Iloilo Real Estate Notes and Snapshots

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A primer on Philippine real estate with a focus on Iloilo real estate, Iloilo subdivisions and a couple of suggestions for Iloilo real estate agents — with lots of photos.

Guimbal, Iloilo Beach Property

Foreigners may not own real property in the Philippines, except condominiums. Even though having your “own place” is irresistible, give deep consideration to renting instead of owning. Buying is much easier than selling. There will be a limited market for your multi-million peso dream home. You may wait years before finding a buyer. If your neighbor decides to raise pigs or start a karaoke bar, you’ll wish you had resisted the lure of home ownership. A renter can just move on. If you own a home you must just bear whatever happens or become involved in foreigner v. local squabbles which you’re unlikely to enjoy.

For the foreigner retiring to or retired in the Philippines another important consideration is health and health care.  You may feel perfectly healthy when you retire at 55 or 60 or 65.  No matter how fit you may seem now, chances are that you may have major and possibly disabling illnesses in your future.

  • Is that beautiful beach property you dream of with easy reach of reasonably good medical care? It’s very possible to go from seeing a doctor once a year to seeing a doctor or doctors once per week.  Is that practical from your proposed property?  If you rent you can easily move to accommodate changing circumstances.
  • Medical care is more affordable in the Philippines but, for a serious illness, it still it can be expensive. If you’re from Europe or North America you’re entitled to free medical care. Will it make sense to return home if you have a chronic illness.  If so, what will happen to your dream home in the Philippines? If you rent you can more easily accommodate changing circumstances.
  • If you’re a foreigner who’s married a younger Filipino spouse, does the property make sense as a home for her after you’re gone?  Are you leaving her with the means of supporting herself and maintaining the house?

There are many subdivisions in Iloilo and surrounding communities and more springing up all the time. Unlike hilly Cebu City, Iloilo is surrounded by flat rice land and fish ponds which are being filled in and developed. Iloilo does not have the pretty hillside subdivisions of Cebu City.

In Iloilo’s “elite” subdivisions lots can cost P4000 to P7000 per square meter or more. Almost always there is a discount for cash, usually 10 to 20%. Prices at the shiny new subdivisions are usually not very negotiable. Since it’s likely the luster will be off the new subdivision in a few years, consider shopping for a lot or existing home in one of the older subdivisions. There are bargains to be had. In my opinion, P3,500 per square meter is a fair price for property in an older Iloilo City subdivision.

Lot size.  Foreigners, especially Americans, are often shocked by the small size of building lots in the Philippines.  We were.  For many Americans, the dream home includes a large yard with plenty of room for landscaping, gardening, BBQ, badminton, swimming pool and so forth. We thought 1,000 square meters is the smallest lot we could live with.  After all, 1,000 square meters is about 1/4 acre — a very small lot by American standards.  So we went outside the city where prices are lower and bought 1,500 square meters. Only now are we starting to realize the real cost of our transported suburban dream.  Most Philippine lots need to be fenced with a hollow-block fence.  Most lots in the Iloilo area need to be filled so they will not be flooded during the rainy reason.  With a small urban lot, these expenses are relatively small, but the cost of fencing our large lot is very high because there are so many feet of fencing to be done.  The same is true with filling.  The cost of filling and fencing can equal the cost of the property.  Of course we’ll have some of the advantages we dream of; open space, gardens, room for fruit trees, mountain views, clean air and clean water.

I feel that many of the big subdivisions located well outside the city offer questionable value.  Per square meter costs can be high given the rural location and, if you buy a house and lot package, the overall cost can be well above the resale value of the property.  The picture is even worse if the developer finances your purchase.

We have looked at most of the established subdivisions in Iloilo and, with a few exceptions, we frankly must say we don’t find them to be an impressive lot. Compared to the better Cebu City subdivisions, there seems to be little interest in maintaining the attractiveness of the subdivisions, too little attention goes to maintaining landscaping, roads, sidewalks, lighting, signs and community facilities. Even nicely designed upscale developments seem to fall into decay rather rapidly. Locals tell me this is because, once the subdivision is sold out, control goes to a homeowner association and that property owners just don’t want to spend money to maintain the subdivision, even in subdivisions with quite expensive houses. The better subdivisions in Cebu City (such as Maria Luisa) do a better job.

Some of the possible advantages of buying property and living in a subdivision.

