THE global outbreak of COVID-19 has affected the property industry, recording a downturn trend with low foreign investments and pending projects. The growth of the industry is slower due to unprecedented demand shocks caused by the pandemic which stirred market uncertainties that were further impacted by the restrictions of movement by governments across the ASEAN borders.

Lower demand on luxury or high-end properties, fewer residential project launches, and lower levels of transactional activity were observed during the onslaught of the health crisis - all mainly due to travel restrictions and stringent bank loan approvals, as lenders began to grow stricter and more cautious in choosing clients to minimize risks of default on loan payments. However, more transactions are now being reported during the recovery stage with the help of the government in various key areas, such as in introducing numerous economic recovery plans.

"Developers should consider repositioning their products, readjusting their prices to suit the current market, and developing creative marketing strategies such as offering virtual house viewing in order to stay competitive during this challenging time," said Ms. Marivic Españo, P&A Grant Thornton Chair & CEO.

On the flipside, the affordable housing segment was seen taking the market lead during this time, with more buyers looking at the downturn as an opportunity to own houses with the introduction of lower interest rates, stamp duty exemptions, and lower property prices. This leads to the presumption that the pandemic might have changed buyers' preference from owning houses in city centres to buying homes with more spacious layouts at decentralised locations to accommodate remote work setups.

"We anticipate a surge in transactions when the COVID-19 situation is more stable as we foresee a lot of first-time homebuyers and investors will be taking this opportunity to own a house for their own stay or for renting od for investment purposes," Ms Españo continued.

In line with the ASEAN focus services launch, the member affiliates of Grant Thornton in the Philippines, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam are organising a webinar on Wednesday, 24th March, in a bid to give insights on the current market landscape and growth opportunities for the property industry in the ASEAN region. Mr. Sarkunan Subramaniam, Managing Director od Knight Frank Malaysia, along with tax experts from Grant Thornton Philippines and other ASEAN offices, will be speaking in the informative webinar.

The webinar forms part of Grant Thornton's initiatives to offer seamless cross-border services across medium and large businesses on the lookout for growth opportunities in the property industry in the ASEAN region. The webinar endeavors to spark an-in-depth discussion on the property industry from an array of decision-makers from Grant Thornton, all adept in imparting their knowledge and expertise on the topic at hand.

Be part of this insightful virtual session and gain access to valuable business insights and perspectives from some of Grant Thornton's partners and experts. To register for the event or for other inquiries, please get in touch with our events team.


As published in Mindanao Times, dated 22 March 2021