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As public sector banks slash home loan rates, borrowers with housing finance companies are keen to shift their accounts

7/14/2020 11:55:00 PM

Home loan borrowers with housing finance companies (HFCs) and non-banking lenders are a worried lot. With most public sector banks (PSBs) and a few private sector players reducing home loan interest rate to a 15-year low, their attempt to switch their loans to institutions offering lower interest rates is making little headway. While home loan transfer from one institution to another to take advantage of lower interest is nothing new, the clamour for a shift is getting louder in recent days as many borrowers are undergoing liquidity stress due to the Covid-19 pandemic. With home loan EMIs accounting for a substantial portion of monthly expenditure, any reduction in outgo is a welcome relief to the borrowers. According to Shreekant, CGM, Real Estate and Housing Business Unit (REHBU) of State Bank of India, the surge in demand to switch home loans is driven by the trust in public sector lenders and the low interest rates offered by them. Although interest rates of private and government lenders were similar in the past, private banks have not been that aggressive in reducing their lending rates barring few exceptions. “The problems in the portfolio and functioning of some of the HFCs in the previous years have worried the borrowers,” Shreekant said, adding, “Also, interest rates offered by PSBs are at all time low. So a loan at 6.95 per cent with us is any day better than a 9 or 14 per cent loan with HFCs.” Ratan Chaudhary, Head of home loans at Paisabazaar.com, a digital lending marketplace, said whenever there is a change in interest rate regime there will always be a shift because people think the new benchmark is more transparent and cheaper. In October 2019, the RBI mandated that all new, retail floating rate loans have to be linked to external benchmark - repo linked lending rates (RLLR), to make interest rate transmission more transparent and faster. The new repo-linked pricing regime followed by banks has brought stark difference in interest rates. Consequently, multiple cut in repo rates by RBI over the last few quarters has also resulted in steep fall in lending rates of some banks, especially PSBs. However, interest rates of NBFCs / HFCs still benchmarked on their internal cost of funding, deprives their borrowers from immediate benefit of falling interest rates. For instance, floating rate of interest on a home loan up to Rs 30 lakh in Bank of Baroda or Bank of India starts from 6.85 per cent whereas the interest rate for the same loan amount and tenure in PNB Housing or Indiabulls could cost anything upwards of 8.5 per cent. “Normally the cost of funding of HFCs will always be higher than that of PSBs,” Pankaj Bansal, Head, Key Account Management of BankBazaar said, adding, “Secondly, the repo rate is at 4 per cent and even when margins are added, the interest rates offered by PSBs will still be attractive to consumers.” But borrowers are finding it difficult to make the transfer. Social media is flooded with complaints about these institutions not acting on the transfer requests. But the banks and NBFCs claim that they are working with limited staff and the process involves copious paper work and field visits to physically verify the properties. The transfer will inevitably happen. “If I have a home loan for Rs 50 lakh, which I can straight away transfer to a PSB then I can even wait for two months,” Bansal said adding, “because if you calculate 2-2.5 per cent savings on the residual balance of the loan for next 15-20 years, it is still a huge savings from an interest outlay.” Borrowers facing liquidity challenges due to business loss and salary cuts are not only using this opportunity to switch their loans to lower interest rates but also to extend the loan tenure to reduce their monthly EMI burden. “Post covid, if a customer’s loan is eligible to be taken over by a bank, then he can get his tenure extended if the bank permits,” Paisabazaar.com’s Chaudhary said, adding, “so he will not only get lower interest rate but his EMI will also come down by getting the tenure of the new loan extended.” “In takeover loans, if the outstanding has come down, the value of the property has appreciated and if the borrower or bank is in possession of the title deed then we can also give a top up loan for improving their cash flow,” SBI’s Shreekant said, adding, “That is also one of the reason for the uptick in takeover from other banks.” Chandigarh

Four innovations that will define real estate in the new normal

7/11/2020 1:50:00 PM

Technology has been disrupting the real estate space globally. In recent years, India's real estate sector has seen significant advancement in technologies that can improve planning and governance, efficiency in development, operations and overall customer experience. From growing population and urbanisation, to increased regulatory and compliance measures, and more recently the spread of COVID-19, now reverse migration, have all impacted real estate investment, development and operations. At the same time, such macroeconomic developments, coupled with advancements in technologies, are providing a vibrant platform for innovative tech-oriented products and services in the real estate sector. Earlier this year, India's largest real estate services firm, JLL, launched a whitepaper titled 'Technology Led Innovations: Impact on Urban Development and Real Estate' at the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Urban Technovation Summit, 2020. The whitepaper elaborates on the impact of technology led innovations on the real estate sector, and the factors that will help create an ecosystem of growth and investment. The cities of tomorrow will be built on technology the usage of data on a digital ecosystem is going to change cities and position them better in this competitive world. Technology and innovation during implementation of urban scale projects will drive investments and we at JLL are working towards establishing this to major cities and development projects we deal with. Technology led innovation or technovation in the realty sector can be structured under four pillars - Ecosystem Led Technovation, Services Led Technovation, Space Led Technovation and Product Led Technovation. At the macro level, Ecosystem Led Technovation will enable technology to build smarter cities that can help improve efficiency, sustainability and liveability, while also creating a transparent and competitive business environment. Technology solutions can help improve the ‘smart quotient’ of the city by involving stakeholders like the government, investors the citizens, and leave a lasting positive impact on the environment. Technology plays a key role in the planned as well as future projects of the envisaged smart cities. Cities such as Bhubaneswar, Indore and Pune have focused on smart projects such as the Command Control Centre (CCC). Pune has allocated Rs 154 crore for Integrated Command and Control Centre (ICCC) which oversees 200 Wi-Fi hotspots and over 80 environmental and flood sensors along with public address system and traffic surveillance system. These innovative uses of technology help make these cities smarter and safer. With adoption of tech tools for administrative processes, city congestion will reduce, make cities safer for all stakeholders and enhance quality of life, all of which will drive investments and increase resources for governments that can be utilised on other initiatives. Several cities in India have adopted projects of high impact such as Citizen Response Management Systems (CRMS), smart and integrated public transportation systems, city-wide surveillance systems, smart homes, digitisation of municipal operations, etc., JLL was involved in Smart City Proposals (SCP) for 8 of these cities, which include Bhubaneswar, Chennai, Puducherry, Tiruchirappalli, Aligarh, Moradabad, Amritsar and Vadodara. JLL is also presently working as Project Management Consultants for Trivandrum, Kanpur, Dehradun and Moradabad Smart Cities in successfully implementing the identified projects. Services Led Technovation elaborates on the impact of proptech across the real estate lifecycle in a more efficient and effective way.Digital brokerages have already become a starting point for property searches. More recently, developers are increasingly adopting new and advanced construction technology and methods to save time and improve employee safety, using AI and VR to create avenues for more accurate forecasting, and incorporating various technological tools in retail malls and commercial sector for better user experience. While the housing sector has been relatively slower in adopting technology, COVID-19 has seen rapid investment in technology and automation by leading real estate developers. Moving forward, newer prop-tech services spanning data management, real estate investments, and building operations are finding increased adoption with organised industry players. Space Led Innovations, on the other hand is about developing and operating smart buildings primarily through IoT. Wearable technologies help prevent potential issues during project construction and operations. 3D printing can help up-skill the workforce in the construction industry, whilst reducing construction costs. Finally, increasing focus on sustainability, well-being, has provided various sensors-based technologies that help building managers and occupiers strive for predictive maintenance. The office sector continues to be a pioneer in incorporating technology for a more efficient and sustainable workplace. For instance, as employees start to return to the office, workplace apps will continue to evolve to encompass new features focusing on emerging trends on health and safety. Product Led Technovation like drones will continue to see exponential growth, especially as a tool for data capturing, processing, monitoring and delivering better experience. From real estate agents using drones for site walkthroughs, to planners using the product for surveys and site managers using it to improve employee safety, Drones have found utilisation across the real estate lifecycle. Urban planning and real estate sector will observe the expansion of various disruptive technologies in India, including 3D printing, blockchain and drones, with a possibility to scale to smaller cities. Backed by new normal, post-COVID scenarios, emergence of the middle class and millennials, improved consumers’ technology sophistication, global black swan events, as well as government support, real estate technologies in India are poised to thrive. Source: Cnbctv18.com Chandigarh

