When it comes to investing, real estate is a sound option. Properties have the potential for growth and stability that stocks or bonds can't promise. Even if you're starting as an investor without experience in this field, your first time buying property could be profitable.
There are many risks to investing in any property. But as with most things, there's a learning curve. You'll need some experience before jumping into the deep end. It takes practice and knowledge to reap the rewards of a real estate investment.
For Filipinos who are new to this venture, buying and owning property can seem daunting. So here’s what first-time real estate investors should know about how to invest in real estate in the Philippines.
What is a Real Estate Investment?
Real estate investment is the ownership of properties—such as land, houses, buildings, and other things above and below the land—for generating income, instead of buying just for residence or occupancy purposes.
Real estate investment is one of the most well-known forms of investing, and it’s been around even before stock trading was invented. It's considered one of the safest methods to increase your money due to constant property price increases.
Buying real estate is also still considered by many as almost recession-proof. Even in the worst economic downturns, there’s still a need for real estate. It has shown to be an excellent and safe investment option for the long term, especially when compared to high-risk investments.
Even so, it doesn’t mean you should go in without preparation. It takes more effort than simply laying down millions of pesos and forgetting about it for a while.
Before entering this type of investment, ensure you have all your facts straight. If done incorrectly, there’s a chance that you’ll lose your hard-earned money.
Is Investing in Real Estate in the Philippines a Good Idea?
Generally, a real estate investment in the Philippines is a good idea given its resilient nature.
But like other investments, real estate comes with risks. Here are the pros and cons that real estate investors must consider when learning how to invest in real estate in the Philippines.
Real Estate Investment Advantages
Here are some notable advantages of investing in real estate in the Philippines.
👍 Stable Demand for Properties
According to Joey Bondoc, director at Colliers Philippines, a leading real estate management company in the country, the property sector is one of the key segments of the Philippine economy. Moreover, the office, residential, retail, hotel, and industrial sub-segments are its major planks.
After the economic disruptions of recent years, there’s a positive outlook for the property market in the Philippines in 2023. It is projected to have joint venture deals between foreign property firms and new developments outside Metro Manila, Cebu, and Davao because of the growing demand.
👍 Steady Property Price Increase
Housing prices in the Philippines remain in an upward trend. Data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed that the residential real estate price index (RREPI) grew by 10.2% to 154.1% from January to March compared to the 5.7% expansion in the same period last year.
The general outlook is that property prices will sustain this momentum as business activities in the country return to normal.
This steady price appreciation makes investing in real estate less risky than stocks. Real estate may not offer the same earning potential as stocks, but it isn’t as prone to price fluctuations.
If your investments consist primarily of stocks, adding a real estate investment to your portfolio can lower its volatility and your risk of losing money.
In nearly every financial market, from stocks to commodities to real estate, diversification has been shown to reduce risk while maintaining growth potential.
There are many reasons to diversify your real estate investment portfolio. The most obvious reason is that you shouldn't put all your eggs in one basket. This way, if something goes wrong with one of your properties, it won't decimate the value of your entire portfolio.
So why not just buy a bunch of affordable properties? If some fail and others succeed, you’ll still be ahead on average.
Real Estate Investment Disadvantages
If there are benefits, there are also drawbacks to real estate investments. Here are some of them.
👎 Cash-Heavy Investment
When you invest in physical properties, you need a significant amount—whether your own money or loaned—to acquire, maintain, and improve a property.
👎 Lack of Liquidity
Turning a property into cash is not as quick and easy as selling stocks. It takes time to find the right buyer willing to buy at the right price. If you have to cash out immediately, you might end up selling the property below its market value or at a loss.
👎 Negative Cash Flow
There's a risk of losing money due to various problems with owning and managing a property, including the following:
- Hidden structural defects e.g., leaky roof, foundation issues, etc.
- Property requiring too much maintenance
- Bad location
- High vacancies (for rental properties)
- Not charging enough rent
- Problems with tenants i.e., paying late or not paying at all, damaging the property, etc.
