Many renters don’t stop to think about what happens if there is a fire, someone breaks in and steals their new TV or stereo, or a visitor slips and falls on their property. The sad truth is; you will be responsible! While your landlord has
insurance that covers the actual building, that coverage does not include your personal property or liability for injuries which occur in the space you rent ~ be it an apartment or a house and yard.
If a fire should destroy or damage your home, your landlord’s insurance will cover the structure. It won’t cover damage or loss of your belongings. Neither will it provide for the cost of temporary housing for you and your family.
You may think you don’t own enough personal property to make the cost of insurance worthwhile. You’re probably wrong! If you sit down and add up the cost of everything you own, you may be in for a big surprise. Consider what you have invested in such things as:
• Furniture and accessories
• Electronics like TV, stereo, computers
• Small appliances like microwaves, toaster ovens, etc.
• Art work like paintings or prints
• Dishes, silverware and cookware
• Sporting equipment
Could you afford to replace all of these things?
Even worse, what would you do if a friend is injured on your property and decides to sue you for medical costs and more? It’s a scary thought, isn’t it?
Are you beginning to see why rental insurance may be a very wise investment?
The cost of rental insurance is based on several factors:
• The dollar amount of your coverage
• Whether you choose to be reimbursed for Actual Cash Value or Replacement Costs (more about that in a minute)
• Where your rental property is located and the number of previous claims made, not only by you, but by others living in the same area.
Let me explain the difference between Actual Cash Value (ACV) and Replacement Costs. ACV is the value of your property at the time a loss takes place. For example, if your television set is five years old, it’s valued at much less than if it were brand new. The lesser amount is what you are reimbursed.
However, if you opt for Replacement Cost, you’re paid whatever it costs to go out and buy a new TV with similar features. Insuring for replacement cost raises the amount of your premium so it’s a good idea to get quotes for both ACV and Replacement Cost policies. Then you can decide which option fits your needs and budget.
Another thing to keep in mind is that jewelry, valuable collections, and guns are usually covered under a separate policy or “rider”. If you own these kinds of items, be sure to tell your insurance agent. You don’t want to find out after disaster strikes that they aren’t covered or that they aren’t covered for their true value.
One way you can reduce the cost of your rental insurance is to check with whichever company insures your car. If they provide rental insurance you may be eligible for a multi-line discount.
Rental insurance may be worth the investment just for the peace of mind it offers you.
Where did the notion that men should buy houses for women come from? Some people say that this is based on our natural instinct. Like any other animal, parents want to protect their young for the continuation of the species. Anyway, asked that question because I wanted to know why business relating to real estate is suddenly making becoming popular. Before you had the buying and selling of properties. Now, with the widespread use of the Internet, we have real estate trading which is basically “I buy yours you buy mine” kind of arrangement.
The term real estate is used to refer to any property, which is permanently attached to land such as buildings and houses. Most people refer to it as real property but there are situations wherein the term real estate is used for the land and the building together while real property refers to the ownership rights of the land itself. On the other hand, the word real is used to categorize these properties as things as opposed to people. Records show that the idea of real estate can be traced as far back as 1666.
With the idea of personal property becoming more widespread, real estate has become a major area of business in the United States. In fact, economists claim that the reason for the recent economic slump is due to the lower revenue generated by this industry. In order for the US to get back on track, Americans need to view land and buildings as an investment.
There are many types of real estate: residential, commercial or industrial property. The most common transactions involve the buying and selling of residential properties such as apartments, condominiums and a duplex. Sometimes families who want to move to a different state finds it difficult to find dwellings on their own so they usually do a map search of the area they’re moving to so as to find any houses which are either for sale or for rent. This way, they get to pick the properties they want without having to travel yet, thereby saving time, effort and money. In some cases, people contact a real estate agent who can then give them a tour of the area so that they get to see the houses and to possibly bargain for the price of the property.
In US and Canada, finding property is easy because of the existence of the multiple listing system or MLS – a data base wherein real estate brokers can share information about the properties their clients are planning to sell, or in some cases, planning to buy. Most people who want to buy a house usually have no idea where to start so they call a real estate broker. When you do so, the broker searches the MLS to find details about the property. At present, there are about 800 different MLS in the US with new competitors like Google Base, Craigslist and Cribfinder entering the public domain.
