Zonal values of residential land surging

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The zonal value in Multinational Village in Paranaque City is surging 269% from P13,000 to P48,000 per sqm. —PHOTOS BY JHENG MIRANDA

Zonal values of residential land are rising by up to about 330% in Parañaque City effective Monday, Oct. 2, catching residents and property owners by surprise. 

The surge is triggering concerns that the high cost of real property in the city will hamper sales and further make homes unaffordable to most people, especially the Gen Z and millennials.

With a land area of 46.57 square kilometers and a population of about 690,000, Parañaque is bordered by other cities—to the north by Pasay, to the northeast by Taguig, to the southeast by Muntinlupa, to the southwest by Las Piñas—and by Manila Bay to the west.

The zonal values of residential land are also going up effective Oct. 13 in Laguna’s Calamba City, the birthplace of National Hero Jose Rizal and host to subdivisions such as Ayala Greenfield Estates and Nuvali, as well as industrial and technology parks.

In both cities by a bay (Calamba by Laguna de Bay), zonal values of all other real property—land for commercial, industrial, institutional and agricultural use, residential and commercial condominiums, parking slots and cemetery lots—are also rising. 

The municipalities of Los Baños, Sta. Cruz, Pila, Victoria, Bay and Calauan—all in Laguna province—will also see their zonal values climbing starting on Oct. 13. 

The zonal value, if higher than the declared selling price and the market value set by the assessor, is the basis of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) in imposing taxes on the sale and transfer of real property. The higher the value, the bigger the taxman’s take. 

In Parañaque, one of the steepest increases is for residential land on Alpine Street in Merville Subdivision, which saw a 327% jump from P15,000 per square meter to P64,000, or an average yearly increase of 65.4%  between 2018 and 2022.

Alpine, Amsterdam, Anchorage, Athens, Barcelona, Beirut, Belvedere, Cairo, Calcutta and Carmelite Streets have been consolidated to Merville Park Subdivision, and all now have a zonal value of P64, 000 per sqm.

The improved accessibility of Merville, made possible by the opening of the C-5 Road extension linking Parañaque with the BGC central business district and the connection between C- 5 and Cavite Expressway, has certainly pushed real estate prices upward.

Too much

But a quadrupling of zonal values over the past few years in a subdivision where airplanes regularly pass overhead as it is beside Ninoy Aquino International Airport raises questions about the method the BIR has employed, especially when it is not explained to taxpayers.

No wonder a resident and property owner wanted to know the justification for the increases. “What is their basis? Why increase that much?” the resident said. “Grabe naman ito (This is too much). The increases should be reasonable.”

CoverStory.ph sent a message to a member of Revenue District Office (RDO) 52’s technical committee on real property valuation, for comments. The RDO 52 committee member, who is an appraiser, broker and consultant, did not respond. 

The subdivisions that saw double- or triple-digit increases include:

  • Fortunata Village 1 and 2, from P15,000 to P25,000, up 67%
  • BF Homes 1, from P25,000 to P42,000 on Avelino Street and P48,000 on El Gaches Street, up 68% and 92%, respectively
  • BF Homes 2, 3, 4-A, 5 and 6, from P20,000 to P40,000 for Phase 2, up 100%; to P42,000 for Phases 3 and 5, up 110%; and to P48, 000 for Phases 4-A and 6, up 140%.
  • Multinational Village (most streets), from P13,000 to P48,000, up 269%.
  • Better Living (Sun Valley), from P15,000 to P50,000, up 233%.
  • Moonwalk Village (Phases 1, 2 and 3 but excluding those on Neil Armstrong Avenue and those near Bricktown), from P10,000 to P35,000, up 250%.

Way above price index

The increases are way above the residential real estate price index (RREPI) and inflation rate (both at less than 7%) in Metro Manila, where Parañaque is located, making real estate in the city an asset class that appears to have racked up the biggest increase in value. RREPI measures house price inflation.

The previous increases in zonal values in Parañaque were imposed starting on Jan. 19, 2018, and were in effect for almost six years until Sunday, Oct. 1.

The BIR can revise zonal values every three years and use these as basis for collecting capital gains, estate, creditable withholding, donor’s and documentary stamp taxes on the sale and transfer of properties. The capital gains tax (paid by the seller) and estate tax (paid by heirs) are pegged at 6% of the value of the property. 

Raising zonal values produces low-hanging fruit for the BIR. By contrast, new tax measures emanating from Congress must pass through a fine-toothed comb. Many congressional committee and public hearings, often generating heated debates, are held, and approval could take years.

The increases for residential condominium units are not as steep as those for land, but are still beyond the reach of many families:

  • Amvel Mansion, from P70,000 to P80,000, up just 14%
  • Chateau Elysee, from P100,000 per sqm to P120,000, up 20%
  • Amaia Steps Sucat, from P100,000 to P132,000, up 32%
  • Avida Tower Sucat, from P100,000 to P173,000, up 73%.

Among the condos, the distinction of having the highest zonal value belongs to Sunny Coast Residential Resort in Entertainment City, at P380,000 per sqm. Sunny Coast is a luxury development by Megaworld, boasting unobstructed views of the famed Manila sunset.

Macapagal Avenue 

For commercial land, Macapagal Avenue tops them all with a valuation of P405, 000 per sqm. from P150,000—an increase of 170 %. It is followed by nearby J. W. Diokno Boulevard with P400, 000 per sqm from P175, 000—a 128% rise.