5,500 housing units get delivered in top 7 cities as lockdown eases

7/10/2020 10:07:00 PM

Even as the woes of real estate intensified during the lockdown imposed across the country in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the construction activities almost came to a standstill because of the stoppage of work due to the reverse migration of workers, some developers continued to deliver their projects and were even able to launch some new ones amid the ongoing crisis. As per ANAROCK research, the April to June quarter of 2020 &ndash of which most part was under the lockdown &ndash saw new launches of just 4 residential projects &ndash 2 in Bengaluru and one each in Pune and Kolkata. However, one major positive outcome of the minimal new launches in the top 7 cities in the quarter was that developers were able to shed their previous unsold stock by as much as 5% in a year. Further, ANAROCK data also suggests that the top 7 cities saw delivery of as many 5,500 units most recently. “These units were at the last leg of their delivery before cities went into lockdown and as soon as we saw relaxations, these have been delivered to the homebuyers. We need to understand that those who have been able to complete their projects and deliver it despite the prevailing challenges are certainly at an advantage, given that demand for ready homes is at its peak. Delivery of projects during the prevailing challenges definitely sends out a positive signal and helps regain homebuyers’ trust also given that the government had extended the delivery timelines by at least six months for developers,” says Anuj Puri, Chairman, ANAROCK Property Consultants. The Gurgaon-based M3M Group is one such developer which claims to have delivered two of its projects — M3M Urbana Retail, and M3M One Key Resiments — this month with a total sales value of Rs 900 crore. Both these projects are located at Sector 67, Golf Course Extension Road, Gurugram. M3M One Key Resiments offers 170 managed studio apartments, having both one and two-bedroom apartments, priced at Rs 13,700 per sq ft. M3M Urbana Retail, on the other hand, already houses prominent brands, including HDFC Bank, Axis Bank, and several F&B and retail outlets. These two projects are part of the sprawling 17-acre master development, M3M Urbana. Talking about the delivery of projects, Pankaj Bansal, Director, M3M Group, said, “We at M3M India are committed to the timely delivery of our projects and the company is on a fast growth track, undeterred by the pandemic. Standing by our commitment, we are proud to state that two of our commercial projects have been delivered this month and are 100% sold.” As per a company spokesperson, this announcement is a testament to the focused approach and timely delivery by the company amidst tough times wherein several real estate projects have been hit hard due to the pandemic. Source: Financial Express Chandigarh

Cabinet approves development of affordable rental housing complexes under PMAY

7/9/2020 4:49:00 PM

The Union Cabinon Wednesday approved development of Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHC) for urban migrants and poor that will make housing available at affordable rent close to the place of work, the government said. As part of ARHC, existing vacant government-funded housing complexes will be converted into Affordable Rental Housing Complexes through "concession agreements" for 25 years, an official statement said. Affordable Rental Housing Complexes is a sub-scheme under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Urban. The concessionaire will make the complexes livable by repair or retrofit and maintenance of rooms and filling up infrastructure gaps such as water, sewer, sanitation, road and related work. An expenditure of Rs 600 crore is estimated in the form of "technology innovation grant", an official spokesperson said on Twitter after the Cabinet meeting. States and territories will concessionaire through transparent bidding. Complexes will revert to the urban local bodies after 25 years to restart the next cycle like earlier, or run on their own, the statement said. Special incentives such as use permission, 50 per cent additional floor area ratio or floor space index, concessional loan at priority sector lending rate and tax relief at par with affordable housing will be offered to private and public entities to develop ARHCs on their own available vacant land for 25 years, it said. Announced by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on May 14 this year, the scheme seeks to fulfil the vision of 'Aatma Nirbhar Bharat', the statement observed. Referring to the benefits of the scheme, it said government-funded vacant housing stock will be converted into ARHCs for economically productive use. "The scheme (AHRC) would create a conducive environment for entities to develop AHRCs on their own vacant land, which will enable new investment opportunities and promote entrepreneurship in rental housing sector," it explained. Official sources said more than 3.5 lakh people will benefit under ARHCs. ARHCs will create a new ecosystem in urban areas making housing available at affordable rent close to the place of work and will cut down unnecessary travel, congestion and pollution, they said. Source: ET Realty Chandigarh

Revenue share emerges as preferred structure for co-living operators, property owners

7/6/2020 3:04:00 PM

Delivery of projects during the prevailing challenges sends out a positive signal and helps regain homebuyers’ trust given that the government had extended the delivery timelines by at least six months for developers. Even as the woes of real estate intensified during the lockdown imposed across the country in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the construction activities almost came to a standstill because of the stoppage of work due to the reverse migration of workers, some developers continued to deliver their projects and were even able to launch some new ones amid the ongoing crisis. As per ANAROCK research, the April to June quarter of 2020 – of which most part was under the lockdown – saw new launches of just 4 residential projects – 2 in Bengaluru and one each in Pune and Kolkata. However, one major positive outcome of the minimal new launches in the top 7 cities in the quarter was that developers were able to shed their previous unsold stock by as much as 5% in a year. Further, ANAROCK data also suggests that the top 7 cities saw delivery of as many 5,500 units most recently. “These units were at the last leg of their delivery before cities went into lockdown and as soon as we saw relaxations, these have been delivered to the homebuyers. We need to understand that those who have been able to complete their projects and deliver it despite the prevailing challenges are certainly at an advantage, given that demand for ready homes is at its peak. Delivery of projects during the prevailing challenges definitely sends out a positive signal and helps regain homebuyers’ trust also given that the government had extended the delivery timelines by at least six months for developers,” says Anuj Puri, Chairman, ANAROCK Property Consultants. The Gurgaon-based M3M Group is one such developer which claims to have delivered two of its projects — M3M Urbana Retail, and M3M One Key Resiments — this month with a total sales value of Rs 900 crore. Both these projects are located at Sector 67, Golf Course Extension Road, Gurugram. M3M One Key Resiments offers 170 managed studio apartments, having both one and two-bedroom apartments, priced at Rs 13,700 per sq ft. M3M Urbana Retail, on the other hand, already houses prominent brands, including HDFC Bank, Axis Bank, and several F&B and retail outlets. These two projects are part of the sprawling 17-acre master development, M3M Urbana. Talking about the delivery of projects, Pankaj Bansal, Director, M3M Group, said, “We at M3M India are committed to the timely delivery of our projects and the company is on a fast growth track, undeterred by the pandemic. Standing by our commitment, we are proud to state that two of our commercial projects have been delivered this month and are 100% sold.” As per a company spokesperson, this announcement is a testament to the focused approach and timely delivery by the company amidst tough times wherein several real estate projects have been hit hard due to the pandemic. Source: Financial Express Chandigarh

