A Guide to Buying Property in Visayas - Cebu, Bohol, & Negros
Buying property in the Philippines can be a daunting experience not just for first-timers. As an archipelago of 7,640 islands, even seasoned investors need expert insight on how to choose the best real estate investment for them. In this comprehensive guide, we’ve narrowed down your search to one of the country’s best provinces: Cebu.
Cebu is an island in Central Visayas, one of the three main regions of the Philippines. It has a size of 4,933 square kilometers and is made up of a mainland and 167 surrounding islands and islets. It is about 827 kilometers away from the Philippine capital of Manila and is accessible from there via airplane, ferry, or even bus.
Why Invest in Cebu, Philippines real estate?
Here are four reasons that should convince you to invest in real estate in the Philippines, specifically the Visayas region.
1. The key economic center of the Philippines
Cebu is one of the finest Philippines real estate markets you can choose to invest in outside Metro Manila. Thriving industries like manufacturing, business processes outsourcing (BPO), agriculture, and tourism converge on this island. Home to bustling business districts and shopping centers including the third largest mall in the Philippines, Cebu offers the convenience and creature comforts of a modern metropolis.
2. World-class BPO industry
The province’s premier I.T. hubs, Cebu Business Park and Ayala Business Park, have offices for global corporations and BPO firms that serve clients around the world. In fact, Cebu is the 15th most competitive outsourcing destination in the world according to the Tholons Services Globalization Index 2020
3. Natural wonders within driving distance
Aside from its commercial appeal, Cebu is blessed with many natural wonders like pristine white beaches, refreshing waterfalls, and green mountains; many of which are within driving distance from Cebu City. Osmena Peak, the highest elevation in the province, is just two hours away from the city by car and from the top you can enjoy 360-degree views of the sea, skies, and greenery.
4. Tropical paradise
If you need a break from the concrete jungle, you can simply board a boat off of the northern tip of Cebu, and head to the neighboring island paradise of Malapascua where you can enjoy a day of snorkeling, scuba diving, and just unwinding on the spectacular white sands of Bounty Beach. Olango Island Group is also accessible via ferry with the coastal town of Cordova on Mactan Island as a jump-off point. This group of islands is known for its marine sanctuaries and as a bird-watching destination.
If Cebu has won your heart, here are some important things to keep in mind before purchasing your property here.
Before buying property in the Philippines (Visayas)
1. Consider your preferences
Cebu has a thriving real estate market and you have choices ranging from minimalist condo units to sprawling estates and in different locations, too. With all the options available, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and distracted by unnecessary features that might end up giving you unnecessary financial stress in the future.
To make sure you are buying the right real estate for you, make a list of your preferences:
- What is your lifestyle like?
- Will you be living alone or do you have a family?
- Do you want to live in the city or do you prefer a quieter and more suburban atmosphere?
- Do you want to be near your workplace or are you willing to drive or commute?
- What is your budget?
Be honest with your needs and preferences so you have a realistic view of your options and you don’t get carried away.
2. Be aware of regional regulations and building codes
Regulations vary across regions so it helps to be aware of the limitations you might have especially when it comes to making future renovations or construction.
Salvage zones or easement zones, for example, are an important consideration if you are looking to invest in a beachfront property or near state-owned properties like forests, agricultural land, or bodies of water. In general, developers are not allowed to build permanent structures within 30 meters from the high tide mark, which may differ across regions.
It is also wise to learn about local and national building codes in a country that is exposed to extreme weather disturbances like typhoons during its rainy season and sweltering temperatures during the summer months.
This knowledge should help you assess whether you have a crisis-proof and safe property in the event of natural calamities. Case in point, Philippine building codes stipulate that buildings must be able to withstand 250 kph winds, however the supertyphoon Haiyan of 2013 had winds of more than 300 kph. This is a critical factor to consider for coastal properties or those in locations regularly exposed to strong winds and cyclones.
