Cebu Landmasters’ Jose Soberano III: We can overcome challenges together

2020 was definitely a year of challenges and uncertainty.

The crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic greatly impacted our country and its critical sectors.This unprecedented time led to the decline of the Philippine Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 9.5 percent, ending its period of uninterrupted growth for 21 years. At the end of 2020, our country had over 474,000 recorded COVID-19 cases with no city spared.

In Cebu Landmasters (CLI), the overall well-being of our people is of our utmost priority. When the pandemic it, we immediately took the necessary steps and applied the full measures in all our properties to ensure the health, safety, and financial stability of our employees, stakeholders, and communities the best way possible.

Contrary to most, we did not downsize our company but rather we kept our entire workforce and even increased our organic headcount to over 600 employees in 2020. We provided financial assistance to our more than 5,000 third-party construction workers and maintenance workers through supplementary weekly allowances. We supported our VisMin communities by donating food packs and medical supplies to 18 cities and 30 barangays, and we also took part in the construction of several quarantine centers to accommodate COVID-19 patients.

As we took care of our people and communities, we also made sure to quickly address the shifting needs of our customers. We adapted to the new norm and heavily invested on online platforms and offered flexible payment terms to make buying transactions more accessible and more convenient for our sellers and buyers. We also formed a new Customer Relations department to handle all customer queries and address all payment issues that were largely impacted by the pandemic.

Despite the challenges, CLI remained resilient with its performance. At the end of 2020, we sold 5,300 units across key cities in Visayas and Mindanao and achieved record reservation sales of P14.25 billion in 2020, a 12.4% growth from the previous year’s P12.67 billion. Our parent NIAT reached Php 1.85B, only an 8% decline versus its 2019 figures. We attribute this solid performance to the heightened demand for our mid-end and economic residential developments, our recurring income from our hotel which maintained a healthy occupancy rate throughout the pandemic, and CLI’s VisMin unique expertise and advantage.

Cebu Landmasters has also sustained its market leadership in the Visayas and Mindanao regions for three consecutive years. Based on a real estate market study by Santos Knight Frank as of Q3 2020, they disclosed that CLI has the largest market share of 12% among real estate firms providing vertical and horizontal projects in VisMin.

In recognition of the CLI’s resilient performance in 2020, we have announced a cash dividend of Php 0.25 per share to shareholders on record as of April 16, 2021, to be paid out on May 10, 2021. Since we listed in June 2017, CLI has already declared a total of Php 0.85 per share in cash dividends.

As CLI prepares to further strengthen its capital base, a 123% stock dividend was also declared by the Board and approved by the shareholders during a special stockholders’ meeting last February 26, 2021.

To date, we have a total of 25 projects in the pipeline; 15 of these are Php 19 billion residential developments that will be launched this year, supplying over 7,500 units to the sustainable housing market.

In this new normal, the value of homes has never been greater. Homes have replaced other destinations and become offices, classrooms, gyms, restaurants and more. The value of homes in the period of the pandemic amplified the demand for CLI’s well-priced, well-managed offerings that assure quality, safety and security. CLI seized this opportunity as we continued to increase our housing inventory and launch projects that focused on the market segment that needed us the most which are the end-users in the economic and mid-market segment. This situation also allowed us to take a step back and review our upcoming developments. We quickly reassessed our plans and considered the new normal in our offerings – such as increasing open spaces for condominiums and subdivisions, transforming enclosed retail spaces and malls to a good mix of open-air venues, incorporating clinics in our properties, offering medical facilities and several others.

2020 may have looked grim but CLI looked at the brighter side of this obscure year. We adapted to change and seized the opportunities, which drove CLI to become an industry outlier amidst all uncertainties brought by the pandemic.

We are not out of the woods yet but there is so much hope and promise – especially now that the vaccine is already being rolled out. Thus, I look at 2021 as a year of “rebound and abound”. CLI is expected to continue its growth trajectory, targeting 15% to 20% upside. We are allocating a total of Php 12 billion for capital xpenditure in 2021 to expand our landbank, increase total GLA to 28,000 sqm — almost double from 2020, and complete on-going projects of our residential, offices, mixed-use, hotels, and townships developments across Visayas and Mindanao.

With this, allow me to thank the whole Cebu Landmasters family – from our employees to our partner brokers and agents, and most especially our Board of Directors – for the steadfast commitment and dedication despite all odds. We braved the struggles and uncertainties of 2020 and swiftly adapted to change because of you. We look forward to doing better as we continue to thrive together in 2021.

From our CLI family to yours, we wish you good health and safety amidst these difficult times. As we are still on the path to recovery, let us not forget to do our part in helping out, reaching out, and serving others. With fortitude, solidarity, and an unwavering faith in Lord, we can overcome challenges together.

Daghang salamat!