A silent revolution in the Indian broking market

A silent revolution in the Indian broking market
A silent revolution in the Indian broking market

India Inc. property expert analyses the post-implementation impact of the Real Estate Regulation Act (RERA) and Goods & Services Tax (GST) in India.If there was one common concern that all developers, especially the ones in residential developments, had in India in the month of June and July, it was the implementation of Real Estate Regulation Act (RERA) and Goods & Services Tax (GST). Larger firms had dedicated internal teams while smaller firms had a battery of consultants and temporary staff assisting in this implementation. The management was fully focussed on getting these two tasks done with sales and construction trailing behind as non-implementation would mean stoppage of business.All the major states across the country have implemented RERA so far, with the exception of Goa and Kerala whose rules have been notified and the developers are in the process of implementing. While most of the sound-bytes have gone around the developers getting compliant and organised - the silent revolution that is taking place is the formalisation of the real estate broking market. Pre - RERA - anybody could become a broker, represent anything and push products. Agni aka India Homes was a large real estate primary homes broking platform that stopped sales of new properties last year. This firm had marquee investors like Helion Ventures, Foundation Capital and NEA who have invested millions in the booming growth period of residential sales.Now that brokers of all shapes have to be registered and their history, including complaints from buyers and penalties paid, being made an integral part of their profile - we hope to see the rise of informed and ethical distribution. In fact, if an existing customer refers another and gets any benefit - cash or kind - even the referrer is liable to a penalty equal to 5 per cent of the value paid.While all the right steps have been taken, the change has been extremely painful. It will put out quite a few brokers - which will not be so much of an impact as more than 85 per cent of the brokers in the past did less than two sales in a month. Instead, it will create an organised broking platform(s) that will be compliant and fair to the buyer. JLL Residential has already been hived off under a brand called Anarock that has begun aggregating distributors and independents to come under their platform.The judiciary has been getting stricter with developer promoters and rulings related to them. In the case of Unitech in Delhi, two of the promoters have been in judicial custody since April this year. Karnataka RERA has issued a notice to all developers that they will crack down from September 1 on developers and brokers found guilty of promoting any project that is not registered.With the matter of compliance set, residential unit sales numbers in August have been good for the market overall and given estimates, it looks to be at par if not to exceed the sales figures of February - which has been the best month this year. That said, one must not discount the possibility that this sales trajectory could be the outcome of two months of deficit sales in June and July. September and October will be crucial months for sales, not just because it is the peak buying season but also as months that can help the developer bring a fair financial close to 2017 and get set for 2018.While it has been doom and gloom for residential, the sun has been shining on the commercial realty front. Given that loans are available only to top developers for well graded commercial projects, cross-market absorption has been in the high 80s across markets. Some key deals being Deloitte leasing 1.5 million square feet in Bengaluru and TCS leasing over half a million square feet between Bengaluru and Chennai. One of the leading International Property Consultants (IPC) declared Delhi/NCR to be the numero uno leasing market in the Asia Pacific region. And another IPC has just launched an online platform for office search and leasing.DLF of Delhi NCR continues to struggle with nearly $5 billion of debt on its books but with GIC closing a deal of promoter dilution for a consideration of $1.5 billion, this could hopefully be the turning point for this large commercial realty group that has been struggling for the past few years.Now trendingThis year has seen four product lines trending. In the residential space, student accommodation has become a buzz word with quite a few firms focussing on this segment that is off campus living near colleges and universities. Co-living targeted at young married and unmarried professional without kids typically near ITES places of work is another area, besides senior citizen co-living in urban spaces. In the commercial space, co-working is the buzz word with at least four to five companies having acquired over 2 million square feet of space each across cities.Deepak Sam Varghese is founder-director of Moonbeam Advisory.

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