Saturday, January 01, 2011

Cracks In Prices Begin To Show

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Most builders concede consumer resistance is building up. “Demand has dried up in recent months,” says Subodh Runwal, director of Runwal Group. Consumers believe prices have peaked and are likely to come down. A survey among potential home buyers by real estate website showed that 55 per cent expected residential property prices to fall by 20 per cent or more in 2011. This perception, coupled with an increase in home loan interest rates, has led to buyers postponing buying decisions.

“Pre-sales and underwriting trends are contributing substantially to the existing sales volumes. If we exclude such projects, the market looks extremely risky now,” says Pankaj Kapoor, chief executive officer of Liases Foras.

So far, builders had been clinging on to the price line, despite the build-up of unsold stock. Speculation in the industry is that the steady cash flow from private equity investors and earlier advance sales helped cushion the pressure on builders to reduce prices. These sources seem to have dried up now and we are seeing the high price points finally cracking.

Builders often plead that they have little margin for reducing prices since the cost of land is abominably high. With land costs beginning to decline as the PAL-Peugeot sale indicates, builders hopefully will see reason and offer more affordable prices to home buyers.