New Homebuying Priorities Seek to Create Better Normal

Today’s property seekers have new demands and preferences in hopes of creating a better normal amid the pandemic. This was the resounding sentiment of panelists who graced the recent Lamudi webinar sponsored by Lancaster New City, titled Housing Trend Update: What Do Homebuyers Look for in the New Normal. 

The virtual discussion revolved around the priorities of the market in terms of location, amenities, lifestyle, and prices, among others. It featured thought leaders Kenneth Stern, CEO of Lamudi Philippines; Paul Ramirez, Director & Head of Valuation of Colliers Philippines; and Dr. Eduardo G. Ong, President of Edward King Global Consultants, Inc.

The Search for Space

Kickstarting the conversation, Ramirez said that the pre-selling market has been active in the third quarter of the year. 

In a survey conducted by the property consultancy firm, over 70 percent of the respondents said that they prefer to buy lots and houses and lots over condominiums. Ramirez believes that this trend will continue as the need for more space persists amid the pandemic. 

Citing the new normal situation, which involved working and studying at home, he explained that more people are moving to the suburbs to get more, bigger, and cheaper space. 

“Live-work-play environment is a plus for them,” he said.

According to Ong, property seekers looking for bigger spaces are a mix of first-time homeowners and secondary home investors. The former are primarily renters who stay near their workplace, looking for residences out in the suburbs that offer access to a strong internet connection. The latter, on the other hand, are often condo owners who were stuck in their limited space amid the pandemic.

Highlighting the trend of secondary homes, Stern cited Lamudi data for the third quarter of 2021, noting the significant demand for tourist destinations outside the capital region. These include Baguio, Tagaytay, Antipolo, and Cavite cities, namely Bacoor and Dasmariñas. 

The movement towards locations outside the metro, which was happening already before the pandemic, was accelerated amid the health crisis. The completion of infrastructure projects, Stern said, was instrumental in this positive development.

In terms of price points, the low-cost and affordable residential projects in the locations mentioned were the most popular properties on Lamudi, according to Stern. 

“The properties ranging between P1.5M to P3M [represent] a large volume of searches. Anywhere from P3M to P6M gets significant volume as well,” he explained.

Beyond the Need for Space

The preference for open spaces involves private and community areas. Ong noted that people want yards in their homes, as well as playgrounds in their neighborhoods, where children can roam and play free. But aside from the bigger spaces, people prioritize convenience and comfort.

“[Property seekers prefer] a place where their family can move around, perhaps a total township, wherein you can buy everything in the community,” Ong mentioned. He added that they also want a peaceful environment where they can breathe fresh air and live for years.

On the most investment-worthy properties, Ramirez said that land is an excellent asset. 

“One of the best things we can invest in to hedge against inflation is land, vacant land. It has no or minimal holding costs. Through time, if you just wait, it will increase in value. The capital appreciation is almost certainly guaranteed in the long term,” he noted. In the same way, partnering with a reputable developer is crucial when weighing investment-worthy properties.

For property seekers who are looking to cash in from their real estate assets, Ramirez mentioned that the income-generating potential of the property is the top consideration. He encouraged investors to consider if there is indeed a rental market and how the rental rate stacks up versus the price of the property. The financing strategy and the amount of capital appreciation should be part of the consideration as well.

Among viable locations, CALABARZON offers promising, investment-worthy properties. Ramirez mentioned that the infrastructure projects in the area spur excellent developments.

Affirming the insights mentioned, Stern said that the need for a more balanced lifestyle amid the pandemic pushed the improvement of investor confidence in the provinces, such as in the CALABARZON area. The price points mentioned earlier had an increase in Lamudi pageviews for this location. 

At the same time, there’s a notable uptick in searches for properties with amenities. WiFi tops the list of the most popular facilities. Swimming pools, gyms, balconies, and gardens are likewise in-demand among the affordable and mid-income market segments.

The Emerging Preferred Address

With the CALABARZON region in the spotlight, the panelists turned to the appeal of the province of Cavite to today’s property seekers. According to Stern, the access to business districts in Metro Manila and leisure destinations are the primary factors driving demand for Cavite real estate. 

“It’s near enough to the city where you can get there on a commute, but far enough where you can enjoy the space,” he said. The infrastructure projects further improve accessibility, making it more convenient for residents to reach certain destinations.

Moving forward, the population boom, coupled with further development of business districts in the area, will facilitate a stronger property appetite. Given these promising opportunities in the future, Stern urges property seekers to make the purchase now. “The longer you wait, the harder it will be to find your dream property because the demand is so high.”

To make sure that property purchases count, Ramirez advises buyers to consider infrastructure projects, taking into account the alignments of expressways and major roads. This will not only offer better financial returns, as big-ticket projects unlock land values, but also ensure a more convenient lifestyle. Lancaster New City, for instance, provides easy access to key locations via the Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAX).

Meanwhile, on the part of the developers, Ong advised prioritizing the sense of security when creating a community. Partnering with excellent security agencies can make the development more appealing to property seekers.

Rise of Township Living

Given the emphasis on convenience of location, the panelists zoomed in on the booming popularity of township living. Dubbed as the 15-minute city, a township offers a live-work-play environment, where all essentials are reachable within a 15-minute travel time, Ramirez explained.

“During the pandemic, the need to be connected to amenities has been heightened. Moving forward, this will be the trend. It will be a plus for buyers to consider a subdivision within a township,” he added.

The promising capital appreciation potential of properties in townships benefits buyers, including the businesses, not just the residents. While the latter enjoys conveniences with the establishments nearby, the former has the homeowners as the captured market.

As Ramirez reported, an integrated community promotes a “symbiotic relationship” among the residential, commercial, academic, and retail real estate components.

Amid the pandemic, the convenience that a township provides becomes a sought-after perk. 

Stern said, “The proximity to landmarks is essential in day-to-day [life]. That’s why it’s the preferred choice of many people. For example, in Lancaster New City, it has a park, a school, leisure amenities, as well as the LNC Link, which makes it easy for people to live.”

Illustrating further the convenience township residents experience, Ong noted that homeowners going to the supermarket or church may not need to bring their cars and simply opt to walk. Townships are “all-in-one” neighborhoods, where all necessities are within reach inside the community, he added.

New Normal in Selling Properties

As the preferences and priorities of buyers change, the sellers are likewise experiencing transitions as well. To better navigate the new normal, the timeless principle Ong offered to developers and brokers is to look at the market and align the product to what the market is looking for. Dedicating 20 percent of the development to open, green spaces and wellness amenities, for instance, can appeal to the market, according to Ong. 

For Ramirez, maximizing social media is key in selling properties in the new normal. In the same way, using virtual tours and emerging technologies is important in increasing the visibility of properties in the digital space. He also urged brokers to specialize in a particular location or property type to establish credibility. 

Meanwhile, the most in-demand amenities today should be part of the highlights of sellers’ marketing efforts, according to Stern. He cited that aside from the open spaces and WiFi connectivity, fitness and health facilities are attractive to property seekers using the Lamudi platform.

Better Homes for a Better Normal

Reiterating the most important priority in home buying, Ong advised buyers to consider location, location, location. The ideal community is one equipped with the amenities, connectivity, and safety, while allowing residents to breathe clean air. 

For Ramirez, it’s important to take into account which new normal trends are going to “stick” after the pandemic when buying a property. For instance, the expected hybrid work arrangement post-crisis should be a consideration.

On top of doing extensive research on the property market, Stern urged homebuyers to consider township living for all the perks it offers, especially amid the pandemic.

To watch the full episode of the Lamudi webinar series, click here.

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