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The Homes of Zee

House Hunting in Cebu: What You Need To Know

You may have decided on getting your own place, but the question is—do you know where to start? Real estate broker Morgan Tornilla gives us a checklist on the things you need to consider before going ahead and taking the plunge.

Getting your own place is one of those milestone moments in your adult life. You have some money saved up, and you’ve decided that it’s time to make the move. Now what? With a booming property market like Cebu, there are so many options and things to consider that it can be a little overwhelming. As a real estate broker, it’s my job to figure all of this out and make what can sometimes be a stressful process, as easy for you as possible.

While the things that you look for in a home will vary considerably depending on your personal needs and lifestyle (a growing starter family is going to require significantly more space than a workaholic yuppie who mostly comes home just to sleep) there are certain things that everyone needs to keep in mind whn looking for a new home.

Understand that finding the perfect home for you will probably be a long process, involving back and forth and a certain amount of negotiation. But in the end, it’ll all be worth it. You may have to make a few compromises along the way, but as long as you keep some of these tips in mind, your search for your dream home should be a fulfilling and fruitful one.

Good Location

In layman’s terms, this would mean somewhere that isn’t too far from your work, and regular leisure hangouts.

As brokers we like to consider a few more things:

  • Accessible location—How far is it from the main road? How wide is the road leading to the property? Is it commute-friendly?
  • Proximity to important public spaces, like grocery stores, pharmacy and hospitals
  • The neighbors you’re going to have
  • How prone the area and its surroundings are to flooding during the rainy season

Solid Construction

After Yolanda and the earthquake in 2013, this has become an increasingly important factor for homebuyers. You can paint the walls whatever color you want, but it isn’t going to matter if the house isn’t built to standard.

If buying an older home, keep an eye out for:

  • Cracks in the columns and beams
  • Windowsills that aren’t level
  • Doors that are uncommonly narrow
  • Rusted-looking pipes
  • Wall sockets that look burnt

When buying a new home, always look into the track record of the construction company or developer. If you can, visit some of their older projects and ask the homeowner’s association if there’ve been any issues with the building upkeep.

Sensible Floor Plan

The ease with which you can move through the various rooms and spaces in your home can have a huge impact on your daily life. Uncomfortably narrow hallways and awkwardly shaped rooms make it hard for light, sound and air to flow and circulate throughout the space.

Whether or not you believe in feng shui and the flow of energy, you should believe in being able to navigate your way around your own home without bumping into things or feeling cramped, and all of that depends heavily on the floor plan.


As unsexy as it sounds, you need to have all your papers in order. This is rule number one for any broker worth their commission and is part of the due diligence that should be conducted on any prospective listing. This includes verifying the Land Title with the Registry of Deeds (fake titles are a real danger, particularly when dealing with properties in Mandaue and Mactan) and cross checking this against a copy of the property’s latest Tax Declaration. Any discrepancies are considered an immediate red flag.

Financing Options

It’s always imperative that you know how much you’re willing (and let’s face it, able) to invest in your new home and what financing options are available to make that happen. 

As a general rule of thumb:

  • Don’t spend more than 30% of your take-home pay on rent
  • If you’re buying, use the same amount as basis for your monthly amortization and work backwards from there to figure out your budget
  • Set aside an additional 2-3% if the sales price for closing costs and various processing fees



  • Cebu City – 1.3m to 14.5m
  • Lapu-Lapu City – 780k to 12m
  • Mandaue City – 1.1m to 13.9m
  • Outside Cebu City – 1.05m to 10m

House and Lot

  • Cebu City – 1.9m to 21m (for 3 bedroom)
  • Lapu-Lapu City – 970k to 10m (3 bdrm)
  • Mandaue City – 1.6 to 19m
  • Outside Cebu City – 800k to 11.5m

Source: cebufirst.com

Originally published in Zee Lifestyle, February 2017


Trendy Renovation Ideas for your Home or Condo.

by Christa M. Cañizares IDr.

Part 1: Plan the Space to Suit your Needs.

A.)  Decide on a theme that reflects your personality. You can start by browsing through the internet and make a mood board on the colors, patterns, furniture and accessories that you love.

Create a mood board based your preferred colors, theme and style.

B.)  Work on your budget. This is essential to any renovation project. You can start with window shopping and scout for the key pieces and compare prices. You can also browse home products and purchase them online.

Do your homework online and window shop for key furniture pieces.

C.)  Invest in good and durable pieces.  Start with the big items that you often use. Your mattress tops the list as this is where you rest and recharge. Big items such as sofas and dining sets should be durable enough to withstand the everyday wear and tear. Choose a design that can easily go well with your space when you redecorate.

Choose a bed that works for you and becomes the focal point of your room.


IDr. Christa M. Cañizares, piid
Founding Member, Philippine Institute of Interior Designers – Cebu Chapter
Principal Designer, CMC Interior Design
Specializes in residential and commercial design.
A homebody and renovation aficionado.

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The Homes of Zee

THROWBACK THURSDAY. Discover Why This Airy, Modern Structure in Busay is Called the Sky House

The Sky House is a truly modern structure, with straight lines and boxy shapes.

Defying Gravity

YKC Premier’s first venture in Busay floats over a cliff and introduces a new brand of living in Cebu.

by Shari Quimbo photography Ezekiel Sullano


YKC Premier’s first venture couldn’t be more aptly named—Sky House was spot on—the airy, modern structure that juts out of a ridge in the Busay Highlands couldn’t be called anything else. The drive up the hill levels to a short plateau right before the entrance of the village, allowing ample time for everyone to look up and admire a house that seems to be in defiance of gravity.

