New supplies, resellers to bring down home prices

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4 Sep, 2013, 0651 hrs IST, Tasmayee Laha Roy & Divya Sathyanarayanan, ET Bureau

BANGALORE/MUMBAI: If you have been waiting to buy a home, this could be your chance for some bargain hunting as nearly five lakh apartments are expected to be delivered this year, shaking up an already oversupplied home market and forcing investors to sell them in a hurry.

“The widening demand supply gap will help prices fall further,” says Pankaj Kapoor, managing director of Liases Foras, a property research firm, which supplies market data to banks and industry.

ET reported on Monday that property prices have begun to soften around the country and builders have started to offer discounts as high as 10% in some cases. According to the National Housing Bank’s (NHB) residential housing index Residex, 22 of the 26 cities it tracks have seen a decline in home prices between 1% and 5% in the April to June quarter.

While builders under pressure have started offering discounts, an even better opportunity is emerging in the secondary-resale market where over-leveraged investors who had picked up properties over the last few years are willing to offload their inventory at discounts as high as 30%.

The advantage for a home buyer is that several of these apartments that investors are selling in cities like Gurgaon, Noida, Mumbai, Bangalore and others, will be delivered in 2013, so the wait for your dream home could become much shorter.

Many investors who are already sitting on ready-to-move-in properties are also exiting at discounts for want of funds and the fear of a further correction.

Amit Bansal, who runs a chemicals business and has been investing his business surplus into real estate, sold a 2,400 sq ft apartment in Emaar MGF’s Palm Terraces Select on Golf Road Extension in Gurgaon for Rs 8,300 sq ft fearing a drop in prices in the current market. Just a few months back he was getting offers of Rs 8,600 per sq ft for the same apartment.

For the end-user who bought the apartment, the price was a decent bargain, of over 40%, considering the developer’s price is around Rs 12,000 per sq ft. For Bansal too, it was a more than profitable exit as he had invested at a much lower price point.

In Mumbai, an investor is selling an apartment in a project called Dheeraj Celestial in Bandra for Rs 55,000 per sq ft while the builder is selling it at Rs 70,000 per sq ft.

In south Kolkata’s Topsia First lane, Mohammad Rafique bought a 1,100 sq ft apartment for Rs 2,500 per sq ft in 2007. While the developer’s rate is Rs 4,500 per sq ft in the same project today, Rafique sold it for Rs 4,000 per sq ft.

In search of liquidity, Prabhakar D, who bought a property in Channasandra in the eastern periphery of Bangalore, is selling an apartment that he got for Rs 36 lakh for Rs 50 lakh. The market price of the apartment is around Rs 70 lakh. “The response has been overwhelming,” says Prabhakar.

Such investors abound in cities across the country. While some want to exit fearing a price correction, others are hoping to create some liquidity for their struggling businesses and this is where end users who are still on the lookout for their dream homes could find their golden opportunity. For the buyer, such a property where construction is halfway through or where possession is due in the next few months brings down the risk.

“Several investors who have stretched themselves too thin are in exit mode and discounts in such cases could range anywhere between 20% and 30%. As the desperation level of the seller increases, so does the discount,” says Atul Marwaha, principal consultant at Prime Options, a Gurgaon-based real estate brokerage firm.

The bounce back after the downturn in 2008-09 saw investor activity in markets like Gurgaon, Noida, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai peak and several investors bought multiple properties, sometimes over-leveraging themselves. While property prices rose in the last two years and several locations saw appreciation upwards of 50%, with the tide turning in the last few months, these investors are feeling the pinch.

Abhay Khemka of Khemka Investments and Properties in Gurgaon says these investors are getting more desperate by the day. Brokers say end-users today are a cautious lot, considering the state of the economy.

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