Property taxes are one of the largest line item costs incurred by apartment owners. However, many owners do not appeal effectively. Even though owners realize that property taxes can be managed and reduced through an appeal, some view taxes as an arbitrary estimate provided by the government which can't effectively be appealed. It tends to boil down to the old adage, "You can't fight city hall".
Handled either directly by the owner or by a property tax consultant, this process should involve an intense effort to annually appeal and minimize property taxes. Reducing the largest line item expense has a significant effect in reducing the owner's overall operating expenses. While it is not possible to entirely escape the burden of paying property taxes, it is possible to reduce taxes sharply, often by 25% to 50%.
Why some owners don't appeal
Some property owners don't appeal because they either don't understand the process, or don't understand that there is a good probability of achieving meaningful reductions in property taxes. Some owners believe that since the market value of their property exceeds the assessed value, then it is not possible to appeal and reduce the property taxes. Although appeals on unequal appraisal are relatively new, there is a clear-cut way to appeal property taxes at the administrative hearing level based on unequal appraisal. Unequal appraisal occurs when property is assessed inconsistently with neighboring properties or comparable properties. Also, some owners are reluctant to hire a property tax consultant, even though many consultants will work on a contingent fee basis, in which there is no cost to the owner unless property taxes for the current year are reduced.
Overview of appeal process
The following are the primary steps in the annual process for appealing property taxes:
· Request notice of accessed value
· File an appeal
· Prepare for hearing
. Review records
. Review market value appeal
. Review unequal appraisal appeal
· Set negotiating perimeters
· Administrative hearings
· Decide whether binding arbitration or judicial appeals are warranted
· Pay taxes timely
Requesting a notice of assessed value
Property owners have the option of requesting a notice of assessed value for their property annually. Section 25.19g of the Texas Property Tax Code provides the owner the option to request a written notice of the assessed value from the chief appraiser. Owners benefit from requesting and receiving a written notice of assessed value for each property because it ensures they have an opportunity to review the assessed value. This notice should be sent on an annual basis. The appraisal district does not have to send a notice of assessed value if the value increases by less than $1,000. However, if an owner was not satisfied with a prior year's value and the value remained the same, the appraisal district probably will not send a notice of the assessed value for the current year. In this situation, the owner might forget to protest since a notice of assessed value for the property was not received.
How to file and appeal
On or before May 31st of each year, the property owner should file an appeal for each property. However, while many owners are comfortable with an assessed value, in many cases there is a basis for appealing. Two options for appealing include:
1. unequal appraisal, and
2. market value based on data the appraisal district provides to the owner before the hearing.
You can appeal by completing the protest form provided by the appraisal district and indicating both excessive value (market value) and unequal appraisal as the basis for appeal. In addition, the property owner can simply send a notice that identifies the property, and indicates dissatisfaction with some determination of the appraisal office. The notice does not need to be on an official form, although the comptroller does provide a form for the convenience of property owners.
House Bill 201 - helpful information
House Bill 201 is the industry jargon for a property owner's option to request information the appraisal district will use at the hearing, and to receive a copy 14 days before the hearing. The name House Bill 201 is derived from the bill used to enact the law. When filing a protest, the property owner should additionally request in writing that the appraisal district provide a copy of any information the appraisal district plans to introduce at the hearing. The appraisal district will typically require the property owner to come to the appraisal district office to pick up the information and charge a nominal fee, typically $0.10 per page. While the cost for House Bill 201 requests are quite low (typically $0.50 to $2.00 per property for residential and commercial) the information is invaluable in preparing for the hearing. In addition, filing a House Bill 201 request is important because it limits the information the appraisal district can present at the hearing to what was provided to the property owner two weeks before the hearing.
Preparing for the Hearing
Start by reviewing the appraisal district's information for your property for accuracy. If the appraisal district overstates either the quality or quantity of improvements, this will justify a deduction. The next step is to review the information on market value and unequal appraisal provided by the appraisal district in the House Bill 201 package. If the subject property is an income property, review the appraisal district's income analysis versus your actual income and expense statements. Consider the following areas as opportunities to rebut the appraisal district's analysis:
· Gross potential income
· Vacancy rate
· Total effective gross income, including other income
· Operating expenses
· Amount of replacement reserves
· Net operating income
· Capitalization rate
· Final market value
Many property owners and consultants start with the actual income and expense data, and use one or two of the assumptions provided by the appraisal district. However, they primarily utilize information from the actual income and expenses in preparing their own income analysis and estimate of market value for the subject property.
