Real Estate Is Making a Real Comeback, Property Expert Says
It may sound counterintuitive, but now is the not the time to hold off from making real estate decisions. At least that’s according to Jules Kay, general manager of PropertyGuru Asia Property Awards & Events. “Things happen so fast. If you see an opportunity, take it,” he tells Esquire Philippines.
Kay’s company is part of online property portal group PropertyGuru. According to his observations, “a lot of positivity in the market” since last year, especially after pandemic restrictions were eased. “The only way to go was up. Foreign remittances started to return. People started to invest in different types of property again, and developers started kickstarting their projects (that were) on hold for a couple of years. So, there was generally a lot of positive energy and enthusiasm in the property market across multiple areas.”
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The executive says people have money to spend despite high inflation rates. “They see property as a safe investment. In times of economic turbulence, people go back to the brick-and-mortar. You can leave your investment, wait for things to get better, then it’s going to accumulate,” he explains. “Those kinds of investments generally reflect what’s going on in the market anyway, so your prices will go up and down. You’re not actually going to potentially lose from a property investment over the long-term. Even if (the market) dips, (the value of property) will come back up again.”
He adds that there’s a bit of revenge spending—like everywhere else—in real estate. Kay believes the “cautionary attitude (in investing) is kind of gone.”
“People are being more bullish now,” he stresses. “The overseas foreign workers are taking advantage of a stronger peso against the US dollar. The BPO (business process outsourcing) sector is bouncing back. Central business districts are growing all around.”
Jules Kay is the general manager of PropertyGuru Asia Property Awards & Events
Real estate tips
Kay says buyers should consider what will bring the quickest return on investment when they acquire property. “Who is your target renter? Is it close to a business area where you can get the highest rental values from a foreign worker looking for residence? What’s going to bring that return?”
Sellers should not be too conservative, as well. “I think it’s always good to keep your eye open to selling because things move quickly,” he explains. “The fact is that real estate tends to follow inflationary trends that go up and down. Actually, to sell, as long as there’s a demand, anytime is good. There’s a lot of interest from the idea of overseas foreign workers coming back. They have buying power because of currency. So from a seller's perspective, that gives you opportunity to sell property at a healthy rate.”
Kay shares that the evolution in many aspects of the markets has given more opportunities to make wiser decisions on both sides. The diversity in the domestic real estate landscape reflects how, according to him, “the best developers in the Philippines have been very nimble in terms of being able to move within the market and even across sectors.”
The PropertyGuru Asia Property Awards has recognized numerous Filipino real estate firms over the years. In 2022, Robinsons Land Corporation was named “Best Developer” for its ability to “switch and focus on different things successfully.”
“I think it gives them a sense of resilience and a sense of evolution as a company, and gives them a level of quality as well,” Kay observes.
Other noteworthy mentions for the executive include Aboitiz Land, which won the “Best Industrial Developer in Asia” award last year for its impressive commitment to sustainability and “green elements of (its) developments.” SMDC, 2021 Best Developer Award recipient, was praised for its evolution from a retail background to residential and mixed-use properties. “We judge them on their past record or what they are doing in new areas,” says Kay. “SM essentially started with a small shopping shop, and then the massive malls. And now (it’s) very, very well-known for residential offerings.” SMDC received seven awards from Asia Property Awards in 2022 for different properties.
PropertyGuru also recognized Filinvest Development Corp. President and CEO Lourdes Josephine Gotianun Yap, who received the Philippines Real Estate Personality of the Year award, the first woman in the country to be commended with the title. “Filinvest has a very powerful female leader,” he states. “She won that (for) having that eye and being able to apply new ideas and innovations even when it's a very well-established company. That’s another thing that we look for.”
The Asia Property Awards has been spoiled for choice based on entries it has received from the Philippines. Last year, local firms contributed to the near-20 percent bounce-back in terms of entries received by the body. Kay adds that, internationally, there is a lot of publicity about new developments in the country. “It has become a bit of a leading market in terms of green and sustainability and things like that,” he reports. “I think generally, as far as Southeast Asian markets go, it’s been a very strong return for the new normal or whatever they want to call it.”
The secret in standing out to the judges is looking for a niche where firms know they can excel in. “Look for that category, and match it what you’re trying to achieve, and what you’re trying to provide for a buyer in the market,” Kay suggests. “What are your strengths? People need to start looking at their niche or their smaller strengths and highlighting them because I think that’s the differentiator.
“I think last year was the best, with the most entries we've ever had from the Philippines. There was a clear understanding among Filipino developers that there’s value in quality and being recognized for quality. And I think that’s a really good sign for the market in general, that developers are focusing on quality. That diversity is creating healthy competition. We see the Philippines as a very strong and innovative property market which is good for that region, but also very good for the Philippines.”
The PropertyGuru Philippines Property Awards will receive entries from now until July 14, 2023 for this year’s awards.