  • First of all, there is a certain regularization of surveys, titles and access within most subdivisions. If you buy a lot, especially with cash, your chances of getting a clear title, defined lot lines and road access are fairly good.
  • You may also have access to a decent drainage (sewer) system to hook into. I would not buy in an Iloilo subdivision that did not have municipal (NAWASA) water. The quality of municipal water seems to be good but there are increasing shortages. Since you can strike water in Iloilo practically anywhere you can dig a hole, many houses use ground water rather than paying for municipal water. Unless far out in the country, I’d be leery of the quality of such ground water except for laundry and car washing. There are thousands of septic systems and various kinds of commercial waste — all seeping into a shallow water table.
  • Just because there is a drainage system does not mean the subdivision will not flood. There are serious flooding problems in many parts of Iloilo. Some high-end subdivisions (and unfortunate lot purchasers) have been more or less abandoned due to flooding. Many parts of Jaro have such problems but flooding is something to consider wherever you look. If you arrive by air look down and you’ll see that Iloilo is barely above sea level and laced with rivers and fish ponds. Unless you are looking at properties during the rainy season, it can be very difficult to determine if a particular property floods. The worst type of flooding is caused by overflowing rivers. More transient flooding can be caused by poor drainage.  In Iloilo, flooding can be a passing inconvenience or a disaster when several feet of water and mud pour into your house. You must talk to neighbors, bystanders, pedicab drivers and anyone else you can find to gather information. Typhoon Frank (June 2008) caused terrible flooding problems in Jaro and Pavia subdivisions previously thought to be safe from flooding. There is a flood control project under construction. Sellers may tell you that this project will solve flooding problems, but only time will tell.
The road into a small Tigbauan, Iloilo subdivision after heavy rain.

The road into a small Tigbauan, Iloilo subdivision after heavy rain.

  • In the Philippines there is really no zoning or effective planning or land use regulation. Outside of subdivisions, it’s common to see big houses cheek-by-jowl with shacks and businesses. Just as the ever-present security guard is a private response to crime and weak law enforcement, subdivisions are a sort of privatized zoning. They have rules governing the types of houses that can be built, commercial uses and keeping of livestock. The rules are often poorly enforced but still can work to provide a more refined environment than you’ll find outside the subdivision.

For example, some gated subdivisions do not allow dogs to roam the subdivision roads and prohibit roosters and other farm animals such as pigs. I have seen and smelt pigs in high end subdivisions. The rules are hard to enforce. Keeping pigs and chickens is a god-given right in the Philippines and irresistible to the thrifty Ilonggo, even if quite well to do. A foreigner seeking to get rules enforced can become entangled in feuds.

  • Security. I consider Iloilo to be quite safe, but break-ins are a problem as they are elsewhere in the Philippines. We have friends whose house was broken into the very first night they stayed in their new house. Fortunately they slept through the robbery. They were in a subdivision, but an open one, no guards. Some have guards, but the streets are filled with pedicab drivers and other hangers-about.

There are a very few subdivisions that offer real security with strict admission requirements and roving patrols. Villa Soriano would not let me, a kano in, even with the excuse that I wanted to buy property. That’s strict. I was able to wander about Maria Louisa in Cebu, no problem. Villa Rosario also has pretty good security. Some subdivisions are quite open during the day but stricter at night. Without such security you’ll not want to leave your house unattended.

When I visit a subdivision I look around and gauge a “barbed wire index” as a clue to break in problems. If the compounds in the subdivision have lots of added barbed wire, rebar extensions on top of existing walls to hold even more barbed wire, I figure there is a reason.

I do feel that it’s easier to resell a property in a top subdivision in the City proper because affluent Filipino buyers value security and convenience.

See also /crime-against-foreigners-philippines/


Generally speaking, there are two types of sellers; those who hold real estate as an investment and are willing to wait as long as it takes to get the price they want.  Holding property for years in the Philippines is easy as real estate taxes are so low. Then there are those who are motivated sellers who really want to sell and are willing to negotiate. Some motivated sellers have unrealistic expectations, hoping to strike it rich, especially if a foreign buyer shows up. My approach for either type of seller is to decide what a property is worth to me and make an all cash offer. It may be well below the asking price. Probably it will be refused. Be very polite. Don’t lord it over the seller. Explain the problems you have in paying more; kids in college, exchange rates etc. Leave a calling card and ask them to contact you if they change their mind. Be patient. Eventually you’ll find a property you like and a motivated seller.

