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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Real Estate Bubble in India! Will it bust and will property prices come down in India?

On recent interaction of our team with broker’s community in Delhi NCR region, one can easily feel that the business is down on accounts of slow transactions. One of them even quipped, “If players such as DLF start launching 80:20 schemes you can understand”. One of us asked…but “why are prices still moving up”?

Well, our team discussed the scenario "will real estate prices fall”? Sales volumes are shrinking; government policies are not helping the sector either…so, will prices come down? Here are some of ideas we came up with which suggest “YES” prices will come down.

Why did prices appreciate so fast in recent years?
  • Favorable demographics
Well, we all know about favorable demographics theory and it still exists. It will continue to exist. The urban population is supposed to grow from 340 million in 2008 to 590 million in 2030. During the same period, the urban middle class households will rise from 22 million to 91 million. However, what we need to mention here is that this kind of urbanization needs affordable housing and not swanky villas and luxury apartments. We need apartments that can be provided for about Rs. 1 million in order to satiate this massive urbanization. Do we find anything within this budget? NO…unless the government policies, builders interests are aligned, we may never have the kind of affordable housing that we as a county require.
  • Shortage of housing
We all know there is a shortage of housing in India…or shall we say affordable housing. Till 2012, the housing shortage was estimated at 26.53 million. How can this huge gap be filled? Well, it isn’t going to be filled anytime soon because misaligned interest of government policies, lack of focus on affordable housing, and developers interests.
  • A move towards nuclear family
Families are getting nuclear and all of them require housing.
  • Easy credit
During those good old days of 2003-2008, credit was cheap and economy was growing. People borrowed at low interest rates and invested heavily in Property in India….primarily in residential asset class.
  • Increase in black money that needed to be parked
Government records suggest that there are only 35 million taxpayers, about 3% of the population. Out of which 1.5 million declare yearly earnings of more than 10 Lac rupees. Shall we believe this? NO.
Well, we all know businesses under-report their incomes to save on taxes. This unaccounted income now has to be parked somewhere and real estate is the place it is parked because of ability of real estate to absorb huge amount of cash.
  • RBI released excess liquidity into the economy during 2009-12
Post Lehman Brothers collapse, all major economies around the world provided stimulus to their economy to keep the investment and demand going. This excess liquidity through various channels ended up in Real Estate in India and prices were zooming.



Why would prices now come down?
  • High inflation and lack of affordable housing
What has changed now, that will bring prices down? Demographics, housing shortage, and formation of nuclear families are still prevalent fundamentals. True, but as we discussed, the need of the hour is affordable housing to fulfill this demand. However, as things stands “government is not in any hurry to fix the issue of affordable housing”. The Income levels have not kept pace with inflation, Supply of affordable housing projects is low, and lack of job growth has all put pressure on real estate and there are no takers now.
  • Elections coming up
Elections will further put pressure on realty sector. Real estate has been a parking place for unaccounted funds. The need for funds in upcoming Lok-Sabha and state elections will aggravate the outflow of money from this sector over the next 18 months.
  • Rising government subsidies
When government subsidies rise, it tightens the liquidity in the economy and cost of borrowing increases. Subsidies remain high and all attempts towards fiscal consolidation looks unrealistic. Today, subsidies account for 42% of gross fiscal deficit, exactly twice as many times a decade ago. Therefore, high rate of interest will further put pressure on real estate sector.
  • Exit of foreign funds
Foreign private equity funds invested over $20 billion into Indian real estate during 2006-13. After 7-8 years, these funds are reaching their end of term and, so, would have to sell their holdings. Again, this will put pressure on real estate sector and developer might be forced to lower the prices.




When would prices start depreciating?

We predict from November-December 2013 onwards, the prices might start to come down. With festive season of Diwali behind and an eye on elections, funds will move away from real estate sector and that is the time when one can expect price fall.

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