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Real estate market faces more challenges

TDT

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The alarming increase of coronavirus cases in the country is expected to affect growth projections this year.

With this, the Lobien Realty Group believed that more challenges await Metro Manila’s real estate markets, as it encouraged property owners and landlords to adapt, adjust and evolve to stay afloat.

The Office Property Market

LRG has observed that more companies and investors are gradually going back to the market again to scout for potential office expansion sites or investment opportunities since the start of the year.

Although many of the inquiries which LRG has received are still in the initial stages of sourcing and planning, it fully expects that these clients will be ready to commit to potential sites and investment options within the 2nd quarter of the year. LRG also expects that once the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccines comes into fruition, more of their clients will follow suit.

With regard to the government’s call for more employers to adopt a work from home arrangement, LRG says that it will definitely affect office take-up in the long run and adds that this kind of setup may not be sustainable especially for those that don’t have good internet access and connectivity and for those living in poor workplace environments.

LRG believes that at this time landlords/building owners need to be more flexible in their commercial terms when accepting new tenants. Some are already more open to signing short-term leases compared to the usual three-to-five-year leases that landlords require according to LRG. With the current situation, LRG advises landlords/building owners to lower rental rates so they can lease their spaces quickly rather than let units remain unoccupied for many months.

The Residential Property Market

LRG has observed that since the pandemic, there has been a change in the priorities of home buyers. More and more home buyers have given importance to settling in less congested areas with more open spaces and greener surroundings.

As proof, LRG refers to the latest Residential Real Estate Price Index (RREPI) of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas which reports a 0.8% year-on-year growth in house prices for 2020. The BSP has attributed this largely to the increase in prices of all types of housing units in areas outside the National Capital Region (AONCR) which grew by 5.9% year-on-year.

LRG projects that the move to nearby provinces will grow further due to the numerous township projects which are currently being developed as well as the completion of road infrastructure projects that are making travel to these locations easier and shorter.

The condominium sector has been the most affected housing sector since the pandemic with prices decreasing by 8.4% within the last quarter of 2020. LRG has noticed that condo dwellers are transferring to single detached houses as they prioritize their need for more open and greener space.

LRG projects that preference for less congested living areas may continue until herd immunity against the COVID-19 virus is achieved through vaccination.

It suggests that landlords of this type of property should consider offering lower rents especially if their units have already been vacant for extended periods.

Aside from offering discounted rents, they should also highlight features of their building’s property management and how it is mitigating potential causes of Covid-19 infections in the property (e.g., strict monitoring of tenants and their guests, contact tracing measures, and the extensiveness of its sanitation procedures). Condo landlords may also consider throwing in leasing incentives such as offering complimentary unit disinfection services and the like to attract tenants.

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