Buying a home in the time of COVID-19

But with the pandemic lurking in every corner, is it as good a time as any to invest in real estate?

More than just a roof over our heads, home is where we feel safe and secure, where hopes and dreams and beautiful memories are created, where families share endless love and laughter. And to quote American pundit and author William J. Bennett, “Home is a shelter from storms — all sorts of storms.”

 One such storm is the devastating COVID-19 pandemic that has caused over a million deaths to date and wreaked havoc on economies all over the world.

Tackling the pandemic’s impact on housing, property experts addressed homebuyers’ new behaviors and new demands in Lamudi’s online roundtable series held recently. 

“Convenience, space, and comfort,” Jenna Belardo, Ortigas Land AVP and business unit head for property sales, narrow it down to these three key features that homebuyers look for.  

“Even before COVID-19, these have always been the top considerations. At the onset of the pandemic, we already saw home buyers wanting to live in a self-contained community because they want convenient access to their daily needs, like going to the groceries, drugstores, food outlets and, of course, quality healthcare facilities.”

OLD HABITS, NEW REALITY

Indeed, the pandemic has triggered drastic changes in the preferences of property buyers today, as people abandon old habits.

“More property owners prefer larger balconies in their homes, especially those living in condominiums,” notes Belardo. “You don›t necessarily have to step outside your home to enjoy the extra space outdoors, which is a must during quarantine periods. Our designs have balconies in units.”

Of course, with a larger balcony in your condo, you can bask in a bit of sunshine, breathe a whiff of fresh air, or possibly have a refreshing green view of the golf course outside, instead of being cooped up in your stale, air-conditioned room every single day.

THE OUTLOOK RT. (First row, from left) I-Land VP and business unit head May Lopez, moderator Deborah Ong of Lamudi Philippines and KONE Philippines managing director Markus Nisula; (second row, from left) Ortigas Land AVP and business unit head for property sales Jenna Belardo, DataLand Inc. VP for business development and customer turnover Felimon Yee Jr. and Anchor Land Holdings Inc. president Elizabeth Ventura join Lamudi’s recent online roundtable series.

Belardo adds, “The market is upgrading to better buildings, cyber-ready connected buildings. Internet connectivity is very important as working from home becomes the new normal.”

Another priority for buyers is recreation, according to Felimon Yee Jr., DataLand Inc. VP for business development and customer turnover. Homebuyers have shown great interest in the amenities that a residential community offers. 

Some buyers are enjoying more amenities while living in a condo setup — a great rooftop pool where you can enjoy a swim on a balmy day, a fitness center where you can flatten the curve (on your belly) while being quarantined, lounging areas, and outdoor recreational areas with a basketball or tennis court or both, a party room or a place where you can barbecue and entertain friends when there’s no more life-threatening pandemic.

AND NOW, FUTURE-PROOF HOMES 

“We’ve always been driven by sustainability, designing future-proof homes that are resilient and promoting well-being in our communities,” shares May Lopez, I-Land VP and business unit head. “We’re focused on developing offices and homes of the future. We’re seeing, particularly in this period of the pandemic and based on the profile of our buyers, that finally, our buyers are seeing the importance of health and wellness benefits made possible by a sustainable design.” 

Lopez hastens to add, “Also, with the experience of the lockdown, we’re realizing the importance of a strategic location — homebuyers are looking for accessibility to necessities, meaning a residence that’s just a walking distance, or a ride away, to the groceries, shops, even banks, and other means of alternative transportation.”

For Anchor Land Holdings Inc., more of their clients are interested in facilities featured in properties abroad. “The market behavior of the Binondo area is always going upscale and upscale,” says Elizabeth Ventura, Anchor Land Holdings Inc. president. “They always demand better living conditions, not just on the space but also the amenities, which answer for what’s globally acceptable, as these buyers are globally exposed (apparently, they’re globetrotters) to luxury products.”

These are times that demand innovative services. “We focus on technology; on smart buildings, not just digital ones,” says Markus Nisula, KONE Philippines managing director. 

The latest generation of elevators that KONE is launching this year is digital and connected but also features smart, next-generation materials that are self-healing as well as anti-bacterial.

GREEN IS IN

How green is your condo home? SM Development Corp. (SMDC) president  Jose Mari Banzon discloses, “Our company follows the green building book to reduce our carbon footprint. We have in place a system for harvesting rainwater in our developments. Inside our units, LED lights are available for use.”

 With SMDC, you’re always next to malls, schools, or transport hubs so that you rarely have to use your car. “Many of our projects are located in CBDs (Central Business Districts) or near CBDs, near your place of work or just a ride away.”

Banzon is proud to share that though his company caters to the market in the affordable segment, SMDC is designed like a hotel, replete with resort-like amenities like nice pools and big gardens. 

“We try to make it comfortable and affordable (from P6 million to P7 million per unit) for our residents,” Banzon declares. “We have quite a big pipeline this year. We have a program online that allows buyers to reserve the units via a seller-less transaction.”

 But with the pandemic lurking in every corner, is it as good a time as any to invest in real estate?

A resolute Lopez says: “It’s still a resounding yes! There are a lot of ongoing promotions that future residents can avail themselves of, giving them more reasons to invest. For us at I-Land, we’re making sure we offer discounts, affordable price points, and monthly installments, and immediate assistance for those who have concerns. It is part of our mission to democratize sustainability, allowing more Filipinos to enjoy the benefits of a great design.”

Surely, your home sweet home need not be just a dream!

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