Late last week the government warned against holding festivals and avoiding large public gatherings to minimise any potential spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Myanmar.
Following that advice, a number of Myanmar real estate exhibitions were cancelled. Despite the high levels of local interest in the real estate market, such gatherings will be suspended until further notice.
These exhibitions, which are jointly organised by construction companies and real estate businesspeople, are particularly popular during the pre-Thingyan festival, the Thadingyut season as well as the end-of-year period. These times see significant promotions, and attract large numbers of buyers to the market.
Although COVID-19 has not yet been shown to have a direct effect on the estate market, buyers are worried about attending exhibitions and sales events, said U Kaung Thu Win, founder and director of ShweProperty.com.
Many people had expressed interest and even made offers on some properties, but were now more cautious, said one real estate agent. “As housing projects were typically finished in time for the pre-Thingyan period, exhibitions and sales promotions have been delayed until May, during the rainy season. There have been some loses as a result,” said iMyanmarHouse.com’s managing director U Nay Min Thu.
“As no one can predict how the economy will turn out, it’s possible that many people will cut their spending. People only buy real estate when they have savings and so this is having an effect on the real estate market,” he said.
Currently, the government has prohibited festivals until the end of April. If the ban is extended even further, there will be more significant downside pressure on sales.
“People always have the option to browse offerings and speak to real estate agents online,” said U Kaung Thu Win.
Much of the real estate sector depends on local demand, and as future business and economic developments seem less certain now, companies need to plan for a slowdown – at least for the next six months or so, said MKT Construction Company’s CEO U Myo Myint.
“In the construction sector, developers are suffering losses as deliveries for construction materials arrive late. Some businesspeople apply for loans from the bank, and as projects experience delays in completion time they still need to pay interest on loans they can’t restructure. Payment for labour also needs to be accounted for, and some companies are starting to take the hits now,” he said.