Interview with Gaurav Jain, Director at Hem Securities.
Uttaresh Venkateshwaran, Sunil Matkar | Apr 06, 2018 03:19 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com
While the market may have fallen around 10 percent from its peak, experts such as Gaurav Jain, Director, Hem Securities believe that the worst may be over now.
“In the next quarter, the market should settle and then a pullback is likely,” Jain told Moneycontrol’s Uttaresh Venkateshwaran & Sunil Shankar Matkar. He expects largecaps to move ahead and midcaps will play catch-up.
He expects a broad-based pick up in the market going ahead. “In the past few days, a few stocks have risen, which have pushed the market. We should start seeing a pick-up in many more stocks. Essentially, people are not in a panic stage, while retail investors have looked to book profits and are not in a hurry to invest,” Jain further added. Edited excerpts:
The market has been trading off the previous high points. What is the outlook for D-Street going ahead?
Over the last quarter, we saw events such as the Union Budget, which introduced taxes on long term capital gains (LTCG). Global markets reacted negatively, while big IPOs also sucked liquidity from the market, among other factors. As such, the market had a good run up in the past two three quarters.
In the next quarter, the market should settle and then there could be a pullback. Next quarter should be of accumulation and positive movement.
So, what kind of returns are you expecting from this market?
We are in an election year. So, the market could behave differently with results coming on. Overall, for FY18 we are looking at 8-10 percent returns.
What can be seen as triggers for this market?
Firstly, many companies’ results were affected in one quarter on the back of Goods and Services Tax (GST). With new GST Bill coming in full flow, it should give positive flow for most sectors. Even as the e-way bill is introduced, some companies could face some issues at the start and then gradually get comfortable with it.
Secondly, look at growth visibility in the Sensex and Nifty. Several managements are hinting at positive cues. Earnings could improve and several companies have done their expansions on their side.
Lastly, we have to wait for how monsoon pans out. So, overall there is positive momentum and investors are quite bullish on India even at this point.
Does that mean we could go back to the record high levels?
What are you hearing on private capex plans? Are they willing to spend on that front as well?
Most companies, the big ones especially, have done their share of capital expenditure. One important reason why this is happening is due to change in technology that is erupting. For instance, look at telecom sector. In case Reliance Jio comes up with a new technology, rivals also tend to counter those. In case of textiles, many things have happened and firms are adding up more technology and machines. With changing technology, fast-growing companies need to adapt to it and they are deploying resources in those areas.
Could you throw some light on the state of midcaps? How do you expect them to perform going forward?
Largecaps should start moving first, going forward, followed by midcaps. Investors currently are playing conservative as they saw their stocks bleeding all through the last quarter. Hence, the money is going into largecaps right now.
But what about valuations for several segments in the market…how did the IPO market perform in FY18?
Look at the number of IPOs that came up with multiples of 30 and 40 times. Fund managers that we spoke to are talking about large systematic investment plans (SIPs) that have to be deployed into such stocks and that is probably why such high multiples were seen.
In FY17, we saw around 37 IPOs hitting the market and this figure could be higher this fiscal, looking at the prospectuses filed and information available from merchant bankers. Also, IPO sizes are a lot larger now.
But will investors have the appetite going forward?
Institutional investors will have it. They will always look at beaten down stocks and they also do not have issues with funds.
Currently, retail investors are investing less. If they have Rs 100 with them, they are looking to invest Rs 20 right now. In fact, many retail investors have booked profits in the past quarter.
Is there much downside from the current market levels?
I don’t think so. The worst should already be over. In the past few days, a few stocks have risen, which have pushed the market. We should start seeing a pick-up in many more stocks. Essentially, people are not in a panic stage, while retail investors have looked to book profits and are not in a hurry to invest.
So, what will your advice be to a 35-40-year old investor?
They must invest in mutual funds. But you could also do it making money by directly investing in equity markets as well.
What sectors are you looking at currently?
We expect pharmaceuticals to perform, while it could be a challenge in case of information technology names.
You can look at infrastructure sector as well. These companies are flooded with orders.
On banks, it is clearly not the case that all PSU banks are bad. Right now, people are not trusting PSU banks and private banks are usually considered more transparent.
