Real Estate Leaders on the New Normal for the Property Industry

While the real estate industry took a big hit from the coronavirus pandemic, it’s well on its way to recovery. This is the key insight property experts agreed on in the recently concluded installment to The Outlook Roundtable Series, On the Horizon: Real Estate Leaders on Market Recovery. The virtual event is divided into three tracks, featuring various thought leaders.

Real estate experts are optimistic that the crisis has leveled up the industry, compelling players to pursue innovative solutions and ultimately provide better products and services for the market.

Swift Transition to Digitalization

The first panel of the virtual conference, titled “Revive: Property Investment in the Post-Pandemic World,” revolved around how the post-pandemic world shapes real estate investments. 

Facilitated by Deborah Ong, Head of Corporate Partnerships at Lamudi, the discussion allowed panelists to share how they embraced digital solutions to accommodate investors at the height of the crisis.

Julius Guevarra, VP for Corporate Planning at D.M. Wenceslao, noted the need to adapt fast to the times to sustain operations, saying, “Digital transformation has been forced upon us.”

“It’s something we had to do very quickly,” he added.

Meanwhile, virtual staging has become a huge part of Damosa Land’s marketing efforts, according to Cary Lagdameo, Vice President of the company. Robinsons Homes, on the other hand, has delved into drone photography for their campaigns for provincial developments, as Business Unit General Manager Mico Racelis mentioned.

For Franco Soberano, EVP and COO of Cebu Landmasters Inc., there was huge demand for properties after the first two months of the lockdown. He believes that one of the triggers is they made it easier for buyers to learn about their products. 

“The demand is sustained, or even growing,” he said.

Proactive Response to the Crisis

Following the first panel discussion is the On the House: Small Talk with Big Bosses episode with Arch. Henry Yap, Business Unit General Manager of Robinsons Land Corporation. In this track called “Reimagine: Real Estate in the New Normal,” Yap touched on the right attitude during troubled times.

He emphasized that crises are meant to be faced head-on: “If we believe that the crisis will just end without any intervention, that will not happen. We shouldn’t put them aside. We should confront them and react accordingly.”

He urges people to look back at past experiences to inform decisions of the present.

Convenience and Health as Emerging Buying Preferences

In the third track, “Redesign: Buoying the Market through Changes,” Mark Bailey, Corporate Accounts Lead of Lamudi, facilitated the discussion on new trends cropping up in this time of the pandemic.

Laying down emerging market demands, the panel observed three factors to be the most prominent priorities: convenience, technology, and health safety.

In terms of convenience, mixed-use developments–townships that feature residential, commercial, and recreational spaces–are in demand. 

“During the pandemic and the stringent lockdowns, many have seen the value of living in mixed-use developments, integrated communities, estates or townships, or at least being near and having easy access to groceries, banks, offices, and medical facilities,” Tek Samaniego, Editor of Philippine Daily Inquirer Property, pointed out.

Related to convenience, technology plays an important role. Tomas Lorenzo, President and CEO of Torre Lorenzo Development Corp., highlighted the fact that more property seekers are on the lookout for developments that have high-speed internet, especially in the student market segment.

On the other hand, Emma Imperial, Group Chair and CEO at Imperial Homes Group of Companies, saw a huge demand for solar-powered homes two months after the lockdown happened. “The sales [reached] 40 percent higher than our pre-COVID performance,” she said.

“We saw the product attracting buyers because of the solar savings,” she added.

Meanwhile, on the well-being aspect, Joey Bondoc, Senior Research Manager of Colliers International Philippines, highlighted the shift of customers’ preference to healthy buildings. “It’s very important now that you are in a building where there’s enough sanitation, enough sunlight. If you’re in a condo, you have to make sure that your property manager is implementing enough safety protocols,” he said.

He added, “[Overseas Filipino workers] are looking for bigger spaces.”

In terms of the changes in buyers demographics, Raphael Felix, Chairman of the Board of Subdivision and Housing Developers Association (SHDA) and President and CEO of Phinma Properties, has observed a lot more millennials hitting the market. He said, “We used to have an average age of 30 to 40. Our 20-to-30-year-old market segment has doubled in the last three months.”

Promising Locations Beyond Metro Manila

Industry leaders see a significant movement outside the central business district or the capital region. According to Bondoc, businesses are expanding to Cebu, Iloilo, and Pampanga. 

Soberano also found the affordable residential market very active in provincial cities. “We’re very pleased that these are coming from a lot of regional markets, like Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Iloilo, Bacolod, Dumaguete.”

He added, “These regional centers are the first to bounce back from the crisis.”

Indeed, the property industry is in the process of recovery, seeing promising opportunities amid the challenges and changes. In case you missed the online event, click here to watch this installment to the Lamudi Roundtable Series on-demand for the month of September. 


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