How a family business became Cebu’s top local developer

Krista Garcia

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How a family business became Cebu’s top local developer
Established only in 2003, Cebu Landmasters already has 11% market share of Cebu’s property scene. The company is planning to launch its IPO next month.

MANILA, Philippines – Jose Soberano III likes to keep it all in the family.

In 2000, he left his post as vice president of an Ayala subsidiary to build his own real estate company, Cebu Landmasters Inc. (CLI). 

Soberano is CLI’s president and chief executive officer. His wife, Marose, is the executive vice president for finance. His son Franco is the senior vice president and chief operating officer, while his daughter Joanna Marie is also vice president and marketing director.

But Soberano also considers his employees – all 177 of them – as family. 

Even their customers are treated like kin: in the homeowner associations of their residential condominium and village projects, the family sits as board members so that they can stay abreast of their customers’ needs and concerns. CLI also has an in-house customer care and property management team to maintain customer satisfaction, during, and after turnover.

As the company gears up for aggressive expansion in the Visayas and Mindanao (VisMin) region this year, Soberano’s family will grow even bigger. 

A FAMILY BUSINESS. The Soberano family behind Cebu Landmasters, Inc: Franco Soberano (COO), Joe Soberano (CEO), Marose Soberano (EVP), Joanna Soberano (Marketing Director), and Jamie Soberano who will be joining the company soon

And since CLI is eyeing an initial public offering (IPO) in the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) next month, soon, the public can be part of Soberano’s financial growth, too. 

Homegrown success

Though his company is only 13 years old, Soberano is a veteran in the VisMin real esate scene. He has three decades of experience in the property industry, including 23 years with the Ayala Group. He was part of the team that built Ayala’s Cebu Holdings, Inc. (CHI).

In 2016, CLI’s sales reached P2.17 billion, a 41% increase from 2015. Net income was at P702 million, higher by 30% from the previous year.


In 2003, he founded Cebu Landmasters. His first project was a village in Balamban town, for employees of a Japanese shipbuilding company. The houses sold out very well and Soberano replicated his success in other cities in the countryside of Cebu. Economic housing became CLI’s flagship development.

But Soberano didn’t stop there, and in 2010, CLI began venturing into vertical projects in Cebu City’s premiere business and residential districts. Aside from condominiums, CLI has also built office and mixed use properties, and even struck a hotel partnership deal with Ascott.

Majority of their residential projects are sold out within 12 months, some even selling out within a few months. Now, CLI has 11% market share and is Cebu’s top local developer next to Ayala Land.

In 2016, CLI’s sales reached P2.17 billion, a 41% increase from 2015. Net income was at P702 million, higher by 30% from the previous year.

The company has already 28 completed and ongoing projects under its belt in Cebu, Cagayan de Oro and Davao. Cebu Landmasters is also investing P12 billion in 14 additional residential and commercial projects that will be launched not just in key cities like Cebu, Davao, and Cagayan De Oro, but in also in Iloilo, Bacolod, and Dumaguete.

Soberano is confident about CLI’s success in these ventures. Since CLI is a homegrown company, they are deeply familiar with the needs and wants of their market: the price point, connections, partnerships and the buyers. 

“We feel that these are places in VisMin with strong potentials and where there is need for more housing,” Soberano said. Global services firm PwC has identified Iloilo, Cebu, Bacolod, and Davao as some of VisMin’s “investment hotspots,” where real estate will be a key driver in economic growth.

VisMin makes up about 27.3% of the Philippine’s annual gross domestic product (GDP). The influx of tourists and BPO companies in the region is creating a need for more commercial and mixed-use developments.

The spike in OFW remittances since last year is also expected to increase demand for good value housing across the country. 

‘We build with you in mind

HIGH RISE. 38 Park Avenue in Cebu IT Park

Last year, CLI revamped its tagline, “we build with you mind.” It mirrors their promise to always deliver value for money for their clients. 

The company’s core strengths are its local roots and hands-on approach to real estate. They’re familiar with the exact needs and wants of their customers. They’re known for always completing projects on time.

They’re also better positioned to get the best deals from the region’s top players. Because CLI is a trusted joint venture partner of prime landowners in VisMin, they can build projects that are never more than 2km away from a main road.

But even now that CLI is a multimillion-peso company, Soberano still adds his personal touch to the company and treats it like a family business.

He’s never missing in the company’s activities. He is on top of the selection and visits for land prospects and is always present in community talks, groundbreakings, launches, and even press briefings. He hopes to lead by example and encourages his family and employees to embrace the same values.

HANDS ON. Soberano at a site visit

His vision is for CLI to become the most preferred developer in VisMin, not just in the residential and commercial segment, but also in the hospitality industry.

To fund the expansion, he is now welcoming the public to his family.

Cebu Landmasters intends to be the first homegrown Cebuano developer to be publicly listed in the PSE. The company has filed an application with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to sell up to 580 million common shares through an initial public offering, targeted to be available by May. The SEC has granted CLI approval last April 20.

The company plans to raise P3.8 billion from sold shares, which will be priced up to P6.65 per unit. –

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