It is a play on perception and that could be seen in cases of a recent listing such as Bandhan Bank. The IPO came at a very good multiple and still listed at good returns. These are companies with professional management which are growing along with having fast execution and chasing for business. As such, we were seeing a shift to private sector banks, but currently investors also do not know about hidden concerns in PSU banks too.
LTCG tax on equities has become a reality now. Are you getting queries about it and what are you telling them?
I think the sentiment around it has been already digested in the market. People are taking in the transition in stock market. I feel that this is not an issue at this point.
How much of a risk is political scenario for the market?
The market tends to be very volatile on political instability. As soon as there are chances of dent to existing government, it starts reacting. The question is not about which government, but about a stable one. This is important from a foreign investor perspective. These would have regular impact but not larger level…the market will make a comeback once the elections are over.
As we move into end of this year (and closer to general elections), investors may hold for couple of months to understand what is happening (on the political front).
On the global front, any statement from the US with respect to protection of its own trade boundaries is a major risk for the market.
Lastly, what are your top stock picks for FY19?
Disclosure: Reliance Industries Ltd. is the sole beneficiary of Independent Media Trust which controls Network18 Media & Investments Ltd.
Don’t see property prices going up for now: Renu Sud Karnad, Managing Director, HDFC
ANIL URS | Published on March 14, 2018 | The Hindu Business Line
BENGALURU, MARCH 14
Renu Sud Karnad, Managing Director, HDFC, in an interview with BusinessLine, explains how the realty and home-loan sectors are shaping up as the new regulatory regime sets in. Excerpts:
How is the property market doing pan-India?
Apart from New Delhi and Chennai, where we see slow offtake, the market is good in other major cities. By good I mean, we are doing good business.
How do you see property prices moving?
As I see it now, I don’t see any increase in property rates happening.
What about interest rates, especially in the wake of rising bond rates?
Yes. Interest rates are rising a little bit. But let me put it this way. I don’t think the rates are going to come down. I think next year we will see a quarter to 1 per cent increase in rates.
Is this rise in rates low, or how do we understand it?
A quarter to half a per cent is nothing when compared to the high interest rate days, when home loans were going at 13-14 per cent. Now they are at 8.3-8.4 per cent. So they may go up to 8.9-9 per cent.
How is HDFC’s home loan growth?
At 23 per cent, our home loan growth is excellent. We have seen good growth coming from Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Pune. In the National Capital Region (NCR) it is a little slow. Otherwise, home loan growth normally is about 15-18 per cent.
Are any banks on your radar for acquisitions?
We are always on the look out whenever an opportunity arises.
How far are you in picking up CanFin Homes?
Actually, you should ask them, because five to six people are talking to them. I don’t know what pressure of time they have and don’t know when they need to announce it. Yes, we are also talking to them.
Have you firmed up your business plan for the next fiscal (2018-19)?
We are in the process. But I can tell you we are looking at 15-18 per cent growth.
How is the borrowing by property developers?
They, I think, are now looking at new avenues. PE funds are giving them money. Banks have also started to explore. Once the sector gets used to new regulatory framework, we could see good amount of lending.
Definitely the last one year had been challenging from them. But I think in the next six months, things should settle down.
Aim to add incrementally to your portfolio over time particularly when the chips are down.
Dipan Mehta | Mar 05, 2018 10:22 AM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com
Go for direct equity with the help of an advisor or a portfolio manager because mutual funds have high expense ratio and inherent disadvantages, Dipan Mehta, Director, Elixir Equities said in an exclusive interview with Moneycontrol’s Kshitij Anand.
Q) The tables have turned in favour of bears at least in the medium term. The Indian market has become a sell on rallies kind of market. What is your assessment of the market at current juncture?
A) This the fifth year of a bull market which has been a slow steady one with very little volatility. There have been a few corrections and we are in the middle of one at present. For the long-term investor, this is still a buy on dips market.
Whether this correction will deepen or not will become evident over the next 2-3 weeks. If a lower tops/lower bottoms formation get created and broad market indices trade below their 200 DMA (which they are not at present) then we may be in for an extended sell-off or a mild bear market.
