGC has a HUGE expansion of office space underway, much of it is for BPO's, so they willl appreciate the business.
And maybe if all those offices get filled then the huge increase in condos, like 20-30% in a year, will get absorbed soon enough the keep rents and prices from sliding lower. Most people including Colliers seem to think the absorbtion will happen.
Philadelphia office rents might get a nice boost, since most of the high rises coming in are residential in Philly.
- DrB.

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Validation ... that's what they called it when they gave me a bank ATM card, and it became fully effective this morning.




It took a long time to get a bank account with a local Philippines bank. In my case, this was with BPI (the Bank of the Philippine Islands.) This bank is part of the Ayala Group, and I feel comfortable with their credit risk - the risk I am taking when I park my money in a time deposit with the bank. I have to do this so I can issue some post dated cheques to cover monthly payments due on my largest property. The others I bought with cash, paid upfront, before I got the key.




There's another benefit too. I have a way of collecting rents, which will not require my tenant to walk 20 minutes to HSBC and spend 30 minutes (or more!) waiting in a queue to deposit their monthly rent.


People from Hong Kong are surprised when I tell them about this issue. They assume that banking in the Philippines is like in HK, and you can give a bank standing instructions, and they will debit your bank account, and pay the landlord's bank. This is completely normal in HK, but not in the Philippines. Banks do not make it easy or cheap to transfer money from one bank to another. So the practice in the Philippines is for the tenant to provide post dated cheques, so the LL can peal off a chequ each month and deposit it in his bank account. But this will not work well for a HK-based property owner. The banks in HK will not know what to do with a Peso-denominated check. (If they can accept it, they are likely to charge a large fee to deposit it.) When I asked Avida Leasing what I coiuld do with 12 PCD's they seemed surprised that anyone would ask such a question. When I explained the problem, they asked if I had friends or family who could deposit the monthly cheques. (The assumption seems to be that the only reason an expat would buy property in the Philppines, is if they have a Filipina wife - or a woman have a Filipino husband. Or at the very least, good Filipino friends who can help them.


Avida did tell me that they were "thinking" about providing this service to their clients - probably for a fee.

. . .

Another milestone!




My bed was delivered yesterday. And this was a great thing for me. I had the best night's sleep since I have come to the Philippines. Actually, I am very happy with the bed. It fits well into a very cosy space. And it is nicely constructed - made in the Philippines out of Philippines mahogany. It fits so well, and looks nice in its space, so I busted my budget, and bought it: Paying about P 24,000 for the bed, and another P 13,000 or so for the mattress (an Ambassador, also made in the Philippines.) I now regard it as a sort of collectors item, since it comes with a very large mahogany head board, and three small drawers on each side.


Using the space under a bed is rare in the Philippines, for reasons that are mysterious to me. In a small flat, the space under a bed is a very practical place for storage

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( unfinished)



TRANSPORT Adventures in Makati & Manila


Now that I am mostly settled in my flat, I am making a greater effort to get out and explore the area I live in. So Sunday's adventure was to visit Rockwell center, a famous oasis of living popular among expats and others. And a place I had never visited before.


I have long believed that the very best way to get to know a place is on foot. So I set took a Jepney to Landmark, and began my walking journey from there. I had to stop and ask for directions several times, but I had seen a peak of the top of one of the distinctive Rockwell Towers, so I thought I had a pretty good idea of where to go. So strong were my confident strides that I had a Middle Eastern looking guy, accompanied by two local girlfriends ask ME for directions. He wasn't wrong to do that. He and his shopping-hungry companions wanted to know the way to Landmark, and since I had just come from there, I gave him the way. I considered asking him the way to Rockwell, since he had come from that direction. But decided he probably came from one of the many tourist hotels off Burgos Street near Century City. This area is famous for the all night bars and other entertainments it contains. I wonder if The Donald knows that the fast-rising Trump Tower is in the middle of Makati's red-light district. It would be the first time that such an area was home to a cluster of modern new skyscrapers.


I came up on Rockwell from the wrong direction. Instead of the inviting mall that I was expecting, the first thing I saw was a wall. I followed the wall for about a kilometer, and came to a fence. On the other side of the fence I could see a beautiful divided highway, fringed by manicured grass. This is not normal in Manila, neither are sidewalks without cracks, and without irregular surfaces – and that's what I saw on the other side of the fence. Just a quarter of a kilometer or so, and I came to an opening where the traffic could flow in. Then I could retrace my steps, but on the right side of the fence.


