The real estate sector is one of the industries changed significantly by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Filipinos who have been staying at home for a year now since the pandemic broke out have learned to perform their most vital tasks within their private residences, experiencing a shift in behavior and preferences when it comes to living spaces.
For many, the countryside — with its freer, less polluted environment – is now seen as a second home and no longer simply a vacation spot.
A smart home office is also becoming a requirement for business owners and working professionals who have accepted the work-from-home arrangement.
Anthony Leuterio, president and founder of the Cebu-based property development company Filipino Homes, identified some of the trends transforming the real estate industry.
Rise in property demand, especially in affordable housing. While numerous global industries have been greatly affected by the pandemic, nationwide residential property prices in the Philippines recorded a 27.1 percent growth in Q2 2020, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. The highest growth rate recorded since the first quarter of 2016, the numbers indicate that the industry remains aggressive and competitive.
“There is a lot of demand in the areas of suburban residential developments and affordable housing,” Leuterio said, recounting how Filipino Homes fared last year.
“Our six operational sites in different cities received 10 to 20 percent new inquiries from people who want to transfer to another house where they can have a home-office.”
“OFWs are a strong market. Then you have local buyers who want to change homes. In the medical field, many professionals also want to invest in the country,” he added.
Digitization is driving demand. The health and food sectors were not the only ones that sought support from digital platforms to survive during the past pandemic year. Real estate brokers went online to reach out to customers who were looking for home and office alternatives. At the same time, potential homeowners as well as corporate decision-makers also turned to the internet as they searched for safe spaces.
“Technology innovation and sustainability will be key drivers for value in real estate. We need to embrace digitization as we have really seen a big change in the real estate sector from various parties like developers and the market side. We need to understand how COVID-19 changed the buying habits of our target market,” Leuterio said.
Virtual tours and online roadshows. Why travel personally to a potentially investment-worthy property and risk COVID-19 infection when the sights, sounds, and other attractions of the same site can be seen and virtually experienced? Webinars and virtual conferences are just a tip of the iceberg when it comes to the way that virtual and augmented reality are slowly reshaping communications in all industries.
“With social distancing as the norm, these online marketing strategies are now must-haves for developers and agents alike,” Leuterio said.
Smart office-homes are here to stay and can even grow. Millions of Filipinos had to adjust to the WFH arrangement with little preparation once the quarantines were enforced. As of July 2020, according to the Global Statshot, more than 50 percent of Filipinos expect working from home will become more the norm than the exception.
“A lot of homeowners discovered that the house they once comfortably lived in can no longer serve their needs today. Now that they have to spend more time in their homes, they are looking for other options like a house that is more ECQ-friendly with a smart home-office and a backyard garden,” Leuterio said.
Balik-probinsya is back. The quarantine reinforced to many city dwellers the not-so-pleasant realities that they now want to avoid: traffic gridlock, cramped streets, noisy neighborhoods, and thickening pollution, among others. As a result, many are seriously considering investing in or moving to nearby cleaner, friendlier provincial towns and cities.
The opportunity in this trend is not lost on developers who, Leuterio said, are “expanding to far-flung areas and buying affordable provincial lands to develop economic socialized areas.”
“People want to live in the province,” he added.