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Three real estate brokers from China, Japan and the Philippines shared the impact of COVID-19 on their real estate markets and prospects for the future at a Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® virtual global event. They included Gene Shi, president of International Operations for Homelink (Linajia Real Estate Agency Co., Ltd.); Manabu Suzuki, vice president and co-founder of International Property Agent (IPA) Co. Ltd. in Tokyo, Japan; and Andy Mañalac, chair and co-founder of Havitas Developments Corporation in the Philippines. Michi Olson, Dean of Resources and Global Connections LeadingRE, served as moderator.

Shi said the coronavirus is largely under control in China. The country’s economy is turning around. The economy expanded 3.2 percent from April through June compared to the same period last year.

The pandemic caused year-over-year real estate sales to fall 15 percent from January to April. Since then, the market is gradually returning to normal. Sales in May were just 10 percent below May sales last year.

Shi said the focus of real estate is on new homes, whose sales have increased 8 percent. Home prices are rising, especially in the major cities of Shenzhen, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Beijing.

Chinese interest in U.S. properties has shifted from high-end to mid-level properties due to China’s growing middle class. Places of interest are in Houston, Orlando and Boston. For now, due to the travel ban, the Chinese can only surf the internet for these properties.

Suzuki said coronavirus cases started rising in Japan in mid-March. From April 7 to May 25, the government issued a lockdown. Unlike China, Japan had “a more gentle request-based lockdown.” All public transport continued to operate, no penalties/fines were imposed, and citizens wore masks.

Japan’s real estate sales transactions dropped 82.2 percent in May from the previous year, but prices were up 6.4 percent. Suzuki said buyers are maintaining a “wait and see attitude” and sellers do not appear in a hurry to sell. There is more buyer interest in resort getaways that have less coronavirus risk, but are still in close proximity to the city.

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August 2020
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