👎 Using Leverage on Loans
One of the biggest dangers when investing in anything is using debt to increase profits. While low interest rates help investors buy more properties, they can hurt if you're forced to liquidate quickly because of market shifts or other factors that affect whether you'll be able to meet your loan payments. This high-risk strategy can lead to disaster.
Where Can I Invest?
Running a real estate business in the Philippines involves buying and selling or leasing properties to build wealth and diversify an investment portfolio. Property investors in the Philippines can earn money from any of these three types of real estate:
- Residential properties – House and lots, townhouses, condominiums, and other structures where people live or stay
- Commercial properties – Office buildings, retail stores, shopping centers, hotels, and other structures that are leased out to companies or small businesses
- Industrial properties – Manufacturing plants, warehouses, and other facilities used for research, production, storage, and distribution of goods
Not all investments have to do with physical properties, though. Real estate investors may also buy and sell shares of companies that own commercial properties, as in the case of real estate investment trusts.
Types of Real Estate Investments
Real estate investing in the Philippines takes several forms. You may invest directly in real estate by buying and selling properties as a business or indirectly through real estate investment trusts (REITs).
Each type of real estate investment comes with different risks and strategies. Read on to get a glimpse of each type and determine which fits you best as an investor.
📌 Buy and Sell
If you have a large cash reserve and are good at handling your money and turning it around, you can buy depreciated properties, fix them up, sell at a higher price, and repeat. This real estate investment is called house or condo flipping.
Real estate flipping takes a lot of work. You need to have a good eye for finding properties that are promising and profitable after a bit of fixing.
Some factors to consider when buying a property for flipping are your target market’s needs (commuter vs. car owner), surrounding developments (distance to schools, hospitals, etc.), and future growth (future roads and commercial establishments). When you consider these factors, it will be easier to profit from the property with minimal renovations.
What to look out for: When buying and selling real estate, calculate how much money you can spend on renovations and still make a return. Don’t make the mistake of spending too much on renovations. Always do the math.
📌 Buy and Hold
This traditional way to invest in real estate involves buying a property and selling it decades down the road. Such a long-term real estate investment is usually for people with too much money who need a place to park it.
What to look out for: Instead of letting your property sit for decades not generating income, monetize it. Remember that you’re still paying for amortization, utility payments, maintenance costs, and homeowner’s association fees.
So let your property work for you. Rent it out if you’re not living in it. You’ll be generating income at regular intervals instead of waiting for 30 years to make a return on your investment.
📌 Rental Properties
You can earn a regular income from leasing your property, especially in university towns and central business districts (CBDs).
Before you do so, calculate your return on investment (ROI) based on how much you’ll rent out the property and your monthly amortization. If you’re renting out the property for ₱20,000 but paying the same or even more on your mortgage, your investment is not profitable.
What to look out for: As the landlord, you’re in charge of repair and maintenance costs. It’s your tenant’s responsibility to report any property-related issues, but you’ll be covering the expenses. That’s why it’s important to have disposable income or an emergency fund.
📌 Real Estate Investment Trusts
Intimidated by the prospect of spending millions on buying property in the Philippines? You can still invest in real estate without owning and managing a physical property through a real estate investment trust or REIT.
REIT investing works very much like buying and selling regular stocks. The only difference is that you’re investing in publicly listed companies that operate commercial real estate. REITs are dividend-paying stocks, so investors receive regular income from them.
The first REIT in the Philippines is the Ayala Land REIT (AREIT), which was listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) in August 2020. Now you can also invest in Robinsons Land REIT (RCR), Double Dragon REIT (DDMPR), Filinvest REIT (FILREIT), and Megaworld (MREIT).
📌 Shared Ownership Properties
These investments involve more than one investor purchasing a property together. It’s also known as "whole ownership," "joint tenancy," or "tenancy in common." Once the amount invested reaches a certain level, you can’t put in additional funds without changing the contract.
Investing in a shared ownership property can be risky because there are many moving parts. But it can be one of the most lucrative investments you’ll ever make if done correctly.
It requires an experienced managing agent to help manage sharing responsibilities among all owners without jeopardizing relationships or compromising transparency.