Q) What is your advise to investors who want to put Rs 10 Lakh into markets? He is in the age bracket of 35-40 years. He/she is looking at forming a portfolio with direct equities, MFs, a part of fixed income as well?
A) Go for direct equity with the help of an advisor/portfolio manager. Mutual funds have high expense ratio and inherent disadvantages. Set aside an amount of emergency plus 1 year’s salary/income into debt and put the rest into good quality stocks.
Aim to add incrementally to your portfolio over time particularly when the chips are down.
Q) What should be the ideal strategy for investors in terms of sectors? Do you think PSU banks are a good buy at current levels? What are the sectors which you think are likely to show momentum in the year 2018?
A) PSU Banks, IT and Pharma are to be avoided.
-25-35 percent should be in private sector retail banks and NBFCs.
-15 percent in auto and related ancillaries,
-15 percent in Indian FMCG stocks,
-35 percent rest in domestic consumption stocks such as building materials, appliances, aviation, retail, gaming, entertainment, media, fast food, branded apparels, and innerwear.
Q) The US Fed signalled a minimum of 3 rate hikes for the year 2018. Do you agree the global overhang is likely to weigh on Indian markets for the rest of the year?
A) No, but there will be a knee-jerk reaction whenever there is a global sell-off. With the rise and rise of domestic mutual funds, the influence of the foreign investors has reduced dramatically which means that the co-relation on a medium to long-term has weakened.
Moreover, foreigners have been investing for 2 decades and they have a more mature approach to India. We are a better-understood economy and capital market.
Q) What should be the right strategy for investors right now – sit on cash and wait for a dip or deploy cash incrementally throughout the year?
A) Nibble into the bluest of blue-chip stocks. Companies which have missed in the bull market so far must be targeted for investment. Investors must endeavour to improve the quality of the portfolio.
There are two-fold benefits. If the bull market resurges, then these will be first of the block and gain market leadership. Should a bear market evolve, then the damage will be less and investors will be able to sleep better knowing they have quality stocks in their portfolio.
Q) What will happen in the banking space given the fact that the cost of borrowing is inching higher. The RBI might keep rates on hold in its next policy but may raise rates in 2018?
A) Private sector banks and NBFCs will survive and thrive in every interest rate scenario. Growth and profitability will be temporarily impacted but the process of private sector gaining market share at the expense of PSU lenders will continue and gain traction.
Q) With Dollar gaining strength there is a higher possibility of rupee weakness. Which sectors or stocks likely to benefit the most? What is your target level for the currency?
A) Sectors which will benefit are obvious but be sure to assess the basic underlying fundamentals. No business will create value just because the currency is depreciating. Our view on the Rupee is not so negative.
RADHIKA MERWIN Interview with Harshala Chandorkar, COO, TransUnion CIBIL
Published on February 25, 2018 | The Hindu Business Line
Arguably no single data point determines your credit-worthiness, or your prospect as an entity worthy of a consumer loan or a business loan, as your credit score. TransUnion CIBIL is one of four credit bureaus in India that assess you for that. There are currently about 37 crore retail borrowers and about 1.3 crore commercial borrowers on the TransUnion CIBIL Consumer and Commercial bureau. That portfolio also gives it a vantage view of the banking and economic landscape. Excerpts from an interview with Harshala Chandorkar, Chief Operating Officer, Transunion CIBIL:
What is your sense of corporate lending trends, which appear to be recovering?
The NPA woes of the banking industry in the commercial lending space indicate that the mid-corporate and larger SME segments have taken the biggest hit. TransUnion CIBIL Commercial Data analysis highlights a significant chunk of accounts that are bad in one bank but not bad in another. The latest FIBAC report on Productivity in Indian Banking states that a significant part of latent NPAs could slip in the next few quarters. The revenue pool of mid and large corporates will probably stay subdued for the next 4-5 years due to stress in the portfolio.
The banking industry needs to invest in new credit models for commercial customers that rely on commercial credit information from TransUnion CIBIL and analytics to complement banks’ capabilities in credit assessment and detecting early warning signals.
What’s the outlook on retail credit? Consumer loans seem to be driving overall lending.