Best time to buy a house for end use, say realtors

7/3/2020 1:11:00 PM

The COVID-19 crisis has dealt a major blow to the real estate sector. The home buying cycle has been massively impacted, and transactions continue to remain low. This has, however, not impacted the prospective buyers’ sentiment much. According to a recent survey by 99acres.com, close to 60% of the Indian homebuyers who were looking for buying a house before the pandemic are still planning to buy their homes within a year. However, 40% of the buyers have postponed their plans. The major contributor to delaying the purchase decision is uncertainty in the market (52%), followed by financial reasons (30%). Real estate demand & supply mechanics On one hand, industry experts foresee prospective demand for the residential properties and on the other hand, homebuyers seem hesitant to lock deals over virtual site tours and give a rain check on their purchase decisions. Nevertheless, the recent survey by 99acres.com revealed that (31%) respondents still believe real estate the best option to invest, followed by fixed deposit (24%), gold (24%), and stock market (21%). Commenting on the same, Siva Krishnan, Managing Director &ndash Residential Services at JLL India, said activity levels in Bangalore are much better than any other city. He said, “Cities that have IT/ITeS or pharma clusters are indeed showing marked improvement in terms of demand for housing. As far as the enquiries are concerned, interestingly, they have gone up and the virtual site visits have come down to an extent. People are more than willing to come and visit the sites. Simultaneously, the conversion rate from site visits has gone up. The customers are actually calling up and enquiring about properties. Things are warming up better than anticipated.” Developers believe that the COVID-19 crisis has paved the way for new opportunities and business trends. Rohit Gera, MD, Gera Developments, said, “Online enquiries have grown as people want to narrow down their choices to only a handful of projects for actual site visits.” Since site visits are still an inevitable step, therefore, developers are ensuring safety for the buyers at the site and are encouraging buyers for a site visit. Gera said, “We are also encouraging people for site visits so that they get the exact look and feel of the property. We have disinfected our sites and have installed proper cleaning systems to ensure the safety and well-being of our clients. We have a ‘free look period’ of seven days where customers can visit the property, look at it, and if they want to cancel the deal, they can do so without any question asked and loss of pay. This has helped us build trust among the buyers that they will get their money back in case they dislike the property during the site visits.” Property Prices & Projections Developers do not foresee any major cut in property prices in the post-Covid world, which was also highlighted at a Realty Buzz webinar conducted by 99acres.com. Mohit Goel, CEO, Omaxe Ltd, said, “There are primarily two questions which have been raised during the COVID-19 crisis &ndash why should I buy now, and would property rates fall? Apart from homebuyers asking these questions, demand has more or less remained the same as at the pre-COVID-19 times. So, I would say, none of the brands who have been able to continue their construction work during the crisis would slash prices. I would advise homebuyers to be careful if any developer is willing to cut prices by 15-20 per cent.” Industry experts also believe that there is hardly any room for reduction in property prices. While sales have been low in the recent past, the market has not been great. Moreover, policy reforms, such as RERA, GST and demonetisation have impacted the market to a great extent. Krishnan said, “The outbreak of COVID-19 is yet another major blow to the industry. If you take into consideration the rate of inflation over the years, the prices have actually gone down. The developers are already working at low margins. Despite all odds, they have still been providing 7-8 per cent price cuts in order to facilitate cash flows.” Timing to Invest Matters Industry experts feel that this is the right time to buy a house because buyers are likely to get better deals and prices may go up in the near future. Goel said, “It definitely is a great time to buy since we are sitting at home loan interest rates which are at an all-time low. While a price correction is highly unlikely, especially with branded developers, it would be a good time to grab a good deal in the loan market.” In the survey of 99ares.com, homebuyers showed a strong affinity towards ready-to-move-in properties. 85% of buyers believed ready- to-move homes are safer than an under-construction property. “This is the best time to buy a property, especially for end-users. While the interest rate for the housing loan has gone down, the affordability has increased over the years. Moreover, the prices have not increased much from the last 6-7 years. As anticipated, the prices might go up in the ensuing months due to an increase in the sales velocity,” said Krishnan. Source: Financial Express Chandigarh

About 35 lakh houses handed over to beneficiaries under PMAY-U: Housing Minister

7/3/2020 12:50:00 PM

Thirty-five lakh houses have so far been delivered to beneficiaries under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY-Urban) while 65 lakh houses are currently under construction, Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Thursday. Puri said an estimated 3.65 crore jobs would be generated in the construction of all sanctioned houses under the mission and of these, about 1.65 crore jobs would have already been generated. The government has set a target of 1.12 crore houses in urban areas by 2022 under PMAY - ''Housing for All'', one of the flagship programmes of the Narendra Modi government. The Union Housing and Urban Affairs minister was addressing a webinar to mark the 5th anniversary of PMAY (U), Smart Cities Mission (SCM) and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT). He said India has undertaken one of the most comprehensive planned urbanisation programmes in the history of the world. According to the ministry, the houses built under PMAY(U) and earlier schemes of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) have served as a boon in the fight against COVID-19. Presently more than 22,000 houses are being dedicatedly used as COVID-19 facility units in various states and Union Territories, Puri said. Talking about another Mission - AMRUT, the minister said the ministry has so far provided 79 lakh household water tap connections and 45 lakh sewer connections in the country. "Seventy-six lakh conventional streetlights have been replaced with energy-efficient LED lights which have led to energy savings of 167 crore units per annum, resulting in a reduction in CO2 emission by 13 lakh tonnes per annum," he also said. About the Smart Cities Mission, he said the Integrated Command and Control Centres (ICCC) developed under the mission have helped cities in their fight against COVID-19. Forty-seven operational ICCCs became war-rooms and have played an effective role in COVID response, the minister said. He added that 5,151 projects worth over Rs 2 lakh crore were identified in 100 smart cities. "So far, the mission has tendered around 4,700 projects worth Rs 1,66,000 crore which is about 81 per cent of the total projects proposed," Puri said. Source: ET Realty Chandigarh

Construction community to train, engage local youth

7/1/2020 12:36:00 PM

“Though work hasn’t started in full force since we have to have all our raw materials ready and some suppliers are in areas where transportation is presently not possible, we are keen that we have our workforce ready,” said Agarwal. “When we witnessed this large exodus we realised that it is important to have our workers from nearby areas in Pune. To do that we have launched a training programme where we aim to train our rural youth in different skills like masonry, plumbing, electrician, among others,” said Agarwal. “In any case, we have been doing that over the years all over India. But now our focus is going to be on the men and women from in and around Pune,” he said. To recruit jobless youth from the villages around Pune NAREDCO has tied up with Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh that has a large network in a majority of the talukas in Maharashtra. Chandrakant (Anna) Dhumal, president, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, Maharashtra, said, “We have always focused on the well being of our contractor workers and we have our presence in more than 70 per cent of all the talukas in Maharashtra as well as India. We have set up help desks in every taluka that aims to help them with legal and other issues that the members may have.” “When NAREDCO informed us of their intention we have now sent out a circular to all the help desks with their offer,” he said. “We think it’s a great idea since in my estimate every taluka has at least 5,000 to 10,000 youths who are jobless. We will put out this offer where they can get training in various constructions fields like electricians, plumbers, tiling, POP work among others and then get employed,” said Dhumal. Despite the construction industry employing on contract workers that the Sangh is not in favour of, Dhumal feels that “They will at least learn a skill. And with that skill, they can find employment easily on other projects or even become entrepreneurs if they so choose. It is a good thing for our young men and women.” For NAREDCO this is a long term plan. Says Agarwal, “The training modules are from one month to three, but we are in no hurry as such. If we can get at least 40 per cent of our workers from near Pune we are happy. At least you don’t get stranded like we are now. Source: Hindustan Times Chandigarh

