Why I am Not Recommending SMDC to my Friends

So far, three friends already asked me if I recommend SMDC. My answer was neither positive nor discouraging. But for some reason, I felt relieved when I found out that they ended up buying a property from another developer.

That made me realized that I don’t really want to recommend SMDC to my friends after all.

It’s been over a year since I moved into my unit at MPlace, South Triangle. I have been blogging about my experiences, which is overall I’d say, also neither satisfied or unsatisfied.

In this post, I am writing a review about being a unit owner of an SMDC property.

What I like about SMDC

I wanted to be very fair in my assessment, so let me start by highlighting the things that I do appreciate about SMDC, or at least with MPlace.

1. Location

MPlace is just two blocks away from an MRT station. ABS-CBN is our neighbor, and we are sandwiched by two major roads – Timog and Quezon Avenue. Needless to say, I couldn’t ask for anything more in terms of location.

This is true for most, if not all, SMDC condominiums around Metro Manila. This is their biggest asset which I think even outweighs the fact that Sarah, Kim, and Anne are/were their celebrity endorsers.

2. Security

I work in the afternoon until early morning, and I would often be greeted by a sleepy security guard who would ask for my name and my unit number as I enter the building. That would go on for a week, will stop for awhile, and will happen again when a new guard is assigned on the night shift.

I find this annoying so I sent an email to the building administrator and explained my case; I attached my photo for their “reference”. I was never asked the same questions again.

Delivery guys are only allowed at the lobby. Whether a tenant likes it or not, they will need to pick up all deliveries at the reception. And we are required to meet and fetch our guests in the lobby too.

I understand the tight security, so while it is an inconvenience sometimes, I’d rather be safe than sorry.

3. Rules on Pool Usage

Only owners and registered tenants are allowed to use the pool for free. Guests will need to pay Php150 if they want to go swimming.

I find this to be ridiculous initially until I realized that Pinoys are fond of inviting guests to their homes. And by guests, we are talking about an entire clan, if not the whole Barangay.

Imagine them all jumping into the pool if it’s free.

The strict rules about the use of swimming pools are just and fair as there are also owners who don’t invite in guests regularly.

Before moving to the things that I don’t like. There are several others that I am 50-50 with:

Cheap Finish – my previous exposure in building construction and design, despite being far from extensive, gave me a critical eye towards substandard building materials. I understand that SMDC is not a high-end condo developer so I take that into consideration. Besides, most of their units are unfurnished and they now put emphasis on “bare finish”. This is to give buyers the impression that they could freely replace everything during interior renovations, as they wish.

Small Windows – I prefer big windows for an open and airy feel. But I figured, I am mostly asleep during the day, so I guess small windows work for me at the moment.

What I don’t like about SMDC

I’ve read all these horror stories in online forums and other blogs, and I never thought I would also experience them myself. When I did, I realized that SMDC is consistent when comes to not meeting their client’s expectations.

1. Delayed Turnover Schedule

I thought I was prepared for this as I did not really expect them to follow the original turnover date that they set.

True enough, it was rescheduled twice. And before they would send me the next rescheduling notice, I gave them a deadline. They complied because I started talking about the leaks on their ceilings.

2. Water Leaks on Ceilings

Yes, this is for real. And upon Googling “SMDC leaks”, it looks like this is already an SMDC trademark.

They kept on moving my turnover date because it turns out that the unit below mine has a defect. There’s a leak on their bathroom (supposedly coming from my bathroom), and Engineering thought that they should fix mine. The unit owner won’t sign the turnover papers unless the problem gets fixed.

Engineers visited my unit only twice in the span of three months. In the fourth month, the Admin texted me and asked when they could start the renovation. I demanded that they get me a unit or a hotel room to stay while the renovation is going on. They never contacted me again.

A few months later, I found out that the owners already moved in. I feel bad for them.

3. Malfunctioning Elevators

All four elevators in our building were in good condition when I moved in. I understand that maintenance is needed from time to time, but when the service elevator stopped working and was never fixed, I thought that confirms the management’s inability to address issues quickly.

