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.
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.
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.
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.