On the House is a series of casual interviews with Philippine real estate leaders about the stories behind their personas. Lamudi’s very own CEO, Bhavna Suresh hosts the dialogues over a drink or two. Today’s guest is Tomas Lorenzo, President and Chief Executive Officer of Torre Lorenzo Development Corporation.
Tomas is earnest and dedicated in elevating brand experience from its inception to execution. He has seen a gap in accommodations for students back in the late 90s, and has since then turned TLDC into a pioneer in offering condominiums with state-of-the-art facilities conveniently located near universities.
Originally with a background in finance, Tomas looks at things in terms of returns and profitability. He mentions that getting in the real estate industry was less about putting up buildings that “will stand out” or “will be the next talk of the town” and more of looking for opportunities that the bigger players haven’t seen, or thought of.
Since the late 90’s, Torre Lorenzo Development Corporation (TLDC) has been building university residences catering to students seeking affordable and comfortable homes close to their schools. They have been doing this for the past twenty years, having “ridden the wave” of the significant changes that the country has been through.
One of the changes Tomas talks about is the demographic shift in the younger population going to Metro Manila for education. But while there is a growth in families being able to send their children to universities in the city, most dormitory spaces are shared by 12 students crammed in together, with the bathroom outside of the rooms and the rent at around P1,000-1,500 a month.
With this, he also mentions that the idea of developing university residences was inspired by the student residences abroad.
“Why can’t we do this back home in the Philippines?”
Tomas envisioned Filipino students living in residences where only 1 to 2 people share a unit with its own bathroom, a laundry area, and a kitchen, although he states that students don’t really cook in their units.
While there are available laundry areas in the units, Tomas discovered that a third of their student tenants prefer to wash their clothes at home over the weekend. Another third utilizes the laundromat in the building, and the remaining 1/3 have nannies staying with them to do the cooking, the washing, and the folding of laundry. He also specified that the first 2/3 don’t cook; these students prefer to either bring home-cooked meals with them over the weekend or to buy food from outside, saying how Filipino culture interestingly creeps in the western set up the university residences presents.
On top of that, Tomas stated that students aren’t focused on how big a unit is or on how nice the amenities are; students are more interested in how close the residence is to their schools, how fast the Internet connection is, and how well-connected they are to their cell sites. He also noted how students maximize the use of social media in order to find the best residential units, the most convenient locations, and the potential people they are going to live with.
TLDC has also branched out from developing university residences to condominium properties and hotels, particularly outside Metro Manila. Tomas pointed out that this expansion is due to the growth of the country’s economy, and because of the OFWs coming home to the Philippines.
“So now we’re bringing the condominium life to these people”
Tomas says OFWs choose to move into condominium units rather than stay in the house that they grew up in. OFWs have lived in the big city during their time abroad and have learned to choose the sophisticated over the familiar. He also added that hotels near the condominium complex are built for OFWs coming back home yearly; TLDC is all about providing accommodations and amenities perfectly suited and enjoyable for OFWs and their families.
Lastly, Tomas emphasizes the importance of [parents] thinking about their kids when it comes to paying a premium as the residences are a good investment in the long run due to the affordability, convenience, comfort, and connectivity the university residences offer.
“We have to be the first there; we look for opportunities where others are still testing the waters”
Tomas reiterates TLDC’s core value of looking for opportunities and being the first mover out of all those looking at the same opportunity. He compares it to making coffee; TLDC takes the time and effort to choose the right coffee beans in order to create the perfect brew for their seekers.
- Tomas on how he looks for opportunities in everything (1:32)
- How the University Residences came to be (2:09)
- “Students don’t cook” (4:35)
- The truth about washing machines (4:48)
- Tomas on the rise of middle-class families (7:07)
- The rise of leasing opportunities and investments (7:28)
- Size doesn’t matter because location and tech is everything (10:27)
- Why they branched out to condominium properties and hotels outside of Metro Manila (12:56)
- “We bring the condo life to them” (13:48)
- Tomas on the importance of thinking about your kids when it comes to paying premiums (14:03)
- “What’s important to us is we have to be the first there”, and the emphasis on the first-mover advantage (15:39)
Torre Lorenzo Development Corporation pioneered the concept of Premium University Residences, bringing students closer to their schools through safe, comfortable, accessible living spaces with amenities and features that cater to their needs and lifestyle.