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Indian real estate sector likely to register USD 4.8 bn institutional flow of funds in 2020: JLL

India’s real estate market attracted USD 235 mn in capital in the third quarter of 2020 (Q3,2020), growing by 52% quarter-on-quarter (QOQ), according to JLL’s ‘India Capital Markets: A Real Estate Perspective’ report released today. The India real estate sector is expected to draw USD 4.8 bn of capital in 2020, representing a 8% decline on 2019’s total transactional volume of USD 5.3 bn.

According to JLL, investors are most attracted to the country’s office sector, with interest remaining strong throughout the pandemic and the partial relaxation of the lockdown with USD 200 mn invested during Q3 2020. Concurrently, global investors actively sought asset portfolio opportunities, with two landmark portfolio transactions amounting to a total of USD 3.6 bn in investment value likely to be concluded in Q4 2020. In the primary markets, Mindspace Business Parks REIT- India’s second REIT issue of USD 600 mn was oversubscribed by 13 times in August 2020. The strong response to this REIT indicates a preference for cash flow opportunities in private and public markets.

“We’re expecting a broad based ‘V-shape’ recovery in the Indian real estate market, but depending on the economic recovery and pandemic response, our estimates have substantial scope for upward revision. We have already witnessed very positive signs of recovery in the office segment in Q3 with gross leasing at 13.8 mn sq. ft. The REITs market has done exceedingly well with the combined market cap of the India REITs at USD 6 bn accounting for 33% of the market cap of listed real estate companies,” said Ramesh Nair, CEO and Country Head (India), JLL.

Office assets remain the preferred choice

The review of investments in the first nine months of 2020 reveals that out of the USD 1.2 bn investments, Bengaluru, Chennai and Mumbai together accounted for 71% share. Bengaluru led the pack with 33% share of real estate investments.

“The impact of COVID-19 on the India real estate market has been unprecedented, but investors have remained bullish on the long-term prospects and voted with their deployments in the third quarter. Though we expect 2020 investments level to be marginally lower than 2019, the recovery will not be broad-based given that two large transactions slated to be concluded this year would account for 76% of the total investments estimated for 2020,” said Dr Samantak Das, Chief Economist and Head of Research & REIS (India), JLL.

Lessons from past and looking ahead

Post the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), investments in Indian real estate declined by 71% during Q1-Q3 2009 as compared to the same period in 2008. However, investors after the brief wait came back with lessons learnt. Investments during Q1-Q3 2010 saw a recovery of 92%. This year, a similar pattern has panned from Q1-Q3 2020 wherein investments declined by 73% although on a higher base.

Green shoots of recovery like a strong response to REITs, large office and retail asset portfolio deals in progress and robust office sector fundamentals indicate that a similar pattern which was witnessed in 2010 could unfold shortly. Indian real estate has come a long way, post the global financial crisis due to structural transformation as well as regulatory reforms introduced in the last decade.

REITs: Redefining investments in Indian real estate

According to JLL, increased awareness of REITs will ensure acceptability and lead to a gradual increase in retail interest and deeper institutional involvement in this segment. Brookfield Asset Management has filed for India’s third REIT with an expected issue size of USD 600 mn. As the market matures, JLL expects global funds are looking for an established track record, an ability to remain transparent and deliver predictable returns, which were demonstrated by India’s two listed REITs.

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