FFE Magazine

Real Estate WARNING: How to know you’re not buying in a danger Zone

Real estate in the Philippines is rapidly expanding. Investing in real estate highly attractive now thanks to a projected increase of 26,000 new units between the years 2011-2015.


                But before you get excited, full disclosure regarding the state of the property you want to purchase is very important. This will help protect your investment from risks. In the country, just some of these risks include the weather and natural calamities like landslides, earthquakes and flooding.


                Why is it important to know if your property sits on a landslide, earthquake or flood-prone area?


Risks of real estate investing


The Pacific Ring of Fire covers the Philippine Trench.


The Philippines is on an area in the Pacific Ocean known as the Pacific Ring of Fire. Countries which are in the ring of fire experience the most earthquakes in the whole world. Moreover, the country also experiences a parade of typhoons by the latter half of a year. These natural phenomena can potentially destroy any property in the blink of an eye.


                However, with information on your side you won’t have to experience the devastation of these calamities. Buying a real estate with fewer risks of calamities means you’re securing your long-term investments. You won’t have to spend so much money on repairs brought about by water damage or collapse. It is also good to know that perennial damage brought by floods or the risk of landslides can affect the value of your property. There are properties all over Metro Manila today that have depreciated in value through the years because they were haphazardly built over flood, earthquake and landslide prone areas.


Torrential rains can cause waist-deep flooding in some areas in the Metro.          


  During typhoons, scenes of Filipinos packing their bags and moving to relief centres are common. This is to keep them and their properties safe from floods. But perhaps the greatest reason why you should avoid danger zones is personal safety. No one can tell when these calamities may strike. When they do come, we should be somewhere that is completely safe.


                To remove the threat to life, property and the hassle of finding buyers or moving to a new place, be sure you are buying houses or units in places that are safe from these calamities. But how can you tell if an area is prone to calamities?


How to spot landslide, earthquake and flood-prone areas


                It is important to inspect properties personally to spot these tell-tale signs of landslide, earthquake or flooding. If you know where to look, clues are there to tell us if a building or an area is prone to calamities.


1. Check for floodlines. Floodlines are noticeable dark staining on the surfaces of buildings, walls and other standing structures. Keep an eye out for surfaces that do not usually get repainted or cleaned up like public or private properties, concrete walls and fences, vacant lots and unoccupied properties.


2. Check for bodies of water. Flooding can happen when rivers, dams and lakes cannot accommodate the level of rising water due to storms. Rivers and smaller moving bodies of water are natural canals that take water to the sea. But because of silt and garbage, water cannot easily travel away from land, leading to flooding in the area.


Cracked walls may mean soft foundation.


3. Check for cracks on the walls. Buildings that are constructed on foundations that are soft or prone to liquefaction and earthquakes tend to break. Visible cracks on the walls, especially away from the corners where the foundation is more solid, may mean that the building is standing on soft soil or near a fault line. Note that not all cracks mean that a building is over earthquake-prone areas.


4. Check for inclined planes. The building code restricts the construction of buildings on certain angles of land. Inclined planes are prone to move and result to a landslide when too much water makes the soil runny or if earthquakes liquefy the land. Buildings on inclined planes may also get wrecked by debris coming from higher ground like rocks, soil, or trees.


                Luckily for us now, there are ways to check if the area where we plan to buy land is prone to calamities. Maps showing which parts of the Philippines are prone to landslides, earthquakes and flooding are accessible to the public.


How to avoid calamity hot spots


                Science and government institutions are on our side if we want to buy real estate with fewer risks. Here are some tips when buying properties in the country:


1. Check geo-hazard maps before buying properties. The government is encouraging the public to become more aware of the prevalence of calamities in certain areas in the Philippines. Geohazard maps have also been made to help improve preparedness measures and to prevent the construction and selling of real estate in risky areas.


a. Nababaha.com shows visual maps of flood-prone places in the Philippines and expected height of floods.


b. Phivolcs shows active fault lines all over the country and places where soil liquefaction may occur. Aside from that, the latest local earthquake updates and preparedness guides can also be accessed in their website.


c. Project NOAH shows flood hazard maps and water level measurements along major water basins across the country.


2. Google news regarding calamities in the neighborhood. The local national news sites are good places to search for disaster prone areas. Simply Google the name of the neighborhood and watch for news regarding flooding and instances of landslides in the past.


3. Ask the neighbor and barangay office. When dropping by the building for an ocular inspection, don’t leave before asking the neighbours about their experiences with flooding and earthquakes. Head to sari-sari stores or the barangay hall and ask questions regarding calamities in the area. Real estate agents and developers are not the best source of information regarding calamities because they aim to sell.


Equipped with sufficient information, you don’t have to worry about your investment going to waste.


Avoid a failed investment and protect your hard-earned cash by researching for risks that may occur in the area. Common sense will tell us that relying on adverts by sellers alone is not enough to ensure we’re getting all the information we need to know when we want to purchase a property. Use all possible resources at your disposal to get a good investment.



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