Monthly rentals suitable for foreigners seem pretty abundant, with monthly rent ranging from P6000 to P25000 per month with P6000 to P8000 typical for two bedroom apartments and  P10000 to P15000 for a decent but not lavish house. Really nice free-standing houses to rent can be quite hard to find.


Below are some real estate brokers who we have enjoyed working with — but of course this must be a conditional recommendation.  Always do your own research and make up your mind.  I do not accept any payment of any kind from any of these people.

Butch Guzman, Socorro Subdivision, Iloilo City, 0921-551-2717 from outside the Philippines +63-921-551-2717. If you want to send him an e-mail send it to: and I’ll get to him.

Mike Corro 0916-729-5472

Real Estate etiquette for foreigners.  You are not in Kansas any more.  Real estate brokers in the Philippines often struggle to survive.  Many do not own vehicles.  They may not have computers and can’t engage in lengthy e-mail correspondence with you. This does not mean they are fly-by-night operators, it’s just a reflection of how tough it is to survive in the Philippines. You may have to supply and pay for a vehicle such as a taxi.  If they do have a vehicle, give them a couple of hundred pesos to help with gas. Salespersons working for the big subdivisions may have nice vehicles to cart you around in.

Iloilo Real Estate Attorney. We have had very good luck with Jeanette Ong, Casa Plaza Building (adjoins the Atrium Shopping Center), Suite 210, Iloilo City, +63-336-3826, mobile 09209188170. Jeanette is a former Iloilo Registrar of Deeds. She specializes in real estate and has treated us in a honest and straightforward manner.

There’s a very useful Yahoo Group (e-mail list) about Philippine real estate. You can post real estate questions there. The group is run by Dave Williams who has years of experience with Philippine real estate and Philippine real estate problems. You’ll get an unvarnished advice from Mr. Williams. Click the button below to subscribe. It’s free, it’s not a high volume list, is strictly moderated to keep out spam and you can quit anytime

Below are snapshots of properties which we have looked at over the last three years.  It’s likely that many have been sold.  They are here just to give an idea of the Iloilo real estate market. We do not own or have any other interest in any of these properties nor do we receive any compensation of any kind for showing them here. They are here just to give non-residents dreaming of retiring in Iloilo an idea of the Iloilo real estate market.

Here’s an example of what can be done on a budget in the Philippines:

Budget House

Our friends bought a 100 square meter lot very near the beach in Villa, Iloilo City for less than $5,000.  It has a pretty view of the ocean and they have access to the beach only a few steps away. They are building a small (36 square meter) concrete house for less than $10,000.  The house can be expanded by another story.  This photo is taken from the future second floor of the house.


Beachfront land for sale, Iloilo Province, Philippines

This is a very nice beachfront lot. It lies between the National Highway and the ocean so there is traffic noise, otherwise it’s just about perfect. Sand is tan. There are coconut and flowering frangipani trees already on the property. Not much filling is necessary. It is not occupied. The lot is 30 to 45 minutes to Iloilo City. The price in 2007 was P2500 per m2, negotiable.  The mountains in the distance are in Antique Province.  This is given for reference purposes only.  We are not sure if it’s still for sale.

Ledesco Village Subdivision, Iloilo City, House and Lot P3M

House for Rent, Villa, Iloilo City

The best way of finding a place to rent is to cruise the streets and watch for signs like this.  Property owners put up signs like this so they can avoid paying a commission to a real estate agent — typically on month’s rent.

Beachfront for Sale at Oton Iloilo City, Panay Island, Philippines  600 m2 @ P2500 located in Oton. Also available 200m2 adjoining and 1243 beachfront (?) @2000. No public water

Beachfront for Sale at Oton Iloilo City, Panay Island, Philippines 600 m2 @ P2500 located in Oton. Also available 200m2 adjoining and 1243 beachfront (?) @2000. No public water

Swish Southville Subdivision, San Jose Street, Iloilo City

Swish Southville Subdivision, San Jose Street, Iloilo City

"Main Street" Southville Subdivision, Iloilo Iloilo City, Panay Island, Philippines  In December 2006 we looked at a large four bedroom house here. The price was P 9M. We looked at it again in August 2007. The price, fully furnished, was P 7M.

P 7,000,000 house for sale in Southville Subdivision, Iloilo City

P 7,000,000 house for sale in Southville Subdivision, Iloilo City. Southville is mostly built-out subdivision.  Unlike some other subdivisions, maintenance and security at Southville seems good.

