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Condo Living

An uncle visiting Cebu again after a few years tells me he wouldn't know his way through the city if I were to leave him by himself. He says it with a look in his face like most of my Cebuano real estate clients who have just recently returned to Cebu. It's a look of pleasant awe and amazement, plus a tinge of pride, at the speed with which change has swooped Cebu.

But beyond the obvious alterations in Cebu’s physical landscape, there is a more subtle change that’s happening.  Less than five years ago, when you would ask a client as to which they would prefer, buying a house and lot or a condo unit, they would more often tell you with raised eyebrows that they obviously prefer a house and lot, as if to show how stupid that question is.

To them, there’s a different sense of fulfilment when you own the ground your house stands on.  Perhaps this is about one’s sense of security of owning the lot and not just the building. It’s also about the feeling of not being constricted and exit the house to a wide street rather than a narrow hallway. And of course, it’s the whole experience of growing up in a house as we traditionally know it – all its parts, maybe a small garden, your own gate, and experiencing the street where the children often interact and play, sometimes with pets.

Talk to clients these days and you will get a different story.  In fact, never has condo sales been higher than it ever was before. Of course, it does help that many developers now have condominium projects. But had the attitudes of the market not changed, then we would not have seen record sales where several buildings have already been sold even when their promised delivery dates are still years off.

As far as end users are concerned (not mere investors who don’t plan to use the space), the change in preferences and attitude somehow mirrors a deeper change in perspective and lifestyle. They have replaced tradition and sentimentality with a more practical view which perhaps to them are more attuned to the times.

Proximity to their individual interests is one of the most common practical consideration. With new houses being built further and further away from the centers of interest, condos are a relief. Out of town investors with business interests here prefer condos in and around business districts. OFW retirees like resort condos they can come home to yearly. Newlywed couples like its proximity to groceries, churches, and their jobs so they can spend more quality time with their partners.

Relative affordability is also another plus for the condo. Within Cebu City, it is so difficult to find a decent house in the P2M price range. With this price, you can live in luxury in a condo with complete amenities. Some condos have convenience stores, bars, coffee shops, business centers, swimming pools, even a garden, and many other conveniences deemed necessary in modern day living.

Ease of maintenance and security is another come on.  Lock and leave. That’s how safe many owners feel about condos, even if they stay most of the time abroad. Students find it easier to clean and maintain. Moreover, the condo management or association takes care of repairs, especially for external fixtures and features.

The more business minded ones are considering renting out their units when they are away to defray costs for maintenance or amortization. The buyer/investor expects its value to appraise sharply because of the location of condos and may sell it later.

Whoever they are, whatever their reasons, a common emerging trend runs the fabric of their lifestyles. It is really a modern lifestyle, one already embraced by millions around the world in the most urbanized and advanced cities.  In its relative novelty in Cebu, it reflects an open mindedness to change. In its essence, it is practicality as opposed to traditional considerations. To some, these may be desirable or not. But the reality is that change is at hand.

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