How property markets adapt to Covid

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In Singapore, low rates and growing market confidence are driving buyers to invest now out of expectation that prices will soar even higher after the economy recovers. AFP

Despite the increasing rates of vaccination, it’s clear that Covid-19 will continue to be a factor in economic and social decisions for at least the next two years. This fact is not lost on governments and their respective real estate markets, which are continually planning and adapting to the changes presented by these challenging circumstances.

The main priority globally is to curb the spread of Covid-19 to enable countries to further open up some form of business and recreational travel, and begin the recovery process. In the meantime, Southeast Asian markets are prioritising local investors and institutional groups to boost internal demand. Many property developers (and local banks) are willing to offer flexible payment options and large discounts to keep the sector growing. Specific trends are emerging from certain countries.

Thailand

In Thailand, some developers are offering local buyers with discounts of up to 50 per cent for properties from existing inventory and non-performing loans.

“The property market is sensitive when it comes to pricing. A lot of developers are now looking into developing small-scale projects with newly launched developments offering below 150,000 baht per sqm. They are now focusing on low-rise developments to cater to buyer markets that have real residential demand,” said Supida Thongbenjamas of PropertyAccess Thailand.

Singapore

In Singapore, since the lockdown gave the opportunity for some canny investors and buyers to save funds, more investors are now willing to invest in local property. In fact, the property prices soared more than expected last quarter. Low rates and growing market confidence are driving buyers to invest now, especially since most of them are expecting that prices will soar even higher after the economy recovers. The buying behaviour now is not nearly as conservative as 2020.

Malaysia

Malaysia is another example of a country adapting to different property purchase patterns. According to Jacky Cheng of PropertyAccess Malaysia, most property developers offer a discount of up to 10 percent, while some banks are offering interest rates as low as 3 percent with a loan margin maximum up to 90 per cent.

The US

In the US, home prices are up an average of 15.8 percent compared to the previous year, with certain areas like Miami experiencing a supercharged – some might say unsustainable – explosion in pricing for premium property (Forbes, 2021). There is a nationwide housing supply shortage in the country as property seekers start to prefer buying houses in the suburbs rather than renting properties in the city.

Europe

Similar to the US, most major cities across Europe are experiencing surges in housing prices. Cities like Berlin, Luxembourg and Stockholm are recording double-digit increases while London and Paris increased by five to six per cent (Reuters, 2021). Due to low interest rates and availability of stimulus checks, more people have access to available funds, in addition to the increase in their savings due to lack of movement last year.

So, what are the trends we can spot here? The main elements that seem to be prevalent in countries with a burgeoning property market include having moderate to high rates of vaccination; access to liquidity (savings or stimulus); low interest rates; and property developers willing to offer discounts or flexible payment solutions.

These elements are not uniform across all markets, but they offer a fascinating insight into differing property strategies from governments and developers from across the globe. Some countries are better placed than others due to vaccine availability or their ability to provide stimulus for citizens forced to isolate or quarantine. But all real estate players should keep an eye on which strategies prove effective throughout 2021 and beyond.

Andy Roberts is a start-up professional with over 18 years of experience running agencies and technology companies in Australia, the Philippines and Indonesia.

PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ASIA NEWS NETWORK