Indian Real Estate Prepares For Re-Entry To The Next Normal Economy: JLL

6/30/2020 12:58:00 PM

India's real estate will experience a paradigm shift as the national economy feels the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, according to JLL India. Real estate occupiers and investors will receive some respite due to the government's 270 billion dollar relief package, said the professional services firm specialising in real estate and investment management. But they will need to reconsider pre-crisis priorities and accelerate new strategic initiatives to adapt to the next normal in the economy. All segments of real estate will be impacted in some form or the other due to COVID-19 but the economic contraction will lead to some pre-crisis trends and themes that will have to be fast-tracked, said JLL's report titled 'The Next Normal -- Real estate in a post-COVID world.' The report stresses that broader adoption of industry megatrends will reshape and reinvigorate the sector for long-term growth. "As we reopen our businesses in a staggered manner, let us brace ourselves to the short-term jolts and be ready to embrace the impending prospects of growth in the medium to long term," said Ramesh Nair, CEO and Country Head (India), JLL. "Real estate as an asset class is here to stay. However, reinvention is important to remain relevant in the next normal world. We are seeing fast-paced adoption of technology and artificial intelligence and these are most likely to be the new catalysts of growth in the next normal," he said. Nair added that the focus on health, sustainability and wellness is also seeing a renewed vigour and is becoming the leitmotif across asset classes. In the last decade, said the JLL report, India's real estate sector has experienced several disruptions led by technology and changing preferences. However, these disruptions have only expanded the gamut of real estate offerings while redefining the way we live and work. On one hand, consolidation of the residential market is likely to further gain momentum with a strong emphasis on credibility and financial strength and on the other, de-densification and splitting up of offices are likely to gain centre-stage. The report said office market fundamentals are strong with low vacancy, steady rentals and limited upcoming supply. It is expected to recover the fastest once the outbreak is under control. The residential market's revival hinges on the intensity and duration of a pandemic. As consumer sentiments improve post the lockdown period, sales in the affordable and mid segments expected to show initial green shoots of recovery towards the end of 2020 with the onset of the festive season. While annual investments crossed 5 billion dollars in the last three years, 2020 started on a weaker note. The time period between January to March saw a 58 per cent decline in investments year-on-year with transactions paused. A nationwide lockdown meant no face-to-face meetings, site visits, legal due diligence and financial closure, therefore leading to transactions coming to a standstill. "Income stability, indispensable business operations and occupational density are expected to be the key determinants for investment evaluation. Data centres, logistics (including warehousing), critical office outsourcing facilities and global in-house centres are expected to attract capital," said the report. In the short term, the institutional investors are expected to be risk-averse and cautious over the next few quarters leading to extended investment cycles. Institutional investors are expected to assess the progress in each sector and are likely to focus on asset management and support projects that require last-mile funding in the short term, the report added. Source: BW Business world Chandigarh

COVID-19 impact: Smart cities in India to get cycling-friendly with Cycles4Change Challenge

6/29/2020 1:18:00 PM

The housing and urban affairs ministry has launched the India Cycles4Change Challenge to support smart cities to implement cycling-friendly projects in response to the COVID-19. In the first phase, 10 cities will be selected and will receive technical support from the Centre and also a reward of Rs 1 crore each. “The portal would be launched on July 10,” Durga Shanker Mishra, secretary, housing and urban affairs, said on June 25 at a webinar to mark the 5th anniversary of PMAY (U), Smart Cities Mission (SCM) and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT). The demand for personalised form of transport has gone up as a response to COVID-19 and as a result several countries around the world are now embracing quick and temporary cycling interventions. Milan is in the process of transforming 35 km of streets to pedestrian and cyclist priority lanes while Paris is creating 650 km of pop-up cycle-ways. Britain has decided to invest £2 billion in cycling and walking in response to the coronavirus. India Cycles4Change Challenge is an initiative of the Smart Cities Mission, ministry of housing and urban affairs, to support Indian cities to quickly implement cycling-friendly initiatives in response to COVID-19, Mishra said. The India Programme of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) will be the knowledge partner of the Smart Cities Mission to assist the Mission in conducting this challenge and guiding cities in developing and implementing their proposals. A recent survey by the ITDP India Programme showed that cycling would increase by 50-65 percent as cities come out of lockdown. This was corroborated by the actual response on the ground with a sudden spike in the use of cycles. “With most of us working from home, the traffic on the road is lesser and has given us an opportunity to reclaim the space for cycling and reduce the pressure on public transportation. This cycling challenge looks at giving cities the knowledge and building the city’s capacity to do quick transformation but across a vast part of the city so that the investment is low but transformation is overnight. People will reap faster benefits,” Aswathy Dilip, Senior Programme Manager, ITDP India Programme, told Moneycontrol. Cycling can be a sustainable alternative to private motor vehicles. Cycling provides equal access to jobs, education, recreation, and other everyday activities for all sections of society – rich, poor, children, women, and others, she said. The challenge aims to help cities connect with their citizens as well as experts to develop a unified vision and initiatives to promote cycling. In addition to creating extensive cycling-networks through low-cost interventions like pop-up cycle lanes and traffic-calmed or non-motorised zones, cities could launch programmes such as community-led cycle rental schemes that increase the availability of cycles to citizens and promote the usage of cycling through public events and outreach, transport experts said. In the longer term, the Smart Cities Mission would encourage cities to convert temporary interventions into permanent. The India Cycles4Change Challenge will have two stages. As part of stage 1, cities would have to register for the challenge after the launch of the portal on July 10. They would have about 10 days for the same. “The aim of stage 1 is to encourage cities to initiate and implement quick interventions and promotional activities to encourage cycling and further develop a conceptual scale-up plan. The municipalities would be given 10 days to register and would then be given three months to apply for the challenge with a concept plan of interventions to encourage cycling in their cities and neighbourhoods. To be able to qualify for stage 2, cities should have piloted at least one intervention to promote cycling," said Dilip. Citizen collaboration will be a key metric in the evaluation of proposals submitted by the cities. The Smart Cities Mission, with the assistance of the ITDP India Programme and a panel of experts, will review the submissions and shortlist the first set of cities which will move into Stage 2. The cities that do not clear the first stage are encouraged to revise their proposal and re-submit for selection to stage 2. The timelines for the submission of the revised proposal will be shared with the cities at a later date, experts told Moneycontrol. The ‘India Cycles4Change Festival’ will be launched in October to showcase the entries of the shortlisted cities as a virtual exhibition. In October-January, shortlisted cities would be hand-held to further develop and commence the implementation of the concept scale-up plan submitted in Stage 1 with inputs from national and international experts. They would be provided support through online workshops to review designs, peer-to-peer workshops to share learnings. Where would the funding come from? Funds for this urgent COVID-19 recovery measure would be made available through the Smart Cities Mission. More details are awaited on July 10. Chandigarh

