Business and Society; Real Estate Investment Trusts

Manila Bulletin, October 1, 2007 | Go to article overview
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Business and Society; Real Estate Investment Trusts


Byline: Bernardo M. Villegas

Real estate or housing may not be exactly popular these days because of the so-called subprime financial crisis in the United States in which good number of financial institutions got caught with bad loans to homeowners who either overestimated their ability to service loans or culpably misrepresented their real income potentials to be able to obtain home mortgages.

It would be foolish, however, to concluded that real estate all over the world is in the same state as it is in the US or a few European economies like Spain where there have been a housing bubble building up in the last few years. In fact, in the Philippines itself, low-cost and medium-cost housing projects continue to do very well. Because of the boom in business process outsourcing (BPO), there is a shortage of office buildings to house the tens of thousands of workers in the IT-oriented services in which the Philippines has a distinct competitive advantage. The tourism industry is just beginning to reach higher levels of visitors approximating those of such neighbors as Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore. In the next five years, we will have to build many more hotels and other tourism-related facilities. In addition, there are other Asian countries like Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, where real estate investments are also expected to do well in the coming two to three years.

Fortunately for those interested in real estate investments here and abroad, opportunities need not be limited to the big players like the Ayalas, the Gokongweis, the Gotianuns or the Henry Sy's. Thanks to a proposed law being sponsored by Senator Edgardo G. Angara in the Philippine Senate, small investors can also benefit from the continued boom in some sectors of real estate. The Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) law proposed by Senator Angara seeks to promote the establishment of a legal and regulatory framework and creation of a favorable market environment for real estate investment trusts, which are stock corporations formed for the sole purpose of investing in income-producing real estate assets. These assets include apartment buildings, office buildings, warehouses, medical facilities, hospitals, mixed industrial/office buildings and other commercial and residential properties. In other jurisdictions, the real estate investment trust regime has also been used to help develop the tourism industry by building resorts, hotels, shopping centers, outlets as well as develop other infrastructure projects such as highways, railroads, prisons, and other similar projects.

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