Legal and technical jargon can be quite intimidating especially if you are not familiar with Philippine laws. To better understand the local policies in the place you are planning to buy real estate from, it helps to hire a Philippine realtor with a solid technical expertise and a track record of delivering reliable services to clients.
3. Qualify for financing
Don’t delay undergoing the pre-qualification process for financing options like loans until the last minute. Even if you have not yet discovered your dream property, having your finances ready can give you a competitive advantage against other potential buyers. Properties that are already priced to sell will often have multiple realtors pitching it to many interested buyers.
Having a deal ready for the seller will save you heartache that could happen if your dream house gets snatched up by another much quicker investor. You will also have a clearer and more realistic view of your budget when you have your finances in order.
4. Choose a reliable developer
Buying real estate can be challenging because it involves a substantial cash investment and it can be very time-consuming if you do everything on your own.
Hiring a reputable and trusted real estate firm will help ease your way into these initial steps. If you are a foreigner or unfamiliar with the local regulations in Cebu, your real estate agent can give you practical information on property values, city regulations, building codes, and even financing options.
With 28 solid years in the real estate industry and a pioneer in large-scale vertical and horizontal development, Primary Homes is one of your best choices for investing in Cebu real estate. They have a proven track record backed by more than 10,000 successful residential unit turnovers and 48 real estate development projects in the Visayas.
Evaluating your decision
1. Go on a site visit
The initial steps should have helped narrow down your choices to those that fit your budget, lifestyle and other preferences. Your real estate agent can walk you through your options and help you schedule a site visit so you can see what the property looks like in person.
With the current global pandemic, it certainly helps to hire a firm that has an efficient, responsive, and credible online presence.
Customer-centric real estate developers have made the transition to include digital platforms into their services to make it easy for their clients to ask questions and view properties.
Primary Homes, for example, include virtual tours on a number of their properties. You can also coordinate with your agent for a live tour of the unit you are interested in. This option is important if you are not in Cebu with the looming threat of Covid-19 and travel restrictions.
2. Hire a professional building inspector
A professional building inspector can give you added peace of mind when buying real estate, especially pre-owned properties. Their technical expertise and objective assessment can protect you from substandard materials, building code violations, and even defects that are hidden from plain sight.
Following the site visit, the building inspector will furnish you with a detailed report on various aspects of the property, from the structural integrity to the electrical system. Knowing with these can help you negotiate the property value and clarify what the seller has to offer in terms of repairs.
Owning your dream property
1. Prepare contingencies in your contract
Contract contingencies can save you from a lot of frustration and unexpected expenses later on so be prepared to include them in your proposal. This step is particularly critical when buying pre-owned houses and lots as these properties typically have a lot of history and emotional value for the seller.
A good seller expects and even welcomes valid contingencies in a potential buyer’s offer. Some real estate deals don’t push through because of relatively trivial details that were not properly addressed and you want to avoid this from happening.
You can base your contingencies on the building inspection report but also other factors like termite and pest inspections and surveys. If you anticipate major renovations then factor this in your offer. Make reasonable negotiations so you and the seller can come up with a mutually beneficial agreement.
2. Review and sign the paperwork
Once you have decided on a property, you are ready to review and sign the necessary paperwork. Depending on the type of real estate project, some developers might require you to pay a reservation fee so they can hold the property for you. This usually applies to condo units or houses in subdivisions that are pre-sold and not yet ready for turnover. Make sure to review the terms and conditions, turnover period, payment plan, and breakdown of fees before signing the contract.
Ask as many questions as possible so all the terms and conditions are clear and you don’t get any unpleasant surprises down the road.
Having knowledge of these steps is an important step and with the help of a reliable real estate partner, you should be well on your way to realizing your real estate dreams.
Primary Homes offers a wide range of real estate products with flexible financing options. They can guide you every step of the way. Begin the journey to owning your dream home by contacting them today.