The pandemic has inevitably influenced the decisions of high-income earners in the Philippines with regards to their homes for the next 12 months. Our Global Buyer Survey – The Philippine Edition, conducted between June 10 and July 22, 2021 and which explores local themes from the global edition of over 900 international and mostly high-income respondents, shows pent-up demand for new and second homes and a preference for low-density environments and wellness-related features such as air quality and green spaces.

Here are the three key themes from the report:

1. Pent Up Demand

According to the survey, majority of the respondents in the Philippines have said that they moved houses since COVID-19 began, a decision that was primarily driven by the need for outdoor space (33%), downsizing (17%), and access to better amenities (17%).

Travel restrictions have also had its effects on home-buying decisions for some buyers. One in every four local respondents said their decision was delayed due to travel restrictions, while 28% said restrictions have influenced the location where they want to purchase.

However, a number of respondents was unaffected. It must be noted that 81% of survey respondents earn more than USD 50,000 annually, a cohort that has shown resilience in their demand for property during the pandemic and who have the ability to move between locations with much greater ease.

One in every 3 respondents said travel restrictions have not influenced their home-buying plans at all. Close to half of the local respondents said there was no change in their budgets since the start of the pandemic. Upgrading the family’s primary residence is the main motivation for buy a next house, according to 35% of local respondents. This is followed by downsizing or retirement (19%). These choices may be a reflection of the respondents’ general profile.

The results further reveal the interest for second homes. Local respondents are more likely to purchase a second home (41%) than the average in Asia (27%) and the world (33%). After more than a year of experiencing travel restrictions, respondents see second homes not only as an investment but also – and as important – a private destination and accessible place of rest.

2. A Breath of Fresh Air

The pandemic has shifted the preference of buyers on the type of residential property they want to live in. Majority of local respondents have also expressed interest on greener homes – 94% said the energy efficiency of a future home is either very important or important.

One in every three local respondents said they are more likely to move to a detached home or villa, while there is growing interest on waterfront residences (23%). This finding goes hand in hand with the survey’s result about the growing interest on living in the suburbs.

Functional property features have grown in importance due to the pandemic, namely access to high-speed broadband (13%) and a home office/study (10%), while a number of health and wellness-related features such as outdoor space (10%) and wellness and well-being amenities (10%) have also been identified.

In terms of location features, local respondents said proximity to green space (17%), good air quality (17%), access to good healthcare (16%) and good views (12%) become more important for home considerations. All of these affect the health and wellness of residents – a finding that support the notion that quality of living has increasingly become a vital consideration in selecting one’s next home over the next 12 months.

3. Changing Location Preferences

Among Philippine respondents who have not moved but are inclined to do so over the next 12 months, 40% prefer the suburbs. The city remains important, with 33% saying they prefer to live here. Across Asia, the city is still the preferred location for new homes (44%), followed by the suburbs (35%).

The proliferation of remote and hybrid work setups during the pandemic and the predicted continuation of this trend over the next 12 months may have likely also affected location preferences. Nearly half (45%) of local respondents said they only expect to commute between one and three days to the office every week after restrictions have been lifted, while 25% anticipate a full return to the 5-day work week. Note that 50% of respondents are between 40 and 60 years old – an age cohort that already includes decision-makers and owners of companies who have wider flexibility on their work schedule.

Health and wellness location features (green space, air quality, and good views) have increased in importance, while convenience-related location factors are seen less preferentially when respondents were asked about these factors’ importance in choosing where to live once restrictions have been lifted. More specifically, 24% of respondents said walking distance to work and transportation hubs have lessened in importance, while 20% said the same for proximity to commercial establishments such as restaurants, gyms, retail, and cultural amenities.

Beyond the shifts in the world of work, it is clear that the pandemic has also increased people’s vigilance in crowded spaces and shifted preferences in low-density environments. Thus, it is unsurprising that the detached houses/villas and the suburbs, both of which could offer the desired greenery and space, have grown in popularity among buyers. It remains however to be seen whether these preferences will remain permanent as the improving national vaccination rate draws the pandemic to an end.

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