MEGAWORLD CORP. is seeing an uptick in residential sales, mainly from local buyers who are keen on projects outside of Metro Manila.

Megaworld Executive Vice-President and Chief Strategy Officer Kevin Andrew L. Tan said they have seen “a lot” of domestic sales in the last two months.

“(There’s) a lot of domestic sales. We’re not the same level as 2019 but I think despite that, we’re managing pretty well. We are able to deliver good volumes,” he said in a roundtable interview last week.

Most of the buyers are looking for projects outside of Metro Manila, he added.

Launches of new projects in Metro Manila were put on hold when the pandemic began in 2020.

“For residential, as soon as the pandemic came, we immediately (put on hold) all the launches in Metro Manila. We saw it already. It’s not that the demand in Metro Manila has waned, it was put on hold. It wasn’t wise for us to launch any more projects in Metro Manila, so we just finished what we had. We pivoted right away to the provinces,” Mr. Tan said.

Despite the economic challenges brought by the pandemic, the Megaworld official noted sales from overseas Filipino workers have been “resilient.”

“It wasn’t affected and I think a lot of these countries are recovering ahead of us. We saw a bit more uptick in international sales, faster than the locals,” Mr. Tan said.

Meanwhile, the exit of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) has not significantly affected Megaworld’s office leasing revenues.

Mr. Tan said POGOs currently make up around 6-7% of office occupancy, from a peak of 11-14% before the pandemic.

“Office occupancy in POGOs has dropped to less than single digits now, 6 to 7%. It’s very low,” he said.

Other companies, mainly business process outsourcing (BPO) firms, were quick to occupy the spaces vacated by POGOs in Philippine Economic Zone Authority-accredited buildings.

Mr. Tan said there are signs some POGOs are looking to return to the Philippines, once a measure imposing taxes on Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators and their foreign employees becomes a law.

“Today the new tax regime actually gives the entire sector a little bit more clarity. A lot of them are starting to come back… They are starting to inquire with other developers. The only challenge for them is to bring back their workers, since there’s a travel ban. You need the Chinese workers… There is renewed interest because of this tax regime,” he said.

But for Megaworld, the company is pinning its growth hopes on the BPO industry’s expansion.

“We’re more committed to BPOs now. We do see this as an industry we want to develop further,” he said, noting there is BPO expansion in finance, medical, e-commerce and technology sectors. — Cathy Rose A. Garcia