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The case of SMDC and their million-peso parking slots

This is a story about a developer’s greed, and a cautionary tale for those thinking about buying cheap, only to be victimized by the bait and switch method in the end.

In 2009, I bought a 20-square-meter studio unit at the SM Jazz Residences in Makati. They offered me a spread downpayment of 8,300 pesos until turnover in 2012. As a (fairly) fresh graduate making enough, I jumped at the idea. I figured it was in the CBD, and in the worst case, it can serve as my halfway house when traveling home to Paranaque was too much of a pain.

As with most condominiums, the turnover was delayed by 14 months. When I moved in, I was asked to pay 100 pesos (plus vat) per square meter of condominium dues. The problem was, there were no amenities to speak of. They promised a gym, a bunch of swimming pools, a jogging path, blue skies, among others, but upon turnover, they said these won’t be available until 2015 (except the blue skies, which was readily available immediately).

Sweet.

The condo dues was for the monthly upkeep of the condo’s common areas and for the payment of the services of guards and janitors.

For the first tower, there were 783 units. Of course these varied in size, but even if we peg each unit to be only 20 square meters, that means that for one tower alone, they were going to make 1.5 million pesos if it was turned over 100%. Let’s be gracious and say only two-thirds of the units have been turned over. That still leaves the condo admin one million pesos a month for one tower alone for electricity, salaries of guards and janitors, and the general upkeep of a brand new building.

I thought that was too much, but blinded by the convenience of having a room in the city, I turned a blind eye to it.

Months later came the real problem: parking.

You see, Jazz did not offer parking slots until 2013, when they started turning over the units. Nobody had an idea about the price. In 2014, we were made very much aware, though, and not in the nicest way:

SM Jazz Residences in Makati sells parking slots for 1.138 million pesos.

Six square meters for more than a million pesos.

At first, when the mall wasn’t fully functional yet, early residents got to park for free on the second floor and around the complex. Then when the mall started to get busy, they started to cordon off blocks and blocks of parking spaces on the second floor, until they started charging per hour.

The only recourse was to park around the premises, within the condo complex. That was a gamble, too. Get home too late and you won’t have parking.

One day, they cordoned off the whole area. Why?

Dumaan po kasi si Big Boy. Yung anak ni Henry Sy. Bawal na po daw mag park,” said one guard.

Nice.

So there’s no free parking. Ok, let’s pay! That’s just fair.

At first, they allowed residents to park at the ground floor. Forty pesos for the first two hours, 20 pesos per hour per succeeding hour, then if you exceed after mall hours, there is an additional 300-peso charge.

Let’s do some math. If you get home at 7pm, prepare dinner, and get out by 7, that’s roughly 540 pesos.

Wow! Parang hotel lang!

That was then. But now?

Mall administration already disallowed parking within their controlled area, which included the entrance to the condo. After hours, you are not allowed to park on the ground floor.

Certainly, the condo has its own pay parking facility right?

“Ma’am, you may call Ainee sa leasing. She’s in charge of leasing and sales of parking slots.”

“Lease is hard to come by, because the demand is greater than the supply. Are there any other options available to me?”

“Ma’am, you may call Ainee sa leasing. She’s in charge of leasing and sales of parking slots.”

Right.

This was SMDC’s great plan. There are a total of 5,367 units in Jazz. How many parking units?

1,232

It’s like they assumed only 22 percent of the units need parking.

Genius.

This might leave people saying “Bibili-bili ka ng condo, wala ka palang pambayad ng parking! Eew! Poor!”

True. I don’t have 1.138 million lying around. In fact, I’m slaving away to make ends meet trying to pay mortgage for my 1.7 million peso condo. But seriously, even if I had 1.138 million, I wouldn’t spend it on a parking slot.

I have not tried to look up how much parking is for more conyo developers like Ayala and Century. But by gosh, I can’t believe I was duped by SM. They promised me affordable living, then four years after, surprise me with the cost of parking- roughly 60 percent of the cost of the unit itself.

As a late 20s yuppie, I appeal to others like me to think twice about investing in these things. The try to flirt with you with low downpayments, and the allure of owning your own place, and end up screwing you over.

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