Buyers, Alert: Real Estate Scams in the Philippines

Like a pest in a host, scams are just as inevitable in any industry. Real Estate Philippines’ growth benefits the country’s economy and its people. Relentlessly, frauds are also on its on-the-job crawling under the sleeves of legit realtors and buyers, taking advantage of the current high market. The government’s effort through the Professional Regulation Commission and Integrated Professional Organization of Real Estate Practitioners is trying to help in preventing such cases, but these stunts are called dangerous for nothing. They know the maze of the business just as the licensed real estate brokers and agents. Although the red flag is high, it does not mean one would be discouraged from being a vigilant buyer. 

According to the news report of the Philippine News Agency, the National Bureau of Investigation Director Dante Gierran identified two suspects in multi-billion Batangas property scam last February 28, 2019. The culprits was eventually arrested by NBI who faced charges of syndicated estafa through the use of falsified documents and money laundering under Section 4 of Republic Act 9160 or the Anti-Money Laundering Act. The fraud is not only happening for the touch-based residents but most especially for those workers overseas. Department of Labor and Employment said in a statement in the Business World, Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who are considered highly targeted of the illegal schemes was urged to be particularly wary of the incidents offering high returns than those offered by regulated institutions. 

One can avoid such danger if the ways and means of these frauds are prudently traced and familiarized. To classify cons from legit ones, there are several scams that one may want to start listing. 

Rental Scams

With the recent on-trend platform for property listing, people nowadays find houses and condominiums units online where scammers can easily sabotage. Hoax patrons can easily copy-paste the listings posted and represent themselves as agents in another site. The scheme begins as they would urgently ask for money, a security deposit or broker fee. One can smell the skin-deep already if these “agents” cannot show up for viewing or to meet the client in person but still ask to transfer funds to a certain bank account right away. There are many ways for this trick to be possible starting with making many bogus accounts, fake postings and property for rent or sale from just about nowhere. In this case, inquiring properties through a reputable online real estate platform is essentially important. Established companies are guaranteed reliable since they already built a reputation and brand to main. Plus, they have in-house brokers.

 Information Brokerage

This type of scheme is a team-up dupery. It involves two real estate agents joined together to increase the commission fee once the property is sold. The scenario will usually be practice by one agent representing the buyer and the other represents the seller. Poor owners and buyers do not have any idea what they are currently dealing with the two different brokers since they are not introduced. The set-up will just revolve around the two agents who happen to be the main mastermind in the transaction resulting in distortion of the property value since the commission will be shared. Such action is a clear violation of the Code of Ethics and Responsibilities for Real Estate Service Practitioners. Hence, buyers and sellers must tap brokers with proven legal backgrounds to protect their interests and to avoid decisiveness along the process. 

Forged Land Titles

Just to be one step higher in business, some people hunt for vacant lots they will represent as their property to be sold. These property thieves will look for copies of land titles and other pertinent papers referring to which are accessible to the public through local government agencies. Fake land titles can be conveniently obtained in notorious areas where fabricated documents are made at a very affordable price. To set it all done, scammers will simply put their name and details of the subject lot on the document. Dealing with highly regarded real estate agents and developers are the best way to prevent this fraud. Under Republic Act 9646, PRC license is a must for Philippine brokers. One may conduct own investigation by getting a Certified True Copy of the Title from the Register of Deeds. The office is commonly situated in the city or municipal government office where the property is located. One must obtain the title number and the full name of the owner to avail of documents. 

Bait for Buyers 

A kind of fraud where real estate agents post advertisements or marketing properties that they are not authorized at all. From there, the said agents will offer the properties at the lowest prices to catch victims. The con broker will eventually start to build rapport with the potential buyer and once the trust is gained, the play will officially begin. If the buyer looks convinced and interested, the agents will now make an excuse that the original property has already been sold and confidently offer an alternative property that the former is now accredited to sell. Homebuyers are advised to check the usual rates in the place where the supposed property they intend to purchase. It is quite suspicious if the property is offered at a very low price compared to other types of units, this is one of the warning signals in real estate scam. Be secured and ask the broker for a copy of their authorization to sell from the owner.    

