Beginning my journey with Light 2 Residences

In this blog, I’ll share my thinking behind investing in my first real estate property in Metro Manila. Skip if you’re not interested. But read on if you’re like me… thinking about “what’s next”.

Hi everyone! As I mentioned in a previous Saturday Uncut video, I’m starting my first real estate investment.

A little bit about me. I’m a 30-something Filipino media professional based in Singapore. I’ve lived in Singapore for almost ten years and lately I’ve been thinking about my retirement and my future residence. While living in a tiny condo is NOT my retirement dream, it is my dream to own a small property in the heart of Metro Manila.

I’m not even sure if I’ll retire in the Philippines. This is why I feel investing in a condo makes more sense to getting a house and lot.

Each person has reasons to start an investment. Each desired investment is also different from the other person because it depends on lifestyle, needs, family, career outlook, etc. But I wanted to document here what MY reasons are:

My reasons for investing in a condo

  1. I want to own a mid-to-high rise property in Metro Manila.
  2. I want to force myself to set aside a fixed amount each month which goes into an investment.
  3. I want to create a channel for passive income in the future. (Or sell the property outright when it appreciates.)

For the first one, my lifestyle is a major deciding factor. I’m a young urban professional and my friends are urban professionals too. I am part of the executives who pay rent. We live in large cities (Manila, Singapore, Dubai, San Francisco, Sydney). We work in multinational companies which have offices near transport nodes, MRT systems, and major thoroughfares. Most of us probably don’t have cars and rely on commuting to get to work. For the lifestyle I lead, it makes sense to invest in a prime location. The clientele or potential renters are people I want to associate with: young urban professionals. A mid-to-high rise condo in Metro Manila is a solution for me.

For the second one, this has much to do with my personality. I acknowledge my privilege that I can afford most of the things I want. I don’t buy designer clothes or dream about driving a Ferrari. But I also don’t save enough for my retirement. It could be a mix of being gay and living in countries that don’t provide me the necessary legal framework to help with tax or marriage (not the US obviously, that’s fine there). I’m saving enough for a rainy day. I buy insurance to protect me and my loved ones. But I don’t have a long term investment. I know I can afford to set aside SGD 400.00+ each month if it means it’s like planting a seed and watering it in the next few years. I love how thinking about this investment has made me more interested in the hustle. Work hard = reap the benefits.

For the third one, I want to diversify my income. For over 15 years my income is purely from employers. It makes me happy to think I can finally be the person who is renting out a property. I’ve rented for almost twenty years (starting from living in a dorm in DLSU-D in 2002). I know it will depend on many factors like amortisation, balancing association dues, etc. This early (and with how the economy and the pandemic is), I’m aware renting out a condo unit in Metro Manila is NOT a good idea. But the turnover of the property is in late 2025. That’s four years from now. I’m happy to have this running silently in the background as the Philippines climbs back up after the pandemic. I’m optimistic about that. I’ve factored in the location as well and future developments in Metro Manila’s transportation system.

Or, I can flip it when the property appreciates at a later date.

I think what drove me was the will to start. The pandemic is a factor! Though I think objectively, I’ve never been THIS productive (paying my US taxes, registering to vote in the United States, registering to vote in the Philippines, learning a new language, upskilling in marketing and research)… I feel like I can do more. It’s like my heart started to race again. That there’s something AFTER the pandemic to look forward to. Many real estate developers have decent deals to attract people to invest (leverage = payment plans that are 15-20% during pre-selling). Mine is at 17%.

I thought about these risks

  1. Will I be able to pay the monthly stretched downpayment over the next 48-60 months?
  2. What if no one rents?
  3. Why would I want to own a 1 bedroom unit in a tall building in a country known for typhoons and earthquakes?

Historically, for the first one, I’ve been employed consistently the last 16 years. The longest gap between jobs is 2 months. Even during those two months I was hustling and able to take on freelance work (if I set my mind to it). I’ve tracked my expenses and set aside a buffer or an emergency fund. I’m mid-level in my career and I am confident I can find a job if I need to find a new one. I’m hard-working.

For the second one, I’ll rely on industry friends and do an assessment of the rental scene closer to turnover date. But my plan is to cater to the person who wants: (a) immaculate location, (b) next to an MRT station / transport node, (c) a cozy unit that is thoughtfully “made with love”. I know that SMDC, my choice developer for this first investment, gets flak for being a shoebox. Tiny rooms in large towers. I’ve studied their recent developments and notice they’ve upgraded a bit. I’m setting aside a budget for an interior designer. My 1 bedroom will not look like the one in a clinical brochure.

The third one was hard to think about. I think anyone investing in a tall building in Metro Manila will have thought about that too. Touch wood, our generation has not experienced “the big one”. We’ve had devastating typhoons. But earthquakes, not yet. While I hope and pray we won’t ever see one in our lifetime, that risk is there. I did research and discovered from official sources that Light 2 Residences and the surrounding area in Mandaluyong rests on bedrock. While the main fault lines are a little bit to the east of the metropolis. I’m not an expert but I did think about this. The Boni area of Mandaluyong is also like climbing a hill (think about EDSA Boni).

Location

During my days in Metro Manila (2006 to 2011), I lived in Quezon City near my workplace at ABS-CBN. I was thinking of getting a condo unit in Quezon City since the media networks and universities are there. But then I thought about the rental possibility.

The place that made sense was Mandaluyong. It sits between Makati CBD and Ortigas / Kapitolyo with BGC just minutes away via the new Kalayaan Bridge that opened this year. Quezon City is further up north on EDSA with Pasay further south via EDSA.

I choose to be an optimist over Metro Manila’s transport system. Maybe not in the next 3-5 years, but in 10 years. Light 2 Residence is connected to Boni MRT station (via Light Mall annex / Light Mall under Light Residences).

5 reasons I picked Light 2 Residence

  1. Connected to Metro Manila’s transport system. The Light Residences / Light 2 / Light Mall development at Boni is connected to Boni MRT station along EDSA, the city’s main thoroughfare. You can access most of Metro Manila via EDSA – hospitals, schools, many different neighborhoods. EDSA is ugly I know, but I’m an optimist that a central bus-way, an upgraded MRT in the next decade, greening of EDSA is possible. (Optimist nga – in the long term).
  2. Central Location. As mentioned earlier, the property sits between several of the major CBDs of the city.
  3. Amenities that ARE already there. Compared with similar properties I was looking at, the development is already anchored with a shopping mall featuring restaurants, a supermarket, and cinemas. I didn’t need to read what the Light Mall annex (the mall that will be underneath Light 2) will have since its precursor is already there.
  4. Payment plan that works for me. It’s at 17% DP over 60 months (3% Spot DP and a stretched monthly downpayment of Php 15,000 monthly or below SGD 400 per month). There was a promo in August 2021 which also helped me shave off 10% the total contract price (TCP) – part of which I could use to invest in a parking spot.

I have a fifth reason which some might not relate with. It’s my first real estate investment. I want all the reasons above and the thought I OWN something right in the heart of everything. I don’t know if I’ll flip it in 4 years. Or if I live in Ireland or California and use this Japanese-style ‘EDSA chic’ apartment as my vacation home in Manila. What I know is that I’m thrilled to finally start something. ❤

I will be documenting my experiences with this first real estate investment.

Learn more about Light 2 Residences here.

PS: I read about Light Residences, including their Facebook group and Skyscraper City (I think). I’ve done my fair share of reading and I continue to read about these developments. This experience is my own.

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