Friday, November 18, 2011

The coming NRI dilemma

I was speaking to a friend the other day and he bought up the issue of buying an apartment in Bangalore. Now IT folks these days have a lot of choice in terms of cities however this guy had lived in Bangalore in the past and therefore the decision was pretty much obvious. The next thing which came up was within Bangalore which area's are nice, inexpensive but at the same time accessible to the IT corridor. Koramangala was mentioned but easily discounted as it was too pricey, so was Indra Nagar and Jaya Nagar as they didnt't meet the inexpensive criteria. Next came up the Marathahalli - Sarjapur road belt. While it didn't meet the nice criteria, it was easily the cheaper option given that they were on the IT corridor itself. 

The topic of budget came up and a quick check of real estate websites puts the rate roughly at Rs 4,500-6000 per sq/ft all inclusive. A 3 bed flat should easily cost anything between 70L to 1 Crore. Now 70L is definitely not inexpensive however as compared to Koramangala this was definitely cheaper. Next the topic of the rupee came up. At Rs 51 a dollar the rupee has dipped 15% over that past 6 months. My friend was instantly salivating at the thought that he is suddenly 15% more richer then 6 months ago in terms of net-worth. Psychologically he felt more comfortable purchasing the home now then few months ago.

This led me to think on the impact NRI's have on Bangalore real estate. Come NRI season if 25% of NRI's interested in purchasing close deals at prevailing prices the builders have enough staying power in the game to close the the remaining 75% at higher prices. The biggest weapon which the builders have is that they can delay projects at will without fear of any litigation or judicial action. In such a scenario prices will always be held constant or increased with inflation. My NRI friend has the US dollar as his Indian inflation fighting weapon, however he must compete with other fellow NRI's to carve out his space in the Bangalore micro market.

At the end of the discussion my friend concluded that he will look at apartments in this belt, built up reputed builders with a gestation time of 3 years. He felt he had enough time then to get the apartment paid off without taking a loan from Indian banks. We talked about cheap financing available from US banks and he could easily get some 0-4% APR loans in the current market which can keep him liquid. One interesting thing coming out of the discussion was that we never discussed renting and briefly discussed buying plots as the discussion was focussed on the primary home at his destination city.

As we were wrapping up our discussion the only thing I asked him to do is to make sure he can sleep well at night, regardless of what happened to the rupee, interest rates, his job or the Bangalore real estate market. Anything which sacrifices sleep  is not worth the trouble. 

I would like for readers to point out if this sentiment is prevalent across cities among the NRI community. In my opinion builders who cater to NRI's will always have smooth sailing thru the ongoing tough times and will inflate the bubble as the supply of money is always increasing. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

India 2011 - Moving to Better Ground

Watch the builders in panel cringe on new Land Acquisition bill. I think minister Jairam Ramesh have them pinned down properly, now either they have to come down from ivory tower and compromise or live with anarchy ....