Everyone can use all elevator cars including the service elevator. Now that only three of them are serving 28 floors, tenants would encounter long waiting lines at the elevator lobby. And yes, all of them can now be used as service elevators too.

4. Poorly Laid Hallway Tiles

This alone is more than enough reason for them to let go of their “5-star living” tagline.

Hearing a cracking sound when I step on the floor tiles in our hallway is rather amusing. They eventually replaced the tiles surprisingly in two batches, over six months apart.

5. Very Poor Customer Service

I have a lot to say about this because I was once a customer service representative myself. I understand why some SMDC clients are fuming mad about how bad the customer service is.

The answer is, most (NOT ALL) of these agents don’t really care about your problems. They are just there to answer calls or emails, not to fix leaks on your ceilings or process the title of your property. They simply are passing on your complaints to different “concerned departments” which probably are understaffed with tons of work to do.

This explains why you need to repeat yourself every time you call. And the agent for sure have already heard thousands of similar issues from other customers before, so they are so done empathizing and apologizing.

In the end, the poor customer service is still accounted for the fact that different departments across SMDC are seemingly inefficient at addressing their client’s concerns.

Conclusion

So, why am I not recommending SMDC to my friends? Simple – I do not want them to go through the nightmares that many buyers, including me, have experienced. Nonetheless, this is not to say that other developers are not causing their clients headaches too. I’m sure, none-SMDC condo owners have some horror stories to share as well.

Our building is being managed by a third party. Again, this is comparable to a company whose customer service is being handled by a call center (which is a third party).

All the company’s customers will be dealt with at the call center. Their grievances and complaints will be falling on the deaf ears of the call center agent on the other line. It is the call center’s job to limit escalations that will reach the management of the company itself. In short, it is their responsibility to “block” customers from directly contacting the company.

Hence, I won’t be surprised if the SMDC guys are not even aware of the details of their client’s complaints. Everything is being held in the Project Management Office, and SMDC is probably just receiving their reports in the form of charts and PowerPoint presentations. As in any business, their concern is only on the highs and lows of Php figures on those sales reports.

My advice? Don’t get a condo if at all possible, invest in a house and lot instead.

Saving on Condo Interior Design and Renovations – Part 1



While still looking for a condominium two years ago, I was already thinking of how the interior of my unit would look like. I even contacted my friend, and told him that I’ll be needing his help. He’s an Architect, and he laughed at the idea of designing the unit for me for we were classmates back in college. Yes, I didn’t pursue a career in design and construction despite earning the degree.

After the unit turnover, things didn’t go as planned and I moved in to my new place without doing any interior renovations. I am putting that off until I get to earn enough money to do it.

For a few months, I was thinking of hiring a professional and let them do all the works. I’ve seen several interior designers whose rates are reasonable, and their works are quite impressive. But six months later, it looks like I’d be going back to utilizing whatever is left of what I learned from studying Architecture for over five years.

Yes, hiring an interior designer is definitely advisable especially if you are not too sure about what you want to do with your space. However, I decided that I’ll be my own interior designer in order to save on professional fees. I will then look for a contractor to execute my design, and slowly start decorating and furnishing my unit from there.

Most of these contractors are experts on what they do. You show them the design, and you can be sure that they will be able to give you the finish product. The best part is, they pick and supervise their own workers themselves so that saves you a lot of time and headache too.

Aside from checking their sample works, one tip when looking for a contractor is to see if they have previous projects for spaces which are similar to yours. For me, I started looking for past renovation jobs done in our building, and that led me to finding several of them on Facebook. The fact that they have already experienced dealing with our building management means that I wouldn’t be needing to show or guide them about the process. In short, they’ll do all the paper works too!

I am looking forward to starting this project this year. I may not be able to afford a fully renovated and furnished unit by the end of the year, but I’ll start with the basics:

– I’ll have to design a floor plan of my unit, which I will be discussing with the contractor. I am no longer updated with building materials, so I will rely on their recommendations.
– This renovation will include: partition for one bedroom, ceiling design, customized closet and kitchen cabinets, countertop, kitchen tiles, bathroom renovation.
– Mirrors to create space.