Predatory Lending

Loan sharks smell desperation from their victims. They will lure those in need with much tempting offers such as a 15% monthly interest rate which surely put one on bad credit. Illegal lenders present their scams through stickers, flyers, and posters. Target victims are those eligible to acquire loans from the bank, SSS, and Pag-IBIG housing loan. 

The Advantage of On-Trend Property Listing

Human effort has been constantly reduced through the upgrades of technology. It basically improves the processes and systems in one’s daily lives. Specific evidence of such advancement is the internet, where everything is instant and accessible. Lifestyle, entertainment and business profit from such benefits throughout the world. People are now more connected with each other even with those who are located half-across the globe. From there, the initiative then started to develop applications that are only one-tap away from just about what one needs. Real estate marketers took the chance to be more on top of the game. Today, the online listing is one of the effective platforms that reach numerous prospect clients in buying, selling and renting properties available.

The study of  2018 Real Estate in a Digital Age, states that around 70% of realtors use social media for professional use. It was also found that there are three tech tools that have given the highest quality of leads: social media at 47%, MLS site at 32 %, brokerage’s website and listing aggregator site, both at 29 %. The data apparently shows how the use of new media contributes to the marketing approach of the realty community. This could also be one of the pillars in sustaining tourism hospitality to every country and especially in the Philippines. 

Cebu is recently reported to be recognized as Asian’s second-best island from travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler. The prestige of the island led to The Hotel, Resort, and Restaurant Association of Cebu (HRRC) to expect more tourists visiting Cebu. From an interview with SunStar Cebu, “We have proven again that we are one of the best tourist destinations in Asia. It comes to show that with our efforts with the new airport, the new gateway that we have, it brings in more international tourists as well as local tourists enjoying Cebu as a destination.” said Carlo Suarez, president of HRRC.  In connection with this, Cebuano entrepreneurs are now preparing for the huge wave of the said opportunity. This includes homestay business and rentals that are also beneficiaries of Sugbo’s raging competitive tourism industry. 

If one would dig all the gems of what makes Cebu irreplaceably beautiful, it would certainly take forever but just to mention a few, the municipality of Santa Fe will definitely be on the list. The place’ perimeter occupies the southeastern portion of Bantayan Island together with the islands of Guintacan or Kinatarkan, Hilantagaan, and Hilantagaan Diot. Santa Fe, known for its beautiful beaches is mostly called “The Boracay” in Cebu but it is actually the opposite if tranquility is what one needs in an escapade. Proud Sante Fehanon Nash Wildi said that their place is a quiet place one can really enjoy with nature and their fresh delicacies served right from the blue waters. It is also a great place to stay in because the locals are very accommodating, she also guaranteed that travelers will never get lost on the way. 

Nash and her family is a host for homestay rentals since 2018. The house for rent is located in Boraska Street, Barangay Talisay Santa Fe, Cebu. They considered putting the property in the market since they were already constructing a bigger house in the same lot. Nash lists the properties in the most popular travel apps nowadays: Agoda, Airbnb, and Booking.com. “It helps businesses like ours so we can market our property and a lot of people can see that there is a property like this in our place,” she said. Online listing has been valuable for property owners like Nash in reaching out to a foreign and local tenant who is looking for a place to stay. Furthermore, it helps the tourism economy as a lot of people will be enticed to visit and explore the area knowing it has good nooks to rest too, right after the trips. 

Wildi family’s property is in the center of the town which is also near the market, restaurants, church and the beaches. All of the aforementioned is just around a 3-5 minute walk. The rate is Php 500 per head, above 10 pax but it may be discounted depending on how many nights the tourists will be staying. Travelers who are fond of touring on wheels, the host also has a bike for rent which costs Php 150 per day. They also accept monthly and yearly rentals.

Per night:

10 pax – Php 5,000
9 pax – Php 4,500
8 pax – Php 4,000
7 pax – Php 3,500
5-6 pax – Php 3,000
4 pax – Php 2,500
3 pax – Php 2,000
2 pax – Php 1,500

The property has a living room, comfort room, kitchen and family room. Check-in time is 2 pm and time out is noon the next day. Amenities include Towels, Extra beds, Cooking Stove, Utensils, Cooking tools, Refrigerator, etc.