With the availability of credit information and progressive policies on financial inclusion, retail lending has grown profitably. Over the past five years, there has been an estimated 16 per cent annual growth in disbursement and over 30 per cent annual growth in bureau enquiries. At the same time NPAs and delinquencies on retail lending have been historically low.
The nature of retail credit is changing rapidly in India as the share of products in new accounts opened has evolved, with gold loans and consumer durables gaining significant volumes and accounting for almost 50 per cent of all new accounts opened. This growth has been accompanied by a significant drop in ticket sizes as financial institutions are becoming more and more willing to extend low-value loans. With certain other retail products, the ticket sizes have actually increased, prominent among them being personal loans — indicative of the increasing credit-willingness of the Indian borrower and a supply-side push — and home loans and auto/two-wheeler loans – indicative of the overall increase in the values of the underlying assets funded. In addition, the share of youth in retail credit is growing: millennials’ share of accounts opened has increased to 40 per cent.
How do you see the bureau evolving in the near future?
The next stage of evolution of India’s credit information infrastructure will be the usage of credit information data, insights and solutions for further expanding access to credit, driving credit penetration and financial inclusion.
Demonetisation has paved the way for a cashless and digitised economy. Bureau solutions for instant verification and ‘decisioning’ are paving the path for driving digitised, quick, easy and affordable access to finance. Verification solution enables credit institutions to authenticate the identity of the consumer in real time at the point of application. As a result consumers are able to get the loan approval within minutes of applying. Yet another advantage is cost-effectiveness while establishing a consumer’s identity. Bringing down this cost can help banks and credit institutions make lending decisions quickly, at cheaper KYC costs, and thereby increase business growth and credit penetration.
The potential of alternative data usage for credit decisions is another significant domain. To expand and increase the breadth of information for making lending decisions even more comprehensive, we are in discussions with regulators to allow for contribution of ‘post-paid’ information on telecom customers. Several World Bank studies have indicated that inclusion of reporting of non-financial payment data (alternative data) proves extremely beneficial for making lending decisions, specifically for the segment that does not have access to credit. With access to affordable credit, new credit consumers are able to build assets. Those financially underserved consumers who have a positive payment records in non-financial obligations like telecom will have the ability to access affordable credit.
The extension of the credit information bureau to cover a larger population will enable a majority of Indians who are self-employed, or employed in the unorganised sector, to get a credit history and enhance their eligibility for credit from banks. Incorporation of telecom and electricity bill payment records into the credit information bureau can unleash this enormous potential to extend the penetration of banking in India. There is compelling business logic for utility and telecommunications firms to begin fully reporting customer payment data to credit bureaus.
But only a few banks use credit score to offer differentiated rates to customers.
Risk-based pricing in still at a nascent stage in our country. Both in the commercial as well as retail segments, pricing offers an opportunity to strengthen performance in the short term. Some progressive lenders have initiated a disciplined approach to risk-based pricing and this could improve banking profitability by 20-30 basis points. Further, at the bank level, banks need to deploy models to estimate customer price elasticity to introduce value-based pricing.
Risk-based pricing of loans helps both the lenders and borrowers alike: the lender can assess the risk value of a customer before deciding to offer a loan at a particular rate, while customers with a higher CIBIL score benefit by getting lower rates as compared to customers with a low scores. The benefits thus ensure that customers work towards keeping their scores and credit-worthiness high.
Mahesh Patil, Co-CIO, Aditya Birla Sun Life AMC on how he is creating alpha in the large cap space, his contra calls and more.
By Morningstar Analysts | 27-12-17 |
The asset size of Aditya Birla Sun Life Frontline Equity Fund has crossed Rs 20,000 crore. Do you see size posing an issue to manage this fund going forward?
We maintain a good diversification in this fund by having exposure across sectors. We aim to beat the benchmark consistently and incrementally rather than taking very large sectoral bets. Given that the fund invests at least 80% of its assets in large cap stocks, we don’t see size posing as a challenge. Besides, the core of the portfolio has very long term holdings. That said, as the fund size increases it becomes slightly more difficult to build or unwind positions in stocks and needs more effort. But it is part of the process and does not affect the performance significantly.
We have a large number of stocks (60-70) in the portfolio as compared to other similar funds in the industry. Before deciding the quantum of exposure warranted in any stock, we take a close look at the liquidity of the stocks. This strategy allows us to manage large size.