This house in Lawaan, Iloilo City, sold for P1.4 million -- a good deal.

This house in Lawaan, Iloilo City, sold for P1.4 million — a good deal.

A big new house goes up in the Metropolis subdivision, Iloilo City

A big new house goes up in the Metropolis subdivision, Iloilo City

Lots for sale at Metropolis subdivision, Iloilo, City

Lots for sale at Metropolis subdivision, Iloilo, City

Model homes on a model street: Savannah Subdivision, Oton, Ilolio

Model homes on a model street: Savannah Subdivision, Oton, Ilolio. Note no walls and no security grills.  That’s what makes it look like a suburban subdivision in the west?

800m2 Lot, Socorro Subdivision, Molo, Iloilo City, P3,300m2

800m2 Lot, Socorro Subdivision, Molo, Iloilo City, P3,300 per square meter.  Socorro is an older, quiet and convenient.  It is closed, gated, guarded and patrolled after dark but is open during the day.  This is one of the place I take my walks.

House in Socorro Subdivision, Iloilo Ciity

House in Socorro Subdivision, Iloilo City

We considered buying this interesting house in the Socorro subdivision.  It is on a 1,000 square meter lot.  We’ve heard it sold for P 5 million.  The new owners have made improvements to it.

Gran Plains Subdivision, Jaro Iloilo City

Gran Plains Subdivision, Jaro Iloilo City

Some of the biggest subdivisions in the Jaro district of Iloilo were affected by the typhoon Frank flooding of 2008.  Do you homework before buying a lot anywhere in Iloilo City.  Gran Plains and several other Jaro subdivisions were not flooded.

Providence subdivision, Iloilo City

Providence subdivision, Iloilo City

Townhouses for Rent in Villa, Iloilo City, 3 BR, P20,000 per month

Townhouses for Rent in Villa, Iloilo City, 3 BR, pricey at P20,000 per month

Apartments for rent in Villa, Iloilo City, Philippines

This is just a snapshot I took while walking in Arevalo (Villa), a pleasant westerly part of Iloilo City. We have friends who rented in this compound so we got to see three of the apartments. Monthly rents here are about P6,000 to P8,000 per month.  It seems like a good choice for basic housing.   Contact Socemo “Simone” Paraguya at 033-336-3955.

There seems to be many rentals available in this part of the city. We think it’s a good place to live, less crowded and more green than the city proper with good transportation into the city center via jeepney or taxi. The Arevalo public market is convenient. To find a rental you just have to walk the main streets and look for signs. Also check the Landheights Subdivision for rentals. A pedicab driver can tour you around the subdivision.

Pavia Iloilo: 3463 square meters of titled mountain view land for sale Iloilo City, Philippines  View of adjoining property reportedly purchased by Ayala Land for future development.

Pavia Iloilo: 3463 square meters of titled mountain view land for sale Iloilo City, Philippines View of adjoining property reportedly purchased by Ayala Land for future development.

Pavia, Iloilo land for sale

Pavia, Iloilo land for sale

Pavia Iloilo: 3463 square meters of titled mountain view land for sale

This property is an easy drive out of Iloilo City. It’s level and requires only little filling. It has long frontage of concrete road plus additional right of way to the far end of the property. Pretty mountain views. Adjoins large tract reportedly acquired by Ayala Land for future development. Also close to Providence and Savannah subdivisions but is priced at less than one-half per square meter. Buy this land, keep the part you want to build on and sell the balance. Surveyed. Drainage system along road. A good buy at P1000 per square meter. Contact Butch Guzman 63-921-551-2717. 0921-551-2717 from the Philippines.

Santa Barbara Heights subdivision

Santa Barbara Heights subdivision

This new subdivision adjoins the beautiful and historic Santa Barbara, Iloilo golf course.  Any golfer (or anyone else) should look at this subdivision.  It’s quite beautiful.  We don’t have prices or other details but you can get contact information from the photo above.

Santa Barbara Heights subdivision

Santa Barbara Heights subdivision

Santa Barbara Heights subdivision

Santa Barbara Heights subdivision

Santa Barbara Heights subdivision

Santa Barbara Heights subdivision

Comments (13) Write a comment

  1. Received this as a comment on this blog. Am posting here as it’s interesting. No endorsement is meant.


    OR FOR ILOILO CITY ONLY— 4,500 per sqm LOT — house of 70 sq m– is practically!!!



