Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Builders blink, first price cuts are here

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After stubbornly holding on to high prices for four years in the face of sluggish sales, a crippling liquidity crunch and rising cost of capital, Mumbai’s real estate industry has just blinked.

At least three of Mumbai top builders have either cut prices by as much as Rs 2250 to Rs 5,000 or introduced flexible pricing within a single project, or launched innovative schemes where buyers stump up large sums to book properties even before the project enters construction stage.

All this means only one thing - the longdue correction in real estate prices is here. And while many builders may not be announcing price cuts up front yet, it is no secret that they all are now willing to negotiate with buyers.

A survey conducted by Knight Frank, areal estate consultancy firm, in June last year had revealed that Mumbai real estate market had an unsold inventory of 80,000 units worth approximately Rs 1,050 billion.

The report had also stated that the global economic crisis of 2008 affected the market adversely as prices dipped in some micro-markets at the premium end of the market and rebounded, scaling to their 2007 highs in the subsequent two years.

But in 2012, the Mumbai market stagnated as buyers largely kept away expecting a drop in prices in the near future. The buyers’ patience has paid. The Mumbai market is now opening for good bargains.

Lalit Kumar Jain, president of Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India, said the liquidity crunch is forcing builders to reduce prices and clear inventory. He expects more builders to follow Naman, RNA and Lodha’s example.