When comparable sales are the primary issue in determining market value, start by reviewing the comparable sales data provided by the appraisal district versus the assessed value for your property. Convert the sales prices from the appraisal district to either a per square foot or per unit basis. Then compare the sales to the per square foot or per unit assessment for your property. Sales can be helpful during the hearing.
The cost approach is not typically used in the property tax hearings except for brand new or relatively new properties. If your property is new, the appraisal district will probably want to review the cost information and you probably won't want to show it to them. In many cases, the actual cost of a property is higher than the estimate provided by the appraisal district. If this is the case, you will likely want to appeal on unequal appraisal instead of on market value. No matter how good your argument or how passionately it is expressed, the appraisal district staff and Appraisal Review Board (ARB) members tend to believe that cost equals value for new properties.
Deferred Maintenance and Functional Obsolescence
Another issue that is important for the market value appeal, and to some extent for a unequal appraisal appeal, is information on deferred maintenance and functional obsolescence. Deferred maintenance could include items such as:
· rotten wood
· peeling paint
· roof replacement
· substantial repair
· landscaping updating and other similar items
Most appraisal districts give minimal consideration to requests for adjustments based on deferred maintenance, unless the property owner provides repair costs from independent contractors. There are some exceptions where a cooperative informal appraiser or sympathetic ARB will take an owner's estimate of deferred maintenance and make adjustments based on those costs. Most appraisers and ARB members are much more inclined to make adjustments if third-party cost estimates are provided. In addition, the appraisers and many ARB members are inclined to only deduct a portion of the total cost using the argument, "we've been giving a replacement reserve allowance for this item for the past years and it'd be double-dipping to deduct the whole value off it in the current year." While this is an incorrect appraisal argument, it does tend to be the practice at many appraisal districts. The reality is, the cost of curing deferred maintenance is deducted from the offer by a prospective buyer.
Examples of functional obsolescence would be a three-bedroom apartment unit that only has one bathroom, or a two-bedroom apartment that does not have washer/dryer connections in an area where those connections are common. Another example would be an apartment that has a window air conditioner in an area where central HVAC is typical and expected.
Unequal appraisal analysis
Virtually all unequal appraisal appeals involve a reasonable number of comparables that are appropriately adjusted. Comparables are similar properties.
This is primarily because of the difficulty and cost of performing a ratio study. Historically, the position of many appraisal districts was that the property owner needed to get a fee appraisal for each comparable property and compare the market value estimated by the appraiser to the assessed value. The cost of getting multiple appraisals made this process financially impractical. Compiling a reasonable number of comparables appropriately adjusted is simple and straightforward. The first step is to choose a reasonable number of comparables. Usually four to five comparables is the typical number used at a property tax hearing, but in some cases, property owners choose ten to thirty. In some cases, there may only be one to four comparable properties that merit consideration. Most unequal appraisal presentations include three to ten comparables. The number of reasonable comparables depends on the location, type, size and age of the property. For example, there would be fewer five-year-old bowling alleys in the northern part of Harris County compared to recently built apartment complexes.
After choosing a reasonable number of comparables, array them in a table format, including fields of data such as account number, net rentable area, year built, street address, assessed value and assessed value per square foot.
You should also review the information in the appraisal district's House Bill 201 packet on an unequal appraisal. In many cases, the appraisal districts unequal appraisal analysis will document a reduction in your assessed value! If the appraisal districts unequal appraisal analysis documents a reduction, either the informal appraiser or the ARB should make the adjustment in assessed value for you. Having the opportunity to get an assessed value reduced automatically based on the appraisal districts unequal appraisal analysis is one of the reasons to appeal every property every year.
Completing Hearing Preparation
After reviewing the appraisal district's information on your property, the House Bill 201 package, and your market value and unequal appraisal analyses, determine the strengths and weaknesses of each approach and decide which basis of appeal provides the best opportunity for a meaningful reduction. Although appeals on unequal appraisal have clearly been the law of the land since 2003, some appraisal districts and review boards have chosen to disregard the option for unequal appraisal put forth by the Texas Legislature. Although there is litigation underway which should resolve this issue within the next year, it would be prudent to visit someone who is knowledgeable in local property tax appeals to determine whether the county appraisal district and ARB in your area are considering appeals on unequal appraisal.
Set Negotiating Perimeters
After reviewing the information, it is important to set the highest level of assessed value you will accept at the informal hearing because after you accept an assessed value, the appeal process will be complete for the year and you will not be able to appeal further.
