Half of calendar year 2023 is over. Unfortunately, there isn’t much ‘feel good’ news in the world, except in India, Middle East & few countries in Southeast Asia.
The mindless war between Russia & Ukraine continues. Other than helping clear the stockpile of weapons in few western economies & securing billions of dollars of fresh orders for manufacture of weapons, it has only resulted in destroying large areas in Ukraine & displacing millions of its citizens. The war resulted in much of Europe to go into recession. From a unipolar world with United States ruling the roost since the disintegration of USSR during 1991-92, the world is getting back to a bipolar world with the 2nd largest economy of the world, the communist China supporting Russia.
While politically the world has become bipolar again, economically countries have become more interdependent than ever before due to globalisation & WTO policies. This is posing a huge challenge to different economies, particularly to the United States and to the countries in Europe.
The Indian Government has played its cards smartly. Our country is beginning to see the benefit of China+1 strategy of the developed economies, not only for sourcing their product requirements, but also because they see India as a good investment destination. This has greatly helped the Indian economy to become resilient and not be affected so far by the war in Ukraine. The best indicator is the stupendous increase in Sensex & Nifty indices and Indian foreign exchange reserves crossing US$ 600 billion again. Many senior bankers feel that for the 1st time after many many years, all sectors of business are doing well. One can only hope this good show sustains for a longer time thereby helping Indian GDP reach US$ 5 trillion, sooner than later. The spoil sport can be poor monsoon, interest rate increase and unexpected events like political turmoil.
The ruling party at the centre got the shock of its life by badly losing State Elections in Karnataka. The smart electorate of Karnataka has punished the unexpected poor performance of the previous Government, apart from succumbing to the lure of multiple freebies offered by the winning party. While this has invigorated the opposition parties against the ruling party at the centre, it has also made the 2024 parliamentary elections more unpredictable. Anything can happen. What India requires is political stability and retaining its position in the world order & the goodwill generated during the past few years. What all this means to the business is the question? Uncertainty to a great extent. One never knows when the current positive sentiments will start turning negative, though there is absolutely no indication at present.
The Residential Real Estate sector is continuing to grow in a healthy way. Financial year 2023 is the best so far for the sector. The WFH/ A (work from home/ anywhere) culture continuing in a big way in USA & Europe has created millions of square feet of vacant office space in those countries, which has resulted in cautious approach by Indian & MNC companies in the tech sector to sign up new office space. Most experts feel this could be a cyclical and temporary phenomena. The good news is many MNC companies are increasing the size of their GCCs (Global Capability Centres) in India as a way to cut costs by offshoring work thereby helping to retain/ improve their profitability. This is the saving grace for the Indian Office Real Estate sector. The data localisation policy of the Indian Government has also resulted in increased demand for Data Centres. So also, the growing organised retail business has increased the demand for Fulfilment Centres/ Warehouses.
In such a macro environment, Brigade is trying to play its cards well but carefully. We have made headway in increasing our presence in Chennai significantly. We are trying to do the same in the highly competitive real estate market of Hyderabad.
While a number of new launches are slated in this financial year, obtaining civic authorities approvals is becoming more challenging than ever before, for a variety of reasons. By adhering to the multiple rules, administrative procedures and after overcoming red tape, if one succeeds in real estate business in India, they deserve to receive accolades and a pat on their back.
Rightly, the new Congress Government in Karnataka is talking of ‘Brand Bengaluru’ – to improve the image of the city which has taken a beating due to severe traffic congestion, insufficient infrastructure planning & implementation. Bengaluru deserves much better treatment by the State Govt.
Bengaluru, which contributes more than 50% of the tax revenue of the State; should receive similar share in the expenditure budget of the State to improve its infrastructure. Bengaluru is not just a city of Karnataka, it is now a Global City, known for innovation and home to 100s of MNCs.
Hyderabad with its superior infrastructure is already breathing down Bengaluru‘s neck and sure to overtake Bengaluru as an attractive investment destination, if the Karnataka Government continues to be complacent.
