By Izah Morales INQUIRER.net PEOPLE these days are increasingly seeing the significance of owning or investing in a property. In a recent housing fair hosted by the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, about 8,000 people came to learn more about the housing programs offered by organizations like the Pag-Ibig Fund and also check some possible investments they can make, according to Oscar Empensando, department manager III, Acquired Assets Department of the Pag-Ibig Fund. The housing fair opened on October 29, 2008 at the SM Megatrade Hall In an interview, government employee Agustin Enabe said he visited the fair to check on possible investments. Meanwhile, private employees Vilma Tabagan and Fernando Torres were both seeking a house, which they can avail at cheaper prices. “I’ve been renting for 30 years. Maybe, this is the time to avail a house from subsidized housing projects,” said Torres. Empensando, for his part, shared some steps people can take to avail of a housing loan from Pag-Ibig Fund. To qualify for a Pag-Ibig Fund loan, one should be a paying member with a net income not lower than P 3,000, especially for government employees. He advised that people should check the Pag-Ibig website for the list of acquired assets, which they can also buy. Once they’ve selected the property they wish to acquire, they can fill up a reservation form. Next, they should conduct an ocular or on-site inspection of the house they’ve selected. If they eventually decide to buy the house, they should then go to the Pag-Ibig Fund office and pay the reservation fee for the house. They will be then asked to submit the necessary documents (community tax certificate or cedula, proof of income, marriage certificate, among others).
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TESSA Salazar talks to an industry legal expert who shares at least 15 ways to prevent your home from getting repossessed. Mike Denava, a legal officer of the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board, noted that about 50 percent of buyers of house and lots and condominium units had admitted they could no longer pay their monthly amortizations or were dissatisfied with particular aspects of the project, and were asking for refunds of their payments. He added that some of these callers were overseas contract workers who could no longer find jobs abroad. Denava has enumerated the following 15 reminders to potential property buyers: 1. Check the source of your income. Aside from checking the development projects thoroughly, look at your own resources on a long-term basis to be certain if you can really pay your monthly amortizations in the long run. 2. Check if the project has a license to sell and if it is registered with the HLURB. 3. Check if the broker or agent is registered. 4. Check if the property is not yet sold to others. 5. Conduct personal visits to the project site. It is also advisable to visit the property itself to check for leaks or potential for flooding. 6. If you’re buying on pre-selling terms, look at the date of completion of the project, which should be found in the developer’s license to sell. 7. Check if the property is mortgaged. If it is, make sure there is clearance from the HLURB. 8. Check if the materials used in your prospective home conforms with the standards approved by the HLURB. It is indicated in the approved plan. The local government approves the plan for subdivision projects, while the HLURB approves plans for condominiums. HLURB grants certificates of registration and licenses to sell to developers applying for project approvals. Denava also said approval of subdivision projects also includes the assurance of safety measures. Mandatory requirements, particularly in condominium units, include certificates of fire protection, occupancy permits and mechanical certificates. 9. Make it clear who should be responsible for paying the cost of water and electric meters. 10. Check whether subdivision perimeter fences will be provided. If it is not in the approved plan, a buyer cannot demand the developer to put perimeter fences. 11. Do not sign a blank contract to sell. 12. Read the contract to sell thoroughly, especially the fine print. 13. Secure a copy of the contract to sell and of the other documents that you have signed. 14. Make sure the contract to sell will be registered with the Register of Deeds (the developer is mandated to do this). 15. Pay directly to the owner-developer and/or authorized marketing agents, and make sure to ask for official receipts as soon as they get your payment.
