AFTER establishing its presence in the middle and high-end market in real estate, property developer AppleOne Properties Inc. will soon foray into the low-cost housing segment to serve a broader market that demands affordable homes.

“The direction of the company is to target the country’s low-cost to economic housing. This is one segment in real estate which has a huge backlog,” said Ray Go Manigsaca, president of AppleOne Properties.

The firm is set to create a new company that will handle the new unit. Likewise, the firm is actively looking for properties as far as Liloan to Minglanilla for this planned expansion, which they target to launch in early 2018.

“The plan to enter this market isn’t only to benefit our employees but also to serve the market that demands affordable homes,” said Manigsaca, referring to the country’s huge housing backlog, which now stands at 1.4 million.

AppleOne Properties is the developer of AppleOne Tower in Cebu Business Park and condominum development Apple One Banawa Heights. Its subsidiary, AppleOne Mactan Inc., is the developer of The Sheraton Cebu Mactan Resort and The Residences.

According to Manigsaca, the firm considers building pocket-sized, low-cost housing projects, which will be located all over Cebu. He estimates one to four-hectare properties for the planned low-cost housing project per area.

“I am bullish about Cebu’s real estate industry. We are still on our way up,” said Manigsaca, adding that Cebu’s land and condominium prices remain low compared to prices in Singapore and other neighboring countries in Asia.

“We are a late bloomer (as far as real estate is concerned), which is an advantage for developers. However, with the number of players present in Cebu, the key is to look for a niche market,” he said.

Aside from cementing its presence in Cebu, the company is also eyeing other areas for future expansion such as in Cagayan de Oro City and Davao City.

The Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) recorded a backlog of 1.4 million houses. The agency projects this to increase to 5.5 million homes.

Vice President Leni Robredo, who is also HUDCC chair, vowed to address the housing backlog and lessen the steps of owning homes.

“We want to address the 1.4-million housing backlog within our term. We will disrupt and innovate. We will enjoin the private sector to be our partners in providing not just houses, but decent and affordable communities where our people will find jobs, where their children can safely go to school, attend church, run around and play safely,” said Robredo in her keynote speech during the 2016 International Conference on Urban Development held recently.

Robredo also highlighted the importance of secondary cities as engines of economic growth. She also mentioned the construction of more multi-storey in-city housing that would allow workers to stay close to their job, and transforming informal settlements into “vibrant, resilient, connected and inclusive communities”.