It is becoming difficult for managers to generate alpha in the large cap space. How do you overcome this challenge?
We are seeing a huge rally in the mid and small cap stocks and large cap funds obviously can’t take exposure to such stocks. So multi-cap funds have been able to generate decent alpha by maneuvering where the opportunities are.
As markets mature and price discovery happens across stocks its going to become difficult to generate alpha in large caps. The alpha generation which we saw in the last three to four years would compress going ahead. This is because the alpha was high as compared to the historical average, especially during calendar year 2014-16.
We never target to generate superlative alpha in large cap funds. Instead, we endeavor to find some new stock ideas every year which keeps the portfolio fresh. If there is a serious underperformance, we are nimble enough to take corrective action. While everything is fairly priced in the market at this juncture, we try to continuously look out for undervalued companies. Some amount of contrarian investing and moving away from the crowd helps to spot early turning points in stocks/sectors. Similarly, we maintain a discipline to trim exposure in certain stocks that have overshot their valuation target. This strategy enables us to buy stocks which are relatively cheap in terms of valuation. So some amount of active management is also required at this juncture to generate alpha in the large cap space.
In which sectors/themes are you deploying the steady inflows coming in equity and balanced funds?
We have been overweight on banking and financial services. Financial services sector has had a good run and the valuations have moved up. Hence we are more discrete now in choosing the right segments that offer better growth. While we prefer private retail banks, we are slowly warming up to corporate banks because of some clarity emerging on resolutions of bad debts and a cyclical recovery in economy.
Besides, we are positive on consumer discretionary space. We are seeing a higher demand for discretionary consumption as the per capita income is moving up in India. Further, the implementation of GST will benefit players in the building material, consumer durables and retail space. Rural consumption is also starting to improve with normal monsoons and government focus on stepping up rural spending.
We are fairly overweight on metals. Metal prices are steady as China is cutting down capacity on the back of environmental issues which is supporting price. Indian companies are also deleveraging which will increase their equity value.
Another sector where we are taking a contrarian call is telecom. We are seeing consolidation happening faster than we expected in this sector. While there is still some pain for a few quarters, over a three-year time frame it could be a good time to look at some leading telecom companies.
We are selective in the infrastructure space. Road, railways and urban transport are some pockets where there is significant traction. Companies positioned in this sector are expected to see good increase in their order books.
Post SEBI’s diktat on scheme categorization, how are you restructuring your funds? Are you planning to merge smaller schemes?
Fortunately, we have been working on consolidating schemes much before the SEBI circular came out. Most of our equity funds are aligned as per SEBI categorization. We would look to merge some thematic funds.
Overseas fund of funds category is seeing continuous outflows. What are the reasons for the waning demand for this category.
The awareness level about this category is low. Domestic market has been doing well so people are preferring to invest in India. Overseas fund of funds have done well though.
As markets mature and you see enough ownership of domestic funds, people would look to invest outside India. There are a lot of new generation companies which investors can take exposure through these funds.
Though taxation of this category is an issue, you need to realize that if you are making good returns it should not be a problem. HNIs who already have a high exposure to India can look at these funds. Also, those wish to send their children overseas for education can consider these funds because the underlying returns are dollar based. To some extent, you are taking the currency hedge through these funds.
When do you see private-sector investment picking up?
Private sector investment has been elusive. But there are a couple of factors which indicate that investment will pick up one year down the line. Firstly, capacity utilization has bottomed out and is showing early signs of improving. Secondly, while a lot of large corporates in metals and infra space are saddled with high debt were are seeing the deleveraging cycle has started for some companies. Corporate debt to GDP which peaked out in 2016 is starting to come off. Finally, bank recapitalization would enable corporates to re-leverage and begin the next capex cycle. Sectors like Steel, Oil and Gas, fertilizer and auto are the first to see a revival.
During every budget we get to hear about suggestions to reinstate long-term capital gains (LTCG) tax on equity investments. Some say that exemption of LTCGT can lead to market manipulation. What are your views? If the government introduces LTCGT what would be the impact on markets?