By Marcos de Guzman Jr. Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--Space is a prime commodity and not many of us have the luxury of it. We continually have to rethink and reinvent our area to suit our ever-changing requirements. On top of this, we likewise want our space to look neat and presentable. It’s a need and a wish we are faced with as soon as we get to our front yard. Parking One common problem most homeowners experience is lack of parking space. In many subdivisions, homeowners are forced to park on the street. This practice is a form of injustice to the neighbors. The streets are meant to be used by everyone and are not privately owned, even the one directly in front of your home. Some people even go to the extent of converting their garage to another purpose and parking all their cars on the road. This, of course, is not just an inconsiderate act; it is also against the law. Just because your neighbors are not complaining does not make things all right. In our country, where lawmakers believe that in order to avoid traffic the solution is to stop using certain cars on certain days, we are obliged to keep more than one car. It is great for our automotive industry, but it certainly doubles the parking problem. Here is a solution that might work. There is no harm in sacrificing a part of your front yard for additional parking slots. Within secured subdivisions, you can even remove the entire front fence, making your area more spacious and giving you more maneuverability. To maintain some greenery, you can use grass pavers instead of paving over the whole lawn. Grass pavers are concrete products that you can put over the ground and use as driveways, allowing you to keep some of the grass and the soil underneath healthy. Garbage A small space or corner of your yard can be allocated for your garbage bins. This spot must be easily accessible to the garbage collector so they can collect your trash anytime without disturbing the household. The waste bins themselves can be enclosed and gated to keep scavenging animals away. The enclosure will also conceal the unsightly containers from view, especially if it is designed to blend with the side fence or the house. Main entrance There are a number of options you can try to accentuate your main entrance and enhance its charm, even from afar. You can choose to define your walkway by erecting a trellis over it and growing plants on it. You may want to add a little bridge way over a pond, which provides a soothing backdrop of running water. Or you could artfully place a bird cage or aquarium to welcome you, if pets are your thing. These design touches could help you relax right before entering your home after a hectic day at work. Little accent pieces such as a mail or newspaper box may be placed in front of your home. An interesting post or marker can also be positioned at the entrance, with your house number or a patio light. Any of these can be made to highlight your home and add character to it. These ideas, while being practical and simple, are only a few suggestions on how you can increase your home’s curb appeal.
By Amado de Jesus Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--Termites are everyone’s nightmare. They are the most destructive wood insect in the world. Subterranean termite species live in large colonies underground and affect houses, buildings and cellulose-based products. Most of these species thrive in the tropics and warm temperate coastal and inland regions. Subterranean termites enter structures by tunneling in through the soil. There are several ways they can gain access to wooden parts of a structure. They can tunnel through timber in contact with the soil; they can make shelter tubes along foundation walls; and they can make shelter tubes through a crack or void space. The key therefore to termite control is finding a way to block off these entry points by installing barriers. Some of the most common termite control barriers are soil poisoning using pesticides, physical barriers around the house, a combination of the two or the bait and monitoring systems. Soil poisoning The new generation of soil treatment is water-based. This is in contrast to earlier chemicals like Chlordane, which have been banned in the market because they were toxic and stayed in the soil for many years. This new type of treatment chemicals must be applied by licensed pest control professionals. Bait, monitoring systems The bait and monitoring system consists mainly of placing wood baits around the house at regular intervals of about ten feet. The baits are monitored every two weeks and once termites are detected, they are replaced with termiticide baits. The termites carry these baits back and feed them to the rest of the colony, eventually killing the termites. Physical barriers An effective environment-friendly and nontoxic method of termite control is the installation of physical barriers around the house. One type of physical barrier is a termite shield which is simply a sheet of noncorroding metal with a projecting 1" lip bent down at a 45-degree angle capping the foundation wall or support. The other types are stainless steel mesh barrier and waterproof membrane barriers. These types of barriers, like the termite shield, are also installed in a similar manner. The fourth type is the sand barrier which is easy to install and most effective when placed during construction. In some countries a six-inch layer of barrier sand is laid out instead of crushed gravel beneath the slab. The barrier