“An intended consequence of foreign investment in the residential market that I think we should be mindful of is, housing is a core utility, like healthcare and education. What you don’t want is for the housing market to become unaffordable to citizens,” Christopher Fossick, JLL managing director for Singapore and Southeast Asia, said during the Asia CEO Forum in Makati City yesterday.
For a real estate product to be considered affordable, it needs to track the real income of the residents of the country, Mr. Fossick said.
“In London, if you’re British, you’re unlikely to be able to afford a home in central London even though London is the capital of Britain. If you’re Singaporean, you will struggle to afford a home in the prime locations. Why? Because those markets have allowed foreigners to invest freely in them,” Mr. Fossick said.
Business groups are seeking amendments to the Philippine Constitution to lift the ban on foreign ownership of land, public utilities, media, advertising, and natural resources. Speaker Feliciano R. Belmonte, Jr. has said it is now unlikely for the proposal to secure final approval from Congress.
Raising the cap on foreign ownership -- currently pegged at 40% -- is seen to boost the country’s foreign direct investments, which has trailed its counterparts in the region.
“It’s not that you don’t want foreign investment in the residential market,” Mr. Fossick said.
“You have to ask why you want to have foreign capital in the market. If there is a need to have more capital to build the real estate, which is part of infrastructure, that is a very good reason. If you believe that foreign investors will bring in some best practices in building design and quality, that’s a good thing because at the end of the day it brings competition to the local market,” he added.
As a compromise to allowing more foreign money in Philippine real estate, the government may establish some controls such as residency requirements or higher taxes.
“We’ll have residents, whether foreign or not, to own real estate in the country and that’s one way of saying to people ‘live in our city, work in our city and invest in real estate as well,’” Mr. Fossick said.
“You can try to restrict a number of foreign investment in the city, which is what Singapore is doing, by imposing some taxes on foreigners. You can buy a property as a resident, but if you move out and you’re no longer a resident and you’re renting the property out and there’s a higher property tax for you than when you were living in it as a resident,” he added.
Mr. Fossick sees this debate continuing in other territories as governments strive to strike a balance between having free and open markets and managing its impact on local competition.
“It’s a challenge and it’s being brought up because interest rates are low,” he said.
By Krista A. M. Montealegre, Senior Reporter/ http://www.bworldonline.com
PHL Lacks Real-Estate Market Transparency
“Countries in the Asean [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] region, especially the Philippines, have moved from low transparency to semitransparency in 2014. Why is transparency important? In real estate, if we will go to holders of sovereign funds around the world, they are looking for markets with the highest degree of transparency. Most have been going to the Western part of the world,” Chris Fossick, managing director for Southeast Asia of JLL, said at the Asia CEO Forum. Sovereign funds, being state-owned funds, are capitalized from states’ pension investments, among other sources, and, thus, tend to be directed toward more transparent markets.
The JLL tracks the transparency of commercial real-estate markets of 102 economies in its Global Transparency Index (GTI), released every two years.
According to the GTI 2014, the Philippines belongs to the “semitransparent” group, having notched a ranking of 38 among 102 markets.
“Transparency relates to risk, from our view. There are risks of the country, and the risks around the real-estate sector. Part of the risks have to do with the legal system, the pricing of the real-estate market and the availability of information…the higher the transparency, the lower the risk assessment is from the investors,” Fossick said in a news conference. The GTI ranks real-estate markets on the transaction process and regulatory and legal processes, among other factors. The GTI 2014 states that real-estate transparency not only hinders inward investment but also has deep impacts on the quality of life of its citizens and their relationship with local government.
Lindsay Orr, CEO of JLL, noted that the perceived corruption in the Philippines has affected the country’s transparency rating. This is compounded by the concerns over the availability of market data.
On corruption, Orr noted the marked improvement of the Philippines over the years. Sovereign wealth funds are currently being directed to more transparent nations, such as Australia, Japan and most Western nations.
Despite this setback, the global consultancy firm still sees a robust growth in the real-estate market in the coming years, credited to the predicted population boom in the Asean region
“One of the opportunities we see in the Asean region is the population growth. The growth is expected to rise from 624 million now to 665 million in the next five years,” Fossick said in his speech at the Asia CEO Forum.
The 40 million increase in the region’s population is expected to accelerate urbanization and increase household formation in the country. Moreover, this will be accompanied by a widening of the middle- income population, estimated at 19 million in Asean, to 30 million
by Catherine Pillas / http://www.businessmirror.com.ph