– Lighting.
– Paint jobs.

I figured, it would save me money to settle for a basic finish and continue with the rest later on. I am going for an all-white finish, and work on this color by choosing the right pieces of furniture. If it won’t work, I could easily make changes with the help of wallpapers. There are many types of wallpapers available which anyone could DIY. Instead of the usual framed artworks, I am looking at printing photos from my photography archive and hang them on my walls. I have tons of photographs in my hard drives to choose from.

I wish the first IKEA branch in the Philippines will open this year. But according to the Facebook post by the Philippine Star, it will be opening in 2019. Last year (2017), IKEA announced that its first branch in the Philippines will open soon. News about its location were quick to spread, and lots of netizens were guessing that it will be in Cavite or Laguna. We’ll the first IKEA store will be built right next to the Mall of Asia Arena:
The parking lot between the MOA Arena and SMX Convention center will be developed to be the location of the first IKEA store in the Philippines, and the opening date will be in 2019. The second store is said to open in Fairview to serve #North residents.

How much does this interior renovation cost? I’ll update this post as soon as I have the complete breakdown. I’m excited to see how much I could save by designing the unit myself. I am hopeful that my contractor could execute the job well; I will be posting their contact details here too.

All the Costs You Need to Know Before Buying a Condo

In my previous posts, I talked about the realities of owning a condominium unit in the Philippines, and the things that you may need to consider before buying one.

In this article, I will focus only on the fees. Yes, the many fees that you will be paying before and during your move-in, up until you start occupying the unit. It is good to have knowledge about these fees so that you could prepare and won’t get surprised or overwhelmed later on.

1. First on the list is the reservation fee.

So you’ve already decided on which property to purchase, and your agent is now regularly contacting and updating you. To seal the deal, you will be asked to pay the reservation fee.The reservation fee ranges from P15,000 to P20,000 (more or less). Just consider this as a processing fee for everyone who will be working on your papers, including your agent. For them, this is also an assurance that you are a serious buyer, and that they are not wasting their time preparing the paperworks for you.

The downpayment is not refundable after a certain period, but is often deductible from the total price depending on the policy of the developer. You would often see this in the sample computation that agents are giving out. Make sure to ask for the receipt upon paying the reservation fee.

Your contract will come during this phase. It will be notarized as soon as you sign the paperwork, and you will be given soft and original hard copies.

2. The downpayment.

A downpayment could go from as low as 5% up to 50% of the total unit price. You can talk this out with your agent as most developers are now offering terms which are very flexible, often meeting halfway with the client. The downpayment can also be paid via installment. This would be a practical option especially for a pre-selling property.

In my case, I opted for the 10% downpayment and 90% home loan. The 10% downpayment was payable for twelve (12) months, but can be paid in full at anytime within those 12 months.

3. After the downpayment, comes the hardest part – applying for a home loan.

Needless to say, this is not applicable if you are buying your unit in cash but for the majority of us, our options are:

– Home Loan or Housing Loan thru a Bank
– Pag-IBIG
– In-house Financing

I’ve discussed these separately in this post:

Buying a Condominium in the Philippines: In-House or Bank Financing?

I say, this is the biggest payment that you will be making, so it is very important to determine beforehand if you are illegible for a bank loan or a Pag-IBIG housing loan. It would help to begin making those inquiries from banks and Pag-IBIG before you even start paying the downpayment. I have shared my harrowing experience in getting a bank’s approval of my home loan in the below post, and it is something that I do not wish anyone to experience:

Applying for a Home Loan in the Philippines

4. Bank fees

Okay, your home loan application has been approved, congratulations! You will be signing tons of documents in the bank, and in order for your papers to get moving, you will be paying more fees!

Basically, you can consider this as another processing fee similar to the reservation fee above, but plus applicable tax and more. This is to be paid in full, and comes with a 3-5 days deadline. I paid around P70,000 in bank fees for my home loan back in 2016.

5. Time to move-in! You are not done paying yet. Prepare around P50,000 for the following:

– move-in fee, which is equivalent to one to three months of your monthly association dues. Note that this is not an advance payment; you will still start paying condo dues in your first month.

