Seeking homes along Taft, Lasallians face tightening real estate race

Housing rates around Taft Ave. continue to rise as students find accommodations for face-to-face classes.

With the gradual resumption of on-site University operations comes a spark of hope for nearby businesses looking to regain their pace. Among the establishments that are set to reopen their doors to Lasallians are the condominiums, dormitories, and apartments that were left vacant by the pandemic.

Since the University released its hybrid setup plans last May 20, unit sellers and buyers have been competing with each other to get the best deals for a good second home. And since many Lasallians are yet to be welcomed on campus, they find themselves in unfamiliar territory as they hunt for their second homes in Taft.

Back on track

Being largely dependent on student and employee demand, the real estate industry along Taft Ave. faced a significant decline during the pandemic. Jericho Tugade, general manager of condominium-unit selling and leasing Facebook page DLSU Condos, recalls the pandemic-period market to be very competitive due to low demand.

“From the beginning of the pandemic to the day before DLSU made the announcement (of in-person classes), the competition [became] aggressive to the point that rental prices were offered at 50 percent [less] compared to their pre-pandemic prices,” he points out.

De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB) Officer-in-Charge Chairperson for Real Estate Management Joan Diñoso further identifies that the real estate scene along the area has changed targets following the halting of on-site classes. “The target market shifted to workers in the nearby area who, due [to] safety [concerns], might want to just stay near their workplace [rather] than risk commuting everyday,” she explains.

But the University’s announcement of a gradual return to on-site operations put Taft’s real estate market back to being student-centered.

“As early as the first week of June, hundreds of clients…rushed to secure and [to] reserve condo units,” Tugade shares, furthering that this spike in demand is driven by the fear of limited units and public transportation available when class reopening nears. With this influx, Tugade says that this caused unit prices to revert back to their pre-pandemic rates.

Diñoso projects that unit prices may even exceed those from the pre-pandemic period as a response to “[increased] demand, inflation, and [more than] two years’ [worth] of losses.” According to her, this adds up to the string of factors—including location, space, utilities, facilities, developer, property age, and security—that are taken into consideration when determining selling or rental rates.

“In real estate, it’s not always ‘the cheaper, the better’…To be really competitive, the developers or business owners attract clients by showing them that they can provide them [with] their needs and wants, and they will get more value for their money,” Diñoso elaborates.

Immediate impact

Students seeking housing units immediately experienced the impact of the University’s announcement. For instance, Seth Sia (I, AEF-FIN) shares that the total contract price of a studio unit he inspected increased from P4.5 million in May to P6 million in June. Similarly, Facebook marketplace postings reveal that monthly rent at a furnished Green Residences studio unit currently costs around P14,000 to P17,000—a slight increase from the P10,000 to P15,000 pre-pandemic rates.

Incoming freshmen also had to secure housing units as soon as the admission results were released. Sia’s family had to consider two factors: the price increase and the number of available units left.

“I would say our major concern is the availability of units. We’re uncertain [if there are any] available [units left], and if [there is], it would be of higher cost,” he details. Thea* (II, HUM-BIO) shares the same concerns. According to her, “some units are too expensive when there are actually other units that are [the same] quality and [they] give it at a lower price.”

She furthers that some brokers offer units that do not align with the consumer’s needs. “Some are even far from the University even though you specify [that you want units within] walking distance,” Thea mentions.

Expert tips

Thus, Diñoso reminds students to figure out their needs for a housing unit before proceeding to rent or to purchase one. Students should consider their school’s learning modality, frequency of weekly in-person classes, and class schedule.

“Some decided to just commute or [to] travel even if it’s far since they would only spend six hours every other week inside [their] campus,” she notes as an example.

Meanwhile, Tugade advises that housing seekers must be wary of suspicious individuals and incidents due to the prevalence of online marketplace scammers. He says that students must ensure that they are transacting with an authorized unit owner or broker by verifying the information at the condominium’s administration office and by asking for documents such as valid IDs to prove authority or unit ownership.

“Make sure all post-dated checks are issued to the unit owner, not to the broker. [Also], it is highly advisable to see the unit first before making any payments to make sure that the advertised photos are accurate,” he adds.

With the University’s gradual recovery plan in place, the competition for units along Taft continues to tighten. But it is yet to peak for both sellers and hunters until full face-to-face operations return. As such, sufficient knowledge and vigilance on the market would be the keys for Lasallians to secure the best home for their needs.

*Names with asterisks are pseudonyms.

Cammylle Beltran

By Cammylle Beltran

Carl Joshua Mamuri

By Carl Joshua Mamuri

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