Thursday, June 11, 2009

Demand for homes inching up, but recovery likely to take months

Home sales in India are trickling back in some sections of the market, but industry watchers say a rebound is months away as buyers await further price corrections.
Builders have begun new projects after a year-long hiatus, and are also swapping older premium project proposals for cheaper ones to restart sales as they try to beat a severe cash crunch.
“While the market has turned up, I don’t expect it to be back to 2007 or 2008-beginning levels for another six months or eight months,” said Rajesh Goenka, chairman, Axiom Estates, a real estate agency servicing overseas Indians, mostly in the earning bracket of $100,000-300,000 (around Rs47.5 lakh-Rs1.5 crore) a year.
Indian realtors have spent months battling a severe cash crunch as high interest rates and a slowdown kept buyers away and funding from investors dried up. But, a spate of interest rate cuts and a sentiment revival have encouraged builders to focus on middle-income buyers by launching new projects or re-marketing older ones as mid-income properties.
Unitech Ltd, Parsvnath Developers Ltd and India’s top listed real estate firm DLF Ltd redesigned projects and cut costs to appeal to a wider consumer base. Demand is swaying towards affordable housing. 
In the quarter to March, half of the homes sold were in 114 new projects of the 2,000 available for sale, according to estimates by realty rating and research agency, Leases Foras Real Estate Rating and Research.
Even though builders say new projects are being lapped up, home loans are not picking up as fast, suggesting that the homes were picked up by investors, said Pankaj Kapoor, founder and chief executive, Leases Foras.
Homebuyers say that the ground reality hasn’t changed much. Prices haven’t fallen as anticipated with builders’ standing guard, hoping prices will continue to firm and investors, too, hope for a return in pricing.

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