Administrative Hearing Process
The two steps to the administrative hearing process are the informal hearing and the appraisal review board hearing.
The Informal Hearing
The following procedure and rules are typical at the informal hearing:
· Meet with an appraiser representing the appraisal district. You should be polite and prepared at this meeting. While many property owners are frustrated and angry at the high level of real estate taxes, the appraisal district appraiser does not control the tax rate set by various entities nor the policy regarding property taxes in the area or the state. The appraisal district appraiser is trying to execute his job in a professional manner and appreciates it when property owners work with him on that basis.
· Provide the appraiser information on your property and he will review that information and information he has available.
· The appraiser will likely make an offer to settle the assessed value of your property fairly quickly. You can either accept the value or negotiate further. Either way, you should know within ten to twenty minutes whether the appraiser will offer an acceptable value. If the value is acceptable, conclude the negotiation by agreeing to the value for the current year. If the value offered is not acceptable, ask to go forward with an ARB hearing.
Appraisal Review Board Hearing (ARB)
The ARB hearing panel consists of three impartial citizens selected and paid by the appraisal district. The age of most ARB members ranges from fifty to eighty. There is an unfortunate bias in the system since the ARB members are selected and paid by the appraisal district, but most ARB members are reasonable people who want to make appropriate decisions.
Like the appraisal district appraiser, the ARB does not set tax rates or tax policy. The members are also not responsible for the effectiveness of local government. It is unlikely to help your case if you complain to the ARB members about either the high level of property taxes or the poor quality of some aspect of local government.
The ARB will expect you to make your presentation in about three to ten minutes. They will typically wait patiently while you make your presentation and may have questions after you conclude. An appraiser from the appraisal district, who may or may not be the same person who attended the informal hearing, will represent the appraisal district at the ARB hearing. The appraiser will comment on the evidence you presented and will often present other information the appraisal district has available. If you requested a House Bill 201 package for your property, it substantially limits the evidence the appraisal district appraiser can offer at the hearing. The ARB members may have questions after the appraisers presentation. Then the property owner will be given a final opportunity to rebut evidence presented by the appraisal district appraiser and quickly summarize the evidence. The ARB members strongly prefer you not repeat your entire presentation at this point.
After hearing the evidence, the ARB members will confer and make a decision. This decision is not subject to negotiation and they will not revise the decision if further evidence is presented. When this decision is announced, the hearing is effectively over. The ARB will send a letter two to four weeks later summarizing their decision and notifying the owner of a 45 day limitation from the date receipt of the ARB decision to either request binding arbitration or file a judicial appeal.
Binding Arbitration or Judicial Appeal
Beginning September 2005, owners of properties with an assessed value of $1 million or less may file a request for binding arbitration. The owner must file with the appraisal district no more than 45 days after receipt of the notice of the ARB's decision. The binding arbitration option is interesting because it includes a loser pays provision. The appraisal district pays for the arbitrator's fee if the final value is closer to the owner's opinion of value, and the owner pays for the binding arbitration if the final decision is closer to the appraisal district's opinion of value. Binding arbitration was passed to provide an alternative to judicial appeals, which can be expensive to prosecute.
Many owners pursue judicial appeals to further reduce property taxes. In 2005, O'Connor & Associates filed over 1,200 judicial appeals on behalf of property owners in the state of Texas. The judicial appeals can be expensive if the property owner and attorney don't understand the process and have a plan in place to minimize the cost of legal and expert witness fees. Judicial appeals are typically successful. However, success requires cooperation from the property owner, such as providing responses to questions, documents and a deposition if requested. The judicial appeal is meaningful as an option to minimize property taxes since it reduces the base value. This is important because the appraisal district and ARB consider the base value in the subsequent year when setting the administrative hearing value.
Property owners can generate substantial reductions in property taxes by appealing annually. Consider appeals on both market value and unequal appraisal and obtain the House Bill 201 information when preparing for the appeal hearing. Property owners should consider all three levels of appeal: informal hearing, ARB hearing and judicial appeal/binding arbitration. While the ARB hearing and judicial appeal/binding arbitration can be an intimidating process, each is straightforward once you understand the mechanics.
The real estate market is one of the most complex markets in the entire world due to the fact that it is in a continuous change, thus making it a very dynamic market. The internet has a lot to offer consumers regarding real estate and as a result it is a great place to start shopping. Some of these advantages are:
- It is inexpensive, if not free to list your home in an online property listing service.
