Published: Philippine Daily Inquirer | December 04, 2020


The worst is behind us. Recovery, albeit slow, is gaining traction. Revenues are still far from pre COVID-19 levels, but signs are pointing north. Overall, a certain kind of energy is now being felt in the property space after more than two-quarters of listlessness.


Real estate activities are back and we can expect that in two to three quarters, the pendulum will swing back to positive territory. Admittedly, the effects of the lockdown are sharp and severe and the coronavirus pandemic has exposed chinks in the armor of property players.

Executives have realized their mistakes and have returned to their war rooms to search for opportunities and to institute changes that will allow their companies to navigate through this Black Swan event and position them for long-term success.

After exchanging notes with developers and senior property executives over the last three months, it is clear that the sector has endured the initial impact. But unless organizations change, overcoming this extraordinary event will be a long uphill climb. After decades of resisting change and innovations, the industry is now encountering a situation that makes it impossible not to change.

As the country reopens and slowly pivots to some form of normalcy, developers must act now to address longstanding priorities. The following lessons are worth sharing.

Digital transformation

The pandemic is a wake-up call. Regardless of your role in the ecosystem, you will need data. It is an end to end process, from understanding homebuyers, digitizing sales, to converting inquiries into happy, engaged home buyers and tenants. Thanks to the pandemic, what took years for your chief information officer to roll out, COVID-19 did in one quarter.

If you build they will not come anymore

To thrive in the post-pandemic era, developers must re-imagine and embrace a combination of innovation, better GPM and EBIT, solid cost management, focus on technology, aspiring for sustainability ratings, people-centric programs, and leveraging on brand power while pursuing scalability. These are critical variables that developers must integrate into their business model in 2021. Organizations are at a crossroads—they either innovate or they die.

Human-centric business model

Fundamentally, the sector is about building four walls, selling, re-selling, or renting them. But the lockdown in March changed the way we regard our homes, as well as our behavior—on how we work, live, play, and shop. Moving ahead, we can expect a dramatic shift towards a human-centric developmental model. The key is to engage buyers and occupiers, deep-dive, into their expectations, and anticipate future homebuyer needs.

Industry stakeholders believe that real estate activities are back, and that in two to three quarters, the pendulum will swing back to positive territory


Strategy for breakfast, innovation for lunch, transformation for dinner

Balancing productivity and making sure the workforce is safe are important. While we are still in a pandemic mode, developers must now direct their attention towards people policies and the desire to change a culture of complacency. Performance management systems, strategies, work tools will never stand a chance against a bad culture.

Now is the best time to invest in people and organizational culture building while the property market is slowly recovering. A bad culture is a giant strategy and innovation killer. The key takeaway in transforming a culture of mediocrity to productivity and excellence is investing in the right people with a shared vision.

Proactive government

The mindset that the state as a mere regulator must change. It must transform and be attuned to the expectations of a battered global economy. In advanced economies, the role of government is changing and expanding. The authentic collaboration will be key between the public, housing agencies, and developer associations. It is time for our housing leaders to walk their talk...