The COVID-19 lockdown has accelerated technology-led homebuying in India, making it possible to inspect properties online as well as negotiate and finalize deals. Virtual site visits are now a firm reality and a large chunk of the property selection and purchase process can now be done digitally.
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There are altogether over 6.1 lakh affordable units under construction across the top 7 cities, of which NCR and MMR alone account for nearly 59% – or 3.59 lakh units. These units were launched between 2013 to 2019. Both cities together also have a 57% share (approx. 1.34 lakh units) of the overall unsold stock of 2.34 lakh units in the budget homes category. (Unsold affordable stock consists of both under-construction and ready-to-move homes.)
The festive season has traditionally been an active period for real estate sales as many buyers consider Navratri and Diwali an auspicious time to buy property. Like in previous years, developers this year have sweetened property deals – some up-front discounts, or more commonly 0% GST (which is in any case not charged on ready-to-move properties), waived stamp duty and registration charges, free reserved car parking, modular kitchens, etc.
In the April-June 2019 quarter, India’s GDP grew only by 5% – the slowest pace in over six years. Consumers are spending less on everything from FMCG to automobiles – and, of course, real estate. Naturally, the sector eyes RBI’s monetary policy for cuts in the key lending rates to support the various measures taken by the government to boost consumption sentiment.
Among the major factors contributing to the escalating ‘claustrophobia effect’ of shrinking apartment sizes, demand for affordable homes in metros tops the list. Also, buyers are increasingly looking to avail the government’s credit subsidy benefits for affordable housing. These require a home to be priced
There is no simple yardstick to calculate the exact number of units and the actual funds that are needed to complete them. Each delayed project is different in size, stage of completion, city and micro-location, etc. Also, various methodologies are used to reach an approximate number. After considering the government’s caveats – non-inclusion of projects under NCLT, and inclusion of mid and affordable units only, ANAROCK has shortlisted units launched in 2013 or before.
Additionally, the fact that the corpus will be completely professionally-driven including real estate experts, banking or housing finance specialists, it is likely to move more smoothly and in the right direction with little scope for misadventure. These specialists will need to identify such projects that are affordable and middle-income projects and are in need of last-mile funding for completion. The government’s move to relax commercial borrowing for affordable housing is another welcome step.
Even as India’s middle-class grapples with the prospect of an uncertain future in their careers and financial ability – the main drivers of housing demand – the rise of India’s super-rich continues unabated. According to Credit Suisse report, there were an estimated 3.42 lakh dollar-millionaires in India as on mid-2018 who collectively held around USD 6 trillion. It is forecast that 5.26 lakh Indian dollar millionaires’ wealth will be around USD 8.8 trillion by 2023. Market fluctuations make very little difference to the personal networth of these individuals.
Traditionally, the festive quarter fares better than the previous quarters of the year when it comes to housing sales – the combination of religious sentiment and festive deals and freebies is a potent mix during this part of the year. For instance, Q4 2015 saw 70,000 homes sold in the seven major cities. However, as tempting as it was for developers to believe that this was an unshakeable performance standard, it was certainly shaken just a year later. After demonetization (DeMo) was announced in this critical quarter in 2016, housing sales halved to 32,100 units.
In the ‘golden years’ of India’s housing market, property was the default go-to option for big-ticket investment. With real estate’s fading allure, investors began exploring other options and found them to quite rewarding. For instance, they can invest in a start-up with sums as ‘low’ as INR 10 lakhs. Many entrepreneurially-inclined Indians find the potential ROI (as high as 15% in many instances) makes more sense. Mutual funds provide good returns and the entry level is low enough to be affordable to many.