Road to Recovery: The Top Challenges Faced by the Real Estate Industry

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Like other industries, the real estate sector experienced the fury of the coronavirus pandemic. The months-long lockdown has interrupted business operations. Nonetheless, the industry pulled through, adjusting to the new normal of digital. By now, you’re probably getting used to work-from-home, checking in with clients via chat apps and teleconferencing platforms, and organizing virtual property showings.

While the real estate sector made great strides in terms of adjustment, there remain quite a few challenges in pandemic recovery. Industry leaders have talked about these in the recently concluded Lamudi roundtable discussion, On the Horizon: Real Estate Leaders on Market Recovery.

Here are some of them, along with things you can do proactively as a real estate professional to overcome such challenges:

Slow Processing of Permits

In the first track of the roundtable discussion, Revive: Property Investment in the Post-Pandemic World, Franco Soberano, EVP and COO of Cebu Landmasters Inc., said that they’ve experienced a slowdown in securing approval from authorities.

“One challenge we face is permitting. Of course, the focus now of our LGUs (local government units) is to secure our constituents, which is very important,” he said.

With the easing of community quarantine measures lately and government offices slowly increasing their capacity, experts are positive that approvals will be back to business as usual. Soberano mentioned, “I think LGUs are now starting to reopen to support businesses. We’re looking forward to more activity and support in that sense.”

What you can do as a broker: Use this time to coordinate closely with your partner-developers to know the latest updates on upcoming projects. Be in the know about the details, so you can plan your marketing strategy better.

Stricter Bank Lending

Property developers agree that while there was a slump in demand in the first two months of the lockdown, the interest bounced back after. In the third track of the roundtable discussion Redesign: Buoying the Market Through ChangesRaphael Felix, Chairman of the Board of Subdivision and Housing Developers Association and President and CEO of Phinma Properties, said that the market is strong, but what buyers need is financing.

Noting that banks have been hesitant to lend money, he mentioned, “Banks are on a wait-and-see [mode] because they don’t know how bad the market will get.” He added that the government-mandated moratoriums, which were pending at the time of the roundtable discussion, may not help in easing financial institutions’ reluctance.

Felix urged banks to support consumer financing. “This is one key important thing for us developers right now, that the banks start lending. Make that go on and watch this market take off,” he said.

For their part, developers have introduced promos and deals to help buyers get the property they need in the time of the pandemic. For instance, Robinsons Land Corporation has launched an innovative Early Move-In program. Sharing this in the second track of the roundtable discussion Reimagine: Real Estate in the New Normal, Arch. Henry Yap said that they allowed home buyers to move into their homes while paying their downpayment over a period of three months.

What you can do as a broker: If the property you’re selling comes with huge discounts and flexible terms such as the one mentioned, promote them aggressively. Let your future clients know that they’re getting a promising deal if they invest now. More than getting the sales that you want, you can help the industry as a whole in its pandemic recovery.

Shifting Preferences

What was very apparent in Lamudi’s recent roundtable discussion is that the pandemic has made a significant shift in property buyers’ essentials. “They demand more from developers, given the changes in their preferences,” Tek Samaniego, Editor of Philippine Daily Inquirer Property, noted.

The industry leaders identified three preferences that have been most prominent in the pandemic era: convenience, technology, and health safety:

  • Convenience, for the most part, involves location. Many prefer to live in mixed-use communities or at least near essential establishments given the travel restrictions.
  • For technology, buyers search for properties that provide high-speed internet connection to support their work-from-home and distance learning needs.
  • Health safety entails excellent property management, with buyers looking for building administration that strictly enforces physical distancing, body temperature checks, and disinfection practices in public spaces.

What you can do as a broker: Emphasize the convenience, technology, and health safety your property offers. Reassure your clients that their next investment will support their needs in the era of the new normal.

The real estate industry faces new challenges in the time of the pandemic. But along with these come opportunities to be creative in strategies and extend help to the market.