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DMCI housing unit still aggressive despite economic slowdown

Monday, May 25, 2009 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES [ BusinessWorld Online ]

THE PROPERTY arm of the Consunji group is willing to spend more money for projects this year amid an economic slowdown that has pushed most property developers to downscale their budgets.

In an interview, DMCI Homes, Inc. Managing Director Alfredo R. Austria said the company plans to spend P4.5 billion to P5 billion this year, slightly higher than last year’s capital expenditure. The group also plans to launch two more projects before the year ends on top of the three projects it recently introduced to the market.

"[The company] remains aggressive since there is still the ’underserved’ market. There are still a lot of end-users who do not own their own homes," Mr. Austria said.

He pointed out that like most developers who have so far been spared from the economic slowdown, DMCI Homes caters to customers who want to own homes rather than to "investors."

This explains why the company managed to increase its unit sales by 55% last year compared to two years ago when only around 200 new homes were turned over every month, Mr. Austria said.

The company launched five projects last year: Royal Palm Residences in Taguig, Ohana Place in ParaƱaque, and Illumina Residences Manila in Sta. Mesa. Also launched was the upscale Mahogany Place 3 in Taguig.

DMCI Homes said it expects growth to continue this year as with even more projects.

During the first three months of 2009, DMCI Homes launched two new projects, namely East Raya Gardens in Pasig and Magnolia Place in Quezon City. It is in the process of completing the second and third towers of the five-tower Tivoli Garden Residences in Mandaluyong.

Mr. Austria said the group also plans to unveil two more projects in the coming months — a 3.8-hectare mid-rise condominium development in Taguig and another one in Fairview, Quezon City.

Established in 1999, DMCI Homes focuses on mid-rise condominiums as well as "themed developments" with "resort-like amenities." It has begun venturing into the high-rise projects.

Most developers have already felt the impact of the global economic downturn, posting lower profits during the first three months of the year. Profits of Ayala Land, Inc. for instance went down by more than a fifth to P907 million. Villar-led Vista Land & Lifescapes, Inc. also reported lower profits for January to March, citing a decline in sales. Net income went down by almost a fifth to P630 million.

Andrew L. Tan’s Megaworld Corp., which focuses on high-rise developments and large-scale mixed-use "planned communities," managed to keep profits at P1 billion during the first three months of the year. Henry Sy-led SM Development Corp., which caters to the middle-income segment, meanwhile saw profits jump to P400 million, higher than the P14-million net income in the first quarter of 2008 on higher residential sales and stable equity investments. — Kristine Jane R. Liu


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