Yes, much like any other real estate firm, 8990 Holdings Inc. is in the business of building homes.
But more than just creating structures to serve as shelter, its founders were bound by a common goal of helping curb a decades-old problem, a social malaise that continues to deprive many families of their basic right to a decent shelter—the problem of access to affordable mass housing.
8990 Holdings was established 13 years ago when its founders Luis Yu, Marin Martinez and Januario Jesus Gregorio B. Atencio III came together and formed what would become the country’s largest mass housing developer. The main objective was to do something bigger for the Philippine society than just being a homebuilder.
“When 8990 was founded, we really wanted a business that would not only prove profitable but, more importantly, would also have a tremendous social impact in the country,” Atencio explained.
“8990 is driven by the belief that housing is not just about houses but is, first and foremost, about people. Housing is used merely as a vehicle to transform the lives of people for the better,” he added.
Pent up demand
According to Atencio, the company was established specifically to meet the pent up demand within the affordable and low cost housing segment of the property market.
However, the initial challenge of addressing this segment was financial literacy.
“Admittedly, problems of delayed payments, defaults, cancellations are key issues in this segment. While affordability is crucial in the beginning, the long term sustainability of our own buyer payments would highly depend on their willingness to pay,” Atencio said.
This is why 8990 Holdings took it upon itself to help potential homebuyers assess if they have the capacity to own a home and provide helpful information on how one could finally realize his or her dream to own a decent shelter.
“We conducted our own evaluations on their financial capacity to pay. We do require all our buyers to undergo a half day financial literacy seminar before they are even allowed to reserve a unit. This seminar allows them to know not only their financial obligations but, more importantly, why they need to meet their amortizations and how this can be achieved,” Atencio explained.
Financial literacy, however, was just one of the many challenges that 8990 Holdings had to contend with. Other hurdles include the stringent rules imposed on the issuance of licenses and permits, which has resulted in many project delays.
“Although this was a negative for us in 2016, we view this as a positive for the industry as tighter regulations would ensure that supply would indeed come only from developers who have both the ability to deliver quality projects and enough knowledge of the industry to navigate through this changing landscape,” Atencio related.
“We have also experienced some bottlenecks in the compliance to requirements, which have led to slower take out (of loans) with HDMF mainly due to expiration of buyer’s proof of income; delayed release of titles; piecemeal release of findings; lack of HDMF manpower; and slow processing of Registry of Deeds,” he said.
“We are addressing this issue by increasing manpower nationwide from 287 to 370, which includes personnel for HDMF documentation. We have also hired two experienced executives who we are certain would bring more leadership in the HDMF takeout operations,” he further noted.
Atencio believes that the efficiencies they are implementing and the additional manpower they are securing would address some of these hurdles.
“Payment delays and defaults will continue to be an issue but we are certain that our continued financial literacy efforts and new innovations in our product offers would help address these,” Atencio shared.
8990 Holdings recently tied up with Sun Life Insurance of Canada as it sought to add more value to its products, by transforming housing from shelter to a wealth creation platform.
“Housing therefore becomes shelter, and also protection through life insurance, and then investment through mutual fund—three values the buyers pay in a single monthly amortization,” Atencio said.
To date, 8990 has completed a total of 52 projects across the country and as of the first quarter, has already launched three projects or a total of 6,992 units.
For 2017, 8990 is set to launch a total of 11 projects in high growth areas. This is as equivalent to 60,765 units, with a total value of P3.7 billion.
And with the company’s unrelenting efforts to build quality homes, 8990 Holdings hopes to make decent housing truly accessible for every Filipino. By educating individuals on the value of investing in 8990 Holdings, it allows almost everyone to have a fair chance to uplift the quality of their lives.
“We believe the most important contribution of 8990 to the country is the very definition of our business model: our ability to deliver affordable homes fast, cheap and good. 8990 was able to revolutionize the housing industry by its ability to deliver cheap, quality houses in as short as eight days,” Atencio concluded.
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