What to look out for: Look for partners whom you can trust, whether they’re your friends or family members. You’ll also need to hire a lawyer to ensure that your interests are protected. This model can also be applied within the family circle, especially if you want to invest together for the long term.
📌 Co-op Investments
This type of real estate investment provides two things: steady cash flow and great tax benefits. But you should beware of management fees, which can be high. They require strong finances to ensure that your investment will cover your costs every month.
Co-ops usually involve more work on your part than other types of real estate investments. You buy shares of a corporation that owns the property and have "voting rights." Because of this, co-op ownership is not divisible.
They’re considered "pass-through" investments, which means you can write them off as part of your business income. This makes your tax bill smaller every year, which means you make more for yourself with each passing year.
What to look out for: Co-ops are not technically real estate. But when you buy shares from the corporation that owns the property, you’re entitled to the exclusive use of the unit.
If you want to do this type of real estate investment, you need to know how the cooperative works, how it's being managed, and the underlying terms of the existing mortgage and other policies.
How Do You Earn Money in Real Estate?
Why invest in real estate, you ask? Because real estate investors can build wealth through capital appreciation, regular income payments, or both. Here are the particulars of how to earn money in real estate.
💸 Increasing Property Value
This is the most common way real estate investors make money. Capital appreciation is the difference between the purchase price and the selling price of a real estate investment. It happens when a property or REIT stock you're investing in rises in value over time.
An increase in property value is driven by these factors:
- Location and development e.g., shopping centers, office buildings, transportation hubs, and other structures near the property
- Home improvements e.g., kitchen remodeling, additional rooms, and other upgrades that make the property more attractive to potential buyers
💸 Regular Income Payments
A real estate investment also generates passive income through rent or dividends.
If you convert your home or commercial space into a rental property, your tenants pay you a fixed monthly amount. This ensures a steady cash flow for your real estate business as long as there’s a demand for rental properties in your location.
If you invest in REITs, you’re guaranteed income payments because the law requires REIT companies to distribute dividends to their shareholders. REIT companies make money from business activities (such as consumer spending and BPO operations) that depend on their commercial property. The higher their earnings are, the higher dividends their investors receive.
How to Invest in Real Estate in the Philippines
Here are the steps to kickstart your journey as a real estate investor.
Step 1: Determine If You're Financially Ready
Here’s a checklist you can use to find out if you’re ready to be a real estate investor.
☑️ You Can Afford the 20% Down Payment
“Are you ready to buy real estate?” This is among the first things to ask yourself when deciding on buying a property in the Philippines.
Browse property listings online, and you’ll see that it’s hard to find a house and lot for sale (in the city) below ₱1 million. That means a ₱200,000+ down payment. If you have the cash reserves to make a down payment, that’s one sign you’re ready.
☑️ You Can Afford to Invest in REITs
Is the down payment for a property purchase out of your budget? If so, most banks won’t approve you for a home loan. However, you can still enter the real estate market without shelling out millions of pesos through investing in REITs.
You can start investing in REITs for as low as ₱5,000 on PSE-approved online brokers such as COL Financial, Alpha Securities Corporation, and PhilStocks Financial Inc.
☑️ You Have an Emergency Fund and/or Disposable Income
Maintenance and repairs are among a property owner's responsibilities, which cost money. Also, if you’re a landlord and your tenant’s contract ends, you'll be shouldering the mortgage and other associated costs until the property is occupied again.
Many fail to include additional costs such as homeowner’s association fees, utility payments, and maintenance costs when computing if they can afford a property. An emergency fund and/or disposable income prepares you for when you need to repair your floor tiles or hire a repairman to fix plumbing leaks.
Step 2: Study the Philippine Housing Market
To get the most out of your investment, it pays to do your research, whether you’re interested in buying a property or a REIT stock.
Talking to real estate brokers, for example, will give you deeper insights into how the market works, where to focus, and what to buy.
Some advertisements for pre-selling condominiums promote buying at X price and selling at a 50% profit margin or more. Many grab the opportunity to buy at a discount during pre-selling. However, once the property is ready for occupancy, they have a difficult time renting the unit out at the price advertised.
This is why it's essential to talk to brokers and landlords in nearby properties to get a more realistic perspective of the real estate market condition.
