The first half of 2020 has been eventful for the Philippines. The coronavirus outbreak proved to have the largest impact on the country and its people’s movements and plans. With stay-at-home orders relaxed in the second half of August, businesses in Metro Manila and affected areas in Luzon can resume, and residents can move more freely.
In this trend report, Lamudi looks at where the market was headed in 2019, and how changes in 2020 disrupted or sustained real estate investment trends. In addition, Colliers Philippines lists recommendations for opportunities outside Metro Manila.
REAL ESTATE MOVEMENT ON LAMUDI FROM JANUARY 2019 TO JUNE 2020
The past year and a half (January 2019 – July 2020) registered a variety of changes in the residential market trends, especially in Metro Manila and the surrounding regions. With the uncertainties heralded by the pandemic, real estate transactions experienced a slowdown in various stages of completion, and property developers and sellers worked together to revive the market through contactless initiatives and more flexible payment options.
What is interesting, however, is that amid the pandemic, real estate interest has not waned, with overseas interest continuing to pour in, and property seekers looking into provincial cities.
Significant and consistent overseas interest
Overseas interest in properties in the Philippines remained fairly consistent from the first half of 2019 through the first half of 2020. Data from Lamudi shows that the United States — the country where the highest number of Filipino OFWs are concentrated, according to Migration Policy Institute — accounted for the most overseas pageviews and leads on Lamudi from the first half of 2019 to the first half of 2020.
Broken down further, Lamudi’s pageviews from the U.S. came from these states:
- California (22.9%)
- Texas (4.71%)
- New York (4.21%)
- Florida (3.89%)
- Illinois (3.29%)
- Washington (3.14%)
- Nevada (2.54%)
- New Jersey (2.51%)
While the U.S. maintained its top spot for pageviews and leads from the beginning of 2019 through the first half of 2020, four other countries and a region contributed to overseas interest: the Middle East (Dubai, Doha, Abu Dhabi, and Riyadh Province), Canada (Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia), England, Australia (New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland), and Japan (Tokyo).
During the first half of 2019, the U.S. accounted for 47.23% of the overseas pageviews on Lamudi, followed by the Middle East (18.28%), Canada (12.05%), England (9.57%), Australia (9.93%), and Japan (2.93%). Interest in Philippine properties jumped in Canada and England based on the year-on-year comparison.
A similar pattern can be detected in the year-on-year data for overseas leads on Lamudi. The U.S. dominated leads by volume, followed by the Middle East, Canada, England, Australia, and Japan.
Pageviews from the Middle East made up less than 20% of the overall overseas interest for the first halves of 2019 and 2020, but the region was the most active when it came to generating leads on the website. Leads from the Middle East during the first half of 2019 (30.66%) outdid pageviews (18.28%) by about 12 percentage points. And for the first half of 2020, leads (25.42%) were still ahead of pageviews (17.78%) by 7.64 points, suggesting that visitors from the region are more likely to actively seek information or send inquiries about properties in the country. This observation goes with the government’s repatriation program for Filipino OFWs working in the region, which has increased tempo as the coronavirus outbreak developed in the first half of 2020.
Focusing solely on leads from the Lamudi website, Canada and England — which together make up less than 25% of leads from overseas — had the largest year-on-year growth rate. Canada (1.53%) and England’s (4.07%) cumulative lead jump of about 6% suggests that interest is growing at a faster pace from these two countries compared to the rest of the regions.
Interest in provincial cities growing
In line with Lamudi’s trend reports on property seekers and their interests amid the pandemic, provincial cities enjoy preference over most Metro Manila cities (particularly those with large central business districts). Provincial cities near Metro Manila recorded the greatest jumps in interest for both pageviews and leads on Lamudi from the last six months of 2019 to the first six of 2020.
Another trend observed from the top provincial cities is that seekers interested in properties in these areas are more active in viewing and making inquiries. The growth in leads from the first half of 2019 to the first half of 2020 is also much larger than the growth in pageviews. Calamba (37.34%), General Trias (30.45%), Santa Rosa (27.22%), and Lipa (26.87%) registered the highest change in leads, pointing to high property seeker interest in these areas — likely due to their close proximity to Metro Manila and relatively low property prices. The move towards provincial cities, fueled in part by lower population levels, fewer COVID-19 cases, and relaxed lockdowns, may continue in the near to medium term.
The only provincial city outside of Luzon to register such a significant positive increase in leads is Cagayan de Oro (24.73%).
While the growth in interest in Metro Manila properties is outpaced by the growth shown in provincial cities, Valenzuela, Marikina, Pateros, and Caloocan still show positive growth for both pageviews and leads. It is worth noting that these cities are located on the fringes of Metro Manila.
Shift to work-at-home calls for more outdoor and indoor space
As mentioned in Lamudi’s trend report on the state of the residential market, the amenities that have remained important for property seekers in the past year and a half are related to leisure and comfort. Amenities important for physical activity (swimming pools and gyms) have always enjoyed popularity, regardless of the current changes in the environment brought by nationwide lockdowns.
And with many working professionals currently working from home, air conditioning and stable Internet connectivity remain important features and make homes not only more comfortable but also more conducive for work.
From the first half of 2019 to the same period in 2020, there was an increase in searches for garages (from 5 to 6%) and built-in wardrobes (from 4 to 5%), suggesting that property seekers are satisfying either or both of these qualities in 2020:
- They own at least one car or are actively searching for properties that could accommodate one in the future.