- It is a quick and easy method to advertise your property that is for sale/lease or if you would like to buy a property.
- The buyer and seller have direct access to information about the property in question. This makes other forms of communication between the buyer and the seller obsolete. The internet is easy in comparison to the old-fashioned method of answering dozens phones calls or setting up numerous meetings.
- Many websites that deal with real estate allow you to include up to 5 photos of your property. This is a lot more in comparison to a regular newspaper and you have complete control over the photos’ quality. In addition you can highlight specific features about your property with the potential buyers. This can be very helpful if you are working to attract buyers from outside your local geographic area whom potentially need more explanation of certain elements.
- Once listed, your home is available until you will sell the property. This is a big advantage if you consider that for a newspaper ad you will systematically have to pay a fee week after week.
- These online real estate listing services have a nation-wide audience which will make your ad visible to the entire country;
- Searching for the right house is very easy as these websites have filters which will allow you to only see the houses that meet your specific requirements. Therefore you can spend time looking only out houses that meet your needs without having to waste time looking at houses you aren’t interested in.
Using the Internet for real estate will make you your own real estate agent without having to pay a great sum of money to an agent and also you will have full-control of the entire activity. Whether you are a home buyer or seller, it is very easy to search for the perfect house as the online offers are endless. Or, if you would like to sell a piece of real estate, there is no safer and quicker way to do it.
Online real estate has become popular and is consuming are looking to the internet more each day as an easy place to get good information. As a matter of fact, more than 5 million people use the internet for real estate issues every month. With numbers like this it is easy to see how the internet can improve your chances for selling or buying a home.
Another major advantage of real estate moving to the internet is that you won’t need a real estate agent to start your search. This is very important because we all know that real estate agents are of value but sometimes you just want to look.
All in all, there is no better, safer and easier way to search for a home or to sell one than online as the internet has a lot to offer in the real estate market and it is rapidly developing, gaining more and more consumers everyday and thus improving your chances for a profitable buy/sell.
"Nothing is permanent in this wicked world, not even our troubles," Charlie Chaplin
A major concern for realtors is personal safety. Many times the realtor is working alone in showing a property, having an open house, or manning the model house in a new subdivision. Some personal safety issues should include:
On the first meeting of a client, have them meet you at the office. Get as much personal information as possible. A copy of the driver’s license is a good start not only for safety, but also for the client database.
If you have a strange feeling about the client, don’t show property by yourself. Ask a co-worker to go with you; at worst you might have to split the commission. If you are manning an open house and you feel that you might be in danger, leave the property and call for help.
Always drive your own car to the property as this might be the only means of escape. On the way make notes on the type of car, color, and license plate number and call the office with this information. Once at the property make sure your car is not blocked and you have an easy escape (no backing-up).
As you are showing the property, always have the client lead you; this allows the property to present itself and keeps the client where you can see them. Make sure they sign-in on the registry and if the office does not have the information on the client, get the information to them. Your office will know you are with a client at this time.
Keep your keys and cell phone close and easy to access. If need be, keys can be effective weapon of surprise. If you have a handbag, keep it with you at all times or locked in the trunk of your car. Know the property, not only do you look more professional, but safer; your client does not know all of the exits as well as you should.
Take a few self defense classes, as a few minutes head start out of the property means the difference in a safe escape and being trapped. Take the first chance for escape and don’t try to talk your way out; keep your advantage. The more time you spend in a dangerous situation means a diminished chance of a safe exit.
Let the client see that you have contacted your office and the office knows who you are with. It is also a good idea to have a secret code for trouble such as “Pick up dog food” when you don’t have a dog. It is also a good idea to set your phone to vibrate as your client will not know if you are calling or if you are receiving a phone call.
If there is an emergency your office can play a vital role. Make sure they have the make of your car, its color, and license plate. If you are using a different car that day, make sure they have its description as well.
Make sure your office has your schedule for the day and that you check in on each appointment. If you are hosting an open house, make sure you have a registry book for clients to sign in. See if you can also include the client’s car description. Tell the client it is just in case they get a parking ticket and you want to document the reason for parking there or some other reason.
Many of these points may already in practice for the profession. Look to these procedures as also a safety concern. These safety tips should become second nature with little thought to be truly effective. Being an agent means sometimes you will work alone. With today’s cell phones and e-mail capabilities and some careful thought, you will be safer and will be in contact with help quicker.