Step 3: Decide How Much You Want to Invest
Before you start investing in real estate, set a realistic budget first. Never invest money you can't afford to lose. If you have cash on hand or can loan enough funds to buy a property, then go for it.
However, if you can spend only at least ₱3,000 monthly for a real estate investment, buying REIT stocks is the next best thing.
Step 4: Pick and Buy Your First Investment
When is the best time to invest in real estate? Not tomorrow or next year, but now—as long as you're financially capable and sure about where to invest your money.
If you've decided to buy your first property, start looking at property listings online. You may also get professional advice from a licensed real estate agent on where to invest in real estate in the Philippines.
Want to invest in REIT stocks instead? Open an account with stockbrokers like COL Financial, BPI Trade, or FirstMetroSec. Using a stock trading platform with any of these online brokers lets you buy and sell REIT shares in the Philippines.
If you're investing in stocks, which means you already have a stock brokerage account, all you have to do to start buying REIT stocks is to place an order as you would with a regular stock.
How to Turn a Home Into an Investment
To have a home is one of the most popular reasons people buy real estate. But even if you have the financial means to acquire your ideal house, not everyone does—especially when there are other essential things to pay or save up for, such as college tuition or retirement.
While most people buy homes for personal use, some rent them out for passive income generation. If you want to earn money by renting out your property, there are specific steps that you must follow before doing so.
👉 Research Rental Rates Within Your Area
It's crucial to thoroughly research current rental rates in your area before putting your house up for rent. You must understand the average market value of homes or properties comparable to yours in size and location. This is required to offer a competitive price for your property while covering all maintenance and running costs associated with being a landlord.
👉 Determine Financial and Tax Concerns Related to Rentals
Another important aspect of renting out your property is determining the tax liabilities for income generated through real estate rentals.
While most rental properties are taxable, exemptions are available according to Philippine laws. It would be best to consult a local taxation specialist or even go online so that you can learn more about these applicable taxes, including their rates, bases of computation, deductions/allowable expenses, documentation required for filing, due dates for payment, and penalties for late payment, among others.
When it comes to taxes generated by home rentals in the Philippines, a 12% Value Added Tax (VAT) is imposed on the rental income when the gross annual income exceeds ₱1,919,500. Otherwise, if it doesn't exceed that amount, there's a 3% percentage tax rate on the gross rent.
👉 Prepare Your Documentation on Landlord-Tenant Agreement
Before going any further, prepare all relevant documents on your real estate property, such as deeds of assignment (succession), tax declarations, title transfer documents, inventories or appraisal reports for fixtures and contents, and similar documents that will support your claim regarding improvements you've made on the property.
Once your research is complete, prepare a tenancy contract or agreement with your tenants. The contract should state all the terms and conditions between you and your tenant regarding the rental property, rental rates, maintenance costs, payment schedule, rules of occupancy, and fees associated with eviction or termination of the lease, among other things.
👉 Consider Necessary Repairs and Improvements
You must also consider the necessary repairs, improvements, and other maintenance costs for your property.
Set aside an estimate of how much you’ll spend for general home repairs or other housekeeping expenses before renting out your property. This way, you can better manage the funds needed to maintain it at its optimal condition.
If renting out your property, ensure you’re on top of the repairs and improvements before promoting it on listing sites. After all, nothing attracts potential tenants more than a well-maintained property.
🏡 Give Your Home a Makeover With #UNOnow Loan!
Need extra funds for your home improvement? You don't have to delay it if you're short on cash. Simply get a cash loan from UNO Digital Bank via Moneymax. Enjoy a fast application and approval process, plus instant loan disbursement!
Whether it's a simple appliance upgrade or a home remodeling project, UNOBank got you covered with its loan amount ranging from ₱10,000 up to ₱200,000. Apply for an #UNOnow Loan today!
👉 Work with Real Estate Agents for Listings and Marketing
Lastly, work with real estate agents who can help market your rental property for you. They’re experienced in ensuring that all expenses needed will not come out of your pocket or budget.
Moreover, they take care of listing the property, advertising its details, and even bringing potential tenants to view the rental unit.
