The festive season is likely to be a dull affair for builders with few new property launches expected and the number of new units on offer tipped to fall by about a third across four major residential markets. Traditionally, September, October and November see better sales compared to the rest of the year as they are considered auspicious for property transactions. But 2015 will be the third year in a row that the number of homes on sale will fall and probably bookings too.
While developers are going all out to attract buyers, the sentiment remains weak on concerns over affordability and despite banks having pruned loan rates and the loan-to-value ratio or LTV having been upped, sales are tipped to be sluggish.
Pradeep Jain, chairman and managing director of Delhi-based Parsvanath Developers, confirmed to FE there could be less on offer this time around. “New launches depend on what kind of customer response developers expect. Since the sentiment has remained weak for more than two years now, the number of launches too has been fewer,” Jain said. Parsvanath has unveiled a new phase in an existing township in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, priced at Rs 2,400 per sq ft.
Indeed, a sluggish economy and fears of job losses have taken the fizz out of the property market. In the 2012 festive season, the number of apartments on sale rose more than 28% y-o-y while the number that were sold jumped 39% to 20,058, data from PropEquity shows. However, in 2013, sales came off by 31% to 13,684 units although the number of apartments dropped by just 2%. In 2014, the blow to builders was even more severe as sales dropped 41% to 7,642 units following a steep 47% y-o-y fall in the number of homes on offer.
Which is why there’s much less on offer this time around. In the Delhi & NCR markets — the largest market for property sales during Dussehra-Diwali — the number of new apartments on sale is expected to halve to just over 7,100 from 15,630 odd units launched last year, industry estimates and data from PropEquity, a Delhi-based analytics and research firm, show.
In the West, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) is expected to see the same number of homes on offer this time as in 2014 but Pune could see them fall by a fourth. The drop is, however, likely to be bigger in Bengaluru, where builders are under pressure to clear unsold inventory.
Mudassir Zaidi, national director (residential services), Knight Frank India, says affordability is a big concern for buyers while investors are staying away due to lower-than-expected returns. “A few years ago, when the economy was growing at a faster pace, customers would go ahead and buy property even if it was unaffordable since they believed prices would rise. Now there’s no fear prices are going up anytime soon so buyers are waiting,” Zaidi observes. He adds that since investors expect muted returns, they are not buying real estate.
Mumbai-based Oberoi Realty is understood to be launching a project in Borivali a few days prior to Dussehra on the Tata Steel land that it bought last year. The developer, which caters for high-end residential demand is said to be offering 3&4 BHK luxury apartments at around Rs 3 crore apiece — a premium price for the location. The market is also abuzz with talk that Mahindra Lifespaces may throw open a project in Chakala in Andheri.
Sunteck Realty may relaunch luxury apartments in Borivali and another phase in Airoli at a pre-launch price of Rs 11,500 per sq ft; the official launch around Diwali will be made at a price of over Rs 13,000 per sq ft. Sumesh Mishra, chief operating officer, Sunteck Realty, agrees it is now more difficult to sell than it was three years ago. He believes that had the demand been what it was in 2011-2012, the price would have been higher.
Meanwhile, no launches are expected in the NCR, where developers will try and offload the already high inventory as a festive offering. Delhi-based Bestech is offering reduction of 8-10% in charges for its New Gurgaon project whereas Supertech may offer buyers an apartment — worth Rs 20 lakh — located on the Yamuna Expressway for every purchase made at its high-end project in Noida, where the ticket size is Rs 2 crore. FE could not independently verify the specifics of the discounts with Supertech and Bestech and is relying on sources for this information.
Nevertheless, Niranjan Hiranandani, chairman and managing director, Hiranandani Group, believes the sentiment is better as a result of home finance companies and banks reducing home loan interest rates. “Also, for homes valued up to Rs 30 lakh, buyers can get 90% of the value of the house as a loan and need to pay just 10%,” Hiranandani observed. He points out that this covers the stamp duty and registration charges for a small property, which constitute around 5-10% of its value.