Need to sell your house quickly? Put off by the thought of estate agents and viewers tramping through your home? Follow this quick guide to selling your home fast.
There is an alternative to the traditional route when it comes to selling your home. You can use one of the many specialist companies that offer to buy your house so that you’re not at the mercy of a chain, or paying huge fees to agents and solicitors. Here are the steps you need to follow:
1. Decide how quickly you need to sell your home
Most quick sale companies can complete the purchase of your house within just four weeks. If you need to sell sooner than that, just say so; they can normally arrange a quicker purchase. If you’re selling your house because you’re relocating unexpectedly or because you’re in financial difficulty, set a realistic timetable and ask the company if they can keep to it.
2. Decide how much you will accept for your home
You may not get the full open-market price for your property as you would with an estate agent, but you don’t have to pay estate agent fees and the whole process is quicker which means you save on mortgage and bill payments. Look at the current market value of properties like yours in the same area and decide how much you’re willing to accept from a specialist buyer, bearing in mind the other savings you are likely to make.
3. Talk to the companies
Always try to talk to the specialist companies rather than just contacting them over the internet. Talking to them gives you a much better idea about how they approach the sale. You can also take this opportunity to ask any questions about the process and to make sure that you can use your own solicitor to check the contract and that you won’t be asked to commit on the spot.
4. Meet an agent
Most specialist buyers will send someone round to view your house. This allows them to give you an accurate and fair valuation and also gives you the opportunity to ask any further questions.
5. Agree the sale
Once you’ve been given a valuation, you will normally have a set period in which to think about whether you want to agree to the sale. If you decide to go ahead, it’s a good idea to get an independent solicitor to look at the contract before you sign. Make sure you know if there are any additional costs to pay, and when you will receive the money. Also find out when you will be expected to vacate the property and whether the company can help you find other accommodation.
Getting a quick house sale is as easy as these five steps and can be accomplished in as little as 3-4 weeks, making it ideal for people in a wide range of circumstances, including those going through a divorce or bereavement or those who are in financial difficulty.
Enjoy ownership, luxury, & appreciation in a Condo Hotel vacation home! Considering retirement in a Tropical Climate For many British, Australians and Americans, retirement time is just around the corner. At home, with low interest rates and high cost of living, the prospect of trying to live on a pension, in old age, is a daunting one unless you are prepared to substantially downscale your lifestyle.
For some, moving to retire in another country is an option which has been successful in the past with Spain, Portugal, Mexico and Puerto Rico being among some of the more popular destinations. But why not consider retiring in the Philippines?
Over the past decade, the Philippines has become a retirement haven for thousands of foreigners, particularly the Japanese, Korean, and Northern Europeans. Along with Thailand and Malaysia, the Philippines developed communications, infrastructure, and service delivery systems specifically geared to meet the needs of foreign retirees. Better yet, unlike most European Countries and South America, nearly everyone speaks ENGLISH in the Philippines.
The Philippines offers a significantly lower cost of living. The Philippine Peso (PhP) exchange rate is approximately PhP 48 to $ 1.00 or PhP 96 to 1 Pound [Sterling (GBP)].
Housing, food, and labor costs are quite reasonable. A One bedroom condominium can be purchased for around $ 60,000 or GBP 32,500 or a Studio for only $ 34,000 or GBP 18,000 and one can dine out on average at a three star restaurant for less than PhP 500. If you hire domestic help, a private driver’s salary is approximately PhP 10,000/month, while trained housekeepers earn approximately -PhP 5,000/month. These salaries are lower if you live in the provinces.
Cable Television, Hi-Speed Internet and Satellite Communications are cheap. One can hire an air-conditioned taxicab for eight hours for less than $25.00. In a country where a provincial Governor’s salary is only PhP 28,000 per month and a Presidential Cabinet Under-Secretary earns PhP 35,000, your pension can go a long way. So, if you have a retirement income of approximately $1,500 to $2,000 per month (PhP 80,000 to 100,000) you can live quite well in the Philippines.