The whole time I was walking, I asked myself: what was this reminding me of. Eventually, the answer came to me: Discovery Bay... but with cars, lots of cars. The comparison makes sense because of the artificiality of the place and the way it stands out from its environment. But the car difference is important. Rockwell is designed for people who drive, or take cabs. Not for those who walk. In fact, its secluded setting, with barriers everywhere all-but ensures that those who like to walk in a convenient and casual way will not like it.


I texted one of my friends and told him, I was at Rockwell. He asked how I liked it, and I texted fhis back:


Nice but expensive. And surrounding it is a wall so it is not accessible.

It is a gilded cage, and not my cup of tea.

- unquote -

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So what happened with the Design of my studio flat?


UPDATE - I am back in Makati, completing the basic furnishing on my studio flat




An early design I rejected - It looked too much like a cheap office


Here's some photos of the semi-furnished flat follow.


There's a sitting area, and a bed (Full-size, made of Philippines Mahogany).

At the foot of the bed, is a built-in mirrored wardrobe.






... and on the other side of the room is the desk and working area.






The Top 8 Most expensive items that I bought:


1. A/C, Kolin inverter - : P-25,000 : Hk$ 4,167 : $ 4,000 - AC inverter (estimate, Fortress)
2. Bed, mahogany ---- : P-24,233 : Hk$ 4,039 : $ 3,690 - Malm bed, w/ storage
3. Kitchen cabinet, ext.: P-17,700 : Hk$ 2,950 : $ 3,000 - Built-in, no IKEA equivalent
4. Wardrobe, mirrored : P-17,000 : HK$ 2,833 : $ 2,390 - Musken wardrobe
5. Desk /Table-Victoria : P-14,400 : Hk$ 2,400 : $ 0,890 - Bjusta table, extendable
6. Mattress, Ambass.-- : P-12,830 : Hk$ 2,138 : $ 3,790 - Hovag, pocket sprung mattress
7. Sofa Bed - Victoria- : P-08,750 : Hk$ 1,458 : $ 0,899 - Solsta sofabed, 2-seater
8. Two dining chairs--- : P-08,000 : Hk$ 1,333 : $ 2,500 - Henriksdal chairs, black leather
Sub-Total, top 8 items-: P127,913 : Hk$21,319 : $21,159 - VERY SIMILAR amount !

So far, i spent just over P 163,000, but two major items I have yet to buy are:

+ A refrigerator, and + A TV set ( which I plan to mount on the wall)

With these two items, my spending is likely to hit or exceed P-185,000 (HKD 30,800)


There is no single shop (like IKEA), where you can get all the items you may want at a reasonable cost.

Before I came to Makati, I had selected all the items I wanted - see list above. So I was disappointed to discover there

was no official store here, with IKEA items at IKEA prices. People who want to furnish their units can do what I did, and

visit about 10 different furniture stores, and slowly cherry-pick the items they want,

or they can hire a professional designer / architect, such as:


+ Jun Sayson : mentioned above in post #10

+ Rasee - who posted this on the Lerato thread on SSC:

Hello, just in case somebody needs my services to design and do unit fit-outs, shoot me a message.
Here are some before and after photos of my previous projects.


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  • 2 weeks later...

ETON Tower Prices



Historical - 2010: Unit prices start at... (Estimates)
Studio (22-28sqm) = Starts at P2.3M VAT FREE
1-BR (39-56 sqm) = Starts at P4.0M
Smaller SOHO (22–32 sqm) = Starts at P2.3M VAT FREE
Medium to Big SOHO (39-56 sqm) = Starts at P4.0M / *** SOHO = Small Office Home Office

"Right now, Eton Tower Makati is at P106-108k per square meter. Any Condominium below P2.5M is VAT free according to Philippine Law, so all studios here are Vat Free.. starting at P2.3M. Parking is around p700-800k additional per slot" - Apr. 2010:




Located at the corner of V.A. Rufino (formerly Herrera St.) and Dela Rosa St., the 40-storey Eton Tower Makati will feature a mix of residential, Soho and serviced apartment units that will have a direct connection to the elevated walkways of the Makati central business district. The units will be available in studio and one-bedroom units, priced at P2.3 million, VAT-free. The first two floors will comprise the retail component of the project.


Envisioned to be a mix of Executive Residences and SOHO (small office - home office) units, ETON TOWER MAKATI will be a real vertical community. With a
2-level retail mall at the ground floor that will feature shopping and dining options for residents, tenants and neighboring buildings.
Moving around in the CBD is a breeze since ETON TOWER MAKATI will be the first residential condominium directly connected to the elevated walkways going to Greenbelt and Glorietta.

GARDENS IN THE SKY : A refreshing and distinctive feature of Eton Tower Makati is its Tower Gardens. These 3-storey-high gardens start from the 5th floor all the way to the top of the tower. Residents, business-owners and tenants would enjoy a refreshing oasis of green uncommon in high-rise city living.



