Singapore’s PropertyGuru says 2019’s 24% growth tough to repeat

Growth will probably taper off after the coronavirus outbreak triggered lockdowns in all 5 countries where it operates

SINGAPORE • South-East Asian online property leader PropertyGuru Pte Ltd grew 24% in revenue in 2019 thanks to surging regional wealth, a strong performance its CEO said may be hard to repeat this year.

PropertyGuru, the TPG Capital LP and KKR & Co Inc-backed real estate start-up that pulled the plug on an IPO last year, has managed four straight years of sales growth. CEO Hari Krishnan told Bloomberg News yesterday growth will probably taper off after the coronavirus outbreak triggered lockdowns in all five countries where it operates.

“We need to see how bad it gets in May and June before we really know how the whole year is going to play out,” Krishnan said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Haslinda Amin and Rishaad Salamat.

“In all honesty, it’s going to be hard to continue delivering the group-wide results that we’ve been able to deliver over the last three, four years.”

PropertyGuru is the largest real estate marketplace in South-East Asia with operations in countries including Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand.

The start-up revealed its financial performance for the first time since a 2019 prospectus. The Singa- pore-based company’s revenue rose 24% to S$88.4 million (RM271 million) last year on a pro forma basis. That topped the S$85.6 million the firm had forecast in its prospectus. Operating free cashflow rose to S$14.2 million from S$11.9 million.

“We have made forecasts which are in a public domain when we lodged our prospectus and we wanted to complete the picture,” Krishnan said. He said it’s unclear when the firm might attempt to list again, given the economic uncertainty of the pandemic. But the company rolled out new virtual viewing features in March and has taken steps to emerge from the Covid-19 era stronger, he added.

PropertyGuru sped up the roll-out of the virtual viewing technology by two months to serve customers sheltering at home. The new feature augments its so-called FastKey platform and creates digitised walkthroughs of a project and its units, as well as the surrounding cityscape. That allows potential buyers to view properties online in real-time and shortlist them remotely.

“I don’t think people and developers will emerge fully soon,” he said. “If you are going to work from home, you are going to also browse from home. For that, you need visualisation.”

PropertyGuru is 58%-owned by TPG and KKR. Home sales in Singapore — where it claims a 75% market share — fell to their lowest in almost six years in April after a partial lockdown imposed that month brought the market to a standstill. With the lockdown extended until June 1, sales in May are expected to drop even further. The lengthened lockdown also threatens to push prices down further: Home values declined by 1% in the three months ended March 31 after years of consistent growth. — Bloomberg