The number of remittance-sending Filipinos in the UAE has grown considerably over the years to nearly a million. Filipinos abroad are forecast to remit $28 billion this year, up from $25.1 billion in 2013.
So where do their remittances go? Do they splurge their money on cars, holidays or luxuries?
A survey of the investing habits of Filipinos in the UAE showed that five out of 10 of them stash away a good amount of money to buy a home in the Philippines.
In the survey, which polled 1,000 respondents between October 1 to November 27 this year, 20 per cent of the Filipino expats said they are planning to make a house purchase within one year.
There are over 2.2 million Filipinos working outside their home country and more than 750,000 of them are in the UAE. Overseas workers are a big driving force of the Philippine economy, with overall expatriate remittances accounting for 8.4 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product as of 2013.
A number of Filipinos working abroad, however, arrange for a loan to buy their dream home. Krista, an expatriate based in Dubai, has recently purchased a lot in her hometown using the money she borrowed from a bank in the UAE.
"For me it's a good investment because the value of the property tends to appreciate over time. It's better than buying gold jewellery or investing your money somewhere else," she says.
Real estate analysts estimate that as more Filipinos buy into the property dream, more housing units will be sold out in the next few years. Between 2015 and 2017, about 9,000 residential units in just five locations in Manila, the country’s capital, will be turned over to buyers, according to a report by Colliers International.
“Investing in Philippine property today is ideal for Filipino and international investors as prices are likely to soar substantially in the coming years,” said Karen Remo, managing director at New Perspective Media.
“Global financial institutions and analysts forecast good investment returns in the Philippines, which is one of Asia’s most steady economies. Our survey confirms that fact as majority of overseas Filipinos say they are looking at buying property back home for their families, or as an investment, in the coming 12 months.”
The survey also showed that expats are mostly interested in buying properties in commercial centres, including Makati, Bonifacio Global City and other parts of Metro Manila. Other locations, such as Laguna, Bulacan, Cebu, Davao, Boracay, Bacolod, Ilo-Ilo and Cagayan de Oro, are also popular.
With interest from UAE buyers looking for property in the Philippines growing, developers have organized exhibitions in Dubai. One of such events, the Philippine Property and Investment Exhibition (PPIE), will be held on December 5 and 6 at Godolphin Ballroom, Jumeirah Emirates Towers.
The exhibition will see 18 property developers, banks and government-backed financial institutions taking part and showcasing real estate projects worth Dh2.5 billion.
Thomas Mirasol, president for international sales at Ayala Land, noted that real estate investors are attracted to the Philippines because the outlook for the market is positive.
“There is still an acute housing shortage in the Philippines and it will be a few years before the supply shortage will be satisfied. There’s also a lot of infrastructure development going on which is expected to spur current homeowners to invest in second or third homes for their children or to upgrade into better accommodations,” he said.