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The real estate sage |

Modern Living

The real estate sage

OH YES, IT'S JOHNNY! - Johnny Litton -
The stylish Italian village community of Valenza in Sta. Rosa. The glimmering lights of Mille Luce in Antipolo. The elegant high-rise towers of Presidio at Brittany Bay. All of these real estate gems were brought to us by the country’s biggest homebuilder, CrownAsia, which set a record set in just over a decade – a remarkable achievement, indeed. And the man behind this trusted brand in property development? CrownAsia president Jerry Navarrete: land bank whiz and high priest of transformation savvy.

Straight from graduating college in 1975, Jerry entered the high-stakes world of real estate and he has stayed there until today, one of the pioneers of innovation in the industry. CrownAsia’s ace asset, Jerry is a math whiz and has a photographic memory for property facts — he can summon figures of values and hectares uncannily close to the last centavo.

A soft-spoken gentleman with a polite manner, Jerry always amazes the strategy planners of his company. Sitting quietly, he absorbs the inputs of the target markets to be served. He disappears into his office, and in the following meeting with urban planners, he points out details and raises some critical points, and then it’s a "green light" for the project. "Prime location is a subjective claim," says Jerry. "All land owners say that their property is ‘prime,’ yet I’ve seen so many prime locations ruined by bad planning. And I’ve also seen unknown spots transformed into dazzling project sites."

"Our latest project, Presidio by Brittany Bay, was a grimy, forgettable site surrounded by ‘informal dwellers’ and filled with stagnant creeks," recalls Jerry. "Our strategy planners looked at me with incredulous stares when they saw the site. But together with business head Red Rosales, I could see the promise of the location. So we had truckloads of top soil dumped on the site — almost two meters of filling. Today, we’re on our sixth tower in this 16-tower community."

Aside from years of experience in property development under his belt, the well-traveled Jerry also has a flair for encouraging his consulting designers. "From my last sabbatical in Italy, I took a liking to their quaint villages and homes with cupolas," recounts Jerry. "I asked our architects how we could incorporate this feature and yet stay within the financial realities of our market." The architects responded with delight. Today, the new house model in Valenza stands as a hallmark style that distanced CrownAsia from the competition. "We have to be a few steps ahead; our competitors’ ads and urban plans look so much like ours. As they copy, we have to innovate further. But what they cannot duplicate is our cost-saving factors."

What keeps Jerry in the game all these years? "It’s a supreme sense of fulfillment when we satisfy the needs of our countrymen. As we keep building these communities, we know we are helping fulfill a lifetime dream for many Filipinos."

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