The exemption of LTCGT has helped attract investors in equities. But that’s not the only reason why people invest in equities. They invest because they expect better returns. If there is money to be made in markets, I don’t think it would deter investors from this asset class. So introduction of LTCGT would not have an impact on long term investors. However, it could hurt the sentiments in the short run. We could see some curb in short term speculative money moving in stocks having weak fundamentals.
How has your investment philosophy evolved over the years?
While our broad philosophy has remained the same, we have started giving more attention to management quality while evaluating companies. Our time horizon of owning stocks has also increased and we are evaluating companies with a three-year perspective. There is a larger focus on how companies are generating free cash flows and how it is being utilized. These factors impact the PE multiples. So we are willing to pay a premium if these factors are favorable. To sum up, we have been incorporating these factors in our philosophy.
Your favorite book
One book which I found interesting is ‘Good to Great’ authored by Jim Collins. The book gives good insights into building an organization and focuses on what really matters to not only to survive and endure but to excel.
Several cities under the Smart Cities initiative hold a distinct advantage and can be safe bets for ‘smart’ real estate investments, say Mehta.
Sarbajeet Sen | Retrived on 1st Jan 2018 | MoneyControl.com
The real estate sector has seen some major changes in 2017 including ushering in of RERA. It also had to bear the impact of demonetisation, which slowed down sales. In an interview to Moneycontrol, Harshil Mehta, Joint MD & CEO, DHFL, tells how he sees property prices and home loan rates moving in the New Year.
Year 2017 saw the Real Estate Regulation Act (RERA) coming into play. How has the new Act impacted the real estate market?
RERA is a well-timed effort by the government and a good step towards accomplishment of ‘Housing for All by 2022’ and other housing and housing-development related initiatives. Several states have implemented RERA and has positively impacted buyer sentiments as a result of the mandatory disclosures of project details and strict adherence to project deliverables such as the area, legality, amenities and the quality. It has also ushered a more transparent ecosystem for developers and housing finance companies. DHFL has also undertaken a drive to assist developers in various states to help them understand the regulatory implications of RERA and become RERA compliant.
How do you see home prices moving in 2018, especially in the affordable segment?
We do not foresee any reduction in prices in the affordable housing segment because of the increasing demand and the limited supply to meet this demand. To attract buyers and maintain sales volume, developers are launching attractive offers and other benefits to encourage customers to fulfill their aspiration of owning their dream home.
Home loan rates have come down substantially. Do you think there is a likelihood of further lowering of rates by lenders?
Owing to the last few monetary policies, home loan rates have stabilised and we do not foresee any further reduction.
So, for those waiting to buy property, do you think this is a good time?
Yes, it is a good time for the buyer.
What is the loan bracket that you are seeing the largest offtake?
We have been seeing a steady offtake in the affordable housing segment that ranges from Rs 15-30 lakhs. The affordable category has received a strong boost led by the government’s various incentives and efforts to stimulate the industry. All these efforts have started to show visible impact on the ground. Benefits from the recent Credit-Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS) under PMAY and lower interest rates have further given a boost to the consumer’s loan eligibility.
What is the home price segment DHFL is targeting?
Since inception, DHFL has always targeted the affordable housing finance segment catering to the low and middle income in the semi urban and Tier-2 and Tier-3 towns. This has remained unchanged for the last 33 years. As we mentioned earlier, we are witnessing strong uptake in the affordable finance segment driven by the incentives and conducive industry dynamics particularly from Tier 2 and 3 towns and cities which are emerging as India’s new growth engines.
Is government’s push for affordable housing having a bearing on loan offtake?
The Indian housing finance industry and, in particular, the affordable housing segment, is witnessing one of the most exciting times. Over the last few months, the Government has been taking several significant, growth-oriented steps to develop demand as well as generate greater supply through impacting policy frameworks towards greater financial inclusion. Granting infrastructure status to the real estate industry, announcing the extended CLSS to include MIG 1 & 2 and most recent announcement on RERA, are some commendable efforts to stimulate demand of affordable housing. These customer friendly measures and efforts have definitely given a strong fillip to loan offtake.
What are the market and sub-markets where you are seeing a high demand for home loan?
