Buyer’s dream: Joan Caoc, right, and Edward, third from right, at Sta Lucia Land kiosk at Reef Mall Xpress/ Oliver Clarke

DUBAI: Edward Caoc, 37, and his wife Joan, 36, a secretary in Dubai, are bracing for six years of belt tightening. But they are happy to do that after having booked a 150-square-metre lot in a Plaridel, Bulacan, and a “condotel” in Quezon City, Manila.

“The next six years will be tough as we pay them off, but it’s better to suffer now and enjoy later — than enjoy now and suffer later,” said Edward, a Dubai exhibitions executive. The couple booked the units recently with Manila-based developer Sta Lucia Land, which opened a kiosk in July at Dubai’s Reef Mall. Expatriate Filipinos thinking of their retirement cover are behind a property investment frenzy.

Overseas Filipinos send about $20 billion home each year, propping up consumption and mutual funds and making the peso Asia’s best-performing currency in 2012. Despite the recent floods, “vertical villages” in urban areas have pulled in a new crop of investors. In addition to Sta Lucia, SM Development Corp, a builder backed by billionaire Henry Sy, is also setting up offices in Dubai soon.

SMDC has reported a huge jump in buyers. From January to July this year it sold 425 units to buyers in the UAE and the GCC, netting over 1 billion pesos (Dh100 million), said Byron Ramos, SMDC’s Dubai-based international property specialist.

This is a huge jump from 386 units sold in 2011, and 421 units sold in 2010. “Our strategy is to meet every buyer’s need for five-star homes at affordable cost.” Furnished apartments are also in demand not just among expat Filipinos but foreign investors too, said Ramos.