PHILIPPINE REAL ESTATE and RELATED NEWS in and around the country . . .

VP sees completion of citizens’ housing charter by November if…

by Cai Ordinario - August 24, 2016 [ ]

To speed up the government’s efforts to address the country’s housing backlog, the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) intends to come up with a citizens’ charter for the housing sector within the year.

Vice President and HUDCC Chairman Maria Leonor G. Robredo said the charter will include information on fees, requirements and processing time.

She added that the HUDCC may be able to release the charter as early as November, only if the lineup of officials in the six shelter agencies will be completed by October 1.

“[Our target for the completion of the charter is] within the year. Ang problema namin ngayon, maraming agencies ang hindi pa naa-appoint ng Pangulo. Ngayon pinag-sa-submit ng courtesy resignation ng Pangulo ang lahat ng government appointees, so marami iyong bakanteng opisina [However, the recent presidential order to certain appointees to quit their posts presents another problem for us, since many more position are expected to be vacated, aside from  previously unfilled positions],” Robredo said.

“Hindi kami maka-proceed kung kulang pa ang tao. Hopefully by September nakapag-appoint na ng tao para makasimula na kami. Hopefully, October 1, puno na iyong lahat ng shelter agencies within one month malalabas na namin ang Charter  [We may find it difficult to proceed if no appointments are made within our time frame, but, hopefully, by October 1, when all slots under these shelter agencies have been filled, we may be able to come up with the charter as we envision],” she added.

The charter will help in the HUDCC’s efforts to speed up document processing of socialized housing to only 15 to 30 days, from the current processing of two years.

Robredo added that the creation of the charter will help the HUDCC in its plan to create a one-stop-shop for property developers who want to go into  socialized housing.

The envisioned one-stop-shop is one solution that Robredo intends to create to prevent property developers from waiting for two to four years before they are granted permits to undertake their socialized-housing projects.

“Kasi ngayon ang sinasabi ng karamihan, nawawalan sila ng ganang pumasok sa socialized housing kasi hindi business friendly ang  proseso. [Some people say they have lost the drive to enter the socialized-housing business, saying that the process is so tedious and not so business friendly],” Robredo said.

Apart from this, Robredo also plans to provide construction training to relocatees to provide them jobs and enable them to work on other socialized-housing projects of the government, similar to that of Thailand.  Robredo aims to turn carpenters, plumbers, masons and other local handymen in poor communities into a pool of community builders and provide them training in advanced construction of buildings.

“So ito, parang kumprehensibo ang programa. Hindi mo lang binibigyan ng pagkakataon na magkaroon ng bahay, pero binibigyan mo ng pagkakataon magkahanap-buhay [We intend to come up with a comprehensive program that will not only provide housing but also livelihood to the beneficiaries],” Robredo added.

Meanwhile, Robredo said the Social Housing and Finance Corp. (SHFC) and the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) recently signed a memorandum of understanding  (MOU) to streamline the processes of application for housing in both government agencies.

Under the MOU, the SHFC and HLURB will reduce documentary requirements for clearances, permits and/or licenses and processing time and expediting of procedure through establishment of common or accessible offices.

The MOU also called for the establishment of common and dedicated data bank to facilitate verification of documents and approval of applications and identify priority projects and local government units. “Natutuwa tayo na kasama natin ang SHFC and HLURB sa pangarap na mas mapabilis ang pagpoproseso ng mga pabahay para sa ating mga kababayan [I am glad that SHFC and HLURB will be together to fast track the process of owning a home],” Robredo added.

Earlier, Robredo said the government does not have an inventory of available lands for mass housing and a comprehensive list of homeless Filipinos making it difficult to jump-start a housing program in the country.

She said she wants to deal with the country’s housing problem through a “comprehensive and integrated” way. But this would be difficult without the needed data.

Robredo said that, while the Land Registration Authority has commissioned a study to determine the available lands for mass housing, it has not yet been released, as the government has yet to pay for it.

The Vice President said she has requested the Department of Budget and Management to release the payment to the entity, which she did not identify.

In terms of the list of homeless Filipinos, particularly in cities, Robredo said that so far only Las Piñas, Quezon City and Valenzuela have come up with an updated listing.

Pag-IBIG cuts processing of housing loans to 1 day

by Rea Cu - August 19, 2016 [ ]

The Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG) on Friday announced it is reducing claims-processing time from a previous 30-day period to just one day, in line with the President’s directive of reducing the processing time of documents in all government agencies.

Pag-IBIG members availing themselves of housing loans need not wait for 30 days to get their claims because applications will be processed within 24 hours, according to Pag-IBIG.

“Pag-IBIG Fund is continuously implementing reforms and introducing innovative programs that would ensure the provision of more benefits to Pag-IBIG members,” said Darlene Marie B. Berberabe, Pag-IBIG Fund president.

Among the improvements the agency adopted to better serve its members is the increase in burial benefits of housing loan borrowers by 10 percent. Instead of a previous burial benefit of P20,000, members are now given P22,000.

