By Patricia B. Mirasol, Reporter

TO MEET the lifestyle demands of the new normal, experts said real estate and telecommunications firms should work together to offer properties and communities that are “smart” and interconnected.

Digital connectivity is a must and can be leveraged as a differentiator among property buyers, they added.

“The intention is to enable property developments that are digital savvy and future proof,” Michelle Y. Ora, head of strategic property of Globe Telecom, said during a Feb. 11 roundtable discussion on intelligent homes organized by Lamudi, an online real estate marketplace.

“Today, property buyers look for power, water, and internet connectivity. Having a strong and reliable connectivity in a development is one of the things that make customers decide to buy,” she added.

In the “A Forecast on Philippine’s Residential and Commercial Real Estate in 2021” report, Lamudi said the property sector may be well on its way to recovery as economic factors and investor attitude improve. The general demand for residential and commercial real estate in the country is expected to bounce back this year.

Lamudi also noted that apartments experienced the greatest growth in the number of listings from the first quarter to the last quarter of 2020. This may be in response to the growing number of property seekers either looking for affordable housing solutions near the workplace, or investment opportunities.

“We’re seeing a demand for smart buildings, homes, and condominiums,” Joey R. Bondoc, associate director for research of Colliers International Philippines, said during the same forum. “One of our recommendations for buyers is to look for projects that are adaptable to the work-from-home scheme.”

Colliers believes most companies will continue to implement work-from-home schemes.

“Investors, especially first-time residential investors, should look at structures where it is possible for employees to support their job requirements moving forward. This is something developers can leverage, especially with new projects,” Mr. Bondoc said.

Colliers also noted the modernization of warehouses and the conversion of vacant mall spaces into fulfillment centers and logistics facilities.

“There has been a rising demand for e-commerce even pre-pandemic,” Mr. Bondoc said. “To be able to tap this demand for logistics, developers have been modernizing their existing warehouses.”

The country’s consumer-driven economy and the prolonged lockdown have further increased the demand for in-mall facilities, particularly in Metro Manila. “Many of the deliveries happen in Metro Manila. Mall operators are doing what the market requires at this point,” he said.

Fiber is the basic requirement for telecommunications infrastructure, Ms. Ora said. Such infrastructure has to be planned three to four years before the completion of a building.

“Be ready for whatever customers need in the future,” she added. “When we partner with [property developers], it’s to help build with brand equity. That can be the differentiator offered to buyers.”

There is a need to update the National Building Codes — which were written in the 1930s — in order to enable widespread connectivity. “In other countries, it’s the government that deploys the fiber infrastructure on the road,” said Ms. Ora. “Telcos don’t have to worry about right of way and red tape.”