There is now a more evenly distributed market for properties to rent and purchase in Metro Manila—a sign of shifting seeker preferences and market needs.
Lamudi recently weighed in on three major trends in the real estate rental market in the time of COVID-19, and saw telling changes in seeker priorities brought by the pandemic, including shifts in the way people approach renting properties.
In the early days of strict community quarantines last year, workers in export-centered industries were one of the few identified to be priority sectors – essential workers required to continue face-to-face operations and keep the economy afloat.
Large-scale operations in industries such as food production, business process outsourcing, and other export-related services continued work as is, a difficult feat given the strict checkpoints and lack of public transport.
To keep employees safe and minimize the need for travel, many companies provided on-site staff housing or availed of large residential spaces nearby for employees, as well as shuttle services to and from the plant to designated pick up or drop off locations.
Now in the first quarter of 2021, the distribution of leads for properties to buy and properties to rent is becoming nearly equal.
Luxury rentals still growing
The share of leads for luxury properties to rent worth PHP 200K – PHP 500K increased in Luzon and Visayas throughout the pandemic. In Luzon (outside Metro Manila), where many industrial plants and export processing zones are located, the share of leads for properties to rent within the P100,000 – P200,000 range increased in 2Q 2021 from the same period a year before.
The same trend was observed in Metro Manila and in Visayas, with the lead share for properties within the same range posting slight gains from 2Q 2020 to 2Q 2021.
Affordable rentals in metro rebound
In Metro Manila, demand for affordable rentals bounced back in 2021, as many returned to the office or preferred proximity to the office as they transition to more flexible schedules in the new normal.
Lamudi data showed a gradual recovery in leads for rental properties within the P5,000 – P15,000 range, which showed quarter-on-quarter gains since 3Q 2020 and has sustained a lead share above 30% since the first quarter of 2021.
For those not quite ready to purchase their own property yet as well as for many not based in the Metro, renting remains to be the more immediately accessible option.
With renters worried about co-living in high-density spaces during a pandemic, property sellers can leverage amenities such as study and work stations, open air leisure facilities and updated safety measures to ease any concerns.
Remote work culture here to stay?
The growing openness of companies to work-from-home set-ups, increasing number of freelancers, and current global economic situation have driven many to work in permanently remote positions.
Joining the gig economy has become not only a lifestyle choice but more a practical reality for many fresh graduates, employees with little security and reduced wages, migrants, and creatives who wish to earn extra income during the pandemic. During a time when hiring rates are low, many fresh graduates and those freshly out of a job have turned to putting up small businesses and upskilling to enter freelance online-based jobs in order to start earning.
Seeking a balance
The option to work remotely from leisure destinations such as Ilocos Norte, Siargao, Palawan and even Boracay, have grown. Provinces have recognized the demand from many young professionals to work from scenic places with plenty of outdoor amenities long term, and in the case of Ilocos Norte, have even incentivized for entrepreneurs and remote workers to put up shop on their shores.
According to Lamudi data, some of the most sought-after cities overall in the second quarter of 2021 were renowned leisure destinations or cities with easy access to nature. Baguio, Tagaytay and Antipolo joined Quezon City and Cebu City in the ranks as the cities which attracted the most searches overall from property seekers.
While cities in Metro Manila were the most commonly searched areas in Lamudi, leisure destinations such as Siargao, Bohol, Boracay and Zambales have also been heavily searched.
Brokers and sellers are encouraged to highlight homes that promise a more balanced lifestyle – fresh air and natural open spaces still within close proximity to commercial hubs.
Vacation destinations no longer a pipe dream
Batangas Province and Lapu-lapu, amassed impressive overall leads growth figures in the second half of 2020 compared to the first half of the same year. In the second quarter of 2021, these leisure destinations continue to be some of the most searched locations in the Philippines, possibly attracting investors, end-users, and renters.
With revenge travel refueling real estate demand, local hospitality markets incentivizing long term stays, and investors considering leisure destinations for their rental business, domestic tourism has found an unlikely promoter in remote work.
Brokers and managers of properties in these areas are actively monitoring tourism recovery initiatives, travel requirements in vacation spots, and Department of Tourism-accredited tour operators to ensure a safe travel experience for clients.
Mobility is key
For the many that will be returning to the office, a home that enables mobility such as those close to mass transport hubs is the most practical choice. Renting a home near a bus stop or rail station allows for easier access to key commercial areas across Metro Manila.
Lamudi data on proposed Metro Manila Subway destinations – areas with major foot traffic – shows that more property seekers were looking into rental properties in the second quarter of 2021.
“Rent to own” was the top searched non-location specific term on the site in 1H2021. In spite of the pandemic, Lamudi data shows that areas such as Ortigas Avenue, West Rembo and Western Bicutan were primarily rental markets from 1Q 2020 to 2Q 2021 – likely due to their proximity to CBDs in Pasig, Makati and Taguig, as well as mass transit.
Holding on to properties
Real estate owners are holding on to their properties in these areas as land values appreciate upon completion of the subway project. In the meantime, should residing there not be the best option, owners can rent out the property to young professionals, small businesses and even BPO companies in need of staff housing depending on the owner’s property type and size.
With more vaccines arriving, a sizable share of workers who had moved back to their home provinces during the pandemic may be returning to the metro in search of accommodations close to the workplace. Brokers and property managers are preparing to cater to seekers online – that is where seekers will be searching potential homes and making the necessary transactions.
With on-site tours and ocular inspections not accessible to them, property seekers will put a premium on transparent and high-quality online listings, as well as attentive customer service.
Virtual tours, quality photos, responsive online customer service, and transparent processes show the professionalism of the property owner or broker and help improve the online real estate renting experience.