NRIs to drive demand for residential property in India

6/27/2020 2:33:00 PM

There is no denying the fact that the outbreak of Covid-19 has had a deep impact on the realty market in India. Additionally, questions like – is it a good time now, and if at all one should look at investing in real estate — are worrying the potential buyers. Historically, the Indian real estate market has been resilient, and in spite of the slowdown that the industry witnessed towards the end of March and the beginning of April, in the past few weeks buyers have become more active and intriguingly the demand continues to grow from the NRI clientele. Time and again, the real estate industry has proven to be an attractive asset class with healthier relative returns, and with improved affordability in the current scenario, it has gained attention of both locals and NRIs across the world. With dollar gaining strength against rupee, a competitive marketplace with negotiations tougher than ever, and a sense of moving back to homeland, being a few among many reasons, developers have experienced a sudden spike in enquires from international buyers, even while the industry faces the toughest quarter in the past two decades. With thousands of international brands now looking at India over China as their preferred destination for production and business going forward, India is gearing up for some major influx of global investments, that will have an impact across various industries, directly or indirectly. The NRI investors have always been the first to forecast such trends and enjoy the first moved advantage, disregarding the general sentiment. Who is this customer? In the current scenario, while many are considering to move their bases back to India to be a part of this growth story, some purely want to invest in their home cities, to feel a sense of security in a known territory. As per one of the leading real estate advisory firms, NRI investments in India will hit an all-time high of $13.1 billion in FY 21. Over the years, this cluster with higher disposable income compared to local buyers has become an important driving factor of the real estate market in India. Especially since the establishment of RERA, international buyers have gained confidence to invest in India, more than over, through a more transparent format of engagement, with reliable developers and properties that are registered under RERA, which secures their investment, even while settled abroad. Where are they coming from? Predominantly, UAE, USA, UK, and Canada are the biggest source of NRI investment in India, with 42% of the total inflow coming from GCC alone. As per the Ministry of External affairs, nearly 8.9 out of 12 + million Indians living abroad are based in West Asia alone, of which there are 3.3 million in the United Arab Emirates, 2.6 million in Saudi Arabia and 2.9 million in Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain. GCC contributes close to $40 billion annually as international remittance to India. Even after having spent a significant part of their work life in these countries, citizenship is not an option available to the Indians based in the Gulf region, which brings them back to India when it comes to investing in assets like a house. Also, with Dirham gaining value against the rupee, NRI enquiries from Dubai have been among the highest and they are expected to make big-ticket investments in the housing projects in the coming months. In the past while the investment decision has been across residential, commercial, and retail real estate, largely to benefit from returns in form of rentals, but today most enquiries have come around residential properties and primarily for end-usage. Also, today the demand is not limited to luxury properties only, buts cuts across segments starting from affordable and mid-segment housing to premium, luxury and super-luxury properties, especially for cities in Southern states of India, followed by New Delhi and Mumbai. What are they looking for? The ambiguity which is likely to loom over the next two quarters, has created a sense of urgency and commitment in the minds of these investors. As a result, today there are more serious buyers in the market, who are looking at ready-to-move-in units that are in condominiums, which are well protected and widely enabled with facilities and luxury within the premise. There has been a steep rise in demand for ready-to-move-in inventory in projects that offer safety and protection in addition to ensuring availability of lifestyle essentials. Rise in demand for ready to move in houses or near-completion projects has largely surfaced from the deferred deliveries related to under-construction units. Also, with no Goods and Services Tax (GST) payable on resale flats, the demand for ready-to-move-in houses has soared. An NRI customer is not just looking for great property, but also a reliable brand name. Credible developers with a proven legacy to deliver on commitments will have an advantage in today’s marketplace. How to turn these NRI leads into sales? The lockdown has demonstrated the challenges the industry will face going forward, not just with the way they deal with their customers, but also run their operations internally. Real estate has always been extremely dependent on face-to-face buying and selling method. But today’s reality is that tech-enabled real estate firms will gain maximum market-share in this decade, especially when it comes to successfully converting international clients. Digitally-enabled sales tactics will empower brands to replicating physical interaction and creating an evocative experience. The rise of a digital model – for both interaction and transaction – will demonstrate more flexibility with better outcomes. And this new form of engagement will continue to be relevant and practiced even in a post-Covid world, once the lockdown is over. While all these hypotheses remain speculative at this point, we are optimistic about the future of the industry. Organisations that are nimble, adaptable, strong at core and can align themselves to this new altered reality, are the ones that will survive this wave and come out to be tougher. Source: Financial Express Chandigarh

India’s Real Estate Sector Isn’t Too Worried About Curbs On Chinese Imports

6/26/2020 3:01:00 PM

Indian builders don’t expect to be affected by the government’s proposal to increase duties on imports from China amid a deadly border standoff. The real estate sector, which contributes nearly a tenth to India’s gross domestic product, imports around 10% of its materials, most of which is from China, according to Niranjan Hiranandani, national president of Naredco, a real estate body. That includes tiles, elevators, steel panels, electric switches and nails, among other items. The developer lobby Credai has urged its 20,000-odd builder members to shun Chinese goods. We appeal to our member developers to embrace “Swadeshi” or “Made in India” way of life and business, Satish Magar, president of Credai National, was quoted as saying in a statement. “Credai requests all the 250 allied industries which are linked to the real estate sector to manufacture these products locally, especially the ones which are currently being imported from China.” The Bureau of Indian Standards is finalising tougher norms for at least 370 products to ensure items that can be locally produced aren’t imported, Bloomberg reported on Thursday citing unnamed sources. Some of these products include steel, electronics, heavy and industrial machinery, glass, rubber and metal articles, pharmaceuticals and fertilisers. That comes when armies of the world’s two most-populous nations are engaged in their worst border conflict unseen in over four decades. Most of the raw materials being used, according to the Credai statement, are already being made by India’s small and medium-sized businesses. Imposing higher tariff on imports from China will impact supply chain in the real estate sector to an extent, according to Anuj Puri, chairman of Anarock Property Consultants. “However, since construction activity at the moment is not in full swing, many players may have the time to consider getting such materials from other sources. As with most things Chinese, ease of access and have been considerations.” Hiranandani said import substitution will impact the sector at two levels. “First, where we substitute imported products with similar products ‘Made in India’, and secondly, where we may not have domestic production capacity available to supply in the volumes required,” he said. “The first scenario is welcome and real estate as an industry supports the same”. Nayan Shah, president of Credai-MCHI, the Maharashtra unit of the developers’ lobby, and chief executive officer of Mayfair Housing, said many developers have already started looking at solutions. “There will be a substantial deduction in imports from China, he said. “However, certain raw or construction materials for which is there are no other alternatives like high-speed MEP (mechanical, electrical, plumbing) or elevators will have to be imported from China.” The national president of Naredco agreed. “The company manufacturing the product may be from any other country, but in most instances, the actual production and dispatch point was China,” he said. “If Indian companies are unable to match requirements in terms of quantum of production required, this may create a situation where a call will have to be taken—and, this may translate into an opportunity to source similar material/ products from manufacturing hubs other than those in China, in the short term. The ultimate aim, Hiranandani said, is to have production facilities in India. If the switchover results in some delays, we will deal with the same, he said. Source: Bloomberg Chandigarh

Co-living operators might take over unsold housing societies

6/25/2020 4:11:00 PM

Real estate developers and co-living operators are in talk to use unsold housing society as a co-living facility in order to reduce burden of unsold inventory on developers, leading consultants said. According to international property consultant JlL, co-living revenue shared opportunities could increase, with developers looking to monetize their unsold asset. “For a co-living operator, it is a good opportunity as they don’t have to invest in construction of the building. It’s a win win situation for both the developers and operators,” said Siva Krishnan, Managing Director - Residential Services, JLL India. Stanza Living, a manager accommodation provider said that it has been receiving requests from developer to take the building and convert it into a co-living facility. Anindya Dutta, Managing Director and Co-Founder of Stanza Living said that managed living offers developers the potential to earn higher yields on their assets. “We have received strong inbound interest from real estate players and developers in the last few months for collaboration to cater to the accommodation needs of the young migrant millennials including students and working professionals. We are in active discussions with a group of these developers to forge mutually beneficial, long-lasting partnerships,” said Dutta. “We have already partnered with a few reputed developers across Bangalore, Pune, Chennai for large-scale managed accommodation projects. We are in ongoing discussions with other reputed developers who are looking to collaborate with us for their built-to-suit projects or converting existing inventory into managed accommodation options, as these are in line with our growth story,” he added. According to a report by EY India, the student housing sector may consolidate in the next few months, with some smaller operators exiting, resulting in stronger operators with sustainable financial and operational model. “In the ‘new normal’ of a world in which we co-exist with COVID-19, there are many challenges which are from the pre-COVID-19 era unsold inventory is one such challenge, but the solutions will have to be in sync with the ‘new normal’. So, in terms of efficiency and being cost-effective, yes, co-living spaces will work out as one of the possible solutions to unsold inventory, so long as you understand the ‘new normal’ of a COVID-19 world. As long as appropriate social distancing discipline and norms are followed, co-living can emerge as a viable solution to unsold inventory,” said Niranjan Hiranandani, President, National Real Estate Development Council (NAREDCO). Source: The Economic Times Chandigarh

