Tokyo & Shanghai on my mind

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Kei Tiu LaureL-de jesus and Jet Yu

Part One

On my last night in Tokyo, I am reminded of how we will be back to this great city in 2020 not for the Olympics but for the Urban Land Institute Asia Pacific Summit, Tokyo, Japan, May 26 to 28, 2020.

Many in the industry have heard of our epic “socials, fraternizing and networking” in the ULI-Philippines but the learning and advancement opportunities simply cannot compare.

Japan may be the world’s third-largest real-estate market, but it gets relatively little investment from overseas.

We heard in Shanghai a panel of Japan specialists discussed what makes Tokyo great citing factors such as the depth of the market and the quality of the assets. Jon Tanaka, head of Japan at Angelo, Gordon & Co, cited Tokyo’s “world class infrastructure,” as well as the quality of its design and construction businesses. The panel shared that Japan was less easy to navigate than other developed markets, but Tanaka said this allowed firms like his to add value. Shusaku Watanabe, director of capital transactions, Asia Pacific, at Nuveen Real Estate, noted that while demographics were a macro weakness for Japan, it brought opportunities in such areas as senior housing. For anyone not convinced, Japan’s low interest rates means real estate continues to offer a substantial yield premium.

What fascinates me about this industry I serve is how humble and agile in its approach to learning the market leaders of the Philippine real-estate industry are. With a dearth of formalized trainings, we have come to rely on our own network and research to find a way to advance ourselves and, therefore, our practice in real estate.

Catching them fresh from global learning initiatives, I had a quick chat with some of my favorite thought leaders in real estate and how they’re lifelong learners in this industry.

Kei Tiu Laurel-De Jesus Managing Director of  Frabelle Properties Corp.

Our company, Frabelle Properties Corp., focuses on developing good quality boutique office and residential buildings in Makati City and other cities in and around Metro Manila.

As a landlord, we value relationships, which is why we strive to create spaces that our tenants can truly call home. Family is important to us, as such, whether it be in a residential or office space, we make it a point to give them the quality and service that a member of our family deserves. We put great value in the customer experience, we strive to create nurturing environments that then create better working and living spaces for those that choose to call our properties home. Our most recent completed project, Frabelle Corporate Plaza, a certified as LEED Gold Building in Salcedo Village was specifically designed to answer the needs of our clientele with a great mix of retail space, spacious well planned office floors, as well as an events space for our tenants.

Attending the ULI Asia Pacific Conference held in Shanghai further reinforced our belief that sustainability plays an important role in our future growth. My key conference takeaways were that sustainability and sustainable product positioning will be key in order to future-proof assets, ensuring that developments will stand the test of time. It was interesting to see that more and more cities are undergoing urban regeneration that focus on improving the quality of life and incorporating nature back into the built environment.

The future of real estate is clearly moving toward sustainability and creating living and working spaces that uplift the human experience through changing behavior and growth through technology that will stand the test of time.

Jet Yu Founder and CEO of PRIME Philippines

Our goal is to provide end-to-end real-estate solutions, making our company preferred for any type of real-estate requirement in the full real-estate spectrum, whether that be acquisition of land, research studies, project management and quantity surveying, brokerage, property management, and legal or documentation services. We aim to disrupt the industry by utilizing innovative and game-changing technology as we cater to clients’ needs. What makes us unique is our millennial approach. Our company gives focus and importance to our key projects and we make sure to maximize our network by creating a unique synergy of local and international partners. Moreover, we make sure we deliver on the projects we commit to, and this is greatly because of the capability and confidence as a team. Our records show that in just five years, we have established a foothold in the industry.

There are three main takeaways for me from ULI 2019: The Philippines, although progressing rapidly, still has a lot to improve when it comes to real-estate opportunities which can attract investors. Most private equity firms are only confident with Tier 1 cities due to their low risk factors. Unfortunately for the Philippines, we are generally considered a very risky market due to the negative perception, or rather misconception. The Philippines is rich in opportunities; the key is to stop red tape processes, encourage a friendlier environment for business opportunities, and finally invest in and execute proper urban planning to attract foreign players to locate here and create more fruitful and better jobs. It was insightful to learn about the WELL building certification. It’s also interesting to look at real estate from a different point of view. Tier 1 countries look at office development in a more evolved and integrated manner. WELL certification is not yet practiced in the Philippines. WELL certified developments consider the health and wellness of their locators. It’s a certification that shows how healthy a building is, for the mind, body and soul. I believe this could work in the Philippines because it complements the natural resources we have unmaximized for work productivity. I can imagine a redefined way of working where we can be encouraged to walk outside, enjoy nature, and maximize productivity because our senses are satisfied and taken care of—all due in part of an initiative like WELL certification. The global real-estate industry is rapidly evolving. You have to keep connecting with industry experts and innovators to keep your knowledge up to date. We are lucky and thankful to be part of this year’s ULI conference. This experience was truly impactful as we got a chance to meet and connect with real-estate practitioners from across the globe. It is also nice to hear their unique insights that we can apply or even innovate on as we practice or implement it to the local industry.


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