I have taken up the challenging practice of evaluating the performance of the real estate companies through rating the respective brands. I often hear two very different voices about my professional existence within the sector. A group of developers, though minority community, not only take the learnings out of the rating & ranking but also endorse that the sector needs someone like me for the larger interests of the business.
While the commercial office sector will dominate Indian REIT listings for the next couple of years, retail and logistics REITs are sure to follow. However, Indian residential REITs remain at best a distant possibility. The draft Model Tenancy Act, 2019 will make rental housing a more attractive investment play – but for Indian residential REITs to succeed as they have in countries like Singapore and the US, rental yields on Indian housing need to significantly surpass the current 1-3%.
The success of the Embassy Parks REIT has given global investors strong reason to increase their stake in multiple commercial assets across the country so that these could be listed under REITs in the future. Some of these global institutional investors who are eyeing the country’s real estate market via REITs include Japan’s NikkoAm StraitsTrading Asia, US’ North Carolina Fund, Taiwan’s Eastspring Investments, Malaysia’s Hwang Asia Pacific REITs and Infrastructure Fund, and Canada-based Sentry Global.
Indian real estate is still a viable and fairly safe long-term investment option. Investors with a short-term view on ‘instant returns’ need to look elsewhere, but most other asset classes are quite volatile in nature and will continue to remain so. Indian residential real estate is a long-time favourite of resident Indians and NRIs, and recent trends suggest a positive outlook for this asset class going forward. Property prices have bottomed out and cannot possibly reduce further, especially since construction costs are gradually heading north.
In the ‘golden years’ of India’s housing market, property was the default go-to option for big-ticket investment. With real estate’s fading allure, investors began exploring other options and found them to quite rewarding. For instance, they can invest in a start-up with sums as ‘low’ as INR 10 lakhs. Many entrepreneurially-inclined Indians find the potential ROI (as high as 15% in many instances) makes more sense. Mutual funds provide good returns and the entry level is low enough to be affordable to many.
Over the last few years, co-working spaces have gained popularity with start-ups, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and large corporates. Unlike the traditional business centres, co-working offices offer unique amenities such as a gymnasium, spa, a food court, gaming zones, sleeping pods, crèche services etc. These attributes have helped popularize co-working spaces among employees, entrepreneurs and corporates alike.
Better returns, a mature and transparent market are some of the factors that have made investors flock to the country’s commercial real estate. With commercial segment remaining the most favoured among all kinds of asset classes, high-net-worth investors and the uber-rich are now looking at pre-leased assets, primarily office assets, with hope.
Let’s get straight into this question, which has been a concern among all stakeholders – financial planners, property owners, investors and prospective buyers – over the last few years. And only because real estate, particularly residential, did not yield the same returns as it did during its Golden Era of the early 2000s.
Large foreign funds have expressed an interest to own a share of the Indian real estate pie. Nikko Am Straits Trading Asia, North Carolina Fund, Hwang Asia Pacific REITs and Infrastructure Fund, Eastspring Investments and Canada-based Sentry Global have received SEBI approval to invest in India as developers and real estate investors, revealing the underlying interest in REITs. Our research indicates that continuous institutional flow of funds has provided the initial momentum to REIT.
Entity-level investment is an efficient strategy to get a firmer foothold in the real estate market. It allows a private equity investment firm to not only deploy its capital but also gain synergetic skills in the real estate marketplace. PE firms invariably look for high levels of corporate governance in a real estate development company before deciding to invest in it at an entity level.