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Postpandemic path for PH real estate

By: - Reporter / @amyremoINQ
05:07 PM August 02, 2021

One thing is clear: opportunities continue to abound in the Philippine real estate industry.

Despite the massive disruptions and difficulties caused by the pandemic, depressed market conditions, rising vacancy rates, declining rents and subdued demand, the Philippine real estate industry is seeing favorable opportunities emerging, once overlooked segments flourishing, and a recovery (although drastically uneven across the different subsegments of this industry) in the offing.

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This was according to the panel of experts in a recently aired webinar titled “Postpandemic path for PH real estate,” which was hosted by the Property Section of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. This livestream event had as panelists Joey Roi Bondoc, associate director of Colliers Philippines; Claro dG. Cordero Jr., director of research, consulting & advisory services of Cushman & Wakefield Philippines; and Janlo de los Reyes, head of research & consultancy services of JLL Philippines.

‘Good time to buy’

Bondoc pointed out that there are opportunities whether you’re an office, residential, retail or industrial player or investor.

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“For the office market, I think this is a very good opportunity for companies that are continuously growing—those from e-commerce, health information management, logistics sectors—to secure better deals. As I mentioned lease rates are down 20 to 30 percent in selected business districts and now is really a very good time to lock deals while lease rates are very attractive,” he explained.

“For residential market, if you’re an investor and a user, now is a good time to buy because mortgage rates are still competitive and attractive—6 to 8 percent. We’re no longer seeing the 20 to 22 percent mortgage rates during the Asian financial crisis. And a lot of developers are extending attractive payment terms, even giving out gadgets or appliances,” he added.

Bondoc further noted that for retailers, this is an opportune time to adopt a brick-to-click strategy, which means that even if you have a physical store, you have to make sure your online presence is also strong. In the industrial segment, developers should meanwhile seize the growing demand for cold storage facilities and warehouses.

Investment perceptions

Cordero agreed that there are still “a lot opportunities for the property sector, in particular real estate investments.” He however pointed out changes in investment perception due to COVID-19.

“Everybody now is looking for flight to safety. Due to the prolonged pandemic, most investors would like to minimize risks. Another thing we’ve seen in the past is flight to quality. Investors tend to prefer quality, recession-proof developments and developments with amenities that provide safety nets against the spike of the virus. Another is flight to necessity. All these perceptions are themes likely to emerge in the mid- to long-term,” Cordero explained.

“As for prospects, the property sector has a wide spectrum and you need to look at each channel, at the bright spots. For example, among corporates right now, it’s big news that Wilcon has registered a very strong financial performance in the first half of the year and that’s because a lot of people are into home renovations… You just need to look at what’s happening and be able to read between the lines, read through these growth prospects and opportunities,” he added.

What is good is that, according to Cordero, monetary policies set by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas support the increasing level of real estate investments and growing capital values as these help keep interest rates at a low level and inflation rates at manageable levels. These create a more conducive environment for investors to thrive.

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To move the industry towards recovery, Cordero highlighted the need to constantly innovate as well as to learn and build on the experiences from the pandemic to better face the new realities as “that’s the only way we can move forward.”

Bright spots

Similarly, De los Reyes also noted the opportunities that have emerged during the pandemic.

He explained that the industry has seen the emergence of new growth areas—the best example of which are the industrial and logistics sectors, which have seen a growing demand due to the booming e-commerce market in the Philippines and increased interest for data centers. These sectors were even touted as among the bright spots to help buoy the real estate industry.

“For the longest time, no one’s really looking at these (sectors)… Now, in terms of prospects, industrial and logistics are up there ahead of the other sectors, and I think this is where we’re going to see a lot of interest from local and foreign players in the market,” De los Reyes disclosed.

While the environment remains challenging, “recovery is in sight” according to De los Reyes.

“The silver linings are clear. (During) this pandemic, there has been a lot of learnings for us across organizations, across sectors. We have accelerated a lot of trends that we’ve been talking about but never acted on. I think primary is technology, which has transformed the way we do real estate business,” he said.

“After this pandemic, we’re going to see a reimagined real estate quite different from before the pandemic… It’s really that transformation in real estate that keeps me optimistic about the market ever since I started in this industry. It really has evolved from where we were before. We have managed to find resiliency and growth in the sector, and we incorporate these new things (which will) elevate the real estate industry in the Philippines,” De los Reyes explained.

Bondoc meanwhile was optimistic about the future of the Philippine real estate industry.

“We’re seeing a much stronger recovery. We are likely to see a newer and better normal. We’re really optimistic with our growth prospects. The Philippine economy is projected to grow by 6 to 8 percent in 2021; inflation is still within the government’s forecast; and mortgage rates are still very competitive,” he said.

“While we’re seeing disruptions, there are green shoots of recovery already… I am optimistic that the Philippine property market is up for a greater recovery, for a greater, faster pick up. It is cyclical in nature. During times of global economic meltdowns, the property market is affected but as we have seen, after every crisis, there is that potential for price recovery, rental growth,” Bondoc added.

This webinar was supported by Ortigas Land, OviaLand Inc., Sta. Lucia Land Inc. and Suntrust Properties Inc. You can watch the replay of this webinar via the Inquirer Property’s Facebook page (Facebook.com/INQ.Property/)

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