Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Real estate developers in India pushing up prices

Developers in India have stopped offering discounts on properties and in some cases are even increasing prices as demand rises.

Rising sales are also prompting some developers to return to the luxury end of the real estate market which had stalled in the economic downturn.

'Prices are likely to inch upwards in the coming months in some markets,' said Kumar Gera, chairman of the Confederation of Real Estate Developer's Association of India.

But he added that even an increase in prices will still leave many developments cheaper than they were at the peak of the market a year ago. He estimated that the property crash saw prices fall 25 to 30% but proposed increases in coming months would be around 10 to 15%.

The prices increases vary. Unitech has increased prices marginally, by some 2% in its Gurgaon projects but Mumbai based developer Lodha Group has upped prices by 10 to 15%. A Lodha spokesman confirmed that prices had gone up in luxury projects launched in March. 'We have marginally increased prices every month for these projects since their launch. But the market is in a good spot and the response is still good,' said director Abhisheck Lodha.

Bangalore-based firm Brigade Enterprises cut its prices by 15% in April but has now increased them by 3 to 5% and said that it plans to continue doing so at regular intervals. 'We are hoping that in one year's time, prices will be back to the peak levels of 2007 to 2008,' said chairman and managing director M.R. Jaishanker.

However, discounts through brokers have not yet disappeared from the market. Developers have increased the commission offered to brokers from 3% maximum to 5 to 6%. Brokers in turn are offering a discount of 1.5 to 2% on the price of property to buyers.

'These are the same measures developers and brokers adopted to create a price bubble during the boom years. Demand has not risen to an extent that it can fuel a price increase,' said S.G. Maheshwari, a Mumbai-based property consultant.

Aditi Vijayakar, residential executive director at property consultants Cushman and Wakefield is not convinced the market will carry the price increases. 'Right now it is a fairly confused market. Rates have more or less bottomed out but there needs to be substantial amount of sales before buyers are convinced price increases are justified. I think the real estate market will be flat for some time,' she said.

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