sand could be used as backfill next to the foundation walls with provisions for a good drainage system. Why sand barriers? The idea behind the use of sand as an effective termite control is that sand particles help block termites. Termites use their mouth parts rather than their legs to dig their way through the soil. They are unable to move particles larger than 1 mm. As the sand particles increase in size so does the void space between the particles. Termites can crawl through gaps or spaces between particles sized 3mm and above. Therefore, to block termites the effective particle size is about 1 to 3 mm. Coarse sand with particles within this size range can be used as a barrier around the foundation of a house to protect against subterranean termites. It can also be used in perimeter trenches, crawl spaces, inside hollow block voids, around the bases of fence posts, poles, piers, porches, decks and retaining walls. Installation of sand barriers If the sand barrier is installed before construction it is placed below the concrete slab as a base material. For footings, however, sand barriers cannot be placed underneath since footings must rest on solid undisturbed ground. If installed after construction, the sand barrier is placed as a trench alongside the foundation wall. An adequate surface drainage must be provided to ensure minimal drainage of surface water into full depth trenches. Barriers can be 4" or 6" thick extending all the way to the footing. It must be compacted at intervals of every two feet to prevent settlement. The top of the sand barrier can be left exposed or, where pedestrian access is required, covered with concrete slab, bricks or stone blocks to form a walkway. Advantages of sand barriers The prevalent method of subterranean termite control relies on the use of chemicals to poison the soil, thus creating a protective seal or barrier around the structure. A sand barrier is more effective than a chemical barrier since it does not require a repetitious application. The sand barrier also has an environmental advantage in that it does not pose a health hazard to humans either through direct contact of the chemicals or through soil and water contamination. Sand barriers save the homeowner the costs of chemical reapplication and maintenance contracts for the chemical pesticide treatment.
By Marcos de Guzman Jr. Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--A perennial problem for every homeowner is storage. As years go by, our personal stuff accumulates. We hate to discard some things due to sentimental reasons. We are so attached to other things even though a lot of times we do not really need them. Knowing full well that one man’s garbage is another man’s treasure, you have a couple of practical options. One solution is to sort out the things you no longer use and give them away. Heaven will bless you for your generosity, perhaps with a wonderful feeling of contentment. Another option is to hold a garage sale and earn a few bucks for your junk. However, I can say from experience that this may not be a completely fulfilling endeavor. You could feel slighted that the things you own are appraised much lower than you expected. Just look at it this way: these old items are like barnacles at the bottom of the boat; the more you have, the slower you go. After that’s done, I’m pretty sure you will still have a lot of things left at home to store. Now, for those who just can’t part with their possessions or for those with many interesting activities that require so much stuff, creating storage spaces must be practiced like an art. Storage is one of the most important factors to consider even when planning a house and oftentimes the most neglected. The sizes of the storage areas are based on need, but more important is the type of storage area required. When building or renovating, these requirements must be factored in at once and not treated as an afterthought. Configuration is very important. Avoid making storage rooms long and narrow; stuff at the back is likely to be forgotten. Choose to have 30- to 45-cm wide shelving on as many available walls as possible, with a walking space of around 90 centimeters. Having shelves of varied clearances is preferable to just having standard clearances; adjustable shelves are even better. There are a lot of very clever closet organizers available in the market, but these can also be constructed by a skilled carpenter. The type, position and swing of the door are vital too. Doors must be wide enough to enable carrying in bulky items. Doors that swing outward allow for more space inside the room. Doors positioned too close to a wall forego shelf space on that wall. Proper lighting and ventilation is another important factor. The room must be adequately lit and may be provided with an automatic ball switch, which enables the light to turn on automatically when you open the door and shuts off automatically when you close it. Fortunately, this even costs less than a regular switch. More often than not, these rooms are located where there is no opportunity to put windows, so an exhaust fan is important, the control switch for which may be connected with the lights. It is better to have several small storage areas instead of having just one big one. The main reason for this is accessibility. A linen closet, for example, should be found near the bedroom or bathroom for easy access to beddings and towels. Comforters and pillows usually take up a lot of space but there are several gadgets available for compressing