Saturday, March 14, 2009

RBI verifying solvency of 10 realty firms

Click on the image for a better view of the crash in housing construction companies stock prices. Once the RBI report is out, we will get a better picture of the construction industry.

Business Standard reports
Anindita Dey / Mumbai March 14, 2009, 0:25 IST

Internal assessment follows banks’ worries over systemic risks.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is examining the books of ten real estate companies to verify their solvency and assess the systemic risks arising from possible defaults by these companies on various loans and public deposits.

Sources close to the development said the exercise followed concerns expressed by bankers over possible large-scale defaults in loans and deposits, which may have implications for the entire system.

The companies identified for assessment are DLF, Indiabulls Real Estate, Unitech, HDIL, Mahindra Lifespace, Peninsular Land, Ansal Properties, Phoenix Mills, Anantraj Industries and Akruti Citi Ltd.

The exercise is currently an internal assessment based on available information in the public domain. RBI has also sourced data on loans, cash deposits and other fixed deposits held by these companies from all banks and mutual funds. Most of these companies have also borrowed through non banking financial companies (NBFCs) that they have floated, and the central bank is verifying the books of these related NBFCs independently.

The exercise, said these sources, aims at a comprehensive analysis of the data relating to these companies for determining the correct debt-equity ratio, solvency, state of liquidity to avert defaults, cash flows and profit margin in the current operations.

After the review, the companies or their NBFC arms may be advised to check exposure in line with cash flows, and banks may also be asked to cut exposure.

Sources said these real estate companies had raised long-term loans from banks and had placed commercial paper amounting to thousand of crores to raise short-term financing from the mutual funds.

The mutual funds, in turn, got a major part of the subscription to their schemes from the banks who held public deposits. This means a default on even a single commercial paper will impact the mutual funds, the banks and ultimately public deposits.

Large-scale borrowing has distorted the normal debt equity ratio for most of the companies and made them highly leveraged. RBI is of the view that the debt is being camouflaged in cases where the ratio meets standard norms.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Realty prices show major decline

Bless Yashwant Dalal's soul for his frank opinion. Malabar Hill at 12,000-17,000. Now that is some bubble popping. I hope he doesn't deny his statment later. Its been 3 years since I first started blogging about outrageous prices in Mumbai. Finally this blog is vindicated. Its time to shut it down :). A crore of rupees finally has some real value.
Economic times reporting.
MUMBAI DELHI: Some two weeks ago, Mumbai-based stock broker Ashok Samani won an auction to buy eight apartments owned by the late Harshad Mehta

and his family in the posh Worli locality. Mr Samani, who put in a winning bid of Rs 32.60 crore, or Rs 26,080 per sq ft, for the apartments in the upmarket housing society, Madhuli, is pleased with the bargain.

“I feel it’s a reasonable price. Compared to prices a year ago, it’s a decent buy,” he says. Apartments in buildings of Madhuli’s class were selling for Rs 38,000-40,000 per sq ft around the same time last year, about a third higher than the rate at which Mr Samani struck his deal.

Mr Samani may be satisfied with his bargain, but a number of other potential buyers don’t seem to think that the time is ripe yet for the best deals. In early 2008, a Rs 18-crore deal was negotiated for a 2,925 sq ft house in Delhi’s upscale Defence Colony area by a builder who planned to demolish the house sitting on the land and develop apartments, hoping for a return of about 30%.

But after the downturn in the real estate market, he is trying hard to wriggle out of the deal, even at the cost of losing the Rs 50 lakh he had paid as ‘token money’ indicating his intention to purchase the property. “A few buyers have approached me with a price of Rs 9-10 crore, but exited mid-way,” said a broker who is negotiating on behalf of the property’s owner.

As in the rest of the world, the real estate market in India is trapped in a vicious cycle of plunging prices. With the bottom nowhere in sight, potential buyers do not want to try and catch a falling knife, says Pranay Vakil, chairman, Knight Frank India, a property consultancy firm. “They are expecting a further cut in prices, while developers themselves have been dropping prices, anticipating an increase in sales volumes.”

Rajneesh Chhabra, a property broker based in south Delhi, says asking rates are down 30% from their peak, but it’s still almost impossible to find a buyer. “Financiers have disappeared from the market and those dependent on bank loans do not buy property in south Delhi,” he says, adding that deal volumes have shrunk by more than 95% from their peaks about a year ago.

With the financial year drawing to a close this month, cash-strapped real estate developers have already cut prices by an average 40% in all their upcoming projects.

“I expect prices will soon come back to the 2003-04 levels, when rates were hovering between Rs 12,000 and Rs 17,000 in upmarket areas like Malabar Hill,” says Mumbai Estate Agents Association president Yashwant Dalal.
In Malabar Hill, the most expensive home address in India, prices have fallen by a fourth to Rs 25,000-45,000 per sq ft, depending on the age of the building and amenities.

Ten months ago, actor Vinod Khanna offered to pay Rs 1.25 lakh per sq ft for a 2,500 sq ft apartment in the ultra-luxury El Plazo housing society in the Hanging Gardens area of Malabar Hill. “Now the rates are in that area (Hanging Gardens) are around Rs 70,000 to Rs 75,000 per sq ft. Similarly, in Pedder Road, rates are around Rs 45,000 per sq ft,” Mr Dalal says.