Budget-Friendly Townhouse Rentals in Cebu: Where will your P500 take you?

Cebu as we know it is a glowing gem rich in heritage, culture, mountainscapes, water bodies, food, warm locals and other things that a traveler is yet to discover. One day trip will never be enough to experience it all that is why there are hotels, inns, room for rent in Cebu City that are available for tourists to sleep in for the night or to steal a power nap before the expedition continues. Be that as it may, there are zero guarantees that all those places are right on one’s budget. Clever digital geek suggests scanning apps that might help like AirBnB, Booking.com, 9 flats et.al. But if one still has the energy, one may stroll for a while and ask people for a few recommendations though this is quite risky. 

Perhaps it is hard to find that ‘perfect’ place considering the proximity to one’s destination the next day, safety and by all means, one’s budget allowance. However, worries are off the table. Here are the top four townhouses in Cebu that will make one’s wallet jump right out of excitement. This may be one of the days that 500 pesos are all a traveler needs to survive in this crazy adventure called life.

Deca 4, Bankal, Lapu-Lapu Cebu

For only P522 per night, guests of four can already enjoy the entire house. Deca 4 is only kilometers away from Mactan Cebu International Airport hence, this is an ideal place for those who are arriving late at night and vice versa. Although the townhouse is full of small corners, the host managed to put green pets that will soothe tired eyes from the trip. The master bedroom’s balcony is displayed with palm collection while the two other bedrooms are also adorned with colorful flower plants. Guests can utilize the kitchen, including the gas stove, oven, microwave, electric water dispenser, rice cooker, and refrigerator. They can also catch up with the latest news and noontime teleseryes for the TV is part of the amenities. Owners also offer car and bike rentals for those who want to tour around the city.

Flora’s Homestay, Lapu-Lapu Cebu

A two-unit townhouse that is newly renovated with a total of four bedrooms, might be in the next list of a family’s itinerary. Each bedroom has its own toilet and bathtub which indeed is total privacy. The two living rooms, kitchen, and dining area usable for the guests. For lite travelers who need to wash their clothes or cellophane bags, the laundry area is also available. Flora’s Homestay is in the exclusive subdivision of BF Homes Marigondon but within proximity of stop shops, markets, and island tour outlets. The host offers rent-a-car services and guests can also hire a driver for the vehicle but with prior arrangements. Per night is only P526.

The Purple House, San Fernando Cebu

The townhouse from San Fernando Cebu has a  combination of house colors’ purple and white that sets the delightful atmosphere for those backpackers who want to take a break from the city’s everyday hustle. One would not need to go to the rural’s supermarkets to buy one’s needs because the townhouse itself has its sari-sari store. Travelers can also check the online maps and destination descriptions not only through their mobile phones but also in a computer right in their internet cafe. These are all accessible for just P534 per night.

Zen Life Guest House, Cebu City

“Being Zen” means one is in the state of at peace in his thoughts and being self-aware of the place. This townhouse offers guests the zen life they need during the travel. Zen Life Guest House is just located in the center of Cebu City. One of the best features that the host is mostly proud of is their 24-hour safety security around the area. Divided in three:the first floor is the workers’ headquarters and also a common area where guests share the living room, dining, laundry with free use of washing machine and other necessary spaces; the second deck has two bedrooms, one is good for 6 pax and 8 for the other ; the third floor is where the master bedroom with a terrace, which made for travelers to enjoy the overlooking night view. Experience this serene nook with just P522.
As one noticed, the prices are not exactly P500 close, but adding around 20-26 pesos doesn’t hurt a budget. At least, the cost for rentals will not add much to the weight of backpackers are carrying. Live the moment like a true local for a very affordable rate.

