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Top 10 property topics in 2021

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PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF HORIZON MANILA HORIZON Manila, the City of Tomorrow.

Vaccinations rolled out this year to fight Covid-19, with booster shots also available, and the real estate industry — just like the rest of the country — went through a roller-coaster ride that hinged on the quarantine states imposed by the government.

A year of digital pivots and reimagination of business models, 2021 proved that the property sector is among the most agile as it successfully shifted operations from traditional face-to-face operations to contactless engagements.

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF IG/THEMALLOFASIAOFFICIAL
RESTAURANTS opened their al fresco dining as part of observing health protocols.

From a year that kickstarted with uncertainty and eventually unfolded with much agility and resilience, here’s what mattered in 2021:

1. Wait-and-see January
Still with some financial shock to reckon with apart from the health crisis, 2021 started with businesses already gaining some comprehension on surviving another year of the pandemic. Metro Manila and nine other areas were placed under General Community Quarantine or GCQ. While vaccination was gradually being rolled out, companies reopened their physical operations and office space leasing slowly recovered. The residential sector, on the other hand, slowed down and in the retail sector, no new spaces were opened, according to a Colliers report.

2. World’s biggest Ikea opens
Talk about upscaling one’s home design quotient as the world’s most famous Swedish furniture store finally opened on 25 November after many delays. Also the store’s first branch in the country, Ikea’s opening in Manila is part of the company’s expansion plans in Asia. Practically a wonderland for home dwellers and decorators, the 730,000-square foot, two-level store has three dining areas, a number of showrooms and warehouses. The building also houses an e-commerce facility and a call center.

3. In praise of industry awards
As the industry strived to keep moving, it also aspired to recognize the valiant leadership and vision of its own kind. Two of the formidable award-giving bodies committed themselves to recognizing the best of the best — one via a virtual event, the other braving it with a physical and impressive gathering of the industry’s who’s who.

The virtual edition of the PropertyGuru Philippines Property Awards celebrated the best projects, designs and innovations within the industry throughout the past year.  Presented by global brand Kohler, the 9th annual PropertyGuru Philippines Property Awards is part of the regional PropertyGuru Asia Property Awards, considered the gold standard in real estate.

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY
OF IG/IKEAPHILIPPINES
IKEA opened its first store in the Philippines last 25 November.

On 9 December, members of the Philippine chapter of the world-renowned FIABCI, the Property and Real Estate Awards headed to the grand ballroom of Okada Manila to recognize excellence among industry members.

According to Dr. Reghis M. Romero II, FIABCI-Philippines president, the local real estate industry has never been more focused in bringing back vibrance to the economy and in defining “the New Normal by the quality of life that we can put into shape.”

4. Big wins for the Good Guys

Major property developer SM Development Corporation, also touted as the “Good Guys” company, bagged 11 major PropertyGuru awards, including Developer of the Year for the second consecutive year. The awards were given for SMDC’s Gold, Vine, Green 2 residences and more. The best mid-rise condo development (Philippines) went to Gold Residences. The awards ceremony was held virtually on 11 November.

5. Frederick Go is industry’s Man of the Year

Another property developer that showed a strong finish in 2021 was Robinsons Land Corporation (RLC) Residences which received multiple recognitions at the 2021 FIABCI Philippines Property and Real Estate Awards. RLC president and COO Frederick D. Go was declared 2021 Prix D’Excellence Award Property Man of the Year
With Go at the helm, RLC is poised to launch more well-designed developments in 2022 with improved product and service offerings for future homeowners.

6. City of Tomorrow

As Metro Manila returned to the proverbial drawing board in preparation for the next-normal, a game-changing 419-hectare reclamation project in Manila Bay aims to promote the city as the country’s global hub of the future.

Horizon Manila is a joint venture between the City of Manila and premier developer JBros Construction Corporation. The P120-billion project is the biggest, most ambitious development of its kind in the country.

7. Proptech rising

Thriving in the sea of digital transformation, the real estate sector navigated its road to expansion with digital or property technology. Managers are valuing the digitization and automation of their processes through technology. Still considered a fresh platform forced to fast-track by the pandemic, digital property management is steadily being accepted as a standard in the Philippines and the world.

Home buying, once considered as an experiential customer journey, changed its course overnight through technology. Buying, renting, designing, selling and managing are truly within one’s finger’s click.

photograph courtesy of dinah ventura for the daily tribune
Dr. Reghis M. Romero II, FIABCI-Philippines president.

8. Revenge travelers in work-ation mode

By the third quarter of the year, as the population of fully vaccinated Filipinos increased and cases of Covid-19 decreased, local travel restrictions were also eased. And just like that, workers who had gone tired of working from home sought beautiful destinations like Siargao, Boracay, Batangas, Nueva Ecija, Baguio and Palawan to relax, rejuvenate while staying productive as entrepreneurs, employees, etc.

On 16 December, however, Typhoon “Odette” wrought havoc and claimed many lives and properties in the Visayas, Caraga, Mimaropa and Northern Mindanao. Government and private aid and assistance are currently being administered, though experts estimate that it will take a year or two to rebuild damages.

9. REIT up

The digital transformation brought by the pandemic also caused disruptions such as cryptocurrency, NFT, blockchain technology and other modalities in the property sectors, real estate investment trust (REIT)  made the industry more exciting as REIT executives believe that the country has the potential to be among the largest REIT markets in the region. Following the five successful IPOs amid the pandemic, the market is expected to grow in the near future.

Currently all eyes are on the five listed REITs: AREIT Inc., DDMP REIT Inc., Filinvest REIT Corp. (FILREIT), RL Commercial REIT Inc. (RCR), and MREIT. AREIT debuted on the stock market in August 2020.

10. Building the next normal

In a few months, a new leader will be chosen by the Filipino people through, hopefully, honest elections. The government’s Build Build Build program is President Rodrigo’s legacy six-year leadership leaves various completed and in-progress infrastructure projects targeted to reach up to P9 trillion from 2017 to 2022.
The program has also served as an impetus for the real estate sector to invest in building townships, vertical communities and other developments in the midst of the ongoing efforts toward economic recovery.

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