A London-based Indian national acquired a 3,475 sq ft property at NCPA Apartments in the Nariman Point area at Rs 97,842 per sq ft nearly six months ago, but rates there are almost half that now, says a south Mumbai property dealer.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Prices down 50% in Gurgaon

Livemint has an article on the crash of housing in the Delhi-NCR region. Not all builders are created equal and Unitech/DLF and Pasvanath seem to have taken the cake in the bad press they have seen over the past six months. This scenario will be repeated in every city where over money seem to have vanished for houses priced for over 50L. The sweet spot for now is between 25-45L. I think the rapid increases in salaries, combined with the low interest rates pumped up housing rates beyond affordability. People with soaring stock market portfolios leveraged loans for large houses. With everything unwinding, the highly priced properties are unwinding as well.
LiveMint reports
New Delhi / Bangalore: When he bought the four-bedroom apartment in Unitech Grande on the outskirts of New Delhi 22 months ago, the hefty price tag of Rs2.75 crore didn’t deter him. The economy was humming, the markets surging and nothing, it seemed, could go wrong.

Billed as India’s first ultra-luxury residential project, Unitech Grande promised a Greg Norman-designed golf course and luxury trappings, including a dozen theme gardens, an integrated sports complex and world-class health care, shopping and entertainment facilities.
The price of the apartment, promised for delivery in September 2010, has now dropped by about half to Rs3,500 per sq. ft, said the 37-year-old buyer, who didn’t want to be identified by his name or profession.
“I can’t even sell the property because of the erosion in value. I will lose money if I sell now,” he says, adding that he is fretful the project will be delayed because “not even a hole has been dug in the ground” at the site in Noida since he purchased the apartment.
His predicament illustrates the plight of homebuyers who bought apartments and houses at the peak of the property cycle after prices had surged 30% year-on-year during 2005-07. Those properties are worth half the price they paid after the economy and, with it, the real estate market, went into a tailspin last year.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Buyers want lower prices in Pune

I'm not sure why the builders are complaining. had no symphathy for the buyers when they were increasing prices week. The market will find its footing. Based on this cursory analysis, Pune prices seem to still be above 2004 prices. More so the prices seem to an average of 2004 and 2008. If Pune buyers are hesitating to buy at 3000, what about their cousin's in Mumbai. There the builders saying they will not drop prices below 8k in far flung suburbs. For the Mumbaikar its best to sell his overpriced property to some sucker and retire in Pune at Rs 2500. For a 1000 sq ft apt worth 80L, he can buy one at half price and retire on the interest.
25% Divides Buyer & Seller
IndianExpress reports
By akansha, Section Real Estate
Posted on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 04:09:02 AM EST
If there is a consensus among buyers, it is that the property rates need to come down further. On the other hand, most sellers insist that rates have bottomed out. In the concluding part of this series on the disconnect between buyers and sellers, both sides spell out their differences

Indeed, buyers are quoting rates that are 25 per cent lower than the offer prices. They are quick to point out that rates had grown absurdly in the last couple of years (see rate chart).

Buyers are treading cautiously and not taking hasty decisions given the economic slowdown, job insecurity and the likelihood of interest rates falling further. Sellers rue that of every 10 potential buyers, only a couple get back with an offer the rest are just buying time.

"My daughter is a serious buyer, as her friend is. Why would we run around the city, investing time and energy away from our jobs if we were not serious about buying an apartment?" said Renu Walia, whose attempts to find an apartment for her daughter has drawn a blank as she found most advertisements promising affordable/reduced rates to be incorrect.

"We liked a 2BHK apartment in Sopanbaug and the developer quoted Rs 42 lakh. How is the price any different from what it was during boom time? I have offered Rs 30 lakh," she said.

"That is precisely the trouble. You reduce the price on what was the earlier rate, and then the buyer wants to bargain on that reduced amount too. People are now quoting almost absurd figures," said city developer Rohit Gera, spokesman for the Promoters and Builders Association of Pune (PBAP).

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Buyers rights in Maharashtra

ExpressIndia has some good information.

Pune * Agreement of sale should only mention the carpet area and not saleable or built-up area
* Builders have to provide one car park for tenements having carpet area of more than 80 sq m (861 sq ft) without any extra charges to the buyer
* Common terrace cannot be sold to an individual
* Terrace garden should be charged only one-third the rate fixed for the flat

These are some of the areas that lawyers and activists point out to potential buyers, saying they should be vigilant and not blindly sign on the dotted line like before. Even as property buyers in Pune are waking up to a new reality — that they may have been getting the short shrift from the builders for long.

Most builders mention only the built-up area in agreements; they make all customers cough up an extra Rs 1.5-2 lakh for stilt parking; many of them charge half the rate fixed for the flat for terrace garden and at least a few even charge 50 per cent for loft space; advance payment should be only 20 per cent of the sale price and that too has to be made only after a written agreement of sale and not on the basis of allotment letters.

“One area where the buyer is at the receiving end is the improper measurement of the flat he buys. Unlike in any other product, an apartment is one purchasable commodity where the buyer has to blindly believe what the builder says and has no recourse to validating it,” said a city realtor, not wishing to be quoted by name. This is over and above the fact that a 1,000-sq ft flat mentioned as saleable or built-up has only 700-750 sq ft as carpet area, he said.

“All these are in complete violation of the Maharashtra Ownership Flats Act 1963 (MOFA) and development control rules of the Pune Municipal Corporation,” said High Court advocate Yogesh Mehta. “Any violation is a penal offence where conviction can be imprisonment for a term extending up to one year.”

The MOFA Act 1963 also helps purchasers in cancelling an agreement if they do not get possession of the property in time. According to Section 8 of the Act, if the purchaser is not given possession as per the agreement, the purchaser can cancel the agreement and claim the money back at a nine per cent interest. “Most buyers do not know this clause and are made to wait,” Mehta said.

Promoters and Builders Association of Poona chairman Lalit Kumar Jain said all builders have to abide by the MOFA Act. “We have control on the 260 members of our association. If there is any violation we are willing to take it up. We have no control on the others,” he said.

RTI activist Vivek Velankar said most buyers are not aware of these rules and those who feel bold enough to point them out to builders are not entertained.