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News & Views on Indian Real Estate

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

It’s become trendy to talk about affordable housing


The property market has boomed since India eased rules on inward investment in the construction industry in early 2005, partly fuelled by pledges by foreign investors that they will pump up to $20 billion into the country. But government figures show only about $2 billion has actually been spent in the last three years. Real estate prices have cooled in the last six months. Developers had piled into the top-end of the where profit margins are highest. Young people don’t have housing open to them. Developers are targeting the young workforce in a country where double-digit salary hikes are common in sectors such as real estate, information technology and financial services. What’s on the market so far isn’t satisfying demand .It was a rising market so people didn’t think. Developers have been overpaying for land, making the wrong product and not doing their research. Analysts say the strong supply of high-end apartments in many areas, including Bangalore and New Delhi, is likely to hit prices. Developers are giving away freebies to lure buyers, with one even including a car in the package. India’s biggest property firm DLF is changing its designs for apartment blocks in New Delhi’s suburb of Gurgaon to squeeze in more two-bedroom units, along with four-bedroom homes.Land prices have quadrupled in many areas over the last three years but many in the industry expect prices to drop anywhere between 15 percent and 50 percent in the coming year.Developers hope authorities will allow them to build taller blocks by raising a measure of building density called the floor space index (FSI). The Maharashtra state government made such a move last month to ease a housing shortage in Mumbai. Indian property investors are targeting lower- to mid-end house owners in the booming economy now that sales of plush apartments have slowed. With the number of families earning more than $5,000 a year set to double to around 20 million in the next two years, demand for small and simple apartments is set to mushroom. But there’s a need to reduce land costs, increase FSI, build infrastructure first.