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Firm ready to resume operations

A homegrown company is ready to resume operations even as the real estate industry has been reeling from the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) to the industry..

“We are continuing with all existing projects that have started and even with some new ones which we feel will do well under the current situation,” said Ricardo F. Lagdameo, first vice president of Damosa Land Inc., the real property arm of the Floirendo group.

At present, the company is waiting for the go signal from the government for the construction industry to resume, said Lagdameo, grandson of the company founder, the late Don Antonio O. Floirendo, in a private message to TIMES.

He explained that the plan to resume implementation of the projects is not only the company’s way to “help the industry but it also provides jobs to a wide sector.

But, he said, “protocols should also be strictly implemented for construction workers.”

Despite the gloomy industry situation, Abaya said there is still a bright spot in horizontal development. “There is still a better outlook in the residential subdivision segment,” said Maria Luisa R. Abaya, operations head for Visayas and Mindanao of Prime Philippines, a real property consultancy company.

Abaya said some companies, like that of Lagdameo, are training their efforts in developing their subdivisions.

The Floirendo group has launched early in the year the residential segment of Agriya, a mixed-use project in Panabo City, Davao del Norte whose centerpiece of development is promoting agriculture.

The project, which sits on an 88-hectare property of the family, is providing buyers with a house and lot with a garden.

A high-end residential community, lots measure between 200 square meters and 450 square meters with a price tag of between P6 million and P15 million. The catch, project manager Macy P. Bibat said, is that every house will have a garden, unless an owner does not want to have it.

The garden, said Bibat, is part of the two-thirds of the lot that will become open space of the house.

Lagdameo said the concept for the garden is not just to provide the residents with a source of vegetables, which they can also source from the garden of the project, “but our way of making agriculture sexy again.”

This developed as the consulting company said the impact of the virus has heavily affected the industry.

What makes it very difficult for the industry in relation to the market, particularly the residential segment many of the prospective buyers were overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), said Abaya.

Based on industry estimates, the residential sector, particularly the condominium segment, about 40% of the buyers were OFWs.

Many of those who have lost jobs since the onslaught of the pandemic were OFWs, that as of May 1, the Department of Foreign Affairs reported that there were about 23,710 of them have been repatriated, although there was no report as to the number of those who lost their jobs.

Based on the data of the Philippine Statistics Authority, there were about 2.3 million Filipinos working abroad, although it would be difficult to ascertain how many of them came from Mindanao because many of them would register in Metro Manila when they would secure documents on their way to their host countries.

Abaya said the problem has been compounded as the industry has yet to fully recover from the impact of the earthquakes in Mindanao when the virus started wreaking havoc.

During the last quarter of last year, a series of earthquakes rocked the south-central side of Mindanao that even resulted in the collapse of two condominium projects in the city.

The tremors snapped the bright prospects of the industry, particularly the condominium sector which, before that, was among the industry drivers.

Recognizing that the two occurrences have different impacts, Abaya said the industry had slowly regained some footing when the virus started to hog the headlines on a global scale.

Right now, she told TIMES, “even if buying and selling will be open to the brokers, it will be very challenging.”

Based on the February report of the consultancy company, the condominium portion of the residential segment would have slowly recovered from the impact of the earthquake if not for the virus.
”The vertical residential condominium sector in the city remains bullish as security further improves and more infrastructure projects get rolled out,” the report said, pointing out that the takeup rate in 2019, when there were 1,777 rooms available, was at about 95%.

The report added that the projection was, had the virus not hit the world, the city would have 5,300 rooms by the end of the year.

The projected growth of the entire real property sector has even led the utilities to scour for new sources to ensure that both power and water is adequate by the time these new projects get completed.

Based on the estimates of the Davao City Water District, the city would need about 137 million cubic meters of potable water next year, from its 126 million cubic meter requirement this year owing to the completion of new real property projects.

The projection, however, was made before the earthquakes took place.

Experts believe the setback will be temporary. “The market will eventually become better,” said Abaya.

“There is no other way but to recover,” she added.

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