Know the Government Housing Agencies in the Philippines

Every country has hopes to provide a comfortable shelter for all its citizens despite the battle of economic status. As specified at Securing The Future of Philippine Industries (STFPI), the Philippine house sector aims to eliminate the housing backlog by the year 2030. To reach that goal, the government formed housing agencies that will help Filipinos be closer to their dream homes without risks. Now that real estate Philippines is progressively in prospering brick by brick, it opened doors of opportunities toward a sustainable growth that will lead to affordable prices for the country’s households.

The respective housing agencies have these main objectives: increase housing production to 12 percent sustainable annual volume growth; implement comprehensive government for targeted segments; improve regulatory housing environment; generate and mobilize funds for end-user financing. These agencies also generated systematic programs to find ways on Filipino housing concerns.

Home Development Mutual Fund or Pag-IBIG

PAG-IBIG stands for Pagtutulungan sa Kinabukasan: Ikaw, Bangko, Industriya at Gobyerno, these are the four sectors in the society that the agency continues to gear up in providing Fund members suitable housing through the effective saving arrangement. This is an opt solution for the need for a national savings program and financing Filipino workers for affordable shelter. The Fund was established on 11 June 1978 by  Presidential Decree No. 1530 to primarily address two basic and equally important needs. The said law is to be administered by two agencies, the Social Security System handling for the funds of private employees and Government Service Insurance System for the savings of government workers. The principal functions of PAG-IBIG are to provide low-cost and socialized house, use funds to provide decent budget-friendly condominium units, to stimulate competition for better housing packages and other extended fund matter.

Home Guarantee Corporation             

HGC helps Filipino homeownership by seeking banks and financial institutions to lend out homebuyers and housing developers. The agency assures lenders through issuing loans and securitization guarantees. The corporation’s guarantee programs are: Developmental Loan Guaranty, covers developers’ loan for subdivision, townhouses, dormitories, apartments and other residences; Retail Loan Guaranty for loans and credit facilities extended to purchase for a single residential family; Guaranty for Securitization Schemes assurance on securities and/or financial instruments or on the receivables. The HGC guaranty is available for banks, government, private institutions, housing developers, Building and Loan associations. The following potential applicants must request a Guaranty Line from HGC and at the time of approval, grantees may then enroll their accounts.

Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board

Considered as the Philippines’ primary government agency, Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board are assigned in providing technical support including but not limited to Housing Regulations, Land Development and Homeowners Associations, and Settlement of Land Disputes. The operations are through three strategies namely: policy government, planning, and regulation. Homebuyers, developers, homeowners associations, brokers and local government units are the beneficiaries of the aforementioned services. More of HLURB aids, this government agency is also responsible as a mediator for land conflicts, assures the stability of housing projects, provides licenses to sell condominium units and oversees the organization of homeowners associations. All its offered services ought to achieve development and economic advancement toward equitable benefits.

National Housing Authority

Sole national agency’s National Housing Authority is administered in housing production for financially challenged families. To develop a comprehensive and integrated program, housing development, resettlement, sources and schemes of financing and delineation of government and private sector participation are the functions of the agency. The programs of NHS are focusing on the following concerns: informal settlers family that involves relocation and resettlement of families living along  troubling areas most particularly along waterways such as creeks, rivers, and esteros; regional resettlement programs for families that are affected by infrastructure projects, it also entails the provision of the housing units, community facilities, socio-economic and other support programs; housing assistance programs for calamity victims; settlements upgrading program to address tenure security , covers survey and titling of individual lots for disposition to qualified occupants; AFP-PNP housing program to provide decent and affordable housing to low-salaried personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippines National Police (PNP), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP0, Bureau of Fire and Protection) (BFP), and the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).

National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation 

If one is looking for home mortgage government guidance, National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation has its sets of duties. NHMF is responsible for operating viable secondary home mortgage market and monitor performance and implementation of the Community Mortgage Program (CMP) by its solely owned subsidiary, the Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC). National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation aims to provide liquidity to the housing sector through securitization of mortgage and as well as assets through: promoting stability to the housing finance system starting with active participation in the capital market; establishing efficient and effective organization with professional workforce utilizing best practices; maintaining adeptness in operation and productiveness in financial management to ensure program sustainability, and managing subsidiaries effectively.

