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'My Girlfriend And I Bought Property, And Then We Broke Up'

How do you get rid of a serious investment after heartbreak? The answer: you don't
by Mike Fernandez | Oct 22, 2017
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I often get asked why I never proposed to Elle, the one-time love of my life. The question isn’t unwarranted—we were in a relationship for 10 years and basically grew up right before each other’s eyes. If I were in their position, I would want to know about the reason myself.

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There are many reasons. Because we were young and having a blast and were more than happy to not think about the future. Because we were busy trying to make a name for ourselves in our respective fields and didn’t have the means to make that leap, let alone buy an engagement ring. Because her folks never warmed up to the idea of their daughter settling down under this predicament—a sentiment we didn’t dispute.

Because, even though I know she loved me very much, I didn’t think she was going to say yes. It’s not a knock on her by any means—Elle had big plans for herself and it was very clear that she was not in a hurry to start a family. It was okay. I was more than fine with it.

There is one thing she did say yes to, which I thought was a step in the right direction. Eight years into our relationship, we both agreed that it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to invest in some property together.

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It wasn’t a hard decision to make. Elle has always been good with money. At a time when I was still trying to make ends meet, she’d already saved enough to dabble in a few passion projects. But having a place to call our own while still in our 20s sounded very appealing to us. Paying for it was going to be a challenge on my end, but I was going to make it happen.

Elle and I spent the next several months looking for properties within and outside of Metro Manila. We looked at townhouses. We looked at high-rise and low-rise condominiums. We made appointments with brokers, voluntarily took brochures, and spent a lot of time basking in model units. There was plenty of accounting in between—my least favorite part.

We made the decision to get a two-bedroom unit in Quezon City—a place we both grew up and live in. Elle chose Unit 714, which correlates with the month and year we decided on our future home.

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The unit was sold at a pre-selling rate, which means that the property was still being constructed at the time of the sale and will not be ready for occupancy in the next three years. I thought the timing was perfect; it was going to give us enough time to set our finances straight.

After working out the kinks, our broker handed the contracts over for us to sign. I turned my attention to Elle. She was already looking at me.

“Sure na?” I asked. “Sure na sure na sure na?”

“Sure na.” She sounded relieved. It marked the end of our search.

We wrote our signatures on every page, placed our respective copies in an envelope, and went on with our day. That was a Saturday, I believe, and on Saturdays we went to the movies.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back now, that was me asking her if she wanted to spend the rest of her life with me. And that was her telling me that she does. The idea to invest in a property together was the proposal, and the contract—all 15 pages of it—was the engagement ring.

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Then, Elle and I broke up. Our relationship had run its course. It has been two years. While money will always be a concern, life has been relatively more comfortable. The last few years have been kind to me, career-wise.

Next to the reason behind the breakup (which merits another story all on its own), the one question I would get asked the most following the separation was “Anong gagawin niyo sa condo?”

As per our broker’s advice, it would be wise to keep the unit until the property’s value appreciates in order for us to make a profit when the right time to sell comes. It seemed like a good idea.

So like a divorcing couple looking after their children’s best interest, we’ve agreed to remain in each other’s lives for the property’s sake. I thought it was a nice little setup—I wasn’t in a hurry to cut ties with her. I didn’t want to.

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I would see Elle several times a year, mainly to pay for my share of the condo, but also to catch up and chat. It was bizarre at the beginning, but we’ve since learned to look past our dilemma and become friendly with each other.

During one of our scheduled payments, we found the time to walk her morbidly obese but loveable beagle. Another one involved me spontaneously tagging along to an event she helped organized. We even found ourselves babysitting a high school friend’s toddler at one point.

Elle and I also did a bunch of site visits together. We were present for virtually every development. Things were running smoothly. I was getting comfortable with our relationship as exes.

More than a year into our arrangement, I approached Elle about the idea of keeping the property to myself. I didn’t want to let go of it anymore. We’ve worked so hard and invested so much. A part of me wanted her to see that I could make it on my own.

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It didn’t take much for me to get her blessing. Elle’s parents, it turned out, had invested in a semi-luxury property in New Manila and decided to hand over the reins. Neither of us saw it coming, but I was genuinely happy for her. We pointed out that she could use the buyout money to help pay for her new property.

We agreed on a new arrangement—I was going to pay back the amount she had invested in the property up until the turnover period, plus a portion of the interest she would have made had we pushed through with the sale. It was more than fair.

We shook hands on it. Unit 714 was mine to keep.

The most recent newsletter I received revealed that the property would be ready for occupancy by December, which is roughly two months from now. When that time comes, Elle will turn over all the banking documents to me. We will no longer have to pay for it together.

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There will no longer be a need for us to talk or see each other.

I trust that that’s not going to be the case. I trust that things will work out in the long run. For now, I can finally move in. We can finally move on.


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