A union to deliver premier family living experience
Mass housing veteran Januario Jesus Gregorio B. Atencio III knows exactly how to spot and grab an opportunity when he sees one—that even in the midst of a pandemic, this savvy businessman saw that it was an opportune time to go for this venture.
In November last year, it was announced that Atencio’s holding firm, Januarius Holdings Inc., had come in as a strategic investor in Ovialand Inc., a developer of affordable horizontal projects in South Luzon. With Januarius Holdings’ 13-percent stake, Atencio was expected to occupy one board seat and be involved in strategic planning and mentoring.
Post pandemic era
“While 2020 was indeed a challenging year, it didn’t mean that we should stop considering the opportunities that present themselves. I realize that investments are generally long-term and so we need to look beyond the pandemic and prepare for the post COVID-19 era by analyzing present opportunities and making investments today,” Atencio said.
“Ovialand is a perfect example of a great opportunity. It’s a medium-sized mass housing company loaded with great potential to grow big. Ovialand is an ideal partner since I have experience in this sector and have known the family for quite a time. I was looking for an execution partner and Ovialand was the right fit,” he further explained.
According to Atencio, he and the owners of Ovialand have the same vision of using mass housing as a vehicle to improve people’s lives, and share the same passion for quality and customer service. Both parties also believe in efficiency, innovative processes, learning organizations and using technology to achieve growth and expansion, he further explained.
Currently, Ovialand is in the midst of an expansion plan that will see the company scaling up production to 10,000 housing units a year by 2030, from its current capacity of 600 units a year.
Ovialand president Marie Leonore Fatima Olivares-Vital said during the press briefing in November that the vision was for the company to become a nationwide player in 10 years’ time. The target, she said, was to eventually bring the company’s signature “premier family living experience” in township communities and in the vertical space.
Admittedly, Atencio’s entry in Ovialand came at such a challenging time, when the COVID-19 pandemic had brought the world to its knees, stirring uncertainties, causing business closures and massive layoffs—fundamentally disrupting every known aspect of people’s lives, of businesses, of economies and of governments.
And Philippine real estate was no exception. Atencio even forecasted as early as January last year how prices of condominium developments would likely suffer a 15 percent reduction while those of house and lots may increase by 5 percent.
“Like many businesses and the general economy, the housing sector was affected by the pandemic. The lockdowns in 2020 halted the housing processes in production, sales and housing finance affecting the supply side. The uncertainty of the future in terms of household expenditures and employment shrunk the market considerably affecting demand,” he said.
Atencio’s advise then? Concentrate on balancing the cashflows, strengthen relationships with stakeholders including executives and employees, bank partners, suppliers, homeowners and equity partners by apprising them of the business situation, and make sure that everyone in the organization remains safe and healthy, he told developers during a forum last year.
“The name of the game in 2020 was not expansion or diversification but rather of survival and back to the basics,” Atencio explained.
This mass housing champ expects that “it will take the entire 2021 and probably a good part of 2022 for the housing sector to fully recover.”
“For recovery to start in 2021, a few things need to happen. A successful vaccination program would provide the needed optimism for businesses to resume and start thinking about expanding, increasing supply and employment, while providing the certainty and competitive pricing the will increase consumption spending. Monetary policy should continue easing with low interest rates, favorable foreign exchange rates to stimulate the business climate, and fiscal policy should also pump prime the economy, while the infrastructure projects under the Build Build Build program should add more employment,” Atencio explained.
“As far as housing policy is concerned, it would be a big boost if we are able to ease the bureaucratic steps (involved in securing) permits needed to start housing projects,” he added.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.