With housing sales dropping, brokers eye rental market

By Anuradha Shukla, IANS,

New Delhi : With property sales plummeting by around 50 percent, real estate brokers have begun looking at the rental market to stay afloat.

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“Eventually, we are depending on the rental market to keep our business going,” said Atul Khanna of brokerage firm Khanna Properties, who joined the business in 2004 when the realty business was in full swing.

“Last year we used to have at least 10 bookings a week, but now it’s a big deal if we manage 10 bookings a month,” Khanna added, explaining the current focus on rentals.

Confirming the trend was Pankaj Renjhen, managing director of the north Indian operations of real estate services and money management firm Jones Lang LaSalle Meghraj.

“The rental business has seen a major surge in recent times. In fact, the rental business has a great potential in India as there is a huge middle class population that cannot afford a house,” Renjhen told IANS.

According to Sashikant Arora, president of the Association of Certified Realtors in India, the real estate brokerage business is the “worst-hit” because of the realty slowdown.

“Everyone is on a wait-and-watch mode. Investors are exiting the market and end-users are putting buying plans on hold as they are waiting for prices to be corrected. Eventually the business has gone down by 40-50 percent,” Arora said.

Little wonder then that real estate brokerage firms, including the bigger ones, are trying to tap the rental market.

“This is certainly a difficult time for the brokerage business. So we have to be more innovative and find out ways to keep the business going. As buying and selling activities have gone down by more than 50 percent, we are focussing on rentals, which earlier was a low priority area,” said Rajesh Goenka, chairman of Axiom Estates, the London-headquartered provider of property services in India.

“Also, we have begun offering various services like second-home deals and cost-effective rental solutions for corporate houses as they all are looking at cutting rental costs and are relocating offices,” Goenka added.