– other requirements such as fire extinguisher, grease trap and range hood installations.

– construction bond if you decide to have interior renovations. I haven’t done this yet so I couldn’t confirm if the construction bond is refundable in full.

6. On with the monthly bills:

Electric and water bills, plus the monthly condominium association dues. More about condo dues in this post:

How Much are you Paying for your Condo Association Dues?

Well, in addition to your monthly amortization, you will be paying for these three for as long as you own the unit. Say your monthly amortization is P15,000, add another P3,000 to P5,000 for these bills. You will be needing around P18,000 to P20,000 every month for your condo unit alone.

Why am I sharing all these?

The “for as low as P10K monthly” lines in bold letters that you see on those flyers are very enticing. I have some friends who paid for reservation fees because they were attracted to the supposedly low monthly payment. Unfortunately, they would later on learn about all these other fees and realize that they do not have the capacity to pay for them yet. Note that the reservation fee is often not refundable, so avoid giving away P15,000 or P20,000 for nothing.

It is important to research and be aware about the actual amount that you will be needing before, during and after buying a condo. I am lucky to have a very supportive family that together, we somehow became financially capable for this endeavor. It is one of the best decisions that I ever made, and I’m glad that I went for it.

Buying a Condominium in the Philippines: In-House or Bank Financing?

In one of my previous posts, I talked about my experience in applying for a home loan to several banks in the Philippines. If you are deciding whether to go for in-house instead, here are some fast facts about these two home financing options.

In-House
– Shorter loan duration, normally 5-10 years
– Higher interest rates compared to banks, basically due to the short loan terms
– High approval rate
– Less paperworks and requirements

Bank Financing
– Longer loan terms, between 10-25 years
– Lower interest rates, each bank offers different rates, and may change every 3-5 years
– Approval depends on your capacity to pay, and credit history
– More paperworks and requirements

If you have the money, I would recommend going for in-house financing. You can’t get rid of the paperworks, but it is a lot lesser compared to when you apply for a home loan in a bank. While the terms are shorter, and interest rates are a bit higher, it would still be more practical in the long run.

Related Articles:
All the Costs You Need to Know When Buying a Condo
Buying a Condo Unit: What You Need to Know
Condo Living: Expectation vs Reality

Get a home loan from a bank if your priority is the lower monthly amortization. You may also find a bank that offers home loan promos such as rebates or low interest rates when you apply during a certain period of the year.

I went for bank financing because SMDC is not very keen at accepting in-house financing applications. They were not very enthusiastic about it when I inquired, almost discouraging me not to continue. Nonetheless, the chances of getting approved is high, at least according to the agents that I spoke with.

Are you also looking at these two home buying options? Which one are you more inclined to get?

Applying for a Home Loan in the Philippines

The biggest questions that I asked myself when I was looking for a condominium are; where should I apply for a home loan? Which bank will approve my home loan application? Which has the fastest home loan approval process? Is it going to be difficult? Or should I opt for in-house financing instead?

I went for bank financing, and at that time I had over four months to get a bank’s approval.
The realities started to sink in when I got my first rejection, it was from PSBank. PSBank was my first bank of choice because my friend who also applied to them a few months earlier got approved. I, on the other hand, never heard from them.

After two weeks, I anxiously submitted my application to China Bank upon the suggestion of my agent. I received a call after a few days for the usual verification process. Over a week later, the lady called me back and dropped the bomb – my loan application was denied because of an unsettled credit card debt with HSBC. I discussed this in this article:

How I Settled My Credit Card Debt

My biggest fear just came back to haunt me again. My agent was now asking me to call HSBC but I refused. I insisted that HSBC will no longer entertain me, and if they do, I might need to go through all the legal stuff which I was not prepared to do. The third rejection is from Metrobank, and next was UCPB. Both banks never get in touched with me; I imagined them literally throwing my application forms in the trash.

Four rejections in a row. That was my life already telling me to pay attention; it has almost gotten me into depression.

So which banks eventually approved my home loan application? And how fast?