Focus on affordable housing, infra projects to grow by 7 per cent plus, says Niranjan Hiranandani

6/24/2020 3:57:00 PM

Every Indian was vexed by the idea that millions of migrants, which included kids, had to walk miles and miles before they reached their destination during the COVID-19-induced lockdown. While many stated the reason for this move was dominated by the fear of starvation, Niranjan Hiranandani, National President, NAREDCO and National President, Assocham has a different take. Hiranandani believes while hunger is one reason, the other reason is the lack of adequate shelter. He hopes that he is able to do his bit in helping provide homes to these less-privileged people in cities, Hiranandani said this at a webinar organised by FPJ-IIM Indore, supported by Big FM and Monelylife. In this webinar, moderated by Free Press Journal’s RN Bhaskar and IIM Indore’s Himanshu Rai, other than highlighting the migrant issue, Hiranandani spoke about issues worrying the real estate sector. He was speaking at the second last session in the ‘India After COVID-19’ series of discussions. Given below are edited excerpts. Position of Real Estate Real estate has been going through a traumatic experience in the last two years. Realty saw the first shakeup at the time of Demonetisation, followed by the introduction of Goods and Service Tax (GST) and Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (RERA) all this hit the industry badly. While RERA was a good law, the industry took time to cope with it. This was followed by Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) that again shook up the industry. The IL&FS debacle compounded the impact. This is because 50 per cent of the credit that the industry raises is financed by NBFCs. With IL&FS collapsing, funding to the real estate sector was a hit. In January 2020, the industry got a glimpse of recovery. The industry was beginning to think that happier times are back, but then COVID-19 struck the industry real bad. The COVID-19 impact was felt across the industry, but in the case of the real estate sector, what compounded the impact was the movement of migrant labour. Real estate and construction sites employ 15 per cent of the labour of the country and together contribute to 7 per cent of the GDP. Between the devil and the deep blue sea In the NCR region, there are more than 3.50 lakh building blocks under construction which were sold about ten years ago but have not been delivered. One of the companies that is responsible is Unitech which is one of the largest listed companies in India. Unfortunately, the government of India as per the order of the court had to take over Unitech. The Supreme Court has appointed me as one of the members of the board for the company. So, I am given the responsibility to turnaround the problem of the company and get delivery of almost 16,000 apartments which have not been delivered. This is just one company but there are many such companies. There have been multiple problems the real estate business has witnessed and we have to find ways to resolve them. Over the years, real estate has become the most heavily taxed industry in India more taxed than tobacco. About 35-40 per cent of the value of an apartment consists of direct and indirect taxes, so it is natural that properties will become expensive. At the local, state and central levels, the taxation structure should be resolved. Another issue plaguing the industry is the issue of liquidity. Here the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) can intervene. It is very unfortunate that the industry has to avail of credit with much difficulty. We will be meeting Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to find ways that will help the industry recover in the best possible manner. Bring change for good At the Reserve Bank of India level, the intervention around credit policy would be a relief to the real estate industry which is also floundering. Other than a credit policy intervention, we have requested for one-time rollover of debts, like the exercise announced during the 2008 Lehman crisis. While RERA is a good law, there is a section in the act which is causing liquidity issues for a developer. As per the act, a developer cannot use funds raised from one project to invest in another project. In the COVID-19 times, RERA will have to permit some flexibility in order to balance some imbalanced equations in business. To revive projects that are stuck in the country, there is a need for last-mile funding. SWAMIH Investment Fund, which is set-up by the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, is managed by the State Bank of India and is worth Rs 25,000 crore. Of this, Rs 10,000 crore is contributed by the government and the rest is contributed by various funds. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the limit of this fund should ideally be Rs 1.50 lakh crore. Many financial institutions are ready to put up such funds. Now, we are seeking the finance minister’s approval to set up such funding. Post COVID-19, the rent policy will bring about a revolutionary change in the industry. The draft of the rent policy is already put up on the website of the housing ministry. At present, due to the COVID-19 crisis, work around this policy has slowed down. However, the housing minister, Hardeep Puri, has been taking proactive steps to make this draft policy a reality. The aim of this policy is to provide premises at affordable rents. At present, it does not make sense for developers to actually build residential houses on rent. However, there are many commercial places that are built and then be rented out across the country especially in major cities. With the arrival of the new rent policy, the developers will see the value in building homes, which will lead many developers to look at building residential houses which can then be given out on rent. Due to this policy, more homes will be available for rent, which will make renting homes affordable to the general public. This will also resolve the housing needs of migrants and other labourers. Focus on real estate and witness growth If the government is able to push the housing-for-migrants story further, it will support the Indian economy. An impetus to real estate combined with infrastructure projects envisaged by Union Minister, Nitin Gadkari will be major drivers of economic growth. It is possible to achieve a GDP growth of 7 per cent plus if the government focuses on housing in terms of policies, and liquidity issues around the real estate sector and thus gets infrastructure projects moving. The real estate and construction sector can, directly and indirectly, affect 269 industries. The countries that have had a GDP growth of 10 per cent were able to achieve that by focusing on road development, real estate and infrastructure. A safe dwelling place for all Home is where the heart is. The size and shape of these houses might change, but it is the place you feel safe. The labourers did not feel safe in a city where they lived for more than 10-20 years and decided to head back to their villages. This is because they do not have a home they can call their own. This is mainly because the place they took shelter in, is not home. If you turn all the slums of Mumbai into ownership places, there will be a sense of pride even if it is a small dwelling. While many migrants were walking for days to reach their homes from cities, I hope this does not happen every again in the country. We will have to make sure that it is not repeated, maybe in the form of an amendment in our constitution or having a system in place that it is not repeated. I belong to an industry that has not been able to do justice to the people of India. I do hope in the rest of my life, I am able to make up for the loss of time for not being able to do justice to them for so long. The policymakers are working towards providing shelter to these migrants but the process is too slow. We cannot pride ourselves on having the largest slum in Asia it is not a good feeling. I would rather say it was the largest redevelopment in the entire world. Source: The Free Press Journal Chandigarh

Office sector expected to lead post-Covid-19 recovery in real estate sector: Report

6/23/2020 1:51:00 PM

India’s real estate sector –both the residential as well as the commercial segment – has been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. The industry will need to reconsider pre-crisis priorities and accelerate new strategic initiatives to adapt to a “next normal”, according to a report by global realty firm JLL. “Real estate as an asset class is here to stay; however, it is inevitable to reinvent, to stay relevant in this new paradigm. It is indisputable that the pandemic induced disruption is changing the rules of the game, but also accelerating the increased adoption of technology and artificial intelligence (AI) in processes ranging from marketing and sales to loan modelling and data management,” said Ramesh Nair, CEO and Country Head (India), JLL. While the office sector is expected to lead the recovery cycle in the real estate sector, the green shoots of recovery in residential sector will be in tandem with overall economic growth, said the report titled “The Next Normal - Real Estate in Post COVID World,” released on Monday. The pandemic has resulted in homebuyers putting on hold their decision to buy houses which led to a 30% decline in sales in the first quarter of 2020, said the report. According to top developers surveyed in residential sector, there are Indications of price rationalization in Delhi NCR, Bengaluru, Chennai and Kolkata. Construction activities are expected to gradually resume nationwide and in major cities, projects are resuming. The report says that sales in affordable and mid segments are expected to start recovering towards the end of the year. “Residential market’s revival hinges on intensity and duration of the pandemic. As consumer sentiments improve post the lockdown period, sales in the affordable and mid segments are expected to show initial green shoots of recovery towards the end of 2020, with the onset of the festive season,” the report pointed out. For the office real estate market, the JLL report said that as a result of the pandemic, re-negotiation of contracts between landlords and occupiers is the underlying trend in the short term as the first quarter of the year saw the net absorption fall by 30%, ie, to 8.6 million sq ft, mirroring the moderation of quarterly economic growth to 3.1%. According to top developers surveyed in the office sector, many are looking at Common Area Maintenance (CAM) charges discount or waivers. This has emerged as a significant trend where landlords / developers are either agreeing or reviewing the same with occupiers. In addition, the larger markets of Delhi-NCR and Mumbai, developers are open to discuss extra rent free period in cases of new deals. Similar trend seen in Chennai and Kolkata.. The report added that in the medium to long-term, occupiers and developers will re-evaluate their strategies. Office demand will remain robust in the medium to long-term. “The office market fundamentals are strong – with low vacancy, stable rental growth and limited upcoming supply. It is expected to recover the fastest once the outbreak is under control.” It added that majority of the construction activity has largely resumed across the cities except Chennai where it has been slow. Source: Hindustan Times Chandigarh