Remember to keep track of all transactions related to renting out your home, so you know exactly where things stand. This way, there won't be any misunderstandings along the way, which could lead to disputes between you and your tenant.
Consider the following before renting out your property:
- How long will you rent it for?
- What do you want to earn per month (after tax)?
- How many rooms do you intend to rent out?
- Will you include utilities, such as Wi-Fi, cable, and telephone?
- Will you draw a written contract with all the terms and conditions, or will you sign an agency agreement if you engage a real estate agent or broker?
- How soon do you plan to advertise your rental property?
You can also have a legal consultation with a lawyer for more information on the applicable laws in your city and other related topics such as real estate transactions and taxation. This way, you can make informed decisions regarding renting out your property.
Property Investment Ideas in the Philippines
Your lovely home can provide extra income. If you've been blessed to own a large home, a condo unit, or any piece of property, there are more ways to use them than just living in it. Make your home work for you with these worthwhile opportunities.
🏠 Bed-Spacing and Condo-Sharing
The most common property investment out there is to let someone share it with you. Tenants are always on the lookout for the best places to live in the Philippines, especially in business hubs like Ayala and Ortigas.
If you have a property in those areas, take this opportunity to earn passive income by welcoming bed spacers to your spacious home. The more the merrier, as they say.
Of course, screen your tenants before accommodating them. They'll stay with you for a long time, so it’s best to establish at least a casual relationship with them.
🏠 List Your Property on Airbnb
If you don’t like the idea of having a tenant for a long time, choose to house short-term tenants. How? By becoming an Airbnb host and listing your home as a temporary paradise for travelers.
Since hotels and motels can get expensive, Airbnb listings have become a popular property investment in the Philippines.
Many homeowners have already converted their spare homes and properties into Airbnb listings, mainly because it’s easy to apply as an Airbnb host. You can set your prices and the number of days and guests allowed to stay in your place, even the ground rules on how they should use your amenities. In short, you’re in charge.
Plus, you’re sure to get quality guests since Airbnb users are required to verify their identities. No random stranger will stay in your Airbnb home. If you’re still on the fence, use the Airbnb calculator to see how much you can earn from being an Airbnb host.
🏠 Rent to Business Owners
Another great property investment opportunity is to rent out your property to business and startup owners. If you have a spare garage, you can rent the space out and let a business set up shop there.
If you have a spacious condominium, let startup founders rent it so they can conduct their business there. It’s a great way to earn passive income because you get monthly payments. You can also probably get freebies from them if you play your cards right.
🏠 Host Events and Gatherings
People are always looking for places where they can host events and gatherings. Put your property investment in the hat by listing your beautiful home or condominium as an event place.
Your property may not hold a hundred people, but it can probably accommodate a big group. That’s good enough for a book club or a gaming event.
Just ensure your home is spacious enough to receive at least 20 people. Don’t overload your house with large crowds because they might cost you more in house repairs.
🏠 Host Seminars and Training
What if you have a skill that’s worth sharing with others? Share your knowledge with others while charging them money by hosting seminars and workshops on your property.
Hosting students and trainees in your home is a great property investment opportunity since you have the space to facilitate their learning while nourishing their minds with wisdom and skill.
Start investing in learning materials like school supplies, blackboards, a projector, and other learning materials specific to the skill you want to teach.
🏠 Make It a Co-Working Space
Co-working spaces have become very popular in Metro Manila. Why not convert your property into one and house freelancers and entrepreneurs looking for great working spaces?
You’ll definitely get patronage if you live in a crowded city like BGC or Pasig. Alternatively, you might also see a huge demand if your property is in the province since co-working spaces aren’t as common there.
All you have to do is provide a lightning-fast internet connection and basic amenities like free coffee and smoking areas. Then watch your co-working space become a massive hit.
🏠 Rent Out Your Home for Filming
You can also rent out your home to professional and aspiring filmmakers. Try offering your home to various scouting managers, especially if your property investment is in the heart of a busy street or a bustling subdivision. These are ideal locations for soap operas and local movies.
