Southeast Asian online property leader PropertyGuru Pte grew revenue 24% in 2019 thanks to surging regional wealth, a strong performance its chief executive said may be hard to repeat this year.
PropertyGuru, the TPG- and KKR-backed real estate startup that pulled the plug on an initial public offering last year, has managed four straight years of sales growth. Chief Executive Officer Hari Krishnan told Bloomberg News Wednesday 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’s Australian IPO was to have been one of the most-anticipated events of Singapore’s tech scene last year. The 12-year-old company, started by entrepreneurs Steve Melhuish and Jani Rautiainen the same year the iPhone was launched, has become a household name in the property-crazed city-state. Today, it’s the largest real estate marketplace in Southeast Asia with operations in countries including Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand.
The startup revealed its financial performance for the first time since a 2019 prospectus. The Singapore-based company’s revenue rose 24% to S$88.4 million ($62.4 million) last year on a pro forma basis. That topped the S$85.6 million the firm had forecast in its prospectus. Operating free cash flow 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 rollout 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 digitized 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 visualization.”
PropertyGuru is 58% owned by TPG Capital LP and KKR & Co. 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.