Despite rising vaccination rates, it is 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 constantly planning and adapting to the changes that these challenging circumstances bring.
The main priority globally is to limit the spread of COVID-19 to enable countries to further open up some form of business and recreational travel and begin the recovery process. Meanwhile, Southeast Asian markets are prioritizing local investors and institutional groups to increase domestic demand. Many property developers (and local banks) are willing to offer flexible payment options and big discounts to keep the sector growing. Specific trends come from certain countries.
In Thailand, some developers offer local buyers with discounts of up to 50 percent for properties from existing inventory and defaulted loans. “The real estate market is sensitive when it comes to pricing. Many developers are now exploring to develop smaller projects with start-up developments offering less than 150,000 Baht per year. Sqm. They are now focusing on low-lying development to meet buyer markets that have real demand for housing, ”said Supida Thongbenjamas of PropertyAccess Thailand.
In Singapore, there are several investors who are now willing to invest in local property as the lockdown allowed some keen investors and buyers to save money. In fact, property prices rose more than expected last quarter. Low prices and growing market confidence are causing buyers to invest now, especially as most of them expect prices to rise even higher after the economy recovers. Buying behavior is now not nearly as conservative as 2020.
Malaysia is another example of a country that adapts to different patterns of property purchase. According to Jacky Cheng of PropertyAccess Malaysia, most property developers offer a discount of up to 10 percent, while some banks offer interest rates as low as 3 percent with a loan margin of up to 90 percent.
In the United States, house prices have risen by an average of 15.8 percent over the previous year, with certain areas such as Miami experiencing an explosion – some might say unsustainable – explosion in premium property pricing (Forbes, 2021). There is a nationwide shortage of housing in the country, as property seekers prefer to buy houses in the suburbs rather than rent properties in the city.
Like the United States, most major cities in Europe are experiencing increases in house prices. Cities such as Berlin, Luxembourg and Stockholm recorded double-digit increases, while London and Paris rose by 5 to 6 percent (Reuters, 2021). Due to low interest rates and the availability of stimulus control, 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 most important elements that seem to be prevalent in countries with a burgeoning real estate market are having moderate to high vaccination rates; 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 in all markets, but they provide a fascinating insight into different real estate strategies from governments and developers from around the world. Some countries are better placed than others because of vaccine availability or their ability to stimulate citizens who are forced to isolate or quarantine. But all real estate players should keep an eye on which strategies prove to be effective throughout 2021 and beyond.
The author is a startup professional with over 18 years of experience running agencies and technology companies in Australia, the Philippines and Indonesia. He now works with PropertyAccess Philippines (Propertyaccess.ph)
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