Why buy real estate in Bulacan?
If you build it, they will come.
This is a paraphrase of the defining line in the movie Field of Dreams where the protagonist Ray Kinsella played by Kevin Costner built a baseball field in the middle of nowhere. People thought he was crazy, but in the tradition of feel-good movies, the people did come.
This seems to be what real estate developers were thinking when they swooped into Bulacan province to start a series of residential and commercial projects. Better know for agriculture, it is not easy to picture it as the next hub of urbanization. However, the same can be said for Cavite, which is the southern counterpart to Bulacan, and not so long ago, Makati was much in the same scenario. It was only in the 1950s that the first communities were built in the area, and only in the late 1960s when the first commercial buildings went up.
Real estate developers study the area before they invest their millions. It is not a “field of dreams” they are interested in but the potential for profit. It does not take too much wild speculation to see what they are seeing, either. Things are moving very fast in the direction of Bulacan as the next hotbed for real estate development, and for very good reasons.
The main barrier to home ownership for millions of Filipinos is affordability. It is almost impossible for the average office worker to afford to buy any property in Metro Manila. In one article, it is estimated that the average wage earner will have to work 1,449 years to afford a house in Makati, which averages PhP184 million. In contrast, the same sized house in Bulacan can go for as low as PhP495,999. A middle class worker can look to afford that in four months.
Bulacan is 42 km away from Makati, which does not seem a whole lot as the crow flies. That distance is doable in under an hour even by public transport if it is to any other point in the Philippines. However, as anyone who lives in Metro Manila knows, traffic congestion makes the trip closer to three hours one way, an impossibly long one for Makati employees for a daily commute.
However, real estate developers see this as an opportunity rather than a barrier. Just like Cavite, the plan is to make certain areas in Bulacan a mixed community of commercial and residential properties, enabling people to find work in the area comparable to what they will get in Metro Manila. Ayala Land, in particular, is putting its money where its mouth is.
Aside from affordability of land and the abundance of labor, this is made possible by ongoing government infrastructure projects to improve accessibility to and from Bulacan, and incentivizing businesses to relocate to the area with tax breaks, favorable policies, and improvements in utility capacities and services. The Internet service is especially important if the area wants to attract businesses, and according to users, Globe, PLDT, and Converge are all providing good service in the area.
Bulacan is not yet there, though. It is still relatively sleepy, and it will take a while for future and current projects to make a significant change in the character of the province. However, this means that it is just the time to think about buying estate in Bulacan, before real estate prices start soaring.