Elliott Hawkins is a seasoned expat. As a child, this British citizen lived in Zimbabwe, and more recently worked in Prague and Qatar before moving to Indonesia in 2012 to join Cushman & Wakefield Indonesia. As an Associate Director of the company, Elliott shares his thoughts on what he sees in store for the 2016 commercial real estate industry.
Elliott, you spent some of your childhood living in Zimbabwe. What was it like and how do the memories from Africa compare to life in Indonesia?
When I was 14, my parents moved to Zimbabwe and we ended up staying there for six years, where I studied at an International School. It was the most amazing place to grow up in, being surrounded by natural wonders like the Victoria Falls and Lake Kariba – and being able to go on safari at weekends. The ability to go to incredible places on the weekends is actually what makes it very similar to living in Indonesia.
Which other markets have you worked in and how long have you worked in real estate?
I have worked in the real estate sector for over 10 years, starting in London as a graduate with DTZ then moving to Prague, where I spent three years in the investment team. I then moved client-side and worked for a fund in Qatar for one year before moving back to London with the same company.
Three years ago, you made the move from London to Jakarta. Was this solely to join Cushman and Wakefield Indonesia, or were there also other motives?
I always knew I wanted to be based in Asia. I really like it here and I believe Asia is the best place to be business-wise for at least the next ten to fifteen years. I just think Asia has the most potential in terms of growth and opportunities, and it has an energy that you just don’t get in Europe.
I interviewed in various different markets in Asia, including China, but I was keen to go to an emerging market and Cushman & Wakefield Indonesia offered me the most interesting role as Associate Director in the Office Team.
What were your first impressions of Jakarta? Did you experience culture shock?
Jakarta was interesting and I was amazed by the energy and the potential growth. We had 100 staff in the Cushman & Wakefield office when I arrived, and now we have 150. Having lived in the Middle East and in Africa, I think I was quite well prepared, so no culture shock.
Tell us about your duties as Associate Director in Jakarta.
My duties are advising international and local occupiers/tenants on their real estate strategies. An example client from 2015 is Lazada, a massive e-commerce company. I moved their office headquarters from Menara Bidakara to Rasuna Said in Kuningan, which was about 4,000 square metres in size. We assisted with everything from searching for office space, viewings, negotiations, through to closing the deal.
Which major commercial properties is Cushman and Wakefield Indonesia managing at the moment?
Cushman & Wakefield Indonesia is one of the biggest commercial property managers in Jakarta, with more than 1 million square metres under management. Cushman & Wakefield Indonesia manages buildings such as the Indonesian Stock Exchange Buildings, Equity Tower, the Energy Building, and Artha Graha – in the SCBD alone.
Almost everywhere we look in downtown Jakarta, office buildings are being constructed. According to Cushman & Wakefield Indonesia’s 2016 Property Outlook, in Jakarta’s CBD and non-CBD offices we will be seeing a lower occupancy and lowering rentals/sales prices. What will this do to the market?
Yes, we expect close to 600,000 square metres of new office supply in 2016 alone – another record year for Jakarta. With this will come rising vacancy rates and ultimately landlords offering lower effective office rents. We are, however, expecting to see more demand activity as occupiers/tenants look to satisfy their real estate needs.
We’re seeing a shift from what has been a ‘Landlord’s Market’ in the past to a ‘Tenant’s Market’, as the occupancy level in Jakarta moves below 85 percent (which is normally considered as a trigger point). Therefore we are expecting more opportunities for tenants to be able to move whilst achieving lower effective rents.
What should tenants be looking to do in this kind of situation?
Tenants will have many opportunities to move to more modern, Grade-A buildings for perhaps less than they are paying for older buildings, and in some cases make substantial savings on their base rent. We are also anticipating that landlords will be more forthcoming to offer bigger incentives to incoming tenants. If your company has a lease expiry in the next three to 12 months, then it is worth contacting us to discuss how we can assist.
How would you advise companies looking to establish an office in Jakarta?
People may be unsure of the real estate process and market practice in Jakarta, so Cushman & Wakefield Indonesia have put together an office space leasing guidelines booklet which details a breakdown of the market practice. The process is simpler than you might think and we’re happy to advise and help clients step by step.
Beside a love for property, what else tickles your fancy?
One of my passions in life is travel. In Indonesia alone I’ve travelled to Flores, Sumatra, Aceh, Belitung, Bali, Lombok, all over Java, and Kalimantan. I’ve done most places but I haven’t been to Papua, Sulawesi or Ambon yet. I enjoy going to the gym, playing golf and racket sports, so tennis, squash and badminton, and I like watching rugby and football.
Are you a member of any affiliations?
I’m a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (MRICS) and have been since 2008.
If you could own property anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I do own a property in London. I believe London is a great place for someone to buy because it’s considered a safe haven. A lot of money from all over the world including Southeast Asia pours into London chasing after a limited supply of assets.
Elliott moved to JLL Indonesia
IDX Tower 2, 19th fl., SCBD, Jakarta 12190
t: +62 21 2922 3888 |
Elliott Hawkins MRICS – Senior Director – Markets