Manila ranks as 17th city investment prospect in Emerging Trends in Real Estate® Asia Pacific 2020 report

ULI Philippines' 14th annual forecast published top 22 investment cities and highlighted sustainability as an important trend for next year

  • December 17, 2019

  • Written by Gabrielle de la Cruz

  • Images courtesy of ULI Philippines

“The emerging trends study is primarily the result of asking real estate professionals and investors about their sentiments on the best places in the region to invest and develop,” says Raymund Rufino, Co-President and Director of The Net Group. 

Singapore leads this 2020, followed by Tokyo and Ho Chi Minh City.

In the 2020 Asia Pacific report, Urban Land Institute (ULI) Philippines published its claimed “most predictive forecast” based on 94 personal interviews and 463 surveys with industry leaders. 

Six cities from the ASEAN region, namely Singapore, Ho Chi Minh, Bangkok, Manila, Jakarta, and Kuala Lumpur are on the list. For the past three years, the six cities were always included in ULI’s Asia Pacific report Top 22 Cities list. 2020’s number one, Singapore, went up from number three in 2018.

The report ranks Manila as the 17th (out of 22) best investment prospect for the year 2020. Back in 2014, Manila ranked fourth, then went down to eighth place in 2015-2016, and back up again to third place in 2017.

“I’m so happy that the Philippines has been through the cycle – both going up and going down. When you’re one of the top choices, you tend to go down afterward because your prices went up. People invest with you when you’re cheap, then they sell you when you’re high. It’s hard to be at the top forever,” says ULI Philippines founding chair Charlie Rufino. 

“It’s all perceived attractiveness, but real estate is a long term industry and I think as the Philippines gets further and further improved in terms of infrastructure, we will see the Philippines start to go up again,” says ULI Philippines Chief Executive Officer Delfin “Buds” Wenceslao.

Raymund Rufino complements Wenceslao’s statement on infrastructure and says that “if we want to attract investment, there’s really a lot that we can do. One thing is to improve infrastructure. You have to build the infrastructure that supports growth, which makes the place sustainable for business moving forward.” 

ULI Philippines gathered that sustainability is now finally becoming a priority for the region’s largest investors, and also many smaller ones. It is stated in the report that “landlords have come around to the view that incorporating sustainable features into their buildings will allow them to both cut running costs and increase rents as tenants become more willing to pay for space that acts as a magnet for talented staff.” 

According to one global investor, “For all our office investments, we are now required to have some sort of green certification, and we are happy to spend the money required to achieve it because we consider it both a differentiator and downside protection.”

2020 plans

The 2020 ULI Philippines Conference’s theme is sustainability and resilience. Given that the Philippines is exposed to climate change risks such as earthquakes or typhoons, ULI believes that sustainability and resilience, especially for real estate, should really be a top of mind concern. “What we want to do is bring that conversation: What can we in real estate do to plan for our businesses to continue to be successful in the face of many challenges and disasters?” shares Raymund Rufino. 

“Sustainability is very much at the forefront of ULI along with healthy outlooks for people–the idea is that you give back the land in better shape than how you actually got it,” says Charlie Rufino. He bared their plans of educating young people and interacting with citizens through the BGC-ULI Public Library for Urban Sustainability, explaining that they want the library to be both a knowledge source and a place for networking. 

Wenceslao shares that the library is a place for people to go to for free, and for them to borrow books that are not available in other libraries or even at bookstores. “We are targeting to have it inaugurated by the end of February. Construction will start this month,” he says. He also talked about the 2020 ULI Asia Pacific Summit, mentioning that it will showcase world-class projects that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. 

Raymund Rufino believes that the 2020 ULI Asia Pacific Summit is all about promoting the mission of ULI which is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. He cited that the potential of the entire ASEAN region is tremendous. “If we can keep the momentum, we can definitely become a powerhouse region in the world and compete with all of the other regions. I don’t think it’s a question of changing what we’re doing, I think it’s a question of improving and continuing.” 

READ MORE: An institutionalized approach to sustainability

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