INCREASED DEMAND. Demand for office spaces rises significantly in the second quarter of 2022, driven by the IT-BPM sector. Leechiu Property Consultants officials said increased requirements for services of the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector are boosting firms' needs to add office spaces. (PNA file photo)

MANILA – The information technology-business process management (IT-BPM) sector drove office demand in the Philippines’ real estate sector in the second quarter of 2022, officials of a real estate brokerage services firm said. 
In a virtual briefing on Wednesday, Leechiu Property Consultants (LPC) director for commercial leasing Mikko Barranda said demand for office spaces jumped by 106 percent to 255,000 square meters (sqm) from April to June this year from the previous quarter’s 124,000 sqm, and around 107,000 sqm of the demand came from the IT-BPM sector. 
Barranda said the Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) accounted for 21,000 sqm of the demand during the quarter, which he said, is the initial sign of leasing activity from the sector since the pandemic hit in March 2020. 
“All the leasing activity in the past three months –from many new captives and companies doing business here for the first time– tells us outsourcing to the Philippines continues to be a reliable solution for companies in the West fighting impending global recession,” he said. 
During the same briefing, LCP director for Research and Consultancy Roy Golez said a major development since the pandemic hit is the running out of inventories among real estate developers for projects in the southern part of Metro Manila, particularly in Laguna and Cavite. 
He specifically cited the rise in the prices of properties at Rockwell South at Carmelray in Calamba, Laguna, which was launched in 2019 for PHP35,000 per sqm but is now at PHP53,000 per sqm. 
Golez said the same development is being observed at the Ayala projects in Laguna. 
“And we foresee that these products will continue to come online considering that the market is already looking at making purchases basically to get out of the city and for health and wellness concerns,” he added.
The demand is projected to be driven by those at the upper-middle and high-end segments, he said. 
Golez said demand for second homes outside of Metro Manila such as in Batangas, Cavite, and Tagaytay during the pandemic has also resulted in the rise in prices of farm lots, particularly in Amadeo, Cavite.
He traced the demand to people who are into work-from-home set-up. 
“Still, the difficulty now for rural areas is (that) prices are also catching up as they say “dayo” or outsiders start entering these rural areas,” he added. 
Barranda said demand for spaces in the countryside mostly came from workers from the BPO sector, noting that the sector hired around 120,000 even during the pandemic. 
He said around 30 percent of the BPO workers hired during the pandemic were based in the provinces. 
He added the digital cities initiative allowed local governments to improve the situation in their areas and make it conducive for foreign investments in terms of talents, infrastructure, real estate, and business environment.
“The BPO industry has changed dramatically the countryside development not only in mature provinces like Cebu, (and ) Davao but also nearby islands in the Visayas and Mindanao,” Barranda said. 
He said the changes were “transformational due to the employment opportunities given by the BPO work itself directly and indirect employees that have been created due to the BPO sectors that have set up in these places.” (PNA)