The advent of ChatGPT & AI (Artificial Intelligence) into our lives, slowly but surely, will have a profound effect, not fathomed by us so far. It will become a necessary evil in the years ahead. While there would be demand for people with new skills, it may also lead to thousands of job losses. So, it is very important for people and businesses to gear up the skills to keep pace with the ever changing technological advancements.
The festival season is approaching. My warm season's greeting to all our readers.
—Jaishankar CMD, Brigade.
It may seem strange that while the Indian economy is subdued, the Indian stock market indices are breaking records every other month. While too much hot money is channeled into the stock market, one only hopes, that this reflects the underlying strength of the economy.
Our country is slowly but surely recovering from the shock of Demonetisation and GST. Unfortunately for the government, Demonetisation did not succeed as expected and it also did not give the government, the expected windfall. Despite this, Demonetisation was a bold initiative which helped in bringing idle black money into mainstream circulation, resulting in softer interest rates.
On the other hand, GST implementation is a mammoth effort. We must credit the State & the Central Government for all the proactive steps, they are taking to make this most complicated initiative a success. Over time, the benefit to the country will be immense and there will be a paradigm shift in the way, business is conducted across the country. While there are many critics, one should remember - Nothing ventured, Nothing gained.
GST is one major legislation to help integrate our subcontinent. It is generally felt that other initiatives like ‘Make in India’ are beginning to make the intended impact, as order books of several Indian manufacturing companies are believed to be full.
The much-awaited RERA has come into effect in most States during the last 6 months. It is bound to have its disruptive impact on the sector but will help separating the ‘grain from the chaff’. Realising that the Indian Real Estate is still reeling under the three-pronged attack (Demonetisation, GST & RERA), the Central government has liberalised the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) scheme by extending credit linked subsidy of about `2.30 lakhs to even good sized apartments of upto 150 sq.m. for people with income up to `18 lakhs. This should surely help in giving the required push, to improve demand for real estate.
With ‘profit booking’ expected in stocks & mutual fund investments, some amount of the profits are expected to flow into the Real Estate sector, which is also showing ‘green shoots’ in Q3 as compared to earlier quarters.
During the last few months of the year, we were able to complete a number of projects (Brigade AT No. 7 in Hyderabad; Brigade Mountain View & Pearl at Brigade Palmgrove in Mysore; Brigade Cosmopolis and Brigade Lakefront ‘A’; Brigade Omega and Wisteria @ Brigade Meadows; Cedar, Deodar and Parkside @ Brigade Orchards; Brigade NorthRidge; Brigade Bhuwalka Icon, all in Bangalore).
Our 274 keys CBD hotel, Holiday Inn Express Race Course Bengaluru became operational helping us cross the magical 1000 room mark, under our portfolio. And we are gearing up to launch several exciting, new Commercial & Residential projects, mostly in Bangalore and a few in Mysore.
With all the surprises and shocks of the last twelve months behind us, one hopes that the New Year will augur well for Brigade and for the Indian economy. With that hope, wishing everyone, Season’s Greetings and a Happy and Prosperous New Year.
A lot has happened in the macro environment since the last issue of Brigade Insight in December – from successful demonetisation to introduction of GST proceeding in the right direction; commencement of RERA (Real Estate Regulatory Act); from BJP’s handsome win in the crucial assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh to BJP losing bye-elections in Karnataka (a wake-up call to Karnataka BJP); from a booming stock market to the monsoon predicted to be normal, et al
Full credit to our Honourable Prime Minister for successfully managing the demonetisation of INR 500 & 1,000 currency notes. This has resulted in crores of rupees getting deposited in the Banks, resulting in increased money in circulation due to reduction of black money; increase in tax collections & number of taxpayers; expected reduction in corruption; lower lending interest rates (good for business & industry) and increased use of digital currency, among other advantages. Our Honourable Prime Minister debunked the criticism by many reputed economists and showed that he means business by coming up with a slew of well thought out supporting measures. His vision backed-up by clear-cut strategies & implementation is sure to make him the Best Prime Minister our country has seen, apart from making him an enviable Statesman to reckon with in the world order. The result is the stupendous confidence shown in BJP by the electorate of Uttar Pradesh. Actions of our Honourable Prime Minister & that of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister is a lesson for all leaders that good governance is bound to be appreciated by the citizens, and the impact it can have on electoral gains.