I am curious, and I have been asked by others, to keep an eye open for Flats for Sale in Eton Tower, on De La Rosa

So here goes:


Eton Tower - for sale (OLX)
Price-------- : Size : PerSM : Type : Flr. : When?- : Seller
P 3,028,000 : 22.00 : 137.6k : Stud. : ? ? : 33 min.: Shondell Tan
P 2,950,000 : 22.05 : 133.8k : Stud. : 37 : 1 Hour : Abe
P 3,100,000 : 22.05 : 140.6k : Stud. : ? ? : 2 Hrs . : Eton Condo Hse. Lot
P 3,100,000 : 22.05 : 140.6k : Stud. : ? ? : 3 Hrs . : Lucious
P 3,025,000 : 22.00 : 137.5k : Stud. : ? ? : 8 Hrs . : Shondell Tan: +63-927-456-38xx / +639273755785
P 3,028,000 : 22.00 : 137.6k : Stud. : ? ? : 14 Hrs : Manila Prime Condominiums
P 7,000,000 : 48.00 : 145.8k : 1 BR : ? ? : 14 Hrs : Loft w/Parking. Mike: +63-920-960-46xx
> source : https://www.olx.ph/ph-00/q-eton-tower/


At the heart of the country's financial capital lies a jewel of an address. Eton Tower Makati rises majestically at the corner of Dela Rosa and V.A. Rufino Streets in Legazpi Village, Makati City
A refreshing and distinctive feature of ETM is its Tower Gardens. These 3-storey-high gardens start from the 5th floor all the way to the top of the tower. Residents, business-owners and tenants would enjoy a refreshing oasis of green uncommon in high-rise city living.

Reselling our 22.05sqm residential studio type unit at 37th floor for 2,950,000 (assume balance of 1,853,034.03 & handle transfer cost)
Target Turnover Aug2016

pls contact Kristile*0919 *516 *4681* for inquiry





1 BR Loft

/ 2 /

40 dynamic storeys stand at the corner of Dela Rosa and Rufino Streets,comprising the jewel that is Eton Tower Makati. Brimming with residential and SOHO amenities that include refreshing tower gardens every 3 floors,
Eton Tower Makati is comfortably livable as it is viable for a business to prosper in,given its strategic location and generously planned units.
The first residential condominium to be directly connected to Dela Rosa-Greenbelt elevated walkway,it raises convenience to the next level.
On top of its 2-storey dine-&-shop retail complex is an iconic design featuring vertical verdure allowing it to stand out in an already outstanding neighborhood.
For Inquiries:
ETON INHOUSE : +63-906-926-5550



Many Eton Tower flats will have a decent open view

(A not so cheerful history at Eton Tower):


Originally when I set out to buy this unit they promised that they would deliver it by the December of 2013. As you can imagine I was dismayed when I received a letter saying that it would be deliver late on October 2014! 10 full months after! I had no choice as the contract they ask you to sign stipulates that it is a grace period.

But what happened next I was not prepared for when they told me that it would be delayed to 2015!!!! DELAYED BY 2 WHOLE YEARS!!! and if they can delay it by 2 years why not delay in by another 5 or even another 10 years?!

When I asked for them to refund my full payment they wanted to charge me MARKETING AND ADMINISTRATIVE FEES!!!! Why should we consumers be penalized for their mistakes?

I really should have not never bought anything from them especially after that ACCIDENT THAT KILLED 10 PEOPLE at ETON Residences!

If any of you are interested to join up and take legal action against ETON please leave your messages and lets get in touch.


> Source: http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=1028969&page=11

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I am thinking this sort of problem is less likely at an Avida / or Alveo property - time will tell


(this is from a thread about an SMDC property):


Originally Posted by Bsoler viewpost.gif
does anyone know for sure how many years warranty is there from turnover date? poor workmanship are now starting to appear i heard.

I was told by the former property manager that it was 6 months, but when I accompanied my friend for her turn-over, the SMDC rep said it was one year.

In any event, 18 months after the turn-over of my Tower A unit, I can see defects such as creaking tiles and grout powder coming out of my floor both in my living room and my bedroom. The funny thing is, nobody has lived in my unit. I only get to visit it for an hour every month when I pay my dues. So I can't attribute the problem to wear and tear. I have a good mind to change the whole flooring but the property manager is charging P30k as major renovation bond plus P3k admin fee

> http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=1343265&page=199


(and this is a Century Properties project):

Originally Posted by rjohnsrud viewpost.gif
Why isn't the Stratford Residences completed?

Slow as molasses development.


