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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Gates open to foreign investment in the Philippines

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The Philippines government has further opened the doors to Westerners in a move that is destined to cause dramatic changes in the nation in several respects:
1. Boost condo investment by foreigners as they see the Philippines increasingly as an investment destination
2. Boost foreigner relationships with Filipinos
3. Boost retirements in the Philippines
4. Boost the appeal of the Philippines as a holiday destination
5. Boost the appeal of resort accommodation and lifestyle provisioning

The move by the Philippines government is to offer foreigners a rolling opportunity to obtain a 6-month visa in the nation, with the prospect of up to a 36-month stay. This is big news when you consider:
1. The dismay of many Western governments for their country, or their governments
2. The lower cost of living in the Philippines, i.e. The relative ease for foreigners to set up residence and live off pensions, or otherwise live off the land.
3. The spectre of Western governments struggling with the pension obligations of their citizens

Now, in fairness, the Philippines is not exactly ready or 'to Western standards' when it comes to lifestyle. i.e. The problems as I see it are the following:
1. The enfranchisement of the Philippines - that has turned the country into a boring experience. The exception of course is in the national capital and a few tourist centres. 
2. The pollution and the dire state of infrastructure. In this respect matters are getting dramatically better. i.e. The Fort City in Manila is a new modern city, and less corruption and strong economic growth has resulted in visible improvements. 
3. The traffic problem is still there as prosperous Filipinos are buying cars. This is a global issue of course. Few cities are very good at controlling traffic. Hold a thought for Manila's transit network. Its jeepney and bus networks are good value and efficient, and I'd expect similar from its rail service as it expands. 

Expect Metro Manila to be the 'Tokyo of the South' with rail networks connecting people quickly to different parts of the city. Manila has little love of rail now, but watch as that crowded network rapidly expands. That will occur because of the traffic, but also because the government has just greatly raised the fares, which will precipitate more spending rail connections. The implications is, you need a Philippines Property Guide, and you need to buy property investments in the right location to benefit from these shifts....I'd say with some urgency, as there will be a rapid rise in demand. Expect an Asian property demand. The Philippines and Indonesia already have among the most appealing yields in Asia (excluding Japan)...around 7%.

The most appealing places are city (Manila, Davao, Cebu) and inner city areas (Subic, Lipa, Tagaytay, Eton City, etc). Now, Manila is essentially a collection of village cities like Tokyo, just starting to be connected by rail.  Major developers are building new 'cute' local residential villages, however there are major hubs like Ortigas, Trinoma, Mall of Asia (on Manila Bay) and Makati. Makati City is the traditional centre of business, however that might be expected to change, as new industries overtake old, and even old businesses seek 'new infrastructural developments, rather than being imprisoned in anachronistic centres. The GreenBelt shopping centre in Makati City however retains some appeal. These areas are appealing because they are destined to attract the 'culture' and services that Westerners desire. Unfortunately, outside of Manila, its very much 'franchise' city because these places are simply poor, and correspondingly under-capitalised. This might change with more foreigners, as existing tourist havens built by foreigners have shown.

The other appealing aspect of the Philippines is:
1. Relatively 'hard currency' compared to Japanese Yen, the Euro and USD
2. Rapid population growth of 2%
3. Rapid rates of urbanisation
4. Rapid growth in incomes due to call centres, business outsourcing
5. Proximity to Asian growth centres
6. English is one of the 2 national languages (along with Tagalog)
7. Increasingly 'open gate' policy to foreigners

It does not get any better than in the Philippines; and we saw this trend start 8 year ago. My partner and I bought property for P700/m2; its not worth P2100/m2 based on an offer from a recent prospective buyer. That is a far higher rate of property price appreciation than in the West; and it will continue as interest rates are only now getting really cheap. This has all the makings of a property boom!

You can buy a condo in Manila from P2mil ($US40,000) upwards, though it depends on standards and target market. If you buy in down-market location, you will be tolerating over-use of services by poor relatives from the rural areas. i.e. You might find people parking in your car spot, being noisy, hanging out their laundry; not to mention the cheap dowdy looking fa├žade of the property. Invest smart

Author Andrew SheldonApplied Critical Thinking | www.SheldonThinks.com

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