Manila’s Bel-Air Neighbourhood Is as Posh as It Sounds
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Manila’s Bel-Air Neighbourhood Is as Posh as It Sounds

The enclave, close to the “Wall Street of the Philippines” and top schools, is among the affluent pockets benefitting from a surge in the capital’s luxury home prices

By ROB CSERNYIK
Mon, May 13, 2024 8:40amGrey Clock 4 min

Makati, a major business district in the Philippines, has roots dating to the 17th century, but it wasn’t until the mid-1900s that the city began its rapid development.

Within that urban hub, the planned community of Bel-Air, once suburban housing requested by Philippine Airlines pilots (hence “Air” in the name) has matured into one of the most upmarket communities in Metro Manila. It’s now among the affluent pockets benefitting from a high-end housing boom in the Philippine capital, which led the world in luxury price growth last year, according to the latest Prime Global Cities Index from London-based property firm Knight Frank.

Manila’s luxury home prices remained the fastest rising in the world in the first quarter of this year as well.

“This increase is driven by rising housing demand, with agents reporting a surge in requirements from expatriates returning to manage local businesses as the economy shows strong performance,” Knight Frank wrote in the report.

The name Bel-Air refers to both the barangay—an administrative division of a larger city—and to Bel-Air Village, one of several exclusive gated housing communities developed in Makati. Bel-Air Village was developed in four phases during the 1950s and 1960s, identified by number.

With just over 36,000 residents according to the 2020 Philippine census, Barangay Bel-Air has the second-largest population of Makati’s 33 barangays. Makati, with a population of nearly 630,0000, is now a major Asian economic centre, home to leading local and multinational enterprises and known colloquially as the Wall Street of the Philippines.

Boundaries

The level, tree-lined streets of Bel-Air cover 171.2 hectares (more than 420 acres) in central Makati, southeast of Manila.

Barangay Bel-Air’s borders unevenly resemble a tobacco pipe and the borders touch several others. Poblacion and Guadalupe Viejo bound it to the north, Urandeta, San Lorenzo and Forbes Park to the south, Guadalupe Viejo and Pinagkaisahan to the east and Santa Cruz and San Antonio to the west.

While Bel-Air Village is only made up of residences, the wider barangay encompasses mixed-use areas like Salcedo Village. Barangay Bel-Air also includes the Ayala North office development, Ayala Triangle Gardens and the Buendia Avenue Extension.

Price

A survey of online real estate listings by financial company Digido indicated buyers can expect to spend between 135 million to 424 million pesos (US$2.35 million to US$7.39 million) when purchasing in Barangay Bel-Air.

At the price spectrum’s lower end, luxury buyers can purchase condos or Bel-Air Village homes with smaller living spaces or fewer amenities and updates.

A Knight Frank listing for a four-bedroom, two-bathroom, two-story home in Bel-Air 1, with a pool and parking for two cars costs 220 million pesos. Meanwhile, a five-bedroom, tri-level penthouse in Barangay Bel-Air’s Avignon Tower is selling for 230 million pesos.

A review of listings from the DotProperty multiple listing service show updated and newer build four- or five-bedroom homes in Bel Air Village priced between 350 million and 400 million pesos. A Luxe Realty listing for a two-story Bel-Air 4 house with a 698-square-meter lot is at the market’s higher end, 400 million pesos. It has four bedrooms, three baths, a swimming pool, gazebo, rooms for domestic staff and a three-car garage.

Housing Stock

Bel-Air Village has 950 lots and 32 streets, on which three- to five-bedroom homes are common. Homes frequently feature amenities like swimming pools, outdoor living spaces like lanais and multi-car garages. Original Bel-Air homes date from the 1950s and ’60s and borrow architectural cues taken from mid-century American suburban developments. Light-filled, recently constructed luxury homes are also available to buyers at a premium.

Luxury condominium options within Barangay Bel-Air include the 46-story, four-tower Jazz Residences and the 36-story Regency at Salcedo.

Amenities

Bel-Air residents live near some of the best high-end shopping in the Philippines. This includes the upmarket Glorietta and Greenbelt malls. The new One Ayala mixed-use development, which includes offices, retail, a four-star hotel and a public transport hub, is expected to fully open this year.

