JLL India looks strengthen presence in realty technology space

JLL India, part of US-based JLL, is a leading property consultant in the country but mainly focuses on facilitating leasing of commercial space and facility management.

By Author  |  Published: 1st Aug 2020  6:50 pm

New Delhi: Property consultant JLL India is aiming to become a significant player in the real estate technology space and will also invest to grow its housing brokerage business, its CEO and country head Ramesh Nair said. JLL India, part of US-based JLL, is a leading property consultant in the country but mainly focuses on facilitating leasing of commercial space and facility management. It posted a turnover of Rs 4,135 crore in the 2018-19 fiscal year and is yet to report the numbers for the last fiscal.

Nair was speaking at a webinar organised by Workplace Trends India founder Tushar Mittal, the founder and MD of Gurugram-based interior design firm SKV. On being asked where he sees JLL India in the next five years, Nair said, “I see JLL being a very significant player in the (real estate) technology space.” The adoption of technology in real estate has accelerated after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns to control the spread of the coronavirus. “This is a tough year for everyone including JLL. In normal years, JLL (has been) growing at 15 to 18 per cent every year in the topline and bottomline,” he said.

Asked about the reason behind JLL India not so strong in housing brokerage business, Nair said the company had sold this vertical three years ago and re-entered the segment in 2019. “We are investing in the residential business. We already have a team of close to 100 people. Thing is that we sold the residential business three years back and we re-entered the business last year. When we started this year we had very good plans. We have slowed down now. We would have invested a lot more. We had some very good plans on digital marketing, doubling our team size and all that, but we are kind of go slow this year. Once things will improve, I am sure it will happen next year,” he said.

JLL India had recently tied up with online marketplace RoofandFloor to facilitate prospective homebuyers in purchasing their properties. On the overall real estate market, Nair, who became head of JLL India in 2017, said it would be a challenging year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with both housing sales and leasing of office space expected to remain subdued. However, he said office demand would recover faster, and the successful launch of India’s second REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust) that saw 13 times over-subscription demonstrates that.

“This is a true indication of how well the Indian office sector is seen by global and local investors,” Nair said. “This year is going to be tough, demand is going to go down, but people believe the office market is going to bounce back…” “In June, most cities were out of lockdown, and JLL did five (office leasing) deals close to a million sq feet each,” he said.

Net office absorption stood at an all-time high of 47 million sq ft across seven major cities during 2019, despite overall slowdown in the real estate sector as well as the Indian economy. Stating that Brookfield will soon launch another REIT, he said: “Indian REIT market is poised to do well.” Mindspace Business Parks REIT, owned by K Raheja and Blackstone, proposed to raise to Rs 4,500 crore for public issue that closed on July 29. In April last year, Embassy Office Parks REIT got listed on the stock exchanges after raising nearly Rs 5,000 crore from the country’s first REIT.

On housing demand, Nair said: “The residential market is again going to be quite stressed – we need to wait and watch. A clear scenario will emerge in the next month or so.” He, however, said the situation was improving and prospective buyers were returning to the market gradually. Nair said the sales cycle hasn’t stopped, though numbers have dropped. “There is uncertainty among salaried class because of pay cuts, job losses and so on. But once things settle, it will be back to normal,” Nair said.