Philippine Daily Inquirer
CEBU LANDMASTERS GEARS UP FOR I TS I PO
ose “Joe” Soberano, president and CEO of Cebu Landmasters, Inc., has consistently been in the right place at the right time. That’s how the former top executive of Ayala Land’s Cebu Holdings Inc. explains the rapid growth of his company founded only in 2003 to become the leading real estate firm in Metro Cebu and possibly in the VisayasMindanao by the end of this decade.
More importantly, he has the organizational skills, business acumen and drive to act on his intuition, according to industry experts who have tracked the career of the affable Soberano who at one time thought his calling was to be in public service.
Soberano’s break came in 2003 when he spotted opportunities in the town of Balamban in the Cebu countryside near his hometown, Pinamungahan.
Even then, Balamban was already home to a growing shipbuilding industry with about 2,000 workers but there was no housing development in the area. Soberano saw the need to address this gap and build his business.
“I presented my subdivision project to the employees of the company in an auditorium. I answered their questions and, with the help of an assistant, gave out sandwiches and softdrinks,” he recalled the beginnings of Cebu Landmasters.
The project, built on a three-hectare property sold out very well. It carried the name “San Josemaria Village,” after Soberano’s patron saint, San Josemaria Escriva. It was the first of four San Josemaria Village subdivisions in Cebu province established by Cebu Landmasters between 2007 to 2010 near Cebu’s industrial sites.
"I was just following the market where there was unserved demand," he recounted.
From horizontal projects, CLI ventured into a vertical development in the heart of Metro Cebu with Cebu I.T. Park’s first residential condominium. A series of condominium and subdivision projects followed rapidly including Midori, Mivesa, Casa Mira, MesaVerte, and the recently launched, 38 Park Avenue.
Today, Cebu Landmasters is also known for mixed-used developments such as the Base Line Center — which will include Citadines Cebu City by 2019, the first hospitality project of the Ascott Group outside of Metro Manila— and premium office developments Park Centrale and Latitude Corporate Center.
Cebu’s No. 1 local housing developer
In 2016, CBRE Philippines (now Santos Knight Frank) named CLI as the number one local developer in Cebu based on 2016 market share data in the booming residential condominium segment. It has an 11 percent market share, second only to national developer Ayala Land at 17 percent.
In fact, majority of Cebu Landmasters projects sell out under one year from launch, and some within only a few months. The sales velocity of its projects is the result of its high credibility, excellent service record and right pricing.
“Our projects are well priced because we understand the market, so we are able to cater to clients’ needs through our developments. We are able to get the best deals in Cebu and the Visayas and Mindanao with connections and partnerships, to ensure that value for money is passed on to our buyers. We always aim to give more,” disclosed Soberano.
To date, CLI has 28 projects in various stages of completion in Cebu, Davao and Cagayan De Oro. The portfolio covers residential projects serving all markets — high-end (15.78 percent), midmarket (38.56 percent), economic (44.20 percent) and socialized (1.46 percent). In addition, CLI now also counts mixed-use developments and office projects.
“We are only 12 years old. That’s not too long in this industry. Our advantage is we have homegrown knowledge of the market. We are from here. We have managed to find our niche. We’ve developed over the years high demand projects across market segments,” said Soberano.
With its goal to become the most preferred real estate developer in Vis-Min by 2020, CLI is now expanding its developments to Bacolod, Iloilo, Dumaguete, Bohol and more areas in Cebu, Davao and Cagayan De Oro.
In 2016, CLI reported sales total of Php 2.17 billion, a 40 percent increase from Php 1.54 billion in 2015. It has net income of Php 702 million, a 30 percent increase from Php 537 million in 2015.
Last March, the company filed an application with the Securities and Exchange Commission to sell up to 580 million common shares through an initial public offering to support its aggressive expansion plans in the Vis-Min.
“Cebu Landmasters intends to be the first homegrown Cebuano developer to go public. We’re driven by the values of sincerity, commitment and hands-on service and we aim to continue that culture as we continue to expand and open our doors to the public,” said Soberano.