Business

SL an ideal location for real estate investment: Rohan Parikh

  • Adds post-pandemic era is best time to invest

Driven by the demand in the local market, Sri Lanka is an ideal investment space with 70-80% of the buyers being Sri Lankans, 25% being non-residential Sri Lankans, and just 5% being foreigners, said Iconic Developments Managing Director Rohan Parikh.

He made this remark during a recently hosted webinar titled “Why Sri Lanka is Becoming the Ideal Real Estate Investment Attraction”, focusing on understanding and exploring real estate investment opportunities in the country, hosted by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) in partnership with Iconic Galaxy.

He added that this post-pandemic era would be the best time to invest in Sri Lanka. 

“The main reason for this is because, in Sri Lanka and Colombo, the construction cost is higher than the land price, which is usually the opposite as opposed to countries like India and Malaysia. Therefore, when we make investments in Sri Lanka, it is sure to be a safe investment because it will not be exposed to price fluctuation,” he noted.

The expert panel comprised of Iconic Developments Managing Director Rohan Parikh, Jones Lang LaSalle Head of Sri Lanka Jerry Kingsley, and National Development Bank (NDB) Vice President – Branch Network Management and Product Development Zeyan Hameed, and was moderated by KPMG – Sri Lanka Senior Manager – Real Estate Advisory Division Gihani Hewavitharana.

The floor opened with Kingsley on an advisory front as he dove into the specifics of how the priorities of a typical Sri Lankan homebuyer, office space buyer, and investor had changed following the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“For office buyers, it was noteworthy that health and safety have become a top priority since Covid-19. Another thing that has changed is the flexibility in office spaces. Many are focusing on their office spaces’ co-working aspect and have taken steps to revitalise and ensure optimum workspace is utilised. For the average homebuyer, their home has turned into a workspace, a school, or something greater. Therefore, it is important that their homes are bigger, with more amenities and smart home configuration to adjust to the technological increase in the new normal,” said Kingsley. 

From an advisor’s perspective, Kingsley noted that investors are looking at multi-asset classes, industrial logistics, healthcare, and hotels as a part of their diversification initiative. Another eye-catching difference between developers and investors is the increased focus on sustainability. Most investors are now taking steps to integrate sustainability solutions into all their projects.

He also noted that new concepts for adapting homes to the new realities have already started to emerge. For one, the healthfulness of a building and its shared spaces is now considered a vital amenity. More inventive designs will continue to appear and put the richness of architecture at the heart of change.

Jerry Kingsley noted that the super-luxury market might not gather as much velocity as the luxury condominium market due to the high construction costs.

“The current global pandemic has had a significant effect on the construction industry, and the challenges faced are manifold. The most obvious being delays caused to construction companies. Idling workers and escalating interest result in increased costs for the companies. Restarting sites while ensuring social distancing and other safety measures prescribed by the Government, will be time consuming and costly, leading to an increase in costs and prices,” he said.

Looking at the banking sector, the CCC opened the floor to Zeyan Hameed of NDB. He immediately debunked the myth that people request home loans purely due to their limitation of income.

“We are often under the impression that most people request for home loans due to their lack of income, but many investors and developers are also part of our target audience. As a bank in the post-pandemic era, we are committed to giving the maximum support to consumers. Interestingly, in the past few months, the property search in Sri Lanka has gone up by 79%, which is directly proportional to the number of people who have requested home loans since. Meanwhile, 95% of the investors that we see are Sri Lankans or non-residential Sri Lankans,” he said.

Hameed also noted that the bank could also facilitate that properties are valid; the legal aspects of a purchase are also fully vetted to ensure that the consumer gets as much transparency as possible. He also explained some of the payment schemes that NDB offers to those looking to invest in and purchase home loans for residential purposes. 

Overall, this could prove to be an optimal time for smart buyers as developers offer discounted prices to buyers. Those choosing the right project to invest in could see a strong return on their investment in the long run. However, picking the correct developer and project is key.