By Keren Concepcion G. Valmonte

CREATIVE WAYS of promoting property listings, such as virtual tours, have emerged amid the pandemic.

Carousell Philippines Country Manager Raffy Montemayor said virtual property tours, video calls and other online tools are expected to drive real estate sales.

“We will look at even more ways to help buyers make the decision purely online. We see that as something that is a permanent trend, we really want to make more efforts there,” he said in a video call with BusinessWorld.

Majority of their clients on the platform have been using video calls and conducting virtual tours of properties up for sale during the lockdown.

Developers are also becoming more aggressive, providing photos and videos to help brokers and agents effectively market residential projects.   

Carousell said that these services used to be limited to overseas Filipino workers, which make up for 40% of its online traffic. 

“In 2021, we’re seeing that developers are spending more online,” Mr. Montemayor said.

“They are spending more online on our platform than they ever did pre-pandemic and we believe that is going to stay because we believe we’re a more cost-effective way for them to reach home buyers because everybody’s at home and online,” he added.

Carousell Philippines will be holding its first online property expo from July 14-18 to help developers, brokers, and agents upgrade their skills and to provide property buyers with current market information.

The company said it saw a significant increase in listings of apartments and condominiums located in central business districts like Bonifacio Global City, Makati, and the Manila Bay Area.

“But the interest of property buyers right now is on house and lots in Metro Manila and that one was surprising to us. The growth in house and lot inquiries was 24% year on year and then lots only was 42% year on year,” Mr. Montemayor said.

Before the pandemic, people were searching for properties outside Metro Manila for their second homes. But as the health crisis forced everyone to stay indoors, it became more important to have fast internet connection, healthcare infrastructure, and access to delivery and food solutions.

“In the long-term, as those things develop outside Metro Manila, I think that will continue to increase but I think there’s this temporary pause [in demand for properties] outside Metro Manila at least in terms of growth,” Mr. Montemayor said.

While it is difficult to say how much sales Carousell helped in generating, around 85% of its top property sellers renewed their subscription to list properties on the platform.

It is now working to give all sellers, not just those listing properties, the opportunity to build their own brand through the website to help them establish themselves and reach more prospective buyers.

Compared with other property selling portals, Carousell takes pride that it is a “one-stop marketplace” for consumers.

“We have a wider audience base and we’re part of the journey of a home buyer even before they’re thinking about buying a home,” Mr. Montemayor said, adding that it is working to improve a personalized experience for buyers.   

Post-pandemic, Mr. Montemayor said he expects experienced property buyers to return to doing things offline.

With more digital native Gen Zs entering the workforce, he thinks that the investments on digital infrastructures will pay off.

“As these people go into first-time home buying, their default is going to be online so actually, we really believe that this is going to be the norm and this is going to get more and more even post-pandemic,” he said.