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  4. My advice, painfully gained by personal experience and that of other foreigner friends, do NOT do it. Many want to argue, I don’t, It’s the path to huge headaches, heartaches and an empty wallet. Do NOT invest in/live in family member’s homes. Trust me on this. Stand on your own two feet.


  5. Thank you Bob and Carol, this is an excellent and informative article, one that I would have written myself had I the skills and the perseverance 😉

    In general, every word you’ve written is as true in most provincial cites here in Central Luzon, except prices tend to be higher here.

    People really, really, really need to re-evaluate their idea of moving to the Philippines and ‘buying their dream house’ until they, at least, have several years experience actully living here.

    In the US, folks have been trained since elementary school to believe in the maxim “it’s better to buy than rent”.

    This is no longer as true in the US as it once was, it most certainly is NOT true in the majority of cases here in the Philippines.

    In areas popular with foreigners the land is dotted with unsalable “KanoKastles”, built by foreigners who want to “show the Filipinos how houses ought to be built”, which are pretty much unsalable … or, at best take years and years to sell.

    By all means, folks, take your time and learn what you are doing … a single family house in the Philippines is not an “investment”. I liken it more to owning a yacht … if you can afford it, if you want a lifetime hobby, and if you get into with the knowledge it will never be worth what you have invested in it, then buy it … I love yachts myself … but I’m not buying with rose colored glasses.


    • Thanks Dave. Coming from you that’s high praise indeed. Now, as you know we did not follow our own advice. First we bought land. It’s something of an addiction. We could not stop ourselves from wanting to look at real estate. Then we found a lot we really loved and bought it. Then we we had to fence the lot. Why — probably no good reason. By then we had quite a bit of money invested but we were getting no return of any kind. Since we had bought the land and fenced it, we were almost forced to build on it. I have to disclose what was a big factor in our situation — the very low rate of real return on invested money. We had some funds from selling our house in the U.S. The real rate of return on those funds was very low, but for the sake of argument, let’s say it was 3%. We hoped we could build a modest house for about $50,000. With the lot and fence our “investment” would be maybe $115,000. The real rate of return on $115,000 at 3% is about $4,600 per year or $290 per month.

      We were pretty familiar with rentals in our area and what kind of rental we would be satisfied with. While there are houses for rent for P15,000 ($350), a house we’d be happy in would cost P25,000 ($581) and it probably would not have the land area we’d like for gardening, a passion of Carol’s. So there you have it. In the end the rationale was in part financial and in part quality of life.

      We realize there are all sorts of things that could go wrong. We have neighbors who are going to have pigs. Other neighbors have a new sound system. Carol could predecease me and I could be out of a place to live. But overall, so far so good. I am almost 70 and I really don’t want to rent and don’t want to move. We immensely enjoy life in our new house. I don’t recommend that anyone else follow our example. Also keep in mind that we picked our location carefully so that we have good access to shopping and medical care and that we lived here and rented for four years before we built.


  6. Thank you for writing about your travails in Iloilo. I did not realize it was flat and easily flooded.


    • While much of Iloilo is subject to flooding, some areas are not. You just have to shop for existing homes and property very carefully.


  7. This is from a reader who would like to help you with real estate. I don’t know her so can’t recommend one way or another.

    E-mail :
    Hi everyone!Anyone planning to reside in Iloilo? I’m a real estate agent. You can choose from different varieties: subdivisions, foreclosed houses, or near in the city houses. Iloilo is the best place to settle down especially if your getting old 🙂 People are nice, “malambing”, friendly, and a lot safer compare in manila. I hope I could help!email me if your interested!


    • My wife and i am looking at retiring in a couple years and i am curious as to what a lot would cost me in iloilo. We are looking at living somewhere near Malinao,Albay.

      I was thinking of basically having a lot where we could build a house for us and maybe have another smaller house built that we could rent out for some income.

      we are not looking at an big house just the typical house 250 – 300 sq meters

      any information is appreciated.



      • Fred,

        For us a three hundred square meter house is pretty big — about 3,300 square feet! Lot prices are highly variable, say from P8,000 per square meter in a top subdivision in Iloilo City and decreasing as you get further out of the city. We paid P1,200 per square meter about 25KM out of the city. Rural farm land can be much less.

        Bob and Carol


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