Home Rates May Drop Upto 12%

Last week, at Mumbai’s Grand Hyatt Hotel, leading city-based real estate developers were closeted in an hour-long meeting. The agenda: to discuss ways to counter the slump in home sales which has persisted for almost an year now.

The outcome: The bitter realization that the Indian developer has limited options before him to attract buyers. The builders unanimously agreed to allow customers to have a greater say in price negotiations — in other words, they decided to cut home prices.

The developers agreed to give a 10-12% reduction for all consumers, albeit couched in schemes such as ‘bearing’ 2-3% of the interest cost, flexible rates for parking and floor rise pricing. “Don’t be rigid on rates; allow the customer to have his say,” was how one participant who is involved in large housing projects in suburban Mumbai, described the conclusion of the meeting.

The developers’ move also assumes significance as a sharp correction in Mumbai home prices would have a ripple effect across the country. Though residential prices are down 20-25% across India, developers in Mumbai have been unwilling to cut prices, citing a huge demand-supply mismatch.

“This quarter was crucial for us,” said a developer who was present at the meeting. “Demand is still robust as far as residential markets are concerned. What we want is to convert the demand into actual deals. If pricing is hampering sales, we are willing to compromise on that,” he added.

Till now, developers were not ready to accept that demand at high prices would weaken. In fact, most developers were currently holding out and did not offer discounts. They could afford to do so, since they were sitting on huge profits accumulated over the past two years of bull run in realty market.

“But the same developers have realized that demand is unlikely now at the prices seen two years back,” said an analyst with Kotak Securities. “We believe demand can only come back if prices correct.”

Some of the developers who were learnt to have attended the Grand Hyatt meeting were Akruti City, Nirmal Lifestyles, Kanakia Builders, Evershine Builders, Rahejas and RNA.

In Delhi, several developers in the National Capital Region have started offering deeper cash discounts and have increased their marketing efforts. Developers are banking on more ‘genuinely-priced’ products, a good cash discount and more advertising to lure buyers. “We didn’t offer any discount during the festive season last year,” said Raheja Developers chairman Navin Raheja. “But this time, everyone is giving it, since market conditions have changed.”

Raheja Developers is offering an outright discount of Rs 200 per square feet or around 6-7% at its soon-to-be-launched high-end project in sector 109 in Gurgaon. Aiming to lure government employees — beneficiaries of the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations — the developer is offering them an additional discount of Rs 100/sq ft, which is over and above the Rs 200 discount offered to all.

This quarter, developers are caught in a pincer-grip of falling sales, dropping rentals and tight liquidity conditions. Developers said they have also asked industry associations and their officials to help bring back investors and buyers’ confidence in the real estate sector. The overall quantum of sales dropped over 60% in the past quarter due to rising interest rates and additional pressure on household budgets.

Developers across the country have now pegged hopes on the upcoming festive season, offering to pay stamp duty and gifts like a car or free home furnishing.

For instance, Mumbai-based Sunil Mantri Realty has waived stamp duty (5% of property value) for buyers at its Mantri Park project in Goregaon (East) in Mumbai and is also offering 5% discounts at its Bangalore and Gwalior projects.

The Citigroup-backed Golden Gate Properties has offered a car for every customer booking a flat at the Golden Palms project on Hennur-Banaswadi road, some 30 minutes from Bangalore’s new international airport. “We are offering a Skoda Fabia to every customer who books a flat at the Palms,” said Sanjay Raj, executive director at Golden Gate Properties. “For those who already own a car, we are providing a discount equivalent to the value of the car,” he added. Golden Palms comprises 450 apartments measuring 1,400-1,800 sq ft and is priced at Rs 2,600 per sq ft.

However, industry observers say that cutting prices alone may not bring in buyers, as sales have touched an all-time low and steep interest rates have put off many prospective buyers. “Home sales are at an all-time low. Pricing is a crucial factor, but it has to be supported by required policy support to revive the market,” said Pranay Vakil, chairman of real estate consultancy Knight Frank India.

After RBI raised interest rates, commercial banks have increased lending rates by 50-100 basis points. This has led to a sharp drop in pre-sales for property developers, their main source of project funding. Developers have also been hit by the falling stock markets, increased lending rates and bar on external borrowings which have limited their cash flows and execution capabilities.

2 Comments

  1. Real Estate India
    Posted October 3, 2008 at 12:41 am | Permalink

    Yeah … with the inflation rates soaring … this was bound to happen. People are finding it difficult to afford houses …
    So the best way to lure them is to give them perks and special gifts and more value for money…
    Discounts and lower prices are the order of the day.

  2. Posted October 3, 2008 at 1:53 am | Permalink

    For all those who are dreaming to own a house despite the high home loan rates, there is some good news. The costs of residential properties across four major markets of the country have stabilized during the April-June period. According to the report by global realty consultant, Cushman & Wakefield (C&W) on India’s residential sector, the availability of new supply, shrinking demand from investors and increasing rates have led to the stabilization of capital values in both high-end and mid-range residential segments across the National Capital Region (NCR), Bangalore, Mumbai and Pune in the second quarter of 2008.For more view- realtydigest.blogspot.com

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