The housing sector continues to experience an infusion of last-mile funding for project completion.
Over 7,400 leases spanning approximately 90 mn sq ft area will come up for renewal in 2021 across the top six commercial real estate hubs across the country- Bengaluru, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Gurugram and Noida, Industry data and ANAROCK Research said.
Also, 2021 has the highest lease expiry pipeline when compared to the next two years – 2022 and 2023. Year 2022 will see nearly 7,000 leases for approximately 78 mn sq. ft. come up for renewal, and approximately 4,200 leases for over 55 mn sq. ft. in 2023.
Of the approximately 7,400 leases expiring in 2021, Mumbai has the highest share at about 44%, followed by Pune with a 17% share. These two cities have been among the worst-affected by the second wave. The impact on leasing activity there over the year bears watching, it said.
The total number of leases coming up for renewal in 2021 account for 90 mn sq ft. area. Interestingly, in terms of area, Bengaluru has the largest share at about 37%, with Mumbai coming in a distant second with a share of about 19%, it added.
Of the total number of leases coming up for renewal in 2021, Chennai comprises a 5% share - in terms of overall area, it has 12% share. Gurugram has a 15% share each in terms of number of leases due for renewal and total area. Noida has the least number of leases due for renewal, comprising a mere 3% share of both total lease numbers and the overall area.
“The office market has been under strain since the pandemic came in. However, the IT/ITeS sectors have been on a hiring spree in 2020 and 2021 due to massive business accruals. To accommodate these employees in a future when we see a gradual return of employees and adoption of hybrid workplace practices by Infotech giants, office space demand will grow,” said Prashant Thakur, director and head – Research, ANAROCK Property Consultants.
Office demand also is expected to gather momentum from 2022 in the wake of robust hiring by large corporates. These big corporates will definitely renew their leases, though some of the smaller companies may consider rationalizing space, he said.
“The leases coming up for renewal in 2021 were entered into at much lower rentals - at rates that prevailed 3 to 5 years ago - since office leases are usually signed for the long-term. There is some room for rental escalation in many of these leases,” he said.
The second wave in India is far more excruciating than the first, and some companies are once again in wait-and watch mode with their real estate decisions. Leasing activity has begun to tame down. This is also validated by the fact that average vacancy levels in Grade A office space across the top 7 cities is up again, breaching the 15% mark.
Rising Covid-19 cases in cities like MMR and Bengaluru - the markets with highest commercial demand - and stringent curfew restrictions are cause for concern.
However, Mumbai and Pune are already beginning to see a decline in daily cases. Meanwhile, major IT/ITeS companies are hiring in bulk to fulfil the surge in work orders and have a healthy pipeline for the current year as well.
Recent ANAROCK research revealed that the top four Indian IT/ITeS firms – TCS, Infosys, HCL and Wipro – alone hired approx. 42,000 employees in the first nine months of FY 2021. Also, multinational majors Cognizant and Capgemini hired nearly 39,500 employees in CY 2020, with bulk hiring plans for CY 2021. They plan to hire around 23,000 and around 30,000 employees respectively in the CY 2021.
Many other IT firms are on a hiring spree amid acceleration in their overall business post the pandemic. This eventually bodes well for overall office space demand in 2022 and 2023, when we may see gradual return of normalcy coupled with the newly added workforce. The IT/ITeS sectors are among the prime drivers of overall leasing activity in the top cities. Bulk hiring by these firms will influence demand for large quality office spaces.