In the not-so-distant past, buying a house or condo unit simply involved considering its location, the amenities offered, its size, and finally, the price (does the monthly amortization match one’s budget?).
But since early 2020, homebuyers’ considerations have been altered in a big way.
When, during the pandemic, people were restricted from going outdoors for anything other than essential activities, they realized how inadequate their home was for the work, school, exercise, shopping, dining and (virtual) socializing that had to be done within its confines.
Suddenly, people were looking for homes with bigger and flexible spaces as well as features that promote not only physical but also mental wellbeing.
“What happened two years ago—the health crisis and the seemingly never-ending stay-at-home orders that followed—has made homebuyers rethink what they really need for their first or next homes,” said Sonny Ducay, executive director of the Subdivision and Housing Developers Association (SHDA).
Indeed, there has been a paradigm shift in how and where homebuyers choose to live as well as in their overall attitude toward owning a home.
“When before, only older generations considered homebuying as a major life decision, today, even young adults are making an early move to buy their own home,” Ducay observed.
Apparently, there are now two sets of potential homebuyers: those looking for a house away from city centers and those who still want to live within the city but very close to where they work.
With the Covid-19 lockdowns still foremost in their minds, homebuyers are taking advantage of work-from-home rules so they no longer need worry about moving farther away from their previous abodes to be able to enjoy a simpler lifestyle, see more greenery and breathe fresh air, and have more spacious living areas and a yard for the kids at lesser cost.
“On the other hand, there’s also a marked increase in housing demand from the younger and single professionals who desire more affordable condominiums and housing located near or just a ride away from their work,” said Ducay, who belongs to the largest organization of housing and real estate developers in the Philippines.
“They hate headache-inducing commutes and they want to live where grocery stores, laundry shops and other amenities are just a short walk away,” he said.
Value of space
For Roseann Villegas, Robinsons Land corporate public relations director, individuals and families who have been confined to their previous homes for long periods have learned the value of space and now seek new homes offering well-planned layouts. These layouts may include a personal outdoor space where one can work and be acoustically separate from the other activities in the house, and areas that can be converted to serve multiple roles.
“When looking for their potential homes, buyers are now more mindful of whether that house or unit can support a hybrid working setup,” Villegas told CoverStory.ph. “More buyers are also looking for other inviting areas in a house that can facilitate a pleasant work environment without losing a bedroom. They also look for areas where the family can be together and, at the same time, another area that can be closed off so one can be alone to reflect, to learn, and to recharge.”
This means utilizing every square inch as opposed to highlighting how much excess space there is. No wonder homebuyers these days sometimes look at the empty space beside a bed and ask themselves how that space might fill a practical purpose: For example, does that corner have enough room for a stationary bike?
When it comes to whole community developments, companies like P.A. Properties have targeted locations at the periphery of urban hubs, offering amenities that promote wellbeing.
“Since our homes are typically our most important personal investment and expenditure, it is only logical that they should also be an investment for our health and wellbeing,” said P.A. Properties chair Romarico Alvarez.
“For example,” he said, “our projects in Cavite (Idesia Dasmariñas) and Batangas (Idesia Lipa) feature gardens with gazebos; green corners for those who love reading and meditation; a lagoon; a wellness zone where the basketball court, tennis court, children’s playground, jogging paths and pet park are located; and finally, a clubhouse with its own swimming pool, kiddie pool, indoor fitness area (gym), and amphitheater.”
Alvarez’s company is one of the leading suppliers of low- to medium-cost housing (the price range is P3 million and below) in the provinces of Laguna, Cavite, Batangas, Bulacan and Pampanga. He noted that work-from-home arrangements, plus the communication providers’ ever-improving signal strength, have given homebuyers more confidence to move out of major cities and into suburban locations where affordable but more spacious units are available.
“On our part, while there may be big shopping malls near our projects, we still make sure that all the essential amenities—convenience store, laundry, food shops—are within walkable or cyclable reach of most, if not all, of our residents,” he said.
Major developers like Robinsons Land are even bolder when it comes to completing their township projects.
Take Robinsons Land’s Bridgetowne located at both banks of the Marikina River and bounded by Eulogio Rodriguez Jr. Avenue (C-5 Road), Ortigas Avenue and Amang Rodriguez Avenue. The 30.6-hectare, master-planned estate is constructing a world-class football facility, highlighted by a pitch certified by the standards of Federation Internationale de Football Association.
According to Robinsons Land, Bridgetowne Football Field will help create and nurture an integrated lifestyle community in the area as it encourages participation in sports for people of all ages—aligning with Bridgetowne’s advocacy for integrated settings to ignite the winning spirit and for a true live-work-play-inspired lifestyle.
The football field, expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2023, is located right across the Bridgetowne Obstacle Park. Regarded as the biggest of its kind in the world, this 6,000-square-meter park features 25 open-air obstacle courses built in cooperation with the Pilipinas Obstacle Sports Federation.
The SHDA’s Ducay said putting health and wellbeing at the center of homebuying and neighborhood design was “not a new trend.” He said SHDA had been introduced to “a third-party green building certification program, like the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design that set a green building rating system.”
“But the health crisis and the lockdowns made homebuyers realize that homes are their first line of defense against a future health crisis. They now evaluate their target homes through the lens of work-from-home and social distancing norms,” he said.