“When I saw the property, it was everything you could ask for, and it’s in limited quantities so we wanted to maximize all its assets,” says Victor Consunji, one-third of the group behind the project. “The problem was the land is narrow. Since we have the experience and capability, we thought, why waste all the good things about this property by just building on the ridge? Why not build over the ridge?”

The house, as viewed from the street.

A textured carpet sets the living area apart from the dining, but the palette of grays and light-washed wood carries on even into the kitchen. The room is framed by two art pieces: a rattan sculpture called “Love Locks” by Selina Romualdez, and a painting from young artist Tzaddi Esguerra.

Slater Young and Stephen Ku complete YKC Premier, a group of men who have come together to redefine the art of living with a view in Cebu. “Slater and I have been friends for a while, and I bumped into him at a wedding here in Cebu,” Stephen recalls. “And then we were talking about businesses that we could do together, and he mentioned that he had a nice piece of land that he wanted to fix up. He showed me the place, and I thought it was beautiful. On the way back to Manila, I thought about Vic because I’m also working with him on his project in Manila called Mahogany Tree.”

The trio of Twist lamps over the dining table add an organic, but dramatic flair.

A sunroom off the deck is converted into a cozy breakfast nook, where another of Vito’s lamps adds a touch of whimsy.

Once the three sat down to discuss the venture, Victor was immediately interested and, in fact, already had a vision for the house’s design in his mind. The partnership played up each one’s individual strengths and backgrounds—Victor comes from the family behind DMCI Holdings Incorporated, which have constructed Philippine landmarks such as the Manila Hotel and Shangri-La’s Mactan Island Resort; Slater has a background in engineering and his family is also in construction; while Stephen is at the helm of Eventscape Manila and is behind some of the hottest restaurants and nightspots in the Philippines. “Victor would be the CEO, the visionary. His expertise is what we brought in here,” explains Slater. “And since I’m also in construction, I was sort of his eyes here in Cebu. I’d be the CTO, Chief Technical Officer, and Stephen would be the CMO, marketing.”

The Constella lights hang over the spiral staircase.

A pair of Vito Selma Paisley chairs are arranged in one corner of the master’s bedroom.

Although YKC Premier already has three strong personalities behind it, the guys decided to bring in another design visionary to help them complete the look of the Sky House. “The Sky House is unlike any other home in Cebu, and it was a designer’s dream to be part of it,” says Vito Selma, who brought in his iconic pieces, along with some custom-made furniture to complete the look of the Sky House. “Given its location and the abundance of windows, I wanted the home to feel just as light and airy—to simulate the feeling of flight. And to stay true to my brand, we just wanted to bring nature into the home, which can be seen in the materials, textures and colors in the space.”

The Arata chair serves as a sculptural accent in one of the bedrooms.

The look is relaxed but sophisticated, with many art pieces that Vito had commissioned especially for this project. “The installation in the entry is by me,” he says of the large textured slab with pieces of wood in different finishes scattered on it. “I made it in a way that when someone walks in the house, they see a reflection of that piece and its materials in other areas of the home.” Other notable pieces are in the living room: a large rattan sculpture of interlocking loops by Vito’s sister Selina Romualdez, and a long painting with strokes in various shades of gray by Tzaddi Esguerra. “I love working with her for all our projects,” Vito admits. “We tell her what colours to work with, and she makes the magic happen.”

With the house finished in just over a year, the guys are looking forward to constructing seven more houses to complete the project, offering a lifestyle that is incredibly appealing. “Young, hip urbanites. Young families. If they’re young, they at least feel young,” says Stephen of who they see living in the space. “People who want to balance work and play, because this place is like a residence and a resort at the same time.”

Victor’s family background and experience in construction came in handy when building the house over the ridge.

“Nowadays, with the way things are going in the Philippines, there is a focus on taking vacations, but not everybody has that chance. Not everybody can just take off whenever they want,” Victor adds. “I really don’t believe that a home is just your home, your vacation spot is just your vacation spot and your work place is just for work. I think you can have the best of all three, and this design incorporates that.”

“It’ll feel like you’re going home to a vacation every day,” Slater adds.

A pair of lounges by the pool makes for a perfect spot to enjoy the fresh mountain breeze and the unobstructed views.

Although these gents are focused on the Sky Houses for now, they look forward to bringing more of this brand of living to other locations. “We’re just looking for the right project, but I think the boys are in agreement that we really want to explore Cebu, particularly because this is the emerging market we want to be in. We just need to look for the right spot, and the right design,” Stephen says.

More than just creating modern and luxurious properties, YKC Premier hopes to change the perception of what living in Cebu can be. “That’s what we want to bring to Cebu,” Stephen shares. “I haven’t seen a development like this in Cebu, and a lot of the times I’d ask Slater, and he goes, oh no, the Cebuanos wouldn’t want to spend for something like this. I kept telling him that if we build it, they will come. Cebuanos are ready for something edgy and daring, and I think this project will be a testament to that.” With the first house already sold, that’s certainly been proven true. After all, with just one visit to the Sky House, it’s hard to imagine a better place to live.


(This article has already been published in Zee Lifestyle’s February 2016 Real Estate Issue, “Defying Gravity” on pages 68-73.)

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The Homes of Zee

LOCKDOWN FUN: Whose Crib is This?

Here’s one way residents of Cebu’s exclusive villages created their own fun during zoom parties — guessing each other’s home! Of course, you need a smart mastermind to curate the photos to make sure the homes of each of the amigas are not easy to guess.

So, here’s a short tour of homes that was paraded during this very fun game. Homes are located in Maria Luisa, Northtown Homes, Beverly Hills and a beach house too.  Oh, and one came all the way from Scotland.

We hope your zoom parties are just as fun!

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