First, I am giving a special mention to BPI.

My agent, being so patient urged me to try one more bank. He said he knows someone from the bank who could help. I started to not believe him anymore as that has been his usual line since we started. I completed the paperworks anyway, and he submitted them to BPI.

BPI called me and my brother (who is my co-borrower) after three days. The next week, they came back and advised me to get a Letter of Full Payment from HSBC. This is the bank clearance that I was talking about in this article:

How to Get a Bank Clearance for your Credit Card

That gave me the strength to ask; will my application be approved if I submit a clearance? The answer from the other line was a positive YES! And so days later, I decided to make that call. And the rest is history.

BPI eventually accepted my application but the total approved amount is less than what I needed. It turns out that they did not include my sister as a co-borrower, and me and my brother’s combined salary only qualify for a certain loan amount. To be fair with BPI, they kept my application active for at least a month and was regularly contacting me if I wanted to proceed.

UnionBank to the rescue!

With my permission, my ever persistent agent filled-out the UnionBank application forms himself and submitted them to UnionBank. He has copies of all my supporting documents so he did not even have to meet me that point.

Their process is quite traditional. On the first week, an agent actually visited me at my apartment and conducted a C.I. and background investigation. Someone also went to our hometown in the far-flung province, and looked for my brother at our Municipal Hall where he works. My sister who is working abroad also had to give her employer’s email address for further checking. Overall, it was lots of work but quite fun. After all that we’ve been through, we readily complied to all their requirements.

On the third week, I finally received the best news I would hear that year.

Overall, UnionBank was quite strict but after having been denied by four banks, I did not feel being subjected to a long process anymore. My home loan was booked after two months, and before 2016 ended, I made my first monthly payment.

You might wonder, why didn’t I try BDO? For some reason, I did not think that BDO will approve my application. It was probably due to the quite strict and long process that I went through when I applied for a checking account with them a year earlier. I maybe wrong though, anyone who have positive experiences with BDO in terms of loans? Or do you have a similar story? Feel free to share by leaving a comment below.

Condo Living: Expectation vs Reality

This time, I’ll talk about the expectations versus realities of condo living in the Philippines based on my experiences. For this topic, I will turn to SMDC since I am dealing with them first hand. Nonetheless, I think these are generally applicable to the all developers, and if you are a condo owner, you may have the same or better experiences than me. Let me list down a few points on the expectations and realities about buying and owning a condominium unit from SMDC.

1. Let’s start from the inquiry phase, always check for “other charges”.

To be fair with my agents, they were vocal about these charges from the very beginning. I am glad that this was upfront else, I would also be calling it a “hidden charge”. From the initial breakdown of fees, other charges, although not itemized, is already listed. Make sure to always ask about other fees when you do not see it in the initial or sample computation. You do not want to be surprised with these fees when they suddenly appear in your payment schedule later on.

2. The unit itself

Because the building was already built by the time I was making inquiries, my agent was able to arrange a viewing schedule within two days. I get to check the unit, and had a glimpse of the building amenities.

I am not using a photo of the model unit since I already know that that is not what the actual turnover unit will look like. The floor plan is pretty accurate although I was a bit disappointed that a huge part of columns and beam are exposed. If they say 30 square meters, do not expect to have a livable space of exactly 30 square meters. A good portion of that space is covered by walls, columns and beams.

3. Payment terms

My agent discussed the different payment terms and I opted for the 10% downpayment, and 90% bank financing offering. The 10% downpayment is payable in one year. I recommend that you start applying for bank financing way before the downpayment gets fully paid. In my case, I started submitting my home loan applications to different banks after six months. It was a good move for me as it took me awhile to get an approval due to a credit card issue which I discussed in this post:

How to Get a Bank Clearance for Your Credit Card

Payment terms are one of the things that agents talk about first when you inquire. If you are a serious buyer, your agent may be able to arrange a special term for you with his supervisor or manager.

Now, on to the stuff that you will never know during the inquiry and buying phase. You only deal with these as they happen, and it may need you to be very patient sometimes.