Affordable Housing has clearly been a central growth agenda for the Government. Initiatives such as ‘Housing for All by 2020’, PMAY, CLSS, home loan rate cuts and housing regulations such as RERA has considerably sparked interest for affordable housing options across the consumer pyramid. Most of the first-time home buyers fund their property purchase through home loans. As a result, there has been a surge in home loan demand across India specifically the Tier-2 and Tier-3 markets.
What according to you are the best emerging real estate investment destinations across the country?
Post the launch of the Smart Cities Mission in 2015, the Government shortlisted cities from all regions of India having high economic and industrial potential. Smart cities will become catalysts in improving the quality of life and give a major fillip to the real estate in urban locations. Considering the upcoming infrastructure projects and other growth drivers, several cities under the Smart Cities initiative hold a distinct advantage and can be safe bets for ‘smart’ real estate investments.
What more, according to you, needs to be done to boost the housing sector?
For all the benefits to make real impact, customer centricity is becoming key. Financial institutions and HFCs need to focus on making the entire experience of home purchase more seamless and customer friendly. Companies need to think how we can address their financial needs across their whole financial life cycle through customised products.
To further boost the affordable housing sector, external commercial borrowings (ECB) should be extended to housing finance companies to enable onward lending to developers in the segment. Also, single-window clearances is another step towards increasing development in the affordable segment and ensuring timely delivery.
Interview: Ravi Narayanan, senior general manager and head – retail secured assets, ICICI Bank.
By: Shritama Bose | Updated: November 28, 2017 12:20 PM | Financial Express
The home-loan market seems to have slowed down, first because of some postponement of demand with demonetisation, and then with the implementation of RERA. Where do you see things going from here?
The supply in the system had anyway started reducing in the last two years. Between September 2016 and September 2017, supply has dropped by over 10-12% in residential real estate in the top 40-45 cities. Till a year back, the inventory overhang used to be about 18-20 quarters in the industry. Along with supply, absorption of units was also coming down because of various reasons, one of which could be demonetisation. People expected a price correction. With RERA coming in, my estimate is that the supplies will go down still further because the act has put in various guardrails as to how the builder must manage the finances available for the project. This augurs well because inventory overhang should not be so much. The second outcome of RERA will be a rise in customer confidence. So once this whole dust settles, we will see pick-ups rising. So there will be a decrease in inventory and an increase in sales and that should be good for the industry.
Won’t that also cause asset prices to rise?
It will follow a pattern. There is an oversupply right now. If the demand-and-supply gap comes down drastically, then the prices will go up. In the next six to eight months, a lot of consolidation might happen in projects underway, which may not be amenable for prices to go up. Prices will remain, more or less, at the same level or there may be some fall in prices. Also, in the last six-seven years, real estate has seen a slight downturn. Typically, the industry follows an eight-to nine-year cycle. So in my opinion, 2018 will again see a rise in sales.
A development that followed demonetisation was the expansion of the credit-linked subsidy scheme (CLSS) for housing. Are you seeing supply and offtake picking up in that category?
Over 60% of new home launches in the industry in the first half of FY18 had ticket sizes under Rs 25 lakh. Because of this scheme under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, a lot of projects have started coming up in this category. Builders are also entitled to certain benefits if a part of their projects are of sizes below a certain threshold.
So is the phenomenon of builders allocating more space to smaller units a countrywide one?
This is happening primarily in Mumbai and Pune. Some of it is happening in Chennai and Bangalore. But, it is not happening across the country as yet. That’s partly because you have to keep operating costs and land cost under control to be in affordable housing. It is a very price-sensitive market. However, given the focus on this sector from this government, there’s bound to be more players flocking to it.
In mortgages, banks have continuously been losing market share to housing finance companies (HFCs). Have they actually weaned away bank customers for their growth?
No, because the mortgage industry is really big. The mortgage book of the country is now at Rs 15 lakh crore; over the next few years, at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 20%, it should go up to Rs 50 lakh crore. When the pie is so large, everyone will have a share. It’s just a question of how each player orients themselves. Today, most banks are focused on the metros, while HFCs are operating in the peripheries (of cities). So we are not meeting each other much. But very soon, it will all become one playground. Banks venturing into the peripheries will be much faster because we anyway have branches.