Rental policy to bring a revolutionary change in the real estate industry: Niranjan Hiranandani

6/20/2020 11:20:00 AM

The much-awaited rental housing policy will bring about a revolutionary change in the real estate sector, stated Niranjan Hiranandani, President, NAREDCO. He said this during a webinar organised by The Free Press Journal and IIM Indore, supported by BIG FM and Money Life. Speaking on the rental real estate, Hiranandani, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Hiranandani Group, said, “Post COVID-19, the rent policy will be the next revolutionary thing.” The ministry of housing and urban affairs (MoHUA) has posted the draft policy on their website and it is awaiting feedback from the general public. He added the Housing minister Hardeep Puri has been proactively looking at developing this policy. Hiranandani, who is also National President, Assocham, added that this policy will help rental home seekers to get dwellings at an affordable rent. The focus of the new policy would be to help reduce housing shortages in urban areas and also encourage renting of homes which lie vacant across the country. Hiranandani stated that currently, it makes no sense for institutions or developers to actually build residential houses on rent. On the contrary, there are many commercial places that are built for being rented out. Hiranandani strongly felt that this rental policy will be of help to all those aspirational migrants who come to the cities for better living standards but end up in homes that are not liveable. He stressed on the need to have social security for these migrants. If they had homes, they might not even leave the cities they dwell in, he explained. He added that if the governments give impetus to the concept of housing for migrants and other labourers, it will be helpful in not just providing homes but also driving the growth story of the country. This impetus to housing along with a boost to infrastructure projects could easily result in a GDP growth of 7 per cent plus by March 2021, but “only if the government focuses on housing in terms of policies and RBI sorts the liquidity issue along with the Gadkari-led infrastructure projects. Then this growth is achievable.” He also mentioned how taxation has impacted the sector. He added that over the years, real estate has become the most heavily taxed industry in India. “More taxed than tobacco.” If 35-40 per cent of the value of the apartment one is buying is in terms of direct and indirect taxes, then it is natural that housing is going to be expensive, he stressed. Source: The Free Press Journal Chandigarh

Realty remains preferred asset: survey

6/19/2020 11:25:00 AM

Homebuyers to slowly return to market in six months Real estate remained the preferred asset class for investment (35%) followed by gold (28%) and fixed deposits (22%) and stocks (16%), as per the findings of a survey by Housing.com and National Real Estate Development Council (NAREDCO). As per the survey, homebuyers are likely to slowly return to the market in the coming six months. Price points of residential realty, though having remained muted for the past few years, are still a key deterrent, according to half the respondents. A majority of respondents surveyed (73%) comprise ‘first-time homebuyers’, who are looking to buy a ‘ready-to-move-in-house’ for end-use and are from the age group of 25-45 years. While 60% of the respondents opined that for the next six months, they would prefer a ready-to-move-in property, 21% said they were okay with a property that came with a delivery timeline of a maximum of one year. The survey was conducted in April and May 2020 among 3,000 potential homebuyers. Dhruv Agarwala, Group CEO, Housing.com, Makaan.com and PropTiger.com, said, “Our survey clearly shows that potential homebuyers, who were searching for flats, have pressed a pause button for the time being because of the liquidity concerns and the uncertainty over the COVID pandemic. But, a majority of them will gradually start returning to the market in the coming months." Niranjan Hiranandani, national president, NAREDCO said, “The pandemic has not only shaken up the economy, it has further added to the distresses of real estate. In the current scenario, we can see a change in consumer behaviour and perception of owning a house with safe and secure surroundings, which will be the driving force for demand.” Source: The Hindu Chandigarh

Real Estate Remains Preferred Asset Class For Investors: Housing.Com-NAREDCO Survey

6/18/2020 4:15:00 PM

Despite subdued consumer demand amid an economic slowdown, real estate is still perceived as the preferred mode of investment, according to a report jointly released on Wednesday by Housing.com and National Real Estate Development Council (NAREDCO). Nearly 35 per cent of respondents perceived real estate as the preferred mode of investment followed by gold (28 per cent), fixed deposits (22 per cent) and stocks (16 per cent). Homebuyers are likely to slowly return to the market in the coming six months, said the report. The survey was conducted in April and May through a random sampling technique for a fair representation across regions. The insights entirely represent the view of more than 3,000 potential homebuyers. "The real estate consumer remains positive with regard to the economic scenario and income stability for the coming six months," said the report titled 'Concerned, yet positive -- The Indian Real Estate Consumer (April to May 2020).' Price-points of residential realty have remained muted for the past few years but are still a key deterrent with the perception of being still unaffordable. This was the response from nearly half of the potential homebuyers surveyed who are currently staying in rented accommodation. A majority of respondents surveyed (73 per cent) comprise first-time homebuyers who are looking to buy a ready-to-move-in-house for end-use and are from the age group of 25 to 45 years. While 60 per cent of respondents opined that for the next six months, they would prefer a ready-to-move-in property, 21 per cent said they were okay with a property with a delivery timeline of maximum one year. Going forward, NAREDCO believes real estate will be positive for both end-users and investors in the post-COVID-19 world. Those living in rental homes have realised the importance of being in their own homes while NRIs facing challenging times in their present domiciles are looking at creating a safe haven 'back home' in India. Demand for additional space for home offices is on the rise with a need for more efficient layouts. The importance of common amenities, business centres and more open spaces will be an inherent part of the new demand criteria in the post-COVID-19 world, said the report. "We are witnessing volatility in equity markets globally but the value of properties in the real estate market has managed a stable stance," said Ram Raheja, Director of S Raheja Realty. "This is because unlike other asset-classes, real estate is tangible in nature and this strengthens the factor of security and better return on investments." (ANI) Source: Business World Chandigarh

Coronavirus may break real estate’s slowdown curse residential sales picked up after realtors

6/17/2020 4:41:00 PM

The real estate sector may finally come out of slowdown gloom in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, sales have already started to pick up in some segments such as residential areas with developers pushing promotions. “From almost Nil sales in April, residential sales are up to 25-50% of pre-COVID levels as per management commentary in the media. Developers have used a combination of online sales promotions, financing schemes,” Jefferies said in a research report on Tuesday. Affordability also led to rise in sales of the mid-income housing segment which indicates that the current pricing is largely being accepted. While construction activity has also touched 25-50% of pre-COVID levels, new launch activity is expected to remain standstill with both developers and customers focusing on finished inventory. “New launch activity is yet to revive, with both developers and customers looking for existing completed or near-completion inventory. We expect new launches to start in 2Q, led by the mid-income segment, but pick-up pace only in Q3,” the report said. These inventories are concentrated in the mid to mid-premium segment of the market and the traditional buyer of these inventories is salaried employees who have seen limited impact on their income levels. However, the realty companies may look into offering 2-5% limited discounting in the mid-segment. As far as high-end sales are concerned, they may take longer to revive as availability of home-loans is also an issue with income disruptions. Real estate has been facing a prolonged slowdown with various issues dampening the sales for developers. The woes of the realty sector were aggravated by a liquidity crunch with the fall of NBFCs and then by economic slowdown which also trickled to automobile sales and FMCG demand such as oil, soaps and biscuits. Certain government measures such as the compliance costs of policy initiatives and reforms (such as demonetization and GST) haven’t helped either, Pankaj Pal, President — Business Development & Strategy, AIPL, wrote recently in Financial Express Online. All of these factors combined translated into lacklustre demand and pent up inventories pan-India. Source: Financial Express Chandigarh

