Middle class housing still a dream as realtors build castles

New Delhi, Dec 30 | Updated: Dec 31 2007, 05:33am hrs
Property developers turned billionaires this year as they mopped up money from the bourses, but the middle class failed to find a decent place to live in cities after interest rates hardened amid firm real estate prices, causing a slowdown in housing market.

However, the office and shopping mall rentals continued their upward trend. The pace was more vigorous in Delhi and Mumbai, which got reflected in a consultants report that put Indias financial capital at second place in the list of most expensive office markets in the world with Delhi at eighth.

The real estate industry, pegged at $16 billion and estimated to reach $60 billion by 2010 with a growth rate of 30%, entered the Dalal Street in a big way and floated 12 public issues in the year which helped it to emerge as a leading sector in terms of fund raising.

Leading the pack was Indias biggest realty developer DLF, which launched the countrys largest IPO of over Rs 9,000 crore, followed by HDILs Rs 1,700 crore and Puravankara Projects Rs 850 crore. Bombay Stock Exchange launched Realty Index to recognise the growing importance of the sector. The sectors strength is evident from the fact that there are seven real estate barons in a Forbes list of 54 Indian billionaires. DLFs K P Singh, Unitech chairman Ramesh Chandra and Omaxes Rohtas Goel were among the richest Indians. Kushal Pal Singh is fourth on the 2007 Indian rich list with a net worth of $35 billion, making him the worlds richest real estate developer, Forbes said in November.

Industry was able to attract significant interest from domestic and foreign investors keen to be a part of the real estate growth story that started from 2005 when the foreign direct investment norms was liberalised for the sector.