REGIONAL developers will play a significant role in the property sector in the next six years as interest shifts from Metro Manila to central and southern Philippines, said industry players.

Asia Property Awards founder and managing director Terry Blackburn said during the launch of the fifth Philippine Property Awards (PPA) in Cebu on Thursday that President Rodrigo Duterte’s victory in the May elections has sparked developers’ interest to expand in the provinces.

While large-scale players may very well compete, one of the PPA judges, Cyndy Tan Jarabata, said that regional developers are in a more advantageous position to corner the market in the Visayas and Mindanao.

“They know the platform. They know the environment more compared to the big players in Metro Manila,” Jarabata said in an interview.

The PPA, said to be the biggest real estate awards in the country, will mark its fifth year in May 2017 with a gala dinner to be held at the Fairmont Makati. Property experts will award the Philippines’ best property developers and developments located in the established and emerging property markets of Mega Manila, Metro Cebu and Davao.

According to Blackburn, there will be a category specifically for Cebu developments, which will include awards for the best luxury development, best high-end condominium, best housing development, and best commercial development.

The event is organized by Property Guru.

“We have noticed that in the last three years Cebu has increasingly become an important market,” said Blackburn, who also recognized Davao City as a key growing player.

The Cebu category, according to Jarabata, is expected to recognize homegrown developers and their developments.

Cebu developers like AppleOne Cebu Properties, Primary Homes, and King Properties have gained national recognition in the Philippine Property Awards.

All entrants to the Philippines Property Awards are nominated by a third party representing industry peers, professionals, consumers and the general public.

The selection will be judged by an independent panel of industry experts who conduct site visits to long-listed developments before determining the official shortlist of nominees. Each category will have one winner and up to four highly commended nominees, covering condominium, housing, villa, hotel, office and retail segments.

Last year, Megaworld Corp. was awarded the county’s best developer and collected a record-breaking 17 awards.

For next year’s awarding, new categories have been added, including a Special Recognition for Sustainable Development.

Organizers said there will also be new awards for Best Mixed-Use Development and Best BPO Office Development, reflecting the rapid growth of those sectors.

Winners of the PPA will compete in the regional grand finals at the Southeast Asia Property Awards, held annually in Singapore, which would give them the opportunity to widen their exposure to new audiences in the region.