January 11th, 2016,

This is going to be a battle of laggards. Which one is going to be finished sooner, Jaka or Stratford?
I have a theory about the Century City projects - but first look at this chart:
CPG / Century Properties Group
My theory is:
That CPG does not want it properties to "face the market" - that is: what happens when the flats are rented out.
They are price at high prices, because of the branding - Trump Tower, Milano, Stratford etc.
Once people discover the low rents they are getting, they will realize they the rents do not justify the high prices.
And it will be impossible to sell any more (at the high prices). So better to delay the projects and keep on selling
Why the low rents?
+ The standard of build (thin walls, not concrete, etc - I have heard), and
+ Location - here's why:
There aren't many jobs within a short and easy walk.
The owners will try to rent there properties at high prices to well-paid expats, and others with jobs along Ayala Avenue.
But the first morning it rains, and these people cannot get a cab to work, they will be on the road to losing their high-paying tenants.
- That's my theory anyway. And it would explain the poor stock performance.
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BGC Traffic chat

Q: where did you get your data for upcoming supply and demand for condos in BGC and Makati?
(many questions arer being asked about supply and demand in both areas from people like foreign investors.)

That comes from Colliers Quarterly reports > http://www.colliers.com/en-gb/philippines/insights
The reports are free, and I believe them to be pretty accurate.
I am be the only one on the web who is tracking them "horizontally" over time, to see how the numbers change.
What I have found so far, is the really scary clusters of completions, like 2016-17 tend to be less severe when the time arrives, because projects get delayed.

But that HUGE cluster of completions in BGC over the next 2-3 years has me concerned.
The worst case for RESIDENTIAL would be if the residential projects get delivered on time, and the office projects get delayed, and or the completed offices have trouble finding corporate tenants - and so the New Jobs which now seem likely in the area do not materialize
Then, residential rents in BGC may slide. I dont expect this to happen. But we cannot rule it out.

The BC problem that I think is inevitable is a huge increase in traffic, on the few roads that go there. I expect commuter traffic to increase by 40%, based on my own numbers. How will people who live and work there cope with that? Meantime, commuting into Makati may fall by 10%. as more workers move into the newly completed flats in Makati. So Makati will go back to being preferred, because it will be more accessible.

That;'s what my numbers suggest. How realistic do you find these calculations and conclusions?
(I am sure you know better than me. The only real data point I have is a taxi driver, who picked me up at Landmark on a Friday night, and was complaining that it had just taken him One Hour to get there from BGC. I can probably walk that fast.)

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  • 11 months later...
A Street artist walking distance from Ayala Museum

Message body

Hi J---,
Thanks for telling me about the Tam-awan Village artists.
As promised, here is the photo of the street artist whose photo I snapped on my way to the Museum.
This woman has an amazing eye for color harmony, don't you think?
I wonder if there is anyway you can help each other:
XXX, Premiere Member, ###
THE STREET ARTIST of Don Bosco : Jhalanie Lava Matuan
A mentioned this woman at the last Meetup. Almost every morning, she sits with her art outside the Don Bosco church.
Though she has a tough life, she lives by sharing the beautiful dreamy images from the inside of her head.
Look at these pictures - They are Joyful! (despite her hard life.)
I cannot read her messages, which are written in her own language,
but I am told they tell of an illness, and her need for money.
And also maybe some past documentaries that she was in, or was involved in making.
I give her a little money everytime I see her. And she gave me permission to take the above photo.
I pass other beggars, and sometimes I give them money too. But not always. This one, I always give her something.
Why? Because she wants to share something. She does not just want money. And it is inspiring that whatever challenges
that she may be facing, she can still find beauty in life... and wants to share that.
I would buy a picture too, if I had a place to hang it so others could see it, and may be be inspired too.
> was also posted on the MakatiPrime.com website, on the Philosophy thread
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She's famous! At least on Youtube


Homeless street artist finds refuge, earns livelihood through her drawings | Front Row

Published on Aug 4, 2015

Jhalanie Matuan, 45 years old, lives in the streets of Manila and make a living by selling her artworks. But behind her colorful masterpieces lie stories that reflect the darkest moments of her life.



I bought an artwork and chichat with Ms.Jhalanie, I admire her optimism in life!
BY the way she has kidney problems according to her and living on her own, selling her artworks in different streets along Manila/Taft. I just gave her extra tip and prayed for her after. I want to find her to give her clothes because she was embarassed to attend church because of her PLEASE buy any drawings, that would be a big help to this lady. I told her she's an inpsiration to everyone who has everything in life but spend most of the time ranting and overlooking good things around.


I took another photo this morning:




> to those who want to support her, this is her facebook account: https://www.facebook.com/jhalaniematuan?fref=nf

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  • 1 month later...

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