4. Unit turnover

I was initially promised of a turnover date not later than February 2017. It has been moved twice, and before they would contact me for another rescheduling, I made numerous phone calls and emails with my demands. I was eventually allowed to move-in in April 2017, already four months into paying my home loan amortization. In one of their letters, April is just the target unit completion date, not the actual turnover date.

This is probably the worst experience that I had with SMDC so far. Anyone who could relate?

5. Move-in fees

Prepare at least Php25,000 for the move-in fees. This will cover advance payment of monthly dues, and a few other requirements such as fire extinguishers, grease traps, vent, and curtains. Verify with your agent that the other fees I mentioned above already cover utility expenses (water and electricity installations), otherwise, you will be also be paying those separately. If that’s the case, Php25,000 will not be enough.

6. Amenities

It’s been almost six months since I moved-in. In general, my expectations are being met so far. The two swimming pools get cleaned at least once a week, and conditions regarding the use of pools by guests are quite strict. I do not mind paying for my guests for pool usage for as long as everyone else does. This explains the almost empty swimming pools during weekdays, and only get crowded on weekends.

SMDC condominiums are a bit congested so I already had my expectations before I moved in. I am a bit surprised that there are not much elevator traffic which is great. The lobby is sometimes full of people lounging but not really a big deal for me. MPlace is probably the only SMDC development I know that doesn’t have a gym.

7. Admin and Staff

From what I see, most of the staff including house keeping and security personnel are courteous and polite. There are a few exemptions, such as the impatient lady at the building admin office but I don’t take that personally. I haven’t experienced or witnessed anything extreme happening.

8. Cleanliness and Maintenance

The lobby and other common areas get cleaned regularly. I don’t know how often they conduct pest control, but they’ve done it once in the past six months. I live in the top floor and I often notice water leaks from the ceiling at the middle of our hallway during heavy rains. In the past three months, I received visits from engineering due to yet another water leak in the unit below me which is supposedly coming from my bathroom. I am not sure if these have been fixed. Coincidentally, I have also heard similar stories from unit owners of other SMDC condos. Our office building is also owned by SMDC and water leaks from the rooftop and pipes have been a problem since we occupied the building in 2014. It took them over two years to fix those.

My educational background is Architecture, so I know a thing or two about design and construction. I understand that these are unavoidable, but the manner at which a developer or contractor respond and address the issue sets them apart from the others.

9. Your neighbors

We had a general assembly last July but I was not able to attend. It would have been a good opportunity to get to know other owners. Of course some people are just untidy, they would sweep strands of hair out of their rooms and leave them in-front of their units expecting the house keepers to pick them. There are also tenants who would leave their doors open while cooking, and would litter bits and pieces of onions at their front door. I’m glad the unit owners next to me don’t do that. Our floor is not that noisy except for a few occasions where interior constructions are being done, which I understand.

Pets are not allowed, in case you are wondering. I have a friend who wanted to inquire from SMDC but turned to other developers since she can’t be without her pets.

10. Security

Visitors are required to sign the logbook and their hosts need to meet them at the lobby. While it is a bit of an inconvenience, I like the fact that all deliveries can not go beyond the lobby too. Nonetheless, tenants may request for especial arrangements such as when he or she is sick. A form needs to be signed and submitted for every piece of large furnitures and appliances that you bring in. The same is required when bringing them out. Some tenants feel that security is too tight, but I do not have any problems with that.

11. Free Wi-Fi?

Free Wi-Fi at the lobby. All I can say is, it is slower than the Wi-Fi signals at all SM Malls. I thought, it was due to multiple connections but I would try connecting when I arrive from work (which is always around 2AM or 3AM), but the speed is the same.

Overall, living in a condominium despite all the negative notions and opinions is actually good. Yes, it is not perfect and the realities are sometimes far from what you see in all those advertisements. But personally, the security and convenience are more than enough to convince me that I made the right decision. For someone who have been renting for over a decade, it is comforting to know that I am actually paying for my own property now. And every time I fill out a form that asks for my personal information, I can’t help but smile when I put a checkmark on the “owned” box instead of “rented” beside the Home Ownership field.