Macapagal Avenue and Diokno Boulevard, located in the area reclaimed from Manila Bay, are where the Entertainment City (casino area), several malls such as SM MOA, and other commercial establishments are located. 

Commercial land on Roxas Boulevard, once highly priced for its view of the Manila sunset, is just 40%  of the value of land on Macapagal Avenue. The zonal value of land for commercial use on the boulevard rose 81% to P290,000 per sqm, while land for residential use went up 141% to P265,000.

Sucat, Manila Memorial Park

Expectedly, properties on Dr. A. Santos Avenue (formerly Sucat Road) command “lower” values than the newly developed properties on Macapagal Avenue and Diokno Boulevard. 

Dr. A. Santos Avenue’s zonal value for residential land rose to P100, 000 per sqm  from P40,000, up 150%, while land for commercial use is valued at P113,000, more than double the previous value of P60,000.  

Cemetery lots in two memorial parks on Dr. A. Santos Avenue saw double-digit increases. 

The value of lots in Manila Memorial Park—where former president Noynoy Aquino and his parents, former senator Ninoy Aquino and former president Cory Aquino, are buried—rose 64% to P115,000 per sqm. That of lots in Loyola Memorial Park went up 67% to P100,000 per sqm.

One of the entrances to Multinational Village.

Residents and property owners interviewed by CoverStory.ph expressed surprise at the increases, saying they had not been notified by the BIR about any public hearing on zonal values.

Wala (Nothing),” said Jheng Miranda, a resident of Multinational Village and an administrator of the Philippine Center for Creative Imaging, a tech-voc school in Makati City, when asked if her family had received notice about the increases. Neither were they invited to a public hearing.

Merville resident Rela de Guzman, a trade marketing manager, was in the same boat, saying “no announcement had reached” her.

Emboy, who owns a property in Moonwalk, came to know about the increase only when told about it by CoverStory.ph. 

`Very secretive’

“Myrna,” a resident of Better Living who asked that her real name not be used, said she learned about the increases only last month. “The BIR is very secretive,” she said. “Why is it that until [the last week of September] no announcement was posted at the BIR office [RDO 52] on Sucat?”

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BIR order increasing zonal values of properties.

Department Order No. 049-2023 that implements the revised schedule of zonal values of real properties in Parañaque, was in fact published on Sept. 15 in a newspaper of general circulation. The order, dated Aug. 22 and signed by Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, said a public hearing was held on Dec. 16, 2022.

But residents and property owners did not know about the order and its publication until recently, when they started talking about the increases on social media and chat groups. The BIR clearly fell short of conducting an information campaign on the new zonal values in Parañaque.

“They rushed the approval of the increases,” said Myrna. She expressed apprehension that the money to be collected from the sale or transfer of real property would be spent without taxpayers like herself knowing where it would go, such as confidential funds for government offices and agencies.

Myrna also wondered whether her tax payments would be spent for the repair of  roads from her residence to Parañaque City Hall, or for the transfer of the RDO 52 office on Dr. A. Santos Avenue to a bigger building, with parking spaces and more seats for taxpayers.

Rush to beat deadline

Myrna observed that the implementation of the new schedule of zonal values had resulted in more people transacting with RDO 52’s One-Time Transaction system to beat the deadline and enjoy a lower tax payment at the old schedule. 

For instance, she said, in the third week of September she was at the RDO 52 office at 8 a.m. but her taxes were computed only at 2 p.m. “I paid the amount in the afternoon,” she said. 

It was worse in July when rumors about the approval of the increases began circulating, she said. The processing of all the applications for the computation of taxes lasted until 7 p.m., she complained, adding: “The review took so long for a senior citizen like me.” 

Like other residents, Myrna said the sale of properties would likely slow down given the high zonal values: “Mahirap magbenta at mahirap bumili (It’s difficult to sell and it’s difficult to buy).”

She said she expected real property taxes collected by the local government to follow suit, citing “a domino effect.’’

Beyond reach

Residents and property owners interviewed by CoverStory.ph were unanimous in saying that buying a home in Parañaque, difficult even before the increased zonal values, would be beyond the reach of many more families starting October. 

Barry, a BF Homes resident and retired bank executive, said the zonal value was usually the floor of the selling price. “So definitely, an increase in zonal values will impact property prices and the ability of ordinary Filipinos to be a homeowner,’’ he said, adding: 

“Parañaque [before the surge in zonal values] has been an area considered by families due to its relative affordability.  Increasing prices will force families further out.”

Worth 42 years of salaries

A home in Metro Manila is prohibitively expensive. It would take 42.2 years of annual salaries to buy a median home in Manila (most likely the metropolis in this context), TheStreet, a US-based financial news and financial literacy website, reported on March 21. 

TheStreet placed the cost of a median home in Manila at $212, 438, about P11.9 million, based on property listings and property studies conducted within the last 12 months from local real estate companies. 

Barry, the retired banker and a father of three, said the new schedule of zonal values would be an added expense for families. “With traffic congestion and transport prices, this will negatively impact household expenses. Families will have to sacrifice some more, as if many are not already burdened,” he said. 

He is also worried about the impact of the new zonal values on the cost of transferring property to his children. “I live in a family home. So, when the time comes to hand over the property to [my] heirs, the increase in zonal values will make the estate tax prohibitive,” he said.

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