Social Housing Finance Corporation

Social Housing Finance Corporation is the secondary of National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation (NHMFC) that is tasked to handle the distributions of loans from the Community Mortgage Program and other housing loan programs for low-income families and informal settlers. As mandated, SHFC has programs that strongly aid the mortgage process such as the Community Mortgage Program (CMP), funded by the government to help organize informal settlers secure land tenureship. A loan is provided for qualified informal settlers to finance the acquisition of an undivided tract of land which they are presently occupying. On the other hand, Abot-Kaya Pabahay Fund (AKPF) is also part of such programs. It has two components specifically the amortization and development financing to assist families in paying their housing loans and support private developers.

Starting Real Estate Venture in College

Being a student, one must juggle time for schoolwork, household tasks, extracurricular activities and leisure hours. It certainly tough to manage everything all at once, much more if one pursues an early path in building a career. Real estate is a kind of business avenue where one mostly witness people in tight suit and tie, who would have thought that this could be possible with a school uniform because today, young entrepreneurship is quite the hype of the current generation. When college is usually all about the late-night group study and party, some students also choose to spend some time shaping their financial independence by investing in real estate as early as now. 

Although it may be deemed impossible knowing the limited capacities of a student in terms of money, time, credit and professional background, however making a profit in real estate is for all walks of life and definitely for all ages. Investing in real estate while in college will teach young ones the core ground of business and secure future financial status much more quickly. There are four suggested real estate strategies that college students can use in starting the said financial endeavor.  

Real Estate Syndications

This is where a group of investors merges funds to invest in realty projects that may too upscale for individual shareholders. The transaction is between a sponsor who is also responsible for the purchase and property management together with the investors who provide the funds. One example of this is the Manila Real Estate Investors, a group that aims to share tips, ideas, challenges and contacts to help real estate beginners grow both in business and in life. A college student may not have a full cash amount to buy a property but one may have ample to partner with other real estate investors who are much capable. Despite it being less risky, one has zero control of the investment properties for the reason that the investor is still in schooling. The bright side of this kind of strategy though is that one can have a passive income. 

Real Estate Partnerships

A student can still invest in real estate without borrowing money from mortgage lenders, family and friends because this can also be solved through partnerships in the industry. In this case, money in spite of its major role in investing is not the only factor that a student can utilize. One may possess the eagerness to learn in the investment schemes that an investor needs especially if the privileged want to diversify in the shareholding but just lacks time. The college student with the potential to venture into investing will be responsible for the management of the investor’s property. With the right agreement on ensured terms, the allocation will be fair to all partners who are involved in the purchase.

House Hacking

Though the term “hacking” can be in a connotation of a hazard act, it is far different from what it means in real estate investment. House hacking is a technique wherein a student may buy a multifamily investment property but living only in one of the units and just renting out the rest. A young investor can gain an income by starting an apartment-for-rent for the other units in Airbnb. An online marketplace for arranging or offering lodging, primarily homestays and it acts as broker receiving commissions from each booking. If one knows how to handle great deals well, the rental income from the tenant will help the student’s entire mortgage plus some extra cash monthly. This is a kind of investment that will help one save money and may even live for free. Being a young landlord will develop skills that will surely be helpful in a better and longer investing journey soon. On a red flag note, acquiring for house hacking can be tough for students since one should be looking for loans that require minimum money down. 

Wholesaling

A smart tactic that involves finding good deals and selling them to other investors is called wholesaling. A wholesaler will act as the middleman between the seller and the buyer. It is more like a broker but this is specifically for properties that are yet to go in the market. This is fit for students since it does not have to have assets or money. One may use the commission value to pay student loans or put it in a bigger real estate investment perhaps. However there is a catch in wholesaling, one must be good in networking, education, marketing, hard work, and commitment. By then, this could be a great start to successful real estate entrepreneurship.

Sometimes, limitations are walls that only set by oneself. Being a student should not mean stopping capabilities to nurture opportunities outside the comfort zone but one must also bear in mind that the school responsibility should be on top priority above all endeavors. After all, careers and big hurdles await for an individual who is determined to achieve better goals but this will be more possible if one is equipped with a solid understanding of the craft.

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