Low-Cost Housing Magnates Reap Windfall From Surging Demand For Affordable Homes In The Philippines

This story appears in the August 2022 issue of Forbes Asia. Subscribe to Forbes Asia

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This story is part of Forbes’ coverage of Philippines’ Richest 2022. See the full list here.

Low-cost housing magnates Luis Yu Jr. (pictured left) and Mariano Martinez Jr. saw their wealth climb as shares of their mass housing company 8990 Holdings rose by over a third in the past year. Surging demand for affordable homes across the island nation elevated Yu, chairman emeritus, to No. 28 on the list with a net worth of $545 million, while Martinez, chairman, jumped to No. 44 with a net worth of $250 million.

The Cebu City company delivered over 11,500 houses in 2021, leading to a 43% uptick in sales from a year earlier and its highest-ever net profit of 7.2 billion pesos ($127.7 million). The sales streak continued in the first half of this year, with net profit rising 5.5% to 3.6 billion pesos. 8990 primarily targets customers from lower income groups, offering in-house financing to homebuyers with a steady income, with a minimum down payment—as little as 2%—required. In a note to shareholders, 8990 CEO Anthony Sotto said the company had “defied all the odds,” despite the pandemic and a typhoon that hit one of its main housing markets.

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Over the next eight years, 8990 expects potential sales to balloon to 164 billion pesos, buttressed by a 729ha land bank that includes undeveloped sites with permits. According to the Philippines’ Subdivision and Housing Development Association, nearly 5 million houses are needed by 2030 to meet the demand for low-cost housing.

The name 8990 is partly inspired by the once-popular Nokia 8890 phone. Yu and Martinez, who worked together on mass housing projects over two decades ago, launched the company as an IT and telecoms services provider in 2005. It shed that business in 2012 to create the current holding company, which is solely focused on property development.



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