By Janine Marie D. Soliman

HOUSING PRICES saw an uptick in the first three months of the year, after more Filipinos acquired loans for homes, particularly on residential condominiums, latest data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed.

Costs to acquire homes slightly rose by 1.1% in the January to March period from the comparable period a year ago, according to the central bank’s residential real estate price index (RREPI) released Friday.

The RREPI is the BSP’s tool that measures the average change in home prices across building types and locations, allowing regulators to assess overall real estate and market conditions and monitor any looming bubbles in the property sector.

A housing price index is also among the indicators of financial soundness as identified by the International Monetary Fund.

According to the BSP, seven out of 10 or 69% of real estate loans in the first quarter were made for the purchase of new housing units. Broken down, bulk or 48.4% of residential property loans accounted for condominium units, which was followed by single detached units at 43.3% and townhouses at 7.9%.

Loans granted expanded in all housing unit types versus its year-ago levels, with condominium units logging the fastest growth of 26.9%.

Meanwhile, average residential property prices in the National Capital Region (NCR) and areas outside NCR (AONCR) both picked up pace by 1.1% in the January to March period, with NCR real estate prices reverting to the positive levels from a decline in the last quarter of 2016. While average residential property prices in AONCR were steady by end-March.

“In NCR, the higher growth in prices of single detached houses and townhouses outweighed the slower increase in prices of condominium units,” the BSP stated.

In contrast, condominium units in AONCR logged a double digit expansion, which offset the slight decrease in prices of single detached houses and townhouses.

Condominiums were also reported to be the most purchased in NCR, while single detached houses were much preferred in AONCR.

Broken down, NCR comprised bulk or 44.8% of total number of residential real estate loans granted by end-March, followed by CALABARZON at 29.3%, Central Luzon at 6.7%, Central Visayas at 5.7%, Western Visayas at 5.1%, Davao region at 3.2%, and Northern Mindanao at 1.5%, amounting to a total of 96.3% in total housing loans granted by local lenders.

The BSP collects RREPI data from the mandatory reports submitted by banks, which cover the amounts and profiles of the home loans which they hand out every quarter.

TAGS: home prices, real estate