In a chat with ET Now, Shobhit Agarwal, MD, Capital Markets, JLL, says clearly money wants to go to Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore but be patient if you are investing in residential property. Edited excerpts
Has the tide turned?
Yes. Hopefully good times are going to come back. Largely, the trend that you see is coming in from office demand. So the occupiers are getting bullish, they are expanding. We are feeling a little bit of a crunch on ready office stock in the CBDs, not the suburbs. Office trend is catching up in cities like Hyderabad, Chennai which were lagging behind are catching up very quickly on the office side.
We are seeing some spill-over of that on the residential side as well. So the residential trend for budget apartments, if I might use that word, is moving away from affordable housing because that is always controversial.
It is actually showing an uptrend where we are stuck on residential and we will talk about it a bit little later. What is the inventory that is already under construction right now and where is the pain because this is designed in 2009 to 2011 vintage, luxury, city centre, large apartments that really is dragging everybody down but the suburb or the new launches are doing quite well.
Since you do work with foreign investors as well where is the investment flowing into? Is it with commercial property or is it residential and the luxury end? Or is it again the affordable housing?
Currently, we are seeing that it is easier to handle office or build to core type of opportunities with low risk, ready inventory, no government approval risks etc. Rentals are defined so it is just easier for the funds to underwrite and decode. It does not mean that they do not like residential problem with residential underwriting. The problem is that the variables in terms of size of apartments, approvals, FSI cost, premium FSI cost is very high. So, it becomes really difficult to underwrite and given the past history, people are obviously being more conservative than they were and that is leading to stalemate between ask and bid price.
I would have thought that because of the general slowdown that we are seeing at least in IT, it seems to be bit of a slow path right now. Is office demand, commercial demand going to be slow in Hyderabad, Chennai and the other centres?
Is it coming from IT or is it…
It is coming also from IT but yes…also from IT, it may be slower than last year but other sectors are taking up space especially industrial so this whole Make in India is actually sort of starting to take its effect on the offices number one.
Number two, what is happening is that industrial demand is going up, industrial office demand is going up because industries are moving out of cities. Earlier, industry was in suburbs, the office was very much there. Now the office and the manufacturing is moving away and so offices are taking up grade A and factories moving out because it is giving way to redevelopment or re-densification of cities. So, industrial demand is actually increasing as a share of total occupancy.
Is there a big diverse view when it comes to metro cities and metro cities are the larger ones like Mumbai or Delhi as oppose to a Chennai and Hyderabad?
We have tried using this word or we are hearing this word called alpha cities so these are the just gateway cities and that sort of our stepping up. so the difference between tier one as we used to call it earlier is also getting separated so you have Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore stepping up and leaving Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata which originally termed as tier one.
From an investment grade perspective, they are now being separated, so the three big cities versus four smaller cities that are sort of separating each other from a investment perspective. So clearly money wants to go to these three cities, demand is also very strong in these three cities on an overall basis.
Will I put you in a spot if I asked you which of the developers are doing great work?
Yes, you would. But from a trend perspective, people where governance is very high, delivery is very good are clearly finding that the occupier is sticking to them or preferring them, there is no doubt in anybody’s mind, without naming anyone, that wherever the corporate governance is there these companies are really doing– outperforming the market if I might use that word.
When you say this to every typical viewer the names that spring to mind are the Sobha’s , Oberois and Godrej Properties of the world, there may be more but these three definitely come up, are you saying that their occupancy rates are actually…
I mean, both in terms of office demand and in terms of home buyers because they believe that what they are saying will get done and delivered in time. I mean, today that is the largest deficiency, the fear of not getting things delivered in time and to the quality that you promise so obviously the corporates are getting a larger share of home buyers wallet in some sense. So that is a clear trend and which is healthy and good because people have to aspire and bring their governance to that level at some point. And there are lots of companies that are doing good work, you have named a few but obviously you will see that that list will expand very soon. It is already there, people are becoming what you would like to say RERA compliant, it is if RERA comes it is nice as when it comes but lot of companies take pride in saying that we have no problems with it, let it come we are quite compliant with it, so which is good.
So is the time to invest in real estate now or do you think people who are looking at that kind of investment can still wait it out?
I think from homebuyer’s perspective, people who want to buy, it is the right time, for self use, for consumption. For investment, I think selectively yes, you should start looking at it because I think after office, residential is the next big bet, as volumes go up prices may start to rise but we do not have an aggressive view of appreciation at this point of time so they may just sort of beat inflation or hover around it, so you have to be patient with your investment if you are buying residential.
Okay, be patient with your investment if it is indeed an investment, first use should not be an issue.
Credits ET Realty