As for health care, most U.S. Health Management Organizations pay for medical expenses incurred in the Philippines. Check with your HMO. The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs presently has a task force headed by former Secretary Roberto Romulo working to have the U.S. government accredit a number of first class Philippine hospitals for Medicare reimbursement. The Makati Medical Center, one of the nation’s best already has such accreditation. Unbeknown to many is that for years, citizens of nearby countries such as Thailand, Nauru, Tonga, Indonesia, and Malaysia have flocked to the Philippines for medical care, particularly sensitive surgical procedures. The quality of medical care at the better Manila hospitals such as the Asian, St. Luke’s, Medical city, Cardinal Santos, Philippine Heart Center for Asia, National Kidney Institute, and Makati Medical Center meets international standards.
A Japanese company is building a medical facility in Tagaytay city exclusively for Japanese nationals within the year. There are now close to 10,000 Japanese retirees in the country, and the number is growing annually.
The British government recently acquired a large tract of land in Fort Bonifacio to build a new Embassy. The British ambassador explained the larger facility is meant to help serve the growing number of British nationals retiring there as well. Japanese and Korean investment groups are buying homes and condominiums in Manila, and tracts of provincial land for retirees. This has caused a mini- Real Estate boom in the country. A retirement village exclusively for Japanese nationals already exists in Tagaytay, and more are planned. These are strong indicators of what is on the horizon
English is the Philippines’ official business language. Most of the people you will meet, from hotel workers, taxi drivers, sales or service people, government employees all speak English, or have a working understanding of it. The middle class speak English, without exception. All major newspapers and major broadcast companies use English. An English speaking visitor will never get lost in the Philippines. It is the universal use of that language that has been a strong incentive to foreigners. As well, communications links within the country and to other countries via the various commercial gateways is up to international standards. For example, the use of cell phones and text messaging is so common that housemaids, street vendors and food hawkers can be seen using their cell phones incessantly.
One will never want for adventure and sights to experience in the Philippines. There is always a colorful Fiesta, pageants, street festivals, and open public events going on. Lush with bountiful natural resources, one can enjoy the numerous beaches, resorts, golf courses, and play just about any sport, except skiing. There is an ice skating rink in Manila, though. Scuba diving and fishing are among the sports which draw the most number of foreigners to the rich aquatic offerings.
Shopping is the Filipinos’ second most popular activity, the first is eating. Manila is Asia’s undiscovered shopping Mecca. You will love the golden purple sunsets, the fragrance of the flowers at dusk, and the wonderful array of fruit and food. I used to enjoy watching the Sun set from the bar at the Philippine Cultural Center. There, you can listen to the Symphony, check out a play, or enjoy Grand Opera. There is just so much to explore and discover, especially in terms of nature, culture, and history. If you’re a betting man, there’s horse racing, the Jai Alai, numerous first class casinos, and of course, cock-fighting. Manila is well known for its exciting night life.
The American dream is changing, and real estate professionals are doing their best to keep up in order to sell homes. Many buyers still want a big house in an uncrowded neighborhood, especially if they have a family, but there are conditions attached now. Long commutes into the city are more of a deal breaker now than ever before, and areas without a nearby business community, parks infrastructure, or future-proof layout are generating less interest. Realtors working in the suburbs must now learn to identify and market smart growth, and a well-rounded lifestyle, as well as the old ideals of comfort and privacy.
Soaring gas prices have made the suburban commute a tough sell, but rail lines are a cheap solution in many metro areas. Cities with long-established commuter rails have upgraded their routes to accommodate growth, while cities that expanded rapidly during the mid-20th century are building new commuter lines. One example of a large center with a newer commuter line is Vancouver, BC, Canada, where an extensive line called the West Coast Express opened in 1995. An area like suburban New Jersey offers well-established commuter railways, but here too the traditional routes are augmented by new routes, such as the Morristown Line which runs 40 miles between Hoboken and Hackettstown. Real estate agents who know the rail routes in their area, and stay on top of development plans, can help more buyers find a suburban home suited to their needs.
The high-tech bio-tech industries have brought another marketing angle to the suburban home market in recent years. Many companies in these rapidly expanding sectors operate at the outskirts of large metro areas, where they can develop large campuses and research facilities employing thousands. High-tech and bio-tech professionals can live in low-density neighborhoods, and avoid a lengthy commute altogether, if they find a home near their campus. Realtors sensitive to the high-tech market will find these home searches easy to accommodate.
Other new marketing angles for suburban real estate can include high quality school districts, parks systems, improved inter-municipal planning, outdoor shopping plazas, cheaper home prices, and a larger new home inventory. Knowing what makes these areas attractive to buyers will help real estate professionals close more deals, and promote smart growth where they live.