In June this year  Pag-IBIG successfully renegotiated the increase of the burial benefit under its Mortgage Redemption Insurance (MRI) for members who are housing-loan borrowers.

The MRI deems the housing loan fully paid upon the death of the borrower, provided that amortization payments are up-to-date.

The new insurance of Pag-IBIG also fully pays the loan upon determination of total permanent disability, provides amortization support of P500,000 in case of terminal illness, and grants experience refund where 20 percent of the insurer’s profits are refunded to the insured borrower.

The fund also recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to help expedite the faster processing of housing-loan applications and improve the services offered by the two agencies.

“We are glad that this agreement between Pag-IBIG and the BIR complies with the directive of President Duterte to significantly cut government processes for the benefit of the transacting public,” she said.

Pag-IBIG received authorization from the BIR to electronically file tax returns using electronic BIR forms and to secure Electronic Certificate Authorizing Registration (eCAR) on behalf of its member-borrowers.

Former BIR Commissioner Kim S. Jacinto-Henares issued Revenue Memorandum Order 28-2016 for the policies, guidelines and procedures in the implementation of the agreement, which was affirmed recently by current BIR Commissioner Caesar R. Dulay. Pag-IBIG Fund is the first institution granted an eCAR arrangement by the BIR.

“Some of our member-borrowers are on a ‘no work, no pay’ employment and skipping work just to complete the housing-loan requirements will have an impact on their salary. With this arrangement, Pag-IBIG housing-loan borrowers will no longer have to personally go to the BIR to apply for the issuance of eCAR, saving them precious time and resources,” Berberabe added.

SM Prime mulls REIT listing

Posted on August 08, 2016

SM PRIME Holdings, Inc. can raise between $500 million and $1 billion should it launch a real estate investment trust (REIT) on the stock exchange, an option the company continues to explore amid plans to undertake more reclamation and other projects.

Listing a REIT on the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) remains an option for the property arm of SM Investments Corp. to finance future projects, its Executive Vice-President and Corporate Information Officer Jeffrey C. Lim told reporters and analysts in an Aug. 4 briefing in Pasay City.

Asked on the sidelines how much SM Prime expects to raise from listing such a trust, Mr. Lim said: “[It’s] dependent on the market but given the size of SM Prime now and the number of malls, I think it can easily be $500 million to $1 billion.”

Mr. Lim cited the potential of launching a REIT in raising capital particularly for the reclamation of 1,500 hectares in Cordova, Cebu. The local government awarded the P138-billion contract to SM Prime last year.

Venturing into the REIT market may allow SM Prime to undertake the Cebu project simultaneously with the reclamation of another 660 hectares of the Manila Bay under a plan awaiting approval from the Office of the President.

SM Prime won separate contracts worth P54.5 billion and P50.19 billion to reclaim and develop around 300 hectares within the jurisdiction of Pasay City and Parañaque City in 2013 and 2014, respectively.

“As you may have known, we have a P60 billion actually in shelf registration for a retail bond and I think the liquidity also in the local market is there that if we are given the go signal, we can immediately start,” Mr. Lim said.

“I think pronouncements from the government seem to indicate that they’re willing to review the REIT implementing rules and regulation so that’s another avenue for us to actually raise the funds for these reclamations,” he added.

Republic Act. No. 9856, which lapsed into law in December 2009, allows for the establishment of REITs or stock corporations using a pool of investor fund to purchase and manage income-generating real estate assets.

SM Prime had intended to launch a REIT sometime in the second half of 2010 to raise $500 million. It would later shelve the plan because of stringent rules on the public float requirement and tax structure.

The Aquino government had applied a 12% value-added tax on initial transfers of assets to a REIT and required 67% of outstanding shares in the trust be passed onto public investors in three years.

“REIT will be good for the Philippine economy as a whole because there will be more investors coming in, there will be more foreign investors also investing in REIT,” SM Executive Vice-President, Chief Financial Officer and Corporate Information Officer Jose T. Sio noted.

“In the case of SMIC, I think the property group, being one of the largest, if not the largest in Southeast Asia, it’s very advantageous for SM Prime, especially the mall and commercial business and the hotel business to be implemented under the REIT listing,” he added.

Aside from expanding its mall and other operations generating recurring revenues, SM Prime is diversifying its residential business with a foray into affordable housing development.

SM Prime intends to build 2,000 to 5,000 affordable housing units within properties spanning at least 20 hectares. The company is investing P1 billion to launch such a development initially in Cabanatuan within the year, Mr. Lim said.

“It’s more of testing the market. Depending on the take up and reception, we’re buying more properties for economic housing -- we call it affordable -- mostly [in] North Luzon and South Luzon,” added Mr. Lim, who will assume SM Prime’s presidency starting Oct. 1.

Shares in SM Prime closed 65 centavos or 2.22% higher at P29.9 apiece on Friday. -- Keith Richard D. Mariano           

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