Awfis Leadership Series – Future of Shared Real Estate Economy: U, V or L Shaped Recovery?
Awfis Leadership Series provides a platform to industry experts, thought leaders, and visionaries to discuss and dissect changes in the industry as well as understand shifting consumer demands that will shape how businesses evolve. They also formulate the best practices to keep up with emerging trends, helping businesses succeed.
The 6 August 2020 webinar comes at a crucial juncture when businesses are still reeling under the global pandemic and are looking for innovative measures to revive growth. Moderated by Mr. Amit Ramani – CEO and Founder of Awfis, the webinar’s esteemed panel includes eminent leaders shaping India’s real estate sector.
Mr. Anuj Puri – Chairman of Anarock
Mr. Rajesh Jaggi – V.C., Everstone Capital Advisors Pvt. Ltd.
Mr. Abhay Pandey – General Partner at A91 Partners
Dr. Nikhil Sikri – cofounder and CEO of Zolo
The panellists discuss the impact of COVID-19 on India’s shared real estate economy, the investment landscape in this sector, and devise a roadmap for the way ahead.
As Mr. Anuj Puri puts it, “This time it is going to be about empathy. Businesses able to show empathy to their vendors, clients, staff, and various stakeholders are going to see long-term sustainability.”
About the investment landscape, Mr. Abhay Pandey is hopeful. He says, “The 2010-2020 period was about China, and most people believe that the next 10 years belong to India. We will see a lot of capital come in.”
However, Mr. Rajesh Jaggi emphasizes the active role the government needs to play in improving the investment outlook. According to him, “From the government perspective, the policies are not consistent. Certainty is what we request the government to give. Across sectors, the government has to speed up reforms to attract much larger FDI. The FDI players do not know how to buy land, how to get permissions. There isn’t a level playing field. These are the things in real estate that the government should be focusing on, and I’m sure by the second quarter of 2021 we will see flows coming into our sector.”
Here is an overview of the key takeaways from this insightful conversation.
What will pave the way for the recovery of India’s shared real estate economy?
A joint effort between the government and entrepreneurs:
To reboot the economy, the government needs to provide the stimulus of resuming business normalcy. The shared real estate players also need to add health-related safety features and the flexibility that consumers are demanding in the pandemic.
Different recovery time frames:
Shared real estate has many components, and the time required for recovery will vary across such segments.
Shared office spaces:
The tenants include both large enterprises and small businesses. The small companies are eager to restart work. But the big companies are cautious about the risks they are willing to take. Thus, the recovery phase will vary across the tenant profiles and centres.
Shared spaces where working professionals live, away from their hometowns, have better stability during the pandemic. Tenants who had gone back to their hometowns are returning. According to Mr. Pandey, one can expect a sharp 80-90% improvement in the coming months in a shared real estate economy.
The rest 10-20% recovery will take more time, probably until the second quarter of 2021.
This sector has maintained its business operation even during the lockdown as the government declared it an essential service. In July, there has been 100% operation.
However, due to the monsoons, constructions are pending. Growth in this sector is expected to strike the rising curve by March 2021.
The good news:
All state governments are actively reaching out to manufacturing hubs across Asia to set up industries in their states. Tamil Nadu, for example, has formed an independent body to reach out to international companies. This approach is sure to boost the economy.
What are the key opportunities and challenges for the recovery of the shared real estate sector?
The changing mindset of customers:
Customer sentiments are changing with an increased focus on safety and well-being. Health safety norms must be implemented across properties to reassure consumers.
Health safety protocols:
Organized providers like Zolo have started implementing disinfection protocols to ensure safety measures, gaining occupancy.
However, unorganized providers may find it challenging to deploy such preventive protocols.
People are becoming unenthusiastic about sharing private space. Providing personalized solutions is turning into a necessity.
The road ahead – Building sustainable business models
Empathy, the new critical metric:
While the role of technology and the flexibility of collaborative spaces are going to play crucial roles, empathy is definitely the most vital aspect in ensuring long-term business sustainability.
Evolution – the need of the hour:
From low-cost space providers, the shared real estate players need to evolve into solution providers. Understanding customer pain-points and providing solutions at affordable prices are the needs of the hour.
Digitization and innovation:
Shared real estate providers need to enable tenants to achieve proficiency by making sophisticated technology available at a low cost. For instance, improved teleconferencing facilities, inexpensive AWS services, etc. can be the selling propositions for shared offices.
COVID-19 revealed that cash is king. Businesses need to target cash positivity and reduced liabilities to achieve sustainability.
Investment outlook for India’s shared economy in 2021
Availability of capital:
There is surplus liquidity throughout the word. AndIndia is a large market base, a probable source of sustainable returns over time. This factor attracts investors, and market experts predict that India will draw significant advancements in the next 6-12 months, as pandemic-related uncertainties start to subside.
Importance of consistency:
Established businesses with a demonstrated track record of financial performance and operational consistency appeal to investors.
Need for reducing inconsistency:
The government has a significant role to play in boosting the fledgeling economy. Reforms are long overdue. The process of availing permissions is ambiguous. Such inconsistent government policies are a massive deterrent for large-scale FDI players. There is an acute need to modify these policies and provide investment-related clarity to attract foreign investors.
Most of the panel experts foresee an L-shaped recovery curve for India’s shared real estate economy. A sustainable business model that provides the right solutions for the consumers and reflects long-term efficiency in performance can look forward to an inflow of capital in 2021.
Watch the entire webinar here for in-depth analysis and further insights.