- They want a home with built-in features, which allow them to maximize the space available as well as avoid expenses for additional furniture for storage.
The lockdowns for the first half of 2020 have led to notable searches related to the outdoors (12.34%), upscale interiors (11.36%), security (10.25%), and vehicle storage (8.58%), pointing to property seekers wanting a home that offers not only shelter and security, but also a boost to their wellness and well-being.
The following table lists the specific amenities that property seekers searched on Lamudi under these four subcategories.
Interest in vacant land growing
Despite the many changes that the Philippines as a whole has experienced recently, most property seekers still place a lot of value on the idea of owning a house and lot.
Lamudi observed a positive trend for another promising property type: vacant land. Interest in this property type has steadily increased from the beginning of 2019 through the first half of 2020, with the demand for land in provincial cities increasing from 61.59% in the second half of 2019 to 62.19% in the first half of 2020. This suggests that property seekers are not only looking for turnkey housing solutions (in the form of house and lot), but they are also willing to invest in property requiring development in the future.
Comparing the second half of 2019 to the first half of 2020, provincial cities showed the highest percent change in interest and inquiries. Antipolo ranked first for both pageviews (27%) and leads (32%); this is likely because the city and its surrounding area have a large supply of vacant land, particularly those located within gated communities.
For 2019, and with the pandemic changing investing priorities in the first half of 2020, lot space is in the spotlight. With warehousing as one of the growing industries amid the pandemic, vacant lots near and in the fringes of large cities may continue to attract real estate investors in the Philippines and abroad. Homebuyers also consider options that will provide a bigger land area, or will at least maximize the square footage they get for their budget. These changing preferences will guide real estate players in their upcoming developments.
Colliers Reveals Drivers of Growth Outside Metro Manila
Top property consultancy firm Colliers has asserted a strong recovery happening in 2021 in real estate markets outside the capital region. As vertical, horizontal, and mixed-use developments dot key areas in Metro Manila as well as provincial cities, it is important that developers recapture the interest of the market with their changing preferences considered:
In Cebu, condominium projects priced between P3.2 million to 6 million have currently been the most popular, according to Colliers’ report Cebu Residential Q1 2020. The rising buying power of Cebuano investors and end-users is likely to remain resilient in the next coming years, as developers are urged to offer flexible lease terms supporting the low loan rates.
The mid-income segment is expected to enjoy renewed interest in Davao as well, as mentioned in the firm’s annual report Davao Residential 2020. The affordable projects have also been attracting property seekers, and are likely to be more in demand as the economy recovers and low mortgage rates become easily accessible.
Comfort and convenience preference
Property seekers are on the lookout for amenities that increase their level of comfort and convenience.Among Colliers’ key insights is the strong interest for integrated features, such as greater accessibility to essential goods and services.
Answering this demand, developers are more likely to build within townships. Colliers foresees 39 percent of Cebu condominium units and 35 percent of those in Davao set to be developed from 2020 to 2022 will be within integrated communities.
In the same way, residential projects near planned infrastructure developments, such as the Davao Coastal Road, Davao Monorail, Mindanao Railway Project, and Davao Bus Rapid Transit, will be in demand even beyond the pandemic, according to the experts.
Proactive property management
Aside from comfort, health and safety have become priorities as well, given the times. Based on Colliers’ Cebu Residential Q1 2020 report, sanitation and emergency preparedness are among the top considerations of property seekers, which require more from property management personnel.
Appetite for house and lot projects
In Colliers’ Davao Residential 2020 report, 2019 data shows horizontal projects are particularly attractive among overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), and will likely remain resilient. Those who are in the city’s outskirts will sustain the investment activity in house and lot developments.
The continued recovery of the real estate market rests on the supply available in the outskirts and in provincial cities, with an emphasis on bigger cuts of land and more affordable offerings for investor-OFWs.
New and Sustained Residential Market Trends
Despite natural calamities, pandemics, restrictions on mobility, and the economic uncertainties that followed, property seekers are still active in the residential market, which bodes well for the market’s health and its performance in the near and medium term.
In summary, here’s what we have learned:
- Overseas interest in Philippine properties is still significant, with most pageviews and leads stemming from the North American region (U.S. and Canada).
- Property seekers are switching their focus to provincial cities, with the areas surrounding Metro Manila enjoying particularly high interest and activity.
- Outside Luzon, Cebu and Davao are among the prime hotspots, expected to see demand recovery by 2021. Cagayan de Oro continues to gain attention as an emerging real estate hotspot.
- The kinds of amenities property seekers value have remained relatively stable and focused around comfort, connectivity, and active leisure. In terms of comfort, they are looking for a location that allows them to be near essential establishments and emerging infrastructure developments.
- An overall look at the past year and a half reveals consistent interest in house and lots compared to other residential property types. Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) may fuel the demand for horizontal projects, at least in real estate markets outside the capital region, including Davao.
- The high potential of vacant lots makes them one of the versatile real estate investment options amid a crisis. Situated in strategic locations near the metro, they provide a viable location for warehouses and home or project builds.
As the Philippines restarts its real estate activities and international markets gradually reopen, it is only a matter of time before the ‘new normal’ becomes the standard. The preference changes observed in 2019 have guided real estate players in making their decisions for 2020, but with the pandemic halting construction and development plans earlier in the year, there is room to realign with the new trends and priorities observed in the first half of 2020.