Investing in the Motherland

Tom Riggio paid for his Splendido condotel in cash.

Tom Riggio, an apartment owner from Queens, visited the Philippines and parts of Asia in the 1970s and loved everything about the country – the idyllic rural life, the richly delicious food, the kindness and warmth of the Filipinos. On his second visit years later, he married a Filipino woman.

Now separated and retired, Tom would like to go back. He bought a property from Sta. Lucia Land and paid more than $76,000 in cash for a unit at Splendido Taal Residential Golf and Country Club 2 in Tagaytay City, a popular tourism destination in Cavite province. The property overlooks the breathtaking Taal volcano in nearby breezy Batangas province. Although it remains an active volcano, Taal is remote enough to view from a safe distance. Sparks of activity may appear like firecrackers.

“It’s a nice investment,” Tom told The FilAm at a recent Sta. Lucia presentation at the Philippine Consulate’s Kalayaan Hall. “And I love the country.”

Sta. Lucia introduced its latest real estate offering, the Splendido Taal Residential Golf and Country Club, to the FilAm community, touting it as the “standard for luxury living.” The amenities are plenty – restaurants, game rooms, badminton courts, saunas, swimming pool, a bowling alley, not to mention the sprawling 18-hole golf course designed by Greg Norman.

But beyond the glossy features, the property has a unique payment plan. You put a down payment on the condotel over a three-year period while the property is being constructed. After the building goes up, the owner can rent it out through a management company. The unit is run like a hotel and the rental fee will help defray the rest of your amortization. Dividends are expected in about five years.

As the dwelling is operated like a hotel, the owner may stay in the unit free for a limited period of 30 days, as in an annual timeshare arrangement. The unit is first and foremost an investment more than a personal vacation house.

For retirees enjoying the payoff from their 401 K pension funds, Sta. Lucia made the case for Splendido 2, a 15-story building with fully furnished studios to two-bedroom units. During the presentation, FilAms wishing to cash in on the resurgent Philippine boom and reestablish their ties with the Motherland could be seen computing the exchange rate on their iPhones.

Check out this slide show for fees and other details.

Splendido Tower 2 with a view of Taal.

Still-unfurnished unit

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