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Owning a condo in your 20s? Here’s how young OFWs did it!

DUBAI: Some 10 years ago, buying a condo unit would hardly be in any Overseas Filipino Worker’s (OFW) mind.

Today, OFWs are buying properties like they are next best thing to kingdom come – and their age group is getting younger.

The Filipino Times talked to stakeholders and here’s what they say: Four factors have aligned to bring about these changes: a younger, better educated demographics; mindset; financial literacy; and aggressive marketing by the developers on the back of a booming property sector in the Philippines.

Sit back and we’ll walk you through.

Younger, better educated OFWs

More OFWs are definitely buying properties these days, said Manuel “Manny” Arbues II, Ayala Land International Sales regional head for North America and the Middle East.

Manuel “Manny” Arbues II

He said most of today’s OFWs are children of the previous generation of OFWs themselves, who, through hard work, were able provide for their offspring’s fundamentals for life, education among them.

“Dito sa UAE, yung mga buyers natin are getting younger and younger. A lot of them are in their late 20s,” Arbues said, adding that retirement money by way of passive income and a small business always top the reasons why they are investing in real property.

The previous batches of OFWs were mostly construction workers and domestic helps who could not have thought of putting their money in condominiums because they rightfully placed their priorities on their children’s education, Arbues said.

This, in turn, caused their children to be employed in better positions and ergo, make good money, he explained.

The downside to this, said Arbues, is that the OFW parents were not able to save for their own retirement.

“And so, they learn from their parents. Natuto sila that they really have to secure their future,” Arbues said.

Ma. Teresa A. Tatco, Avida Land assistant vice president for corporate marketing and rental leasing, meanwhile said, the trend among young OFW buyers is to secure their own property first then get another one for income generation.

Ma. Teresa A. Tatco

“They buy their own home. Then, once natapos nang bayaran, they get another unit naman for passive income,” Tatco said.

She said OFWs in the older age bracket are now making haste to invest in real property to make up for lost time.

“They really want to invest now kasi before ay padala lang ng padala,” Tatco said.

Arbues said Ayala Land had a 173% year-on-year sales growth in the UAE, citing the company’s residential business group report.


Back in the earlier days of the Filipino diaspora, there were not too many OFWs who were into investing in real property, said Vince Lubrin, Robinsons Land International group area manager for Middle East, North America and Canada.

Vince Lubrin

“Ten years ago kokonti lang bumibili kasi may impression na ang condo ay for mayaman lang,” said Lubrin, who has been in the industry for the past 10 years, eight of which were in international sales.

“At dati, hindi pa ganun ka-educated mga tao pag-dating sa usaping investment. Ngayon, we have a strong base of middle class professionals na ang karamihan ay mga OFWs na kayang bumili ng condominium for investments,” Lubrin said.

Added Daisy Bayan, Greenfield Marketers UAE business development manager: “Statistically, marami nang nagiging open ang isip sa pag-iinvest sa condo or property.”

Daisy Bayan

Bayan, who has been in the property industry for some 10 years too, having done the rounds in at least three major developers in the Philippines, said: “Lumakas ang demand kaya dumami ang supply at mga developers na rin.”

Greenfield Marketers UAE is an affiliate of Greenfield Development Corp. (GDC).

Financial literacy

Randell Tiongson, a renowned financial literacy advocate, said there is growth in the number of OFWs buying properties whether for investment or personal use.

Randell Tiongson

“May increased capacity. Gusto nila ng passive income. Ang savings level at investment level ay umaakyat,” he said.

Lubrin said their company registered a 15% to 20% growth rate for 2018 compared to 2017 based on reservation sales. He attributed the increase to the awareness that OFWs now have as regards investing in properties.

“Namumulat na sila na kailangan nilang mag-invest; natuto na sila ng financial literacy. Yung iba naman na-impluwensiyahan ng kaibigan na nag-invest na dati at kumikita na sa pinaparentahan condo, kaya tuloy gusto rin nilang gumaya para magkaroon rin ng sariling condo investment,” Lubrin said.

Aggressive marketing and a robust property sector

Tiongson said real estate companies continue to market because there is a potential. “Kapag walang benta hindi naman magma-marketing,” he said.

As Bayan said, the demand actually went up and so supply caught up, likewise did the number of developers most of which, she said, have also put up satellite offices in countries with the most concentration of OFWs like the UAE, and started participating in property exhibitions like the annual Philippine Property and Investment Exhibition (PPIE) organized by New Perspective Media (NPM).

The Philippine Real estate industry in the Philippines will continue to be bullish for the rest of 2019 because of the continued demand for residential properties, Lubrin said.

Citing Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), he said the economy grew by 6.2% in 2018 slightly lower compared to the average growth rate for the past 5yrs of 6.6% , with real estate, renting and business activities growing at 4.9% which is very good for the economy because of the multiplier effect of real estate.

Lubrin also noted that strong OFW remittances in 2018 hit the highest annual levels to date amounting to $32.1 billion US dollars with nearly one third of which went to property investments.

“The growing population of young professionals will be a source of future demand for residential properties. A population projection point to an increasing share of the population aged 30-49. This essentially means that the Philippines is in a demographic sweet spot,” he said.

Staff Report

The Filipino Times is the chronicler of stories for, of and by Filipinos all over the world, reaching more than 236 countries in readership. Any interesting story to share? Email us at [email protected]

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