A TOP property developer sees a bright future for the real estate industry as the country's economic recovery continues to gain more momentum.
Guesting on "Business and Politics," a weekly program aired Saturday on SMNI hosted by The Manila Times Chairman and CEO Dante "Klink" Ang 2nd, Sheila Lobien, chief executive officer of the Lobien Realty Group Inc., based her optimism on the recent forecast of the Asian Development Bank that the economy will grow by 6.3 percent overall in 2023.
"The Philippine real estate market, as I have said in the past, is one of the barometers of the country's economy, and if the economy is doing well, so will the real estate market because of demand," Lobien said.
Commercial real estate, in particular, has been trending up because of the expanding information technology-business process outsourcing (IT-BPO) market, she said."We have a good pulse on what is going on in the market, and the number one sector that is continually looking and buying commercial space is outsourcing or specifically, the IT-BPO," Lobien said. "It is still the biggest driver despite the real estate market getting negatively impacted by the pandemic."
According to a report from Prime Global, the IT-BPO sector in the Philippines is predicted to increase its real estate investment in 2022. The BPO sector accounts for 15 percent of the global BPO market, Lobien said.
Retail has also bounced back as Covid restrictions are lifted and people start to return to malls and shopping centers for relaxation and entertainment.
"If you follow the news, the foot traffic in many retail properties is back to pre-pandemic levels, and we feel that because once you go out, heavy traffic flow is around us," Lobien said. "People are shopping, restaurants are full, even convenient stores are once again resuming their expansion."
The warehouse sector is having a hard time providing storage because of the high demand driven by e-commerce, manufacturing and logistics companies, she said.
She attributed the increase to more people and companies embracing work-from-home setups and companies being more open to bring the office closer to employees.
"Township demand before the pandemic has already been growing and the thrust back then was to decongest Metro Manila and because the BPOs back then were tapping fresher labor markets outside the region because they were more affordable in comparison to Metro Manila in terms of both labor and real estate costs," Lobien said.
That trend continues today, "but now big developers are leading the way with this development," she said. "So many provincial areas are being developed right now. New airports, better bridges, better railways, improved telecommunications and internet infrastructure, all of these are being built in order for the digitization of the country," Lobien said. Developers are into building townships "because besides being near one's office, residents can also enjoy several amenities and commercial establishments near their communities as well. All while not engaging in high-traffic areas," she said.