Bel-Air is located a short drive from the Manila Polo Club and the members-only Manila Golf and Country Club in neighbouring Forbes Park, the latter of which offers skyline views from the greens.

Bel-Air families are spoiled for choice regarding school options. Several faith-based and international schools are within the city of Makati. Bel-Air is also a 15-minute drive from two of Metro Manila’s most prestigious schools, both in Bonifacio Global City. International School Manila offers middle and high school education, while the British School Manila educates students from nursery school through high school graduation.

What Makes It Unique

Properties in the gated Bel-Air Village offer residents privacy, security and access to exclusive facilities like badminton and basketball courts, function rooms and a gym. Though metro Manila is known for having few green spaces, Bel-Air 2 and 3 have parks.

Bel-Air residents are within walking distance to Makati’s Ayala Triangle Gardens, a leafy two-hectare urban park. Residents can also shop for fresh food and other wares at the 100-plus vendor Salcedo Community Market, open every Saturday at Jamie C. Velasquez Park in Salcedo Village.

Who Lives There

Bel-Air households skew older and smaller than other parts of Metro Manila, but the barangay’s central location, cleanliness and security make it attractive to families with school-age children. Convenient access to Makati’s central business district makes Bel-Air appealing to executives who work there. Makati is also home to several embassies, with Bel-Air housing the Consulates General of Ireland and San Marino.

Notable Residents

Former Manila mayor Lito Atienza and his son, television host and former Manila city councilor Kim “Kuya Kim” Atienza, are among the residents who have lived in the barangay over the years. Actors Dominic Ochoa, Dingdong Dantes and Marian Rivera have also called Bel-Air home over the years

Outlook

Manila experienced a 26.2% year-over-year increase in the price of luxury homes in the first quarter, according to Knight Frank, the highest of the 45 major cities around the world ranked in its index released Friday.

Colliers International expects the ultra-luxury segment of Philippine real estate to remain resilient “amid the rising interest and mortgage rates.” The firm reported Makati central business district has seen improved rates of condominiums leased in 2023.

“Leasing demand continues to be driven by returning expatriates looking for bigger units that are also near offices and international schools,” the Colliers report said.

With luxury developments proliferating in other areas of Metro Manila, these factors may suggest future scarcity and price growth in elite barangays like Bel-Air.



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The cost of owning a home in an LGBTQ-friendly area in the U.S. comes with a hefty price premium of almost 50%, according to a report Wednesday from Redfin.

In a metropolitan area with state laws protecting LGBTQ people from housing discrimination, a home buyer needs to earn an annual income of $150,364 to afford a median priced home. That’s 46.8% more than the $102,435 buyers need to earn to afford a home in places without such protections, the online property portal said.

For the purposes of their report, a metro is considered to have protections if the state it’s located in prohibits housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity, Redfin explained. In the case of metro areas which span multiple states, Redfin considered the metro to have protections if at least one of the states it’s located in prohibits such discrimination.

“LGBTQ+ Americans face disproportionately large barriers to homeownership,” said Redfin senior economist Elijah de la Campa in the report. “On top of paying a premium to live somewhere that feels safe, many LGBTQ+ house hunters are earning less than the typical U.S. worker, and face discrimination while shopping for homes despite laws that prohibit it.”

The locales where individuals identifying as LGBTQ make up the largest share of the adult population are also those where housing is the least affordable, the report found.

In San Francisco, where 6.7% of the adult population identifies as LGBTQ—the highest share of any of the 54 metropolitan areas Redfin analyzed—only 5.1% of listings last year were affordable based on the median local income, one of the lowest shares in the country.

In Portland, Oregon, which had the second highest share of LGBTQ adults at 6%, only 6.7% of homes for sale were affordable; in Austin, Texas, where 5.9% of the adult population identifies as LGBTQ, 2.9% of listings were affordable.

And in Seattle and Los Angeles, where LGBTQ adults make up 5.2% and 5.1% of the population, 4.8% and 1.9% of homes for sale were affordable, respectively.

All but one of those top LGBTQ metros—Austin—has state-level protections, the report said.

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