them to a fraction of their size. Garden tools must obviously be within reach from outside the house, perhaps in an outdoor closet or shelves. This is where you put tools, hoses, fertilizers and insecticides. It should not be the same place to put your pets’ supplies, as they might get contaminated. General garage storage is also important. This is where you can stock car spare parts, cleaning agents, and lubricants. Here, you can likewise store things needed for home maintenance like spare light bulbs and water-based paints. Now, where do you store flammable items? You don’t! Inside the home, you can install closets or racks for shoes, clothes, gifts, toys, rain gear and umbrellas, suitcases and bulky coats, dishes, etc. The trick is to organize them first, then store like things together. Small spaces may be found below stairways, above big appliances (like washing machines), under furniture (like beds), along hallways, in attics, among others. Hobby closets for sports equipment may be a necessity for you. Motorcycle apparel, dive equipment, cycling or golf paraphernalia occupy considerable space and must be planned carefully. Storage space for books must be easily accessible and well-lit. Christmas or Halloween decor may be placed in areas that are not easily accessible, but should be free from moisture, such as an attic or the crawl space above the ceiling. The pantry should be able to accommodate at least a week’s supply of foodstuff. Rice and water jugs, among others, require a lot more space and should be situated close to the kitchen. When planning for storage, do not forget to allocate space for garbage, empty bottles and other recyclables. The more often you can clear the latter space, the better. The issue of creating storage space is a two-edged blade. There is an art to finding sufficient storage space and a skill to keeping it clutter-free.
By Tessa Salazar Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--Property experts note that aside from “good sign” the deluge of condo developments brings for the Philippine property market, it gives prospective buyers more choices in terms of size, design, location and price. Global Property Guide’s chief economist Prince Christian R. Cruz notes that the more options available, the better it is for buyers. Richard Raymundo, Colliers International’s director for research and consultancy, says that as with other industries, a more robust property sector would contribute more to the economy and also increase property values. He also says another positive result of a property sector boom is increased employment for the construction outfits. But are low-priced condominium developments enough for you to “bite the bait,” so to speak? Without driving you back to overpriced condo units from reputable developers, experts remind Filipino condo unit buyers not to commit the common mistake of buyers in the past. If you’re considering buying from condo developers without proven track records, don’t just take their word for it. Investigate. “Residential units are sold on a preselling basis in the Philippines. Buying from a developer with a good track record gives an assurance that it will be delivered on time and with the quality agreed on,” Raymundo advises. Buying a condominium in the Philippines “is very tricky,” Cruz notes, and he reminds buyers to seek first the developer’s track record in terms of reliability, service and quality. “The company’s reputation in terms of structural design is very important. It is easy to check the size and layout of condo units, but to check whether substandard materials were used or that the building can withstand typhoons and earthquakes is difficult.” Cruz stresses that the Philippines is located along the Pacific Ring of Fire, where earthquakes and volcanic eruptions constantly threaten the land. “Completely surrounded by water, we are also under constant threat of typhoons and flood.” Cruz says the building’s life actually depends on its structural design and maintenance. “In other countries, a well-maintained building can last up to 100 years without any major renovations or repair. In the Philippines, a building’s life span is probably shorter due to harsher environmental conditions.” He adds that condominiums are set like a corporation. What the unit owner actually owns are shares to the corporation proportional to the unit’s size. Contrary to popular belief, the owner does not lose ownership of the unit after 50 years, according to the Condominium Act (RA 4726). The owner of a condo unit as a shareholder in a company has a say on what would be done to the condominium building. Raymundo says a condominium is run under a condominium corporation. “That is why there are condominium unit owners’ meetings held to decide on issues like property management, special capital expenditure, condominium rules and regulations. This said, the financial position and how the association dues are arrived at have to be transparent to all condominium owners.” Cruz says that as the condominium building gets older, association dues used for maintenance typically gets higher. “If unit owners feel that association dues are too high, they have the right to see the company’s audited financial statement. They should remember that they are not mere tenants in the building, they are stockholders. The property manager should serve at the owners’ pleasure and not the other way around. Active participation in the condominium board could prevent this from happening in the first place. Cruz says condo