GURUGRAM, India, Oct. 12, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Commercial office absorption is picking up across the top six Indian cities, with Q3 2020 gross absorption at 6.5 million square feet (msf), up 58% QOQ. The rise in leasing activity signals that occupiers are returning to the drawing board to close ongoing deals that were stalled earlier. However, during January-September 2020, gross absorption fell 46% YOY to 22.5 msf due to the prolonged lockdown in the country.
'Despite adversity, the real estate sector has shown remarkable comeback in the last few months. Whilst we are still far from achieving the previous year's activity levels, when compared to second quarter of this year, activities for Q3 2020 have shown substantial revival. Occupiers continue to review their real estate portfolio and keeping a close watch on employee productivity. Landlords are showing lot of flexibility and willingness to work much closely with Occupiers during these tough times,' says Arpit Mehrotra, Managing Director, Office Services (South India) at Colliers International India.
Siddhart Goel, Head of Research Services, Colliers India added, 'Occupiers are now evaluating smaller offices in various locations akin to the hub-and-spoke model, instead of large consolidated spaces, and even de-densifying existing offices so that employees can adhere to social distancing norms. We notice that MNCs continue to be bullish about the market, with cities like Bengaluru and Hyderabad continuing to see pre-commitments. The recent strong response to the REIT listing by Blackstone-backed K Raheja Corp, and the built-up anticipation for Brookfield's planned REIT issue are a testament to the stability and continued attractiveness of the commercial office sector.' Between January-September 2020, Bengaluru accounted for 30% of the total gross absorption, followed by Delhi-NCR and Hyderabad with about 17% share each.
City 2020 Gross absorption share Bengaluru 30% Chennai 10% Delhi-NCR 17% Hyderabad 17% Mumbai 13% Pune 13% Source: Colliers International India *Note: Gross absorption does not include lease renewals, pre-commitments/LOIs 'The appetite for sustainable commercial real estate is expected to strengthen, especially for those looking at more stable rental revenues. Traction from private equity capital, especially in core assets, will strengthen further due to volatility in other segments. We also expect real estate investment trusts (REIT) to continue to gain traction, even though there will be greater scrutiny on quality of assets, sustainability elements and portfolio resilience,' said Animesh Tripathi, Senior Director, Office Services, Pune at Colliers International India.
Offices in India are currently slowly reopening. Colliers estimates that about 30-40% of staff are back in offices in Delhi-NCR and about 20-25% in Bengaluru as the respective State governments are still encouraging firms to continue allowing their employees to work from homes. However, in Mumbai, though the Maharashtra government has limited office usage to 30% of staff or 30 employees, whichever is higher, only 10-15% of the private office staff is back as there are limitations on private employees using the popular and effective suburban railways, which are the lifeline of the city.
'Q4- 2020 and Q1- 2021 will be important for Occupiers to commit to future office spaces with some additional flexibility / benefits. The CBD's, which were otherwise full with occupiers, have now got vacancies in some buildings that are available today at lower rentals than before. The bus of opportunity is going to be around just for a few months before the markets swell up for quality office spaces and rents head north again as there's limited quality supply in key micro markets', said Bhupindra Singh, Managing Director, Regional Tenant Representation & Office Services (North) at Colliers International India.
Colliers projects gross absorption in Q4 2020 to double from Q3 2020, as offices and businesses open further and occupiers return to the drawing board to plan their real estate portfolio. Consequently, for the full year 2020, Colliers revised its' forecast of gross absorption at 36.1 msf, led by projected 26% higher activity in H2 2020 from H1 2020. However, this is likely to be 37% lower than 2019 when gross absorption touched a new high. We believe that businesses will still not be able to operate at 100% occupancy by the year end and thus absorption will not go up to 2019 levels. For the full year, Bengaluru is likely to lead leasing as occupiers continue to close deals in the southern city, with Delhi-NCR and Hyderabad following behind.
On the supply front, Q3 2020 saw about 4.1 msf of project completions, led by project completions in Hyderabad that accounted for 53% of the total supply. During Jan-September 2020, project completions fell 12% YOY to about 29.7 msf due to the lockdown and return of migrant labourers to their hometowns and villages. Sangram Tanwar, Managing Director of Office Services, Mumbai feels, 'While Q3 has demonstrated significant activity by Occupiers, second hand supply will continue to put pressure on rentals.' About Colliers International Group Inc.: Colliers International (NASDAQ: CIGI) (TSX: CIGI) is a leading real estate professional services and investment management company. With operations in 68 countries, our more than 15,000 enterprising professionals work collaboratively to provide expert advice and services to maximize the value of property for real estate occupiers, owners and investors. For more than 25 years, our experienced leadership, owning approximately 40% of our equity, has delivered compound annual investment returns of almost 20% for shareholders. In 2019, corporate revenues were more than $3.0 billion ($3.5 billion including affiliates), with $33 billion of assets under management in our investment management segment.
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