Philippine Real Estate Insights for April 2021

Philippine Property Market

ON CONSTRUCTION

Base Bahay Foundation, Inc. is pushing for the use of bamboo as an alternative building technology for housing in the Philippines. Bamboo is a resource that is abundant and easily accessible in the country, which makes it an ideal building material for sustainable housing.

The foundation has developed cement bamboo frame technology (CBFT) which is a prefabricated frame system that uses load-bearing bamboo with metal connections and mortar cement plaster. This is tested to ensure durability, reliable load transfer, and resistance to earthquakes, typhoons, fires, and termite infestation for safe housing.

Cement-bamboo frame houses would be more cost-effective by 15% to 20% overall compared to the conventional house build of the same quality according to Luis Lopez of Base Bahay Foundation, Inc. It also has 74% less environmental impact, reducing 9.3 tons of carbon monoxide CO2 equivalents over a service life of 25 years.

ON INDUSTRIAL 

The Singaporean government is engaging with local government units (LGUs), the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Center, and the Development Bank of the Philippines through Infrastructure Asia, a project facilitation office under the Singapore government, for infrastructure projects in the country.

Infrastructure Asia already signed an agreement back in September 2019 on knowledge-sharing to support infrastructure development in the country as well as to help local agencies implement PPP projects. Aside from that, they were also looking  to tap into the capabilities of its private partners to meet infrastructure needs.

They are currently looking into opportunities in conducting waste-to-energy projects. These projects can be on processing waste and turning them into usable construction materials, or simply waste treatment.

Other areas of interest that they are looking into include digitalization of waste utilities and climate adaptation.

ON OFFICE 

Recently, BPO firms are reducing office space requirements and are preparing to set up “hybrid” operations as the pandemic slowly dies down.

Office market demand remains down as the rollout for vaccines in the country continues at a slow pace. Despite this, according to Leechiu Property Consultants (LPC), the recovery in the office space demand grew this first quarter of 2021 to 109,000 sp.m. However, this is still lower than last year’s first quarter demand of 158,000 sq.m.

The office market demand is still dominated by business process outsourcing firms by 30%. LPC notes that the demand for office space would have been higher if not for the tweaked tax structure.

ON RESIDENTIAL 

The current residential demand is most likely affected by the slowdown in office space absorption. Residential demand, especially in the Bay Area, is highly driven by POGO employees.

According to Colliers, residential vacancy increased from 15.6% to 16.3% in the secondary market during the first quarter of 2021. Furthermore, rents across the secondary market further declined by 1.6%.

Prices on residential dropped by another 2.5% due to the impact of COVID-19.

Given the current leasing market situation, selected landlords are offering discounts between 20% and 25%. This is commonly observed in condominium developments with higher vacancies.

ON TOURISM 

Local tourism and staycations drive up demand amidst the pandemic. Most hotel operators are looking forward to the return of airline traffic in order to push demand. However, this may take a long time as travel restrictions continue to be taking place in the country, banning most international travels.

JLL Philippines found from their survey of 100 clients that 70% of investors are bullish on the Asia Pacific hotel market this year. They are highly interested in Japan with 52% of investors viewing the country as desirable for hotel investment. Other countries of their interest include Australia (31%) and China (22%).

ON RETAIL 

No new retail space was completed since the fourth quarter of 2020 based on Colliers‘ report. Construction schedules of upcoming malls are most likely to be disrupted as the pandemic continues. Developers may also defer completion of malls until consumer demand and retailers’ confidence to begin occupying retail space improve.

Metro Manila’s retail vacancy rose to 14% from 12.5% in the first quarter of 2021 due to the stricter imposition of quarantine protocols, which resulted in closure of physical retail spaces.

This compels more retailers to migrate to an online platform to lower their rental costs. This also pushes mall operators to rethink their retail tenancy strategies to not lose more retailers.

The recovery of retail space demand in the future is seen to be greatly dependent on the willingness of consumers to visit brick-and-mortar shops.

Sources:

Balinbin, A. (2021, April 6). Singapore firm in talks with LGUs, PPP Center for projects. Retrieved May 05, 2021, from https://www.bworldonline.com/singapore-firm-in-talks-with-lgus-ppp-center-for-projects/

Bondoc, J. (2021, April 30). Green shoots of recovery for Philippine residential property (Rep.). Retrieved May 5, 2021, from Colliers website: https://www.colliers.com/en-ph/research/colliers-quarterly-property-market-report-q1-2021-philippines

Garcia, C. (2021, April 02). Bamboo seen as ideal building material for sustainable homes. Retrieved May 05, 2021, from https://www.bworldonline.com/bamboo-seen-as-ideal-building-material-for-sustainable-homes/

Ibañez, J. (2021, April 13). Philippine office Buildings feeling the pinch from POGO firms’ exodus. Retrieved May 05, 2021, from https://www.bworldonline.com/philippine-office-buildings-feeling-the-pinch-from-pogo-firms-exodus/

Ibañez, J. (2021, April 13). Q1 office space demand gets a lift from e-commerce. Retrieved May 05, 2021, from https://www.bworldonline.com/q1-office-space-demand-gets-a-lift-from-e-commerce/

Ibañez, J. (2021, April 6). Philippine hotel operators still optimistic about long-term recovery amid pandemic. Retrieved May 05, 2021, from https://www.bworldonline.com/philippine-hotel-operators-still-optimistic-about-long-term-recovery-amid-pandemic/

Physical stores to post higher vacancy as consumers, retailers go into wait-and-see mode (Rep.). (2021, April 30). Retrieved May 5, 2021, from Colliers website: https://www.colliers.com/en-ph/research/colliers-quarterly-property-market-report-q1-2021-philippines