Real estate looking up, people start buying once again

By Aparajita Gupta, IANS,

Kolkata : The booming real estate market that received a jolt during the slowdown last October-November seems to be recovering. People are slowly purchasing, but only for personal use. Not for investment purposes.

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“In the last few months the real estate market has undergone major changes. The slowdown that migrated from the US has got corrected in India now. The prices have got corrected. And whatever pent up demand was there in the market has started getting converted into business,” Santosh Rungta, president Confederation of Real Estate Developer’s Associations of India (CREDAI), told IANS.

With 4,000 members, CREDAI is the apex body of the organised real estate developers and builders across India, representing pan-India associations of real estate and housing developers.

People were virtually not buying during the slowdown as the real estate price was high and insecurity gripped buyers.

“The government made an appeal to us that the prices should be brought down and we (CREDAI) made an appeal to our fellow developers that they should try and bring down prices, and they acted accordingly,” Rungta said.

The pan-India price reduction was to the tune of 15-35 percent depending on various categories and geographies, he said.

“Today flats are being sold, but the pace could be better. Generally things have reversed. In Mumbai also, rightly priced projects have been sold. The major contributor to this is the government policy to generate demand. It brought in stimulus packages, ensured availability of liquidity to the home buyers, interest rates softened,” he said.

Another real estate player Indrajit De, chairman of Eden, also said housing loan lending rates cut may attract a few more buyers into the market.

“If the lending rate falls further by 50 basis points, the sales figure will climb up,” he said, adding, “Certainly the market is looking up now. Sales have also improved.

“We are selling around 25-30 units (flats) per month. But it was much higher in the range of 55-60 units per month before the recession actually hit India.”

Harshavardhan Neotia, chairman, Ambuja Realty Group, told IANS: “Sales have picked up in the last two-three months. There is more offtake now than what it was six months back. But now the buyers are genuine users and not just investors. These are the people who really need housing. They are lot more quality conscious and they look for the right products.”

He said there was a drop of 10-15 percent in the price during the recession period. In the last two-three months the company has sold around 200 flats, he said.

Reacting to the recent announcement by union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on interest subsidy on new home loans and extension of deadline in tax holidays on projects approved by March 2008 if they are completed by March 2012, Rungta said: “One must understand that extending the tax holiday under 80 I B (10) for a mere one year to projects approved by March 2008 will fail to create a significant positive impact on the real estate market. It will only benefit a few micro markets with a handful of projects.”

CREDAI has suggested the centre consider extending the dateline to March 2012 for providing tax holidays to projects irrespective of the date of approval. “This will be of greater benefit to the sector and encourage developers to take up new projects and expedite ongoing projects as well.”

Rungta further said: “Even the proposed interest subsidy of one percent to home loan borrowers for loan taken for houses costing up to Rs.20 lakh is also not justified.”

CREDAI has proposed that the centre increase the subsidy to home loan interest rates by another one percent to two percent and extend the scheme for houses costing upto Rs.30 lakh from the currently proposed valuation of Rs.20 lakh.

(Aparajita Gupta can be contacted at [email protected])