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Cebu Living Guides - Advice on Housing

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A Word of Warning
| Buying | Renting | Summary


As with every country in the world the housing market here consists of homes to meet all ends of the financial spectrum. You can purchase small studio apartments right up to large mansions normally reserved for the rich and famous. The main difference is that these Properties can


be had for a fraction of the price of their Euro/American equivalents.

It must be noted that a foreigner cannot actually own property in the Philippines, with the exception of a condominium and as such it's normal for the purchase to be made in the wife or girlfriends name. Make sure your relationship is solid before entering into any sort of purchase.

The smaller studio / town homes start from 600,00Php, however the floor area will likely be very small perhaps 30-40sqm. Larger three bedroom homes start at around 3,000,000Php and just go up and up from there. These examples are for brand new constructions and in most cases you will have to wait at least 6-8 months minimum for the home to be ready to occupy.

Buying a re-sale home will obviously get around the problem of waiting 8 months or more, but can pose other concerns with respect to the structural condition of the building both inside and out. Being a tropical country there are 1000's of veracious little critters just queuing up at the door to come and eat you out of house and home literally . I would advise hiring a structural engineer to look at your desired dream home before handing over your hard earned cash.

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A Word Of Warning:

When you start looking for a home in the Philippines you will quickly realise that everyone you meet appears to be some sort of real estate agent or at least has a family member who is. Be warned! most do not have your best interests in mind rather their own. In many cases the type of property they will try and sell you will fall short of your standards.

Lets say for example you tell this agent you want a nice two bedroom house in a quite location, it must be in good order and have a garden. Typically this wanna be agent will call you back later that day and tell you they have found just the property and they want to show it to you right away.

Full of excitement you meet the agent and they jump into your taxi and direct the driver to the location of the property. As the journey begins your still excited, the driver turns off the main road, your senses suggest that things do not look so good down this street, in fact the street seemed to end a hundred yards back. Having passed a dozen cockerels, 20 flea bitten dogs and several emaciated cows, you arrive at your destination.

Nippa Hut imageThe house meets your specified criteria in only one aspect, it's a house. The condition is not good, the livestock are starting to sing the dusk chorus, fighting with the loud Karaoke machine up the road as to who can be the source of most annoyance. There is no apparent divide between the dirt track and the supposed garden. You know from first sight that this is not for you. Yet the people are treating you so nicely, you feel obliged to have a look around, figures are banded about and all sorts of discounts mentioned. You thank them for their time and say you will think about it, phew a lucky escape you think.

This is an extreme scenario but believe me you can so easily find yourself in exactly the situation described. Take my advice seek out the services of a good reputable Realtor.

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Advantages of Buying:

One of the major expenses when you move abroad to live would have to be the ongoing cost of renting accommodation. This goes for Cebu as well, however there are some cheap rentals to be had. Owning a house can give you a sense of security and belonging. Although as a foriegner you can never personally own it in the eyes of the law, it can still be the family home.

If you are having a house built for you, there is scope for your design input. With a great deal of work you can actually get a house that you want. In the UK it's more the norm to buy the house as designed by the developer, here as said there is more opportunity to change things a little to suit your own personal requirements.

It is advisable to buy your home inside a subdivision, this is a large parcel of land with a perimeter wall, guards are posted at all entry and exit points to give an element of security to the home owners.

The land inside the subdivision is parceled off into smaller sections called lots. You often have the choice of selecting a house & lot package (where the developer has a standard house design and builds it for you), or you can choose to buy the lot on it's own and have the house built independently of the developer.

Each subdivision will have it's own set of restrictions, which will detail how high your house can be, height and size of fences etc. Nothing to worry about really as they are to not restrictive and often seem quite flexible

I would choose to have the house built independently of the sub division developer, however this is the more difficult option. You will have to employ your own architect and contractor, but you will get a house to your specification. I cannot emphasize enough that getting a house built over here is an extremely stressful process and not for the faint hearted. It will be time consuming and frustrating but the end results normally justify the effort. When you consider the total cost, you are still way below the cost of a starter home in the UK.

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Advantages of Renting:

There are many reasons why renting should be considered. It gives you the experience of living here without the large cash outlay of buying a house. Additionally you can choose to find a rental property in an area you like, perhaps after a couple of months the location proves not so good. So I guess flexibility is the key to renting. As with buying you get what you pay for, but there are a number of relatively cheap rental properties that should meet your needs. Many landlords will expect you to pay two or three months advance rental and will often require a minimum 6 month agreement, so choose carefully before committing yourself.

Renting may be your only choice, as not all of us have the available cash to buy a house. Often the facilities in the houses here are far more basic than in Europe but on the whole the houses are more than adequate for living in.

Rental prices vary considerably but you should be able to find an ok home for a minimum of 5 to 6,000Php/month but be prepared to pay a lot more.

In Summary:

So in summary there are pros and cons whether you rent or buy, I would advise renting first to see how you like the place. The Philippines can take some getting used to and is not to everyone's liking. Do not rush into the first property you come across take your time and choose wisely. Utilize the services of a good realtor and do not get involved in the oh so common mistake of meeting a friend of a friend's uncles aunt, who knows of a house for sale or rent, in all but the rarest cases it just isn't worth the hassle

Good Luck & Happy House Hunting

Last Updated: February 13, 2009 15:29


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