Optimism on office sector is back

The office sector is providing promising opportunities for brokers this year with experts noting an increase in commercial property inquiries and market transactions.

Consultancy firm Colliers noted a recent increase in commercial property inquiries and market transactions, as well as a surge in the number of condominiums completed last year, in a report presented in April.

Maricris Sarino-Joson, director of Client Services at Colliers, said office deals went up from to 134,000 square meters in the fourth quarter of 2021 from 69,000 sqm in the third quarter of 2021 or an 18 percent increase.

Since the office landscape is a tenant-leaning market, it’s the perfect time to consolidate offices or relocate, she said. This presents an opportunity for brokers to strengthen marketing efforts on office listings, capturing businesses looking for a new commercial space for expanded or downsized operations.

New supply

The consultancy firm projects new supply in Metro Manila to reach 900,000 sqm this year.

In terms of the existing supply, there are two million square meters of available office stock overall. Of this, one million square meters of office space registered under the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) is available.

“What’s driving the office sector is still BPO [business process outsourcing sector]. Most BPOs still prefer to be in PEZA buildings,” Sarino-Joson said.

Snapshot of the residential sector

In 2020, the residential sector experienced significant delays in completion as the country grappled with lockdown restrictions and challenges. But in 2021, Colliers observed that condominium completions were up by 159 percent.

Among real estate hotspots in Metro Manila, Bay Area is the one to watch out for, said Joey Bondoc, associate director at Colliers.

“[Bay Area] has overtaken Makati CBD in terms of its share of the total condominium supply in the capital region. In fact, it has 30,000 condo units against 28,500 units of Makati CBD.”

Aside from the Bay Area, Fort Bonifacio has dominated the new completions in Metro Manila.

Colliers projects that both commercial hubs will cover 70 percent of new projects that will be introduced this year.

Bondoc also added that the residential property demand will be supported by various factors, including the increase in vaccination rates, strong interest in horizontal projects, and an increase in remittances by four percent this year.

Opportunities for real estate professionals

The positive outlook on the office and the residential sector offers excellent business opportunities for real estate professionals. To seize the ready market, Lamudi CEO Kenneth Stern reminded practitioners the importance of a supportive community.

He said, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Anurag Verma, Lamudi’s director of Broker Classifieds & Partnerships, also emphasized the use of proptech in seeing success in the brokerage industry. “[Lamudi] attracts more than two million potential property seekers every month. That generates about 10 percent conversion into inquiries,” he said.

Verma said the consistent online visibility helps brokers capture property seekers with unique needs and preferences.

Online visibility and networking go hand in hand for a successful broker business. More than the lasting impact on an individual level, a strong community is the most valuable asset the brokerage industry has today, said Stern.