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HLURB bullish about housing demand in Cebu

Posted on March 19, 2014 11:25:55 PM [ Businessworld Online ]

CEBU CITY -- Demand for residential condominium and subdivision projects here will continue to be robust despite the launch of numerous housing projects recently, the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) said.

“We frequently speak with developers and the fact that they are bullish on Cebu means that there is still ample demand. Their marketing research has shown that there is still much to tap in the region,” Alixes Roy T. Lopez, HLURB regional head, said in an interview.

The HLURB regional office, which covers Central and Eastern Visayas regions, approved 14 condominium projects in 2012 and 15 projects in 2013. The project cost, however, went down to P4.8 billion in 2013 from P5.1 billion in 2012 as developers focused on providing low-cost units. Most projects are in Cebu.

The total number of subdivision development projects, on the other hand, went down to 25 in 2013 from 35 in 2012. Mr. Lopez blamed the decrease on the high prices of construction materials and high cost of raw land.

Despite this, Mr. Lopez said he is confident that the demand will rise, especially in Eastern Visayas, where reconstruction is ongoing after typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan).

“The demand for projects will only go up as developers are eager to compete with each other. Even though there are now many players, especially in Cebu, there is still demand in the market,” Mr. Lopez said.

He noted that some condominium developers are diversifying their projects due to tight competition in this segment.

“Commercial condominium demand for Metro Cebu is sharply rising,” he added.

Mr. Lopez said developers are drawn to Cebu because of its strategic location and greatly reduced bureaucratic red tape.

“For our office, we have streamlined the evaluation to approval and licensing process from five months to just 21 working days,” he said.

“All we require is complete basic requirements. Once we see that some requirements are lacking, we stop the evaluation process and send a notice of lacking requirements to developers,” he added.

For subdivision projects, local government units have boosted the HLURB’s processes by also approving projects in just one month given complete basic requirements.

By 2017, Mr. Lopez expects a fully integrated “new urbanism” philosophy in Central Visayas, referring to more green technologies and more open spaces.

“By 2017, we expect housing projects to be model communities-within-communities, providing modern amenities amidst a backdrop of natural splendor. Competition between developing firms is making that a reality and the people of the region are benefiting,” he said. -- John Paolo G. Bago            

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