TRIBUNE.NET.PH | Making good living in memorial properties
This year’s 1 November observance of All Saints’ Day will surely be spent with unusual quietude as memorial parks have been ordered closed by the government from 29 October to 4 November. The general public receives this with some sadness since Undas is a big to-do among Filipino families who are used to making memorial parks their “second home” come this time of the year.
While cemeteries are mainly defined as a solemn place for the dead, there is another context that recent buyers of memorial plots are starting to embrace. Lately, as an investment that would fulfill a future need (although a rather stark reality) or as an asset that one could later unload as well.
But yes, besides being a pre-need acquisition, one could think of purchasing a memorial plot much like the way a buyer would put hard-earned money in a house and lot. Except that, in this case, the scale is smaller, the price cheaper and the risks lower.
While this pandemic has generally been a tough and dark time, it’s also a period for taking stock of practical things — personal wealth and investments included.
Those with funds to spare, advised Estella Aguilar, cluster head of Golden Haven Memorial Park in South Mindanao, are encouraged to start getting a plan while they can afford it. “Memorial plots are considered as real estate.
Realistically, everyone would eventually need it and thus, should invest in one. I understand people could be hesitant because of the mood of COVID-19 times but if you take the practical approach, it can be an investment opportunity. The value of a property is low today but you’ll be sure that the its value will continue to appreciate especially after the pandemic.”
Golden Haven is the biggest chain of memorial parks in the Philippines, It was incorporated in 16 November 1982 and has 35 developments in 32 locations nationwide. The company also constructs and runs columbarium facilities, including a 20,000-vault columbarium located beneath the Sanctuario de San Ezekiel Moreno chapel in Las Piñas. It became a publicly listed company in 6 March 2018.
“We noticed that some who have previously invested in a memorial lot and need money because of the financial crisis are selling their plots. If they haven’t fully paid their plots they look for buyers who will assume their balance,” Aguilar added. “Since the value of a plot in Golden Haven increases every year, with our highest value appreciation reaching as much as 67 percent per annum, they realize that this is indeed a good time to unload.”
Aguilar also cited that in Golden Haven Cebu, which opened in 2008, a basic lawn lot package was sold at P25,000. But fast-forward to 2020, the same plot is now valued at P234,000. But for new clients, she added, opportunities to invest are still open since the company offers periodical promotions especially during this time of the year. She also shared a recent sale made for a Cagayan de Oro plot that was valued at P37,000 in 2012 and was sold for P80,000 (with an actual at-need value of P134,000).
Buyers may look into four types of packages: lawn lot, garden niche, family patio and family estate. The family estate may construct a mausoleum, with design and construction in consultation and for approval by Golden Haven.
Marketing head for services Lloyd Cunanan cited this new mindset as a growing trend among new buyers, “We’re veering away from the traditional way of looking at things wherein a memorial lot is bought with urgency or at need. But price of a plot bought at need will most likely be double or triple the amount. In our communications, we try to make our readers understand that getting a memorial plan is an investment because the value rises exponentially. It’s not really an issue whether you bought it for your self or loved ones. Or, as something you’ll consider selling later.”
Buyers in their late 20s to early 40s are the target market in memorial plot investment, noted Aguilar, “Though some would still think of it as a morbid idea, you may want to consider the small starting capital, a low-risk venture and a rate of appreciation that’s higher than in housing.”
“Perhaps they’re still rank and file employees because they’re young and just starting out,” surmised Cunanan. “But still, they can avail themselves of packages where they only pay a monthly amortization of around P790 for a lawn lot with a total package cost starting at P53,000. Or, at the other end of the spectrum, around P2,490 monthly amortization for garden lot packages starting at P167,000.
The investment, he further described is “low committal, as a buyer doesn’t even need to check out his property since care and maintenance is taken care of by our park administrators.”
Of course, all Golden Haven Memorial Parks and its well-thought-out landscapes and facilities are more than enough returns for one’s money. Each location is unique as its developer recreates the world’s iconic landmarks for loved ones of the deceased to enjoy during their visits.
Think of Brazil’s Christ the Redeemer replicated in Golden Haven in Cagayan de Oro; touches of Spanish architecture in Golden Haven Las Piñas; or ornate Italian details in structures and walls at Golden Haven in Cebu. All these, set in vast gardens sprawling with greenery and shaded with flowering trees.
In keeping with the urgent health needs of COVID-19 times, Cunanan said strict protocols required in their business and in accordance with the policies of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) are highly observed.
On memorial parks in the new-normal and beyond, Cunanan concluded, “There’s always a silver lining to this pandemic and I think that silver lining is evident in the stories of our investors. There is low risk but the exponential returns will always be there. There’s no other way but for property to go up.”