With the announcement of tax rates, the suspense surrounding the much-anticipated GST (Goods & Services Tax) seems to be over. Now, it is a question of ensuring that it is implemented both in letter & spirit. The exemptions given and rates announced by the committee of finance ministers seems to be very fair. By & large, GST should help business & industry in overall reduction of costs which is expected to be passed on to the ultimate customer/consumer. But, there would be a settling down period and confusion/misinterpretation galore during 2017-18 at the least.
Similarly, there is bound to be confusion in the implementation of RERA. There are no experts in the industry, in the consulting community or in the Government. Everyone will have an opinion, the correctness of which will be known over time, once the RERA Authority/Tribunal starts passing orders. There is bound to be a storm before calm can settle in. The developer community should tighten their belts and brace themselves for hard times from authorities & activist groups. While RERA will have long-term positive effects on the sector, with no entry barrier earlier resulting in all kinds of questionable characters entering the business. It is also bound to add cost due to delay in obtaining additional approvals from RERA authorities before a project is launched. The real estate sector already suffers from the problem of dealing with too many civic authorities, who have been conveniently let off by the Government from the regulations of RERA. Once the sector recovers from the impact & negative sentiments of demonetisation, the real estate costs/prices should go up at least by 10% due to the provisions of RERA and the recently revised National Building Code for new projects. For the real impact of RERA to be felt on unauthorised constructions, the all India developer body - CREDAI has requested the Government not to exempt apartment buildings of less than 8 apartments & properties of less than 500 square metres. Most of the large-scale deviations happen in this category by unorganised and one time developers.
Affordable housing will soon become the flavour of the season for developers and consumers alike. Rightly so, what with more than 20 million homes to be built in the next 5 years to meet Prime Minister Modi’s noble target of ‘Housing for All’ by 2022, to coincide with the 75th Anniversary of Indian independence. For the mission to succeed, the State Government and civic authorities should give incentives (if not subsidy) by way of allotment of Government/slum redevelopment land, reduction in stamp duty, reduced approval fees for building plans, water, sanitary & electrical utility connections for affordable housing projects.
Our first & much awaited 202-room hotel project in Chennai - Holiday Inn OMR IT Expressway opened for business on 21 April 2017. Its super location and great design has become the talk of the town in the Chennai hospitality market. Coupled with this, we were able to launch Brigade Xanadu - luxury residential apartments in a large 33-acre central located land parcel in West Mogappair - Nolambur, Chennai. It is bound to be a landmark project for Chennai & Brigade, offering superb quality of life. Brigade in partnership with the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) is gearing up to commence work on World Trade Center Chennai in another landmark location on OMR, Perungudi. This is apart from commencing Brigade Tech Gardens, IT SEZ in Brookefields, Bangalore.
Two other residential projects of significance were also launched recently - Brigade Buena Vista on Budigere Road & Brigade 7 Gardens in Banashankari, Bangalore. Both received encouraging response in an otherwise subdued market.
With school holiday season coming to an end, with good monsoon round the corner, with NIFTY & Sensex having crossed 9,500 & 30,000 respectively (which should result in profit booking by investors), with business sentiments turning positive, central government taking continuous positive measures to improve the economy, RERA & GST in place, with incentives to affordable housing and home loan interest rates at the lowest in 10 years, there is no reason why the Indian real estate sector should not look up. It should happen sooner than later. So, it is time for fence sitters to jump to the right side of the fence and make their decision to acquire their dream home from Brigade!”