Do you have condo living experiences that you’d like to share? Feel free to comment; let’s help future condo buyers make their decisions.

Cebu Pacific GetGo Debit Card by UnionBank Review

When my home loan from UnionBank was approved, I was required to open a savings account with them. My monthly amortization payment is to be automatically debited from the account; I thought this is more convenient instead of issuing checks, post dated or not.



At that time, they have just launched a new product called the Cebu Pacific GetGo Debit Card by UnionBank which the bank representative suggested. Instead of a savings account that requires an initial deposit and a maintaining balance of Php50,000, this option has no maintaining balance. This product is also tied-up with Cebu Pacific, so every point you earn from using the card automatically goes to your Cebu Pacific GetGo account.
Basically, you will get two cards – the Cebu Pacific GetGo card, and the UnionBank GetGo debit card itself. I am not really monitoring my GetGo points, but after over six months, I only earned 93 points. I’m guessing, auto-debit transactions are not counted.

Personally, I am only using the debit card for its initially intended purpose, but I just recently added it as a payment option to my Uber and Grab bookings.

Fast facts about the UnionBank GetGo Debit Card:

  • No maintaining balance, no initial deposit.
  • Unlike the BPI debit card which is only valid for two years, this one is valid for five years. There is an annual fee of Php500, I have yet to find out if this can be waived as my card is just 8 month olds (I will update this post by the end of 2017).
  • Your points are converted to Cebu Pacific GetGo points (Php88=1point).

On how to apply or to know more about this product, visit https://getgo.unionbankph.com.

PAG-IBIG Home Loans: What is the Maximum Loan Amount?

Applying for a home loan in a bank could be intimidating. For the majority of us, PAG-IBIG comes as the preferred, if not the only option. And so we ask, how much could we borrow from PAG-IBIG based on our monthly salary?

The good news is, just like most banks, PAG-IBIG has an online loan calculator too! Could you believe we are not spending hours in long lines just to get answers to these simple inquiries anymore? It sounds too convenient knowing our government standards, but let’s take advantage of that and find answers from there.



Moving on, their latest rates are effective as of July 2016, and for this test, I used the below example:

  • Desired Loan Amount: Php 2.0M
  • Preferred Repayment Period: 25 years
  • Monthly Income: Php 25,000

They have three different computations – based on desired loan value, monthly income, and property value. However, the second category kind of precedes the other two. This means that everything will actually depend on your monthly income, or combined monthly income if you have a co-borrower.

  1. I will go directly to the estimated maximum loanable value based on a Php 25,000 gross monthly income. Note that all these results are ESTIMATES and my different from the actual numbers when you get approved.

If you are earning Php 25,000 a month, the maximum loanable amount is Php 1.22M with a monthly amortization of Php 7,500 for 25 years. Not bad.

2. Now, since we need Php 2.0M, what should our total monthly income be? Based on the below estimates, the monthly income requirement is Php 41,000. For this example, you will need a co-borrower with a monthly income of at least Php 16,000 in order to qualify.

3. Lastly, let’s check the third option. Based on the results, it is suggesting a maximum loanable amount of Php 1.5M if the value of the property is Php 2.0M. Which means you will pay the remaining Php 500,000 in cash. And if your salary is around Php 31,000, you will definitely qualify.

Overall, this may be confusing but it is ideal to always start looking at your gross monthly income. From there, you will know which property to consider.

This loan calculator can be found at http://www.pagibigfund.gov.ph/amort/. 

Buying a Condo Unit: What You Need to Know

Unless you are filthy rich, buying a property in the Philippines, like a house and lot or a condominium unit is quite a big decision to make. You are putting your hard-earned money in to something which you hope and expect to be all worth it. You will then make countless inquiries, talk to agents, and look for information everywhere that may be of use to you.

I am 99% sure that that brought you in this page. You may have already read them all – tips about what to consider, what you should be looking for, the location, the developer, the building or development type. I am here to talk about the actual buying experience – from the day you made the deposit, to that big moment of being handed over with the keys to your unit.