🏠 Make It a Parking Space
If you have extra space for another car in your garage, you can rent it out to those who don’t have one. If you live near a mall, you can use your front yard or garage as a parking space for mall-goers looking for cheaper parking rates.
7 Tips for Buying Your First Real Estate Property
It’s always good to research how to get the best deal on your first real estate purchase. Here are some points to remember based on insights from personal finance experts and advocates.
✔️ Research and Grow Your Financial Literacy
According to Tina Rodriguez of the blog Truly Rich and Blessed, most people buy things on impulse and don't take the time to study if they are financial assets or liabilities in the end.
So before you do, learn more and improve your financial literacy. Ask yourself if you need to buy the property or if your money will grow more if you invest it elsewhere, like mutual funds and stocks.
✔️ Consider the Future
For mom blogger and financial advisor Lace Llanora, it’s essential to consider the future. A big house can suit you now—but when the children get older and start their own family, what happens? According to Lace, real estate is only an investment when you finally sell it and benefit from the returns.
✔️ Know Everything About the Property
Writer and blogger May Palacpac shares that you must learn the property’s history, location, labor, numbers, and papers. Read the contract and get experts like realtors and property lawyers to tell you what you may be missing out on and what you're committing to. Also, weigh the property's value 15, 30, or 50 years from now.
Author, coach, and keynote speaker Sha Nacino also advises studying the pros and cons of buying vs renting. Push the numbers, check the location, and consult property experts so you'll be guided.
✔️ Simulate Your Cash Flow and Factor in Intangibles
Financial literary advocate Fitz Villafuerte says it's important to simulate your cash flow to check if you can truly afford it before buying your first real estate property.
Use a spreadsheet to tabulate your living expenses against your income for at least the next five years to have a clearer view of how your real estate purchase will fit into your budget.
Personal finance and investment educator Burn Gutierrez also reminds first-time property buyers to factor in the intangibles that may cause future inconveniences regarding their property, such as lack of good roads or unreliable telecommunication facilities.
✔️ Buy at Pre-Selling Cost
Motivational and business speaker Jonathan Yabut thinks it’s best to acquire a property at pre-selling cost, especially if you're sure about purchasing a property and moving time is not an issue. You'll benefit from the appreciation of the property, especially for prime locations.
✔️ Look at Real Estate as an Integral Part of a Financial Portfolio
According to Rex Mendoza, Chief Executive Officer of Rampver Financials, you must look at your real estate purchase as a critical component of your financial portfolio. Evaluate it in terms of your objectives, cash flow, expected rental yields and appreciation, and responsibilities with respect to maintenance and upkeep.
Aside from the location, assess the developer's commitment, brand strength, and track record, which will dictate the property's value over time.
✔️ Know That Buying a Property is a Leap of Faith
Writer and speaker Rose Fres Fausto compares buying and building a house with marriage because you take a leap of faith with both.
You don’t have to wait until everything is perfect or 100% because that time may never come. After all, you have the rest of your life to continue building and improving it.
Real estate is a great long-term investment everyone should consider. However, entering this market differs from person to person. You always need to do the math to see if you must go for it.
And even when you do, knowing how to invest in real estate in the Philippines just won't cut it—you still need to do calculations to create a sound strategy and minimize risks.
-  Boosting the Philippine property market (BusinessWorld, July 2023)
-  Real estate prices continue to pick up (The Philippine Star, July 2023)
-  REIT Act of 2009 (Securities and Exchange Commission)
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed by the writer are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Moneymax and/or its affiliates or any employee thereof. Neither Moneymax or its affiliates are responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the guest writer. The opinions expressed in this blog are for general informational purposes only and are intended to provide education about the financial industry.
Nothing in this blog constitutes investment or financial advice or any recommendation that any security, portfolio of securities, investment product, transaction or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. This material does not take into account your personal circumstances, finances, goals and/or objectives; all of which are unique to you. Readers must make an independent decision regarding investments or strategies mentioned on this blog or elsewhere on www.moneymax.ph. We strongly recommend you consider seeking advice from your own financial or investment adviser before taking any action. We do not make any representation or warranty as to the accuracy, completeness or correctness of the information set out in this article.