Selling a Condo in Makati: The Truth (and Hope for those selling)

Truth #1: People with sales quotas, or people whose lives depend on commissions, can or may be forced to LIE to make the sale.

As a licensed real estate professional myself, I hope to remove that stigma, but...

...try to put yourself in a position where the only income you have depends on commission-selling. You spend thousands on advertisements, IT costs, rent for office, bills, salaries, taxes, transportation fare, networking engagements and events - eventually you'd end up with 0 sale for the month.

Prolong the agony and make it five months.

Meanwhile, you have a foreigner who has never been to the Philippines, doesn't know what it's like to live here and you have a property that seems appealing to them. The foreigner asks, how's the traffic? Some people would say, "Oh, it's just five minutes away."

Failing to mention that the travel time is five minutes IF THERE ARE NO CARS ON THE STREET.

HOPE: As the Philippines strives to professionalize the industry, more and more real estate people are forced to disclose the truth. In my humble opinion, truth-telling should get a premium in this industry more.

Truth #2: This is actually what we are selling:





At its simplest: condominium developers are basically selling you a box. Or better yet, the idea of a box.

It's a box with windows, doors, lightbulbs, a sink, a shower and a toilet.

None of the furnishings you see in fancy brochures are included. Zip, zilch, nada, WALA! It's very rare for you to be sold high end, designer furnishings that come along with a condo. So to be clear:


HOPE: hope can be found in the possibilities that you can do inside and outside the box. Much of that has to do with location and access. That's what you are paying for, and that's what we really are trying to sell. Because if it all comes down to it, in my humble opinion, LOCATION should be the number one selling point.

Truth #3: Life is very, very, very different here.. especially the moment you go out your condo unit. 
And that's good for some, and bad for others. It all depends on why you are here in the Philippines.

Filipinos are a very expressive people. Hence, even copywriters (the people who write those nice, fluffy, impressive stuff on brochures and websites) tend to put their best foot forward. You'll be hearing phrases like: 

"Affordable living at its finest."
"Prestige and luxury living in the heart of the Metro."
"Live at the winning address."
"The location speaks for itself."

...and get sorely disappointed when they see the actual thing being sold. 

The thing is, I think some people are setting very high expectations and I think we should stick with the objective truth as much as possible and as humanly possible as we can. 

Traffic is horrible, commuting is difficult and highly stressful, cycling is not-recommended in urban areas (even though some sectors are promoting it) and you'll get a whiff of what it's really like to live outside that nice, luxurious, lofty, prestigious, expensive and money busting condominium unit. 

For the rest of us Filipinos, it's a matter of perception. Being in a condo unit is quite akin to being in a bubble. Inside the bubble could be great, while outside speaks of a totally different narrative.

Truth #4: It's rare for a person selling you a condo, to be actually living in the condo-complex they are trying to sell

I guess this bodes true for most real estate practitioners not just for condo specialists. If I had the financial wherewithal to invest in a condo, I honestly would, just to have a feel for what it's like to live in the building where I'm trying to sell condos. A lot of projects are in the pre-selling stage when they get marketed. Hence, brokers and salespersons are basically selling an idea - even, a glossed up perception of the idea itself. 

I value freedom of movement that's why I live in a farm in the provinces for Pete's sake. I never have lived in a condo before. I consider them as niche properties that are appealing to:
  • Expats 
    • Working expats in BPOs
    • Businessmen who want a semi-permanent stay
    • Retiring expats with Filipino partners
    • Investors who lease out the property
  • Filipinos who came back to the country to retire
  • High-level Filipino executives and businessmen
So, if you want to put me in an interrogation room to ask me whether I would buy in a condo I'm selling, I'd give you my most honest answer which is: "ONLY IF."

I'd buy a condo there in Makati, ONLY IF:
  1. ...I had the money.
  2. ...It would not make me claustrophobic.
  3. ...I need to be in Makati because of career.
  4. ...I would be able to put my wife and 6 kids there and still have a lot of space.
  5. ...I know that property values and demand would continue to go up. 
  6. ...I know that I would be able to resell it at a profit.
  7. ...I trust the developer. 
  8. ...I know the transport routes and the daily congestion.
To be honest, a lot of things would have to change in my life before I would. But you're different, I'm different. Different needs for different people. I like my feet on the ground. I like being surrounded by trees. I like planting trees. I don't like traffic. I don't want neighbors to be too near. 

But that's me and that's my straightforward honest answer.

Truth #5: Selling a condo in Makati is extremely competitive... Buying becomes more challenging because most sales people are tied up exclusively to one developer.
You want options. You want the freedom to choose. Most of the people who post these advertisements online and offline are tied to one developer. If they're licensed brokers, at the most - up to three developers. 

This means limited choices. 

It's rare that you find a sales person giving you the choices you really want and need.

When I was younger, I once had that weird experience of being constantly nagged by a sales person from a certain developer. I already mentioned my disinterest, but the sales person kept on pushing me to buy a certain condo from him. It was stressful, he was very insistent and at the end, my sales resistance irritated him so much - he called me a "cheapskate". I forgot the person's name, but I never forgot the name of the developer. 

At the onset, I kept telling him that my financial capability was not sufficient to cover for the monthly amortization. I was just three years out of college and I had a daughter to support. Apparently, he thought that I could somehow produce money out of thin air and - well, "Not gonna happen."

The lesson here, for both sellers and buyers is to find somebody who is not going to be tied up exclusively with one developer. Someone you can trust to show you around and let you learn about the country, the culture and the lay of the land. Moreover, this person should be well-acquainted with your needs as well as your requirements. 

At the end of the day, it would be a win-win situation for both you and the seller.