I am not an expert in real estate. In fact, the only thing I could share are my experiences as a buyer. And as of this writing, I am still going through the process of getting past the “move-in” phase. For some, it probably went pretty well. I have several friends who didn’t have any big issues to deal with.

And so, if you are a condo buyer-to-be, I hope that what I am sharing would help. Note that this is based from my personal experiences alone, and is certainly not the same for everybody. Let’s start with:

1. Pag-IBIG or Bank Financing?Again, unless you are buying the condominium unit in cold cash, you will be relying on the help of banks or Pag-IBIG to finance your home. Some developers are tied-up with Pag-IBIG, which means they will do all the paper works for you. The big ones, like SMDC and Robinsons, are not. I tried to transact with Pag-IBIG and I got overwhelmed with their list of requirements. Nonetheless, it would be helpful to inquire from them in advance to see how much you could borrow; this will all depend on how much your monthly income is.

Related Article:
Pag-IBIG Housing Loan: How Much Can You Borrow?
Buying a Condominium in the Philippines: In-House or Bank Financing?

Banks have lesser requirements, but your monthly income is of course still the biggest factor. Google “home loan calculator + name of your preferred bank”, and you will get links to the bank’s home loan calculator. Almost all banks have this in their websites. From there, you could get an idea of how much you could borrow and how big your monthly amortization be. Those are just estimates but not very far from the actual figures.



2. Credit HistoryBanks definitely check your banking and credit history. Pag-IBIG also do the same, but probably not as rigid as banks. Do you have unpaid or deferred credit cards? I did. It has caused me huge trouble but thankfully, I was able to fix it. CLICK HERE to find out how I cleared my credit card balance with HSBC.

Unfortunately, no bank will approve your home loan application if you have an unsettled credit card balance or other unpaid loans (with any bank). The good news is, they will honor a Certificate of Full Payment or “bank clearance”, you will find more details about this in the above link.

3. Co-borrower/s

When BPI approved my home loan application, they offered me Php1.7M. This is the maximum amount they could lend me based on my monthly salary. It was Php900,000 short as I needed to borrow Php2.6M. For some reason, they did not consider my sister as a co-borrower so her salary was not factored-in in the computation.

I submitted my application to UnionBank and they accepted my sister’s documents so she became my co-borrower. Since my sister is married, her husband’s signature was also needed in all the forms. Thankfully, he was cooperative enough, that is upon reassuring him that we will not hold him responsible of anything (although legally, he actually is).

Related Article:
What is a Consularized Special Power of Attorney?

So, unless your salary is big enough to cover everything, you may need a co-borrower to get approved of the total amount that you need. If you are not married, your parents and your siblings are the best and recommended options.

4. Processing Time and Move-in ScheduleSo your bank already approved your application, congratulations! The processing time from the day you signed the bank forms will take a month, or more, depending on how quick your developer responds and transmits your papers to your bank. Your first monthly amortization also normally starts a month from the day you signed the documents. Therefore, if your unit is advertised as ready for move-in, you should already be talking with the developer about your move-in date before you start paying the bank.

Related Article:
Buying a Condo Unit: What You Need to Know
Condo Living: Expectation vs Reality

In my case, my first monthly amortization is on December 29th. SMDC contacted me in January the following year targeting end of February as the turnover date. Come February, they contacted me again saying they are moving it to March. Imagine how furious I was when I received another letter in March stating that the turnover date was changed to April! I started calling them everyday trying not to be irate. I was at my wits when their contact center agent revealed that it has been rescheduled to May.

After several emails and phone calls, they eventually agreed to let me move-in in April 26. Yes, I had to make threats.

5. Move-in Fees and RequirementsYou will be paying a move-in fee which is often the three-month equivalent of your monthly dues. This is not an advance payment so you will still continue paying the monthly dues on your first month. Depending on the developer, you may also need to install the basics – grease trap, range hood, fire extinguisher and white curtains before you are cleared to occupy the unit. I talked about all the fees that you will encounter when buying a condo in this post:

All the Costs You Need to Know Before Buying a Condo

Are you also looking for a condo? Which developer? I hope you find these information helpful.