As the economy gradually bounces back from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the real estate industry is beginning to ride that recovery. Within the residential sector, in particular, changes in the market’s preferences and lifestyles are offering several opportunities that players in the field can maximize.

In its latest outlook on the residential real estate market, online property marketplace Lamudi highlighted shifts in property demand in the first quarter (Q1) of the present year as seeker age groups explored different properties, led by Generation X, aged 35 to 44, and the ‘Boomers’, aged 65 or older, among whom digital adoption was observed to have spurred.

While the Q1 of the previous year saw college students and fresh graduates, aged 18 to 24, leading in terms of pageview growth for condominiums, seekers from Generation X were seen to have commanded the highest year-on-year (y-o-y) growth figures for pageviews in the said property type at 106.8%. The same age group also tallied the highest quarter-on-quarter pageviews at 6.68%.

“With flexible schedules and remote work continuing to be the norm, more C-suite executives within the age group may be looking at homes closer to the office,” Lamudi’s report pointed out.

As a side note, real estate firm Colliers Philippines noted that remittances from overseas Filipino workers continue to drive demand for affordable to mid-income condominiums in Metro Manila. “Developers will likely continue to cater to families that receive remittances from abroad,” the firm stated in its latest residential market report. “We recommend that developers monitor the COVID-19 situation in countries that are major sources of remittances.”

Lamudi’s report also revealed that the 25-34 age group — leaning closer to the millennial segment — led the demand for apartments, contributing 42.76% of all leads for that property type. Apartments also earned the largest y-o-y growth for leads by property type by 16.11%, and Lamudi attributed the uptick to “consumers’ desire for extra space without compromising the experience of living large in units smaller and more affordable than the single-detached house.”

The size of apartments, Lamudi’s report noted, is especially attractive to young professionals and couples who are planning to expand their family and wish to move in immediately.

Meanwhile, the 65+ age bracket, also known as the ‘retiree market’, showed the ‘most optimistic’ growth figures in the same quarter. From 107.99% dip in Q1 2020, the segment’s annual pageview growth rebounded to an uptick of 80.32% in Q1 2021. The bracket also posted the highest y-o-y and quarter-on-quarter growths in pageviews for houses in Q1, at 93.58% and 77.16%, respectively.

“The positive trend is indicative of an older population adjusting to the Internet of Things and growing their presence on digital platforms,” the report noted.

Prime on pandemic-driven priorities

In terms of location, demand has been spotted in areas outside Metro Manila. Lamudi particularly noted Antipolo City, Rizal as the prime location of choice for house seekers and land seekers in Q1. The location garnered 24.95% of all pageviews for seekers looking for houses outside the region, plus 39.11% of leads.

“The city’s abundant green space and tranquility makes it an excellent option for seekers looking for a relaxed pace without moving too far away from family in the metro,” the report noted.

Other areas within the region, meanwhile, attracted pageviews from seekers of foreclosed properties. This is led by San Pedro City, Laguna, at 26.74%; followed by Bacoor, Cavite and Lucena, Quezon, at 20.93% each; and General Trias, Cavite, at 15.12%.

“Given all the new residential, commercial, and infrastructural projects developing in Southern Luzon, the trend may be driven by seekers looking to capitalize on more affordable properties in a region ripe with opportunities for price appreciation,” the report stressed.

Moreover, real estate company Santos Knight Frank, in a webinar, shared some insights from its “Wealth Report 2021”. It observed that as people want to create a “better normal” and live in dense areas, demand has increased for residential properties outside the Metro such as Nuvali in Santa Rosa, Laguna, and coast areas in Batangas.

Within Metro Manila, nevertheless, the firm sees an apparent “flight from condominium-living to house-living”, driving the demand for properties in so-called prime villages.

Collier Philippines, likewise, sees an opportunity in the luxury segment as it is “the least-affected during an economic slowdown”. “Despite the higher price, the average take-up in these projects reached 85% as of the end of 2020,” Colliers’ report read. “Given the potential demand, we expect more luxury projects to be launched in the market, and these are likely to include joint venture developments.”

Lamudi’s findings in Q1 also observed the growing preference among seekers for a home environment that promotes their health, well-being, and productivity. The top desired property feature is fitness amenities such as gyms and swimming pools, with a lead share jumping from 32.84% in Q4 2020 to 34.19% in Q1 2021. Seekers also look for reliable Internet connection, as this amenity increased from 12.57% to 18.24%. — Adrian Paul B. Conoza