Monday, November 29, 2010

Repayment blues to hit realty prices

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Real estate companies, which are already under severe financial strain, have to make a bullet repayment of over Rs 14,000 crore in the next two months to banks. This will force builders to cut prices of real estate stock, especially residential units, to boost cash flows to help them repay dues.

The huge repayment burden in December and January was created when many banks restructured real estate loans for one and a half years in June 2009 under the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) special dispensation. “This is falling due in the next two months,” said a senior executive of a bank, who did not want to be named.

But a senior banker from a public sector bank said, “Real estate companies will have to drop prices and sell properties so that there is a regular cash flow into their books.”

The problem started when developers began to jack up prices, stifling sales at lower rates. This hit cash flows of developers. Banks aggravated the situation by helping developers to roll over debt by recording repayment on the due date and granting a fresh loan to the same company the next day.

This helped the bank to continue the account as a standard asset while the developer got funds with no pressure to lower property rates and generate cash flows. Now, banks are watching their real estate exposure and implementing strong checks.