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China bets big on Ph property

By: - Reporter / @amyremoINQ
/ 02:53 AM May 25, 2019

The Philippines has become a prime target for China’s real estate investors, who are banking on the warm relations between Manila and Beijing to protect their investments.

Juwai.com, a leading Chinese international property portal, measured this growing interest through the volume of buying inquiries. Specifically, the survey was conducted among tens of thousands of Chinese buyers who interact with Juwai’s consumer center in Shanghai each month, from 2017 to the first quarter of 2019.

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Based on its latest report entitled, “Chinese Global Property Report: The Philippines,” Juwai.com disclosed that Chinese buyer inquiries surged by some 200 percent in 2018, the highest level it recorded so far. These inquiries came not only from individual investors and owner occupiers but also Chinese firms engaged in offshore gaming in the Philippines.

“Chinese like the Philippines due to its strong real estate market and economic growth. Large infrastructure investments and the country’s participation in the Belt & Road Initiative offer the promise of future price gains,” Juwai.com CEO and director Carrie Law said in a statement.

“More than 200,000 Chinese have recently moved to the Philippines since 2016. Many others are investing in Filipino property from afar. Chinese have replaced overseas Filipinos as the largest buyers of real estate in Manila,” Law added.

The report pointed out that when the growth trend started, the number of Chinese buying in the Philippines was extremely low. The Philippines ranked only 19th among the preferred destinations for Chinese residential property acquisitions in 2014—well below even other Southeast Asian nations.

The Philippines’ previous obscurity rapidly changed as the country ranked 12th among destinations for Chinese property buyers in 2018.

Preferred destination

The growing preference for the Philippines as an investment destination, according to the Juwai.com report, can be attributed to several factors.

Apart from the warm bilateral relations, the Philippines is currently enjoying a solid and stable economic growth —one of the fastest in the region, and the current administration is rolling out a massive, ambitious infrastructure program that is seen to complement China’s own Belt and Road Initiative.

“The massive infrastructure program will complement Belt and Road Initiative investments in boosting Philippine economic growth in the decade to come. The size of the program and the endorsement from China’s leaders reassure Chinese property investors that the Philippines is a good long-term
investment. They hope that by investing now they can reap the long-term gains that will result from the Philippines’ fast-growing economy, housing demand, and property prices in the years to come,” the report stated.

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Add to this the growing offshore gaming in the Philippines, reportedly the first Asian country to license this industry.

Data from Juwai.com showed that the offshore gaming industry had a strong start, noting a 670 percent growth over the last four years from 2014. Gaming revenues, the report further added, hit a record high of $4.1 billion in 2018.

“When it comes to residential real estate investment by individual investors rather than corporations and institutions, the ongoing good official relations between the two countries reassure Chinese consumers that investment in the Philippines is encouraged by Beijing. They see the positive reception by the Philippine government as further evidence that their investments will be protected,” Juwai.com explained.

“The Chinese investors Juwai.com works with tend to feel the agreement to cooperate on the Belt and Road Initiative signals that investment in the Philippines has Beijing’s blanket approval. The good relations have enabled rapid growth in Chinese real estate and other investment,” it further noted.

Manila was the preferred location for Chinese buyers, as the Philippine capital accounted for 78.5 percent of all Chinese buyer inquiries made on property in the Philippines in 2018. This was followed by Makati City, which accounted for 11.7 percent of the inquiries, and the province of Cebu with 8.2 percent.

In terms of property size, smaller residences are most in demand among Chinese buyers, who prefer one-bedroom, one-bath units, the report added.

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