buyers should ask questions, not just from the real estate agent and the developer, but more importantly, from prospective neighbors. These include other condo owners and people within the locality. “They know if it floods in the area, if there are serious peace and order problems, or if the garbage is regularly collected. These are simple things that are often neglected but are very essential.” What rights do condo unit owners have after the building has lived out its supposed life span? How would an owner know if association dues are used properly? Questions like these have to be answered even early on. Raymundo says that each building owner has a proportionate right to the land on which the building stands. Once the building is economically obsolete, the land, however, retains value. “The property can be redeveloped with each unit owner having a proportionate right or share in the land value. For example, if there is a 10,000-sq-m condominium and Owner A owns 5,000 sq m, Owner A has a right to 50 percent of the land and its value,” Raymundo says. Some condominium developers experience difficulties forecasting market demand, Cruz says. According to him, not all developers conduct a proper market study before building a condo building. Since there are always chronological gaps between planning, construction and marketing, several factors such as customer preferences, economic conditions and construction costs, may change. “There can be a mismatch between what is available and what is demanded, especially in terms of unit sizes. While this can be remedied by merging or dividing units, this is costly and can affect the building’s structural integrity,” Cruz reminds. For more tips on how to choose structurally safe condos, check Inquirer Property’s July 14, 2007 issue or log on to http://showbizandstyle.inquirer.net/lifestyle/lifestyle/view_article.php?article_id=76523
By Charles E. Buban Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--Buying a house is one of life’s most exciting decisions. And though it may seem complicated—or even scary—it is quite a simple and easy process as long as you take it one step at a time. The first thing a homebuyer should ask: What type of housing unit should I buy? Phinma president and CEO Willie Uy suggests that homebuyers first determine if they prefer a single family home, which means the ownership includes the house and extends to the limits of the property lines; a townhouse wherein the ownership includes the lot on which the house sits as well as the entire structure, or a condominium, where ownership is limited to a single unit and a shared interest in all of the common areas, like the swimming pool or the gym, for example. Uy says that while a house with a lot would give homebuyers ample privacy and room for extension, a condo or townhouse would relieve them of yard work and exterior maintenance. He adds: “Remember, you are making a long-term commitment so don’t hesitate to ask questions. The type of house you choose depends on your life situation, lifestyle and budget. A house-and-lot package is generally more expensive than owning a condo unit. Most condo units meanwhile are near city centers so they would appeal more to young professionals or those who pursue a busy life.” In addition to the type of housing, consider as well the financing method you’d avail yourself of, as it also has an impact on the overall cost of the property you’re buying. Uy suggests going around and comparing prices since one should also consider the down payment needed to secure the property. “Know how much you can afford prior to looking, or you may be looking at properties that are way over your budget. Since you will most likely need to get a mortgage to buy a house, you must make sure your credit history is as clean as possible,” reminds Uy. Another thing to remember is selecting the community that will allow you to live your daily life comfortably and in peace. Uy notes that most homebuyers’ choices are influenced by the property’s proximity to good schools and access to public transportation. Yet other house buyers prefer the peace and quiet of a rural community, according to Sonny Ducay of Firm Builders Realty whose projects are mostly outside the city. Says Ducay: “When you find places that you like, talk to people who live there. They know the most about the area and will be your future neighbors. More than anything, you want a neighborhood where you feel comfortable in,” he adds. Once you have chosen the type of house and the community you like, the next step is to check the house itself. “Is the house structurally sound? Check the painting, the carpentry, the plumbing and electricity to see if they are working properly. Imagine the house in good weather and bad. Will you be happy with it year-round?” asks Ducay. Ducay notes that a close review of the exterior of the prospective home can tell a lot about the quality of the structure. Bring a tape measure, he suggests, to check if your appliances and furniture will fit in the space. “Also, check the ceiling and wall paintings for signs of water stains that could be caused by rain water seeping from the roof or an inadequate drainage system,” suggests Ducay. Remember, you are making a huge investment, he adds. Don’t hesitate to ask neighbors or even the barangay captain about the flood and crime situation in the area. Indeed, this is one of those times when seeking out the local gossip pays; you’d want to know as much as you can about the place that you intend to call your own.