Vol. XXII, No. 202 [ BusinessWorld Online ]
Monday, May 18, 2009 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES
DAVAO CITY — The Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF) has increased its housing loan approved amount by 38.6% in the first quarter, or P9.7 billion from P7 billion in 2008.
Jaime A. Fabiana, the Fund’s officer-in-charge, assured the Southern Mindanao Developers Forum held here on Friday that the agency’s performance indicators have been positive so far notwithstanding expectations of a weaker housing market due to the global economic downturn.
Membership under the HDMF, also referred to as Pag-IBIG Fund, increased by 150,000 during the first three months of the year even as member contributions went up by up to 7%, Mr. Fabiana told Forum participants.
The Fund has over two million members with the bulk comprising workers in the low- to middle-income brackets.
While reports on retrenchments from many companies were received by the agency, this was offset by the increase in membership in the first quarter, Mr. Fabiana added.
This development could be attributed to sustained interest on affordable housing projects that are now under development especially in the regions, he said.
For 2009, the agency has allocated a total of P50.5 billion for the housing loan program from P38 billion in 2008.
Developers of economic housing projects here have earlier noted that changes in the government’s housing guidelines, such as Pag-IBIG’s lower interest rates, would generally have a positive impact on the housing sector’s performance this year.
While Pag-IBIG retained the 6% rate for loans of up to P400,000, and 7% for loans over P400,000 up to P750,000, it cut down on rates for amounts over P750,000 to P1 million, and over P1 million to P1.25 million, to 8.5% and 9.5% respectively, from the previous uniform rate of 10.5%.
Early this year, HDMF officials were criticized for allegedly pushing to convert the agency into a purely provident fund, a less risky operation compared with home lending, but this was denied by its top officials noting that housing loan operations would remain their focus.
Major developers such as Filinvest, D.M. Consunji, Inc. and Camella Homes are currently building medium-rise residential condominiums and reports indicate sales have been good so far despite fears of an economic crisis that could spill over in Mindanao.