Friday, October 30, 2009

The big bank bailout?

Why property prices did not fall enough in 2008

The real estate industry may have run into fresh trouble. Having emerged fresh from a crisis that threatened to take a few companies belly up, the worst was perceived to be over for the industry. However, data that emerged from a recent Reserve Bank of India (RBI) document shows that just when the industry was in the throes of the downturn in 2008, banks stepped in to lend generously when they needed capital to survive, saving developers the trouble of cutting prices to stay afloat.

here’s the hard data: as per the RBI document, loans to the real estate industry grew as much as 41% last year even as loans to homebuyers grew about 5% in the same period, confirming the trend that demand for property was indeed down.
In fact, in the monetary policy review that the central bank came out with earlier this week, it made loans to the realty industry stricter and ordered banks to arrange for coverage should any of their loans default and get classified as non-performing assets (NPAs).

Chetan Ahya of Morgan Stanley says that the real estate industry got easy lending from banks, due to which they were able to hold back sales and not cut property prices too much. “The RBI governor, post the monetary policy, was clear the RBI would like to see more adjustment in the property sector on the pricing front and that there should not be aggressive price increases,” he said.

Developers, though, were not pleased and on the contrary said the RBI move could result in project delays and make property costlier or impact their margins.
“Property prices are a function of the market, supply and demand. Therefore it at all the hit has to be taken and the prices cannot be increased it would obviously impact the margin,” said Pujit Aggarwal, Managing Director of Orbit Developers.
With the RBI turning on the heat on real estate companies, what will the outcome be on the industry and property prices? Time will tell.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Realtors make a cautious comeback

Flush with funds raised through QIPs and PE deals, builders are eager to cash in on the return of demand

The affordable housing concept too has pushed developers out of familiar territories. Unitech, which bought land nationally in the last five-six years, has launched projects in Lucknow, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bhopal, Rewari and Mohali in the past six months, several under its affordable housing brand Uni Homes.

Even for its recently launched premium project in Worli, south Mumbai, Unitech slashed rates by at least 30%. In a pre-launch aimed at investors, it sold nearly 150 out of about 300 apartments in the project within a month, analysts said. Unitech is focusing on developing its existing land parcels, said R. Nagaraju, general manager, corporate planning and strategy. But the risk in expanding into other cities is in setting up a large team in each region to undertake the projects with enough freedom to operate, he said.

Bangalore-based Puravankara Projects Ltd plans to go pan-India through its affordable housing subsidiary Provident Housing Ltd. Encouraged by recent project launches in Chennai and Bangalore, it’s now aiming for Kochi, Hyderabad and Coimbatore.