Real estate in India to realign post-COVID crisis

6/16/2020 4:24:00 PM

As global economies grapple with an economic fall-out in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, and the clamour for a stimulus package for economic revival grows India’s response so far has been more focused on ‘saving lives’. Industries across the Indian economy &ndash including real estate &ndash have supported the government’s steps consider the decision on imposing the lockdown as also extending it. Now, with the situation looking grim and bleak, the focus needs to re-shift from saving lives’, it is now the right time to also focus on ‘saving livelihood’. Perhaps, the biggest takeaway in terms of ‘the way forward’ is that demand for owned houses will grow. Those living in rental homes have realized the importance of being in their own homes NRIs facing challenging times in their present domiciles are looking at creating a safe haven ‘back home’ in India those who have faced challenges in terms of investments losing value in the aftermath of the pandemic in paper market are seeing the obvious advantage of shifting to real estate as the asset class of choice. So, real estate will be ‘positive’ for both end users and investors. The reputed developers with better credit ratings and best delivery track record will gain traction with an enhanced confidence level among the potential home buyers in the back of this crisis. As an industry, real estate will adapt to a tech-savvy future in terms of digital platforms for sales and marketing as also adopt enhanced automation at sites, given the obvious challenge of being dependent on migrant labor. Work from Home (WFH) has created the need to tweak architecture design. The ideal demand coming up for additional space for home offices is on the rise with more efficient layout. Also, the importance of common amenities, business centres and more open spaces will contribute to the new demand criteria’s post Covid world. Proximity to the workplace will be highly valued as Work from Home may be just stop gap arrangements. Commercial real estate is likely to witness larger floor space keeping social distancing and safety aspects as new normal. The industry has already stepped ahead to adapt and adopt best practices to imbibe new normal norms which is a matter of survival of crisis. From an internal perspective, joint ventures and developments will be the way forward. ‘Reasonable and practical’ will be the ‘mantra’ as industry players consolidate and work together. The obvious way forward in terms of funding will be equity instead of debt, and translating theory into actual practice is a direction laid forward. The real estate business has been going through challenging times over the past few years, liquidity crisis tops the painstaking issues, and unsold inventory is a problem that needs solutions while last mile funding issues have created stalled and delayed projects. The economic reform and stimulus package announced by the RBI and the Government of India will surely help sectors in lurch with reinvented thrust. The economic reforms with the stimulus package announced by FM will be beneficiary to the MSME and other micro sectors in the long run. However, industry feels a lack of an immediate curing measure for the ailing economy. However, supply-enhancing measures have been take care of, we seek demand revival booster by quick reduction in GST rate across the economy for an stipulated period of time, reduction in stamp duty combined with low home loan interest rates to help convert fence-sitters into actual home buyers while enhanced tax benefits on home loan EMIs would also help. The industry awaits positive developments on these aspects, which will make it easier for a consumer to make a purchase. To sum up, for the end user, this looks like being the best time to buy, given the positives which buying one’s own home translates into. Having said this, developers will have to factor in aspects like job security as also salary cuts for the home buyer, these will need hand-holding to help the buyer through the difficult times. We will see a redesign the new paradigm will be a home that also powers WFH while homes in peripheral areas will get a boost. The best medicine for COVID-19 in the present scenario is one’s own home, and going forward, this adage will hold true. Source: Financial Express Chandigarh

Real estate can revive economy after COVID-19: DLF chairman emeritus KP Singh

6/14/2020 10:23:00 AM

Mushrooming urban slums and the exodus of migrant workers during the two-month lockdown period highlight the failure of urban planning in India, says billionaire realty mogul KP Singh, adding that real estate business can be a major driver for reviving the economy in the post-COVID world. "One of the most important sectors of the economy, which is called urbanisation, includes real estate, construction and urban infrastructure. Now these all three are the most highly neglected sectors. Unfortunately, these should be the most important sectors of the economy," Singh told PTI in an interview last week. Wrong urban development policies and inaccurate assessment of urbanisation by the Planning Commission led to creation of slums that eventually caused the migrants crisis, he said just before stepping down as chairman of India's biggest real estate firm DLF Ltd, handing over his post to son Rajiv. Singh is now chairman emeritus of DLF. A major structural change is required to set things right, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in the best position to do it because he has the capacity and the mandate, said the 90-year old industry veteran. Singh rued that the real estate, construction and urban infrastructure sectors have been completely neglected in India, unlike other nations such as America where the growth of these industries are considered as major economic indicators. The government, he said, should give importance to the real estate sector, even more than the MSMEs, as it has the potential to absorb a large number of unemployed people and revive the economy when it has been crushed by the COVID lockdown since March 25. He pitched for tax incentives as well as ease in taking home loans at lower interest rates to boost both demand and supply in the housing segment. Asked about his assessment of the multi-year slowdown in the realty sector, Singh said the demand slowdown was not because of the demonetisation, the GST and the new realty law RERA but due to wrong urban development policies. He said that the real estate and construction sectors generate most direct and indirect employment and is a biggest multiplier of the country's GDP. "You construct more houses. More cement is required, more steel is required, more paints are required, and more labour, skilled and unskilled, is required. So, the problem is not the GST or the demonetisation. The problem is our entire urban policies in India are completely wrong," Singh said. He added that it requires major structural changes to correct mistakes committed over several decades. Unlike in other industries, he said it is not easy to correct mistakes in the real estate where construction of buildings has taken place and one cannot demolish it. Singh said the government's urban policies should have facilitated development of satellite towns by private sector players to cater to the migration of people from rural to urban areas. "...urbanisation means visionaries to plan for several decades, sometimes centuries ahead," he said. In a democratic country, Singh said people will have aspirations for better lives, in search of which they migrate to big cities. He said that the urban policies failed to cater to this influx of migration. "The urban policy involves catering for those teeming millions and millions of workers who come from villages in search of jobs. Now, the first principle of that is to cater for them. These are visions. You think not 10-20 years ahead, but 50-100 years ahead," he observed. Singh said that the satellite towns should have been developed for the workman or migrant, with proper facilities of accommodation and fast transportation network to reach their workplace. "Now this was completely neglected. As a result, what you find today 60 per cent of India is in slums. Why should we have Dharavi? Why should you have slums, because they never catered for that there is something called workmen class," he said. To accommodate these workmen class, Singh said satellite towns should have been created. "This has been completely neglected. That is why you see the faces of migration people going...this is the tip of the iceberg. It is going to explode in a big way," he said. Asserting that it was not GST and demonetisation that were responsible for slow demand, Singh said: "It is a basic flaw in urbanisation policy of the government and time is there to have a complete new look and new structure. I will say therefore, there has been a complete failure of our Planning Commission. They did not envisage this invasion of urbanisation," he said. Urbanisation and infrastructure of urbanisation are big issues which should be examined and set right. "Only a person like PM Modi can do it. Because he is a man who means action. He has a mandate and he has the capacity to do something which is unusual because others could not do but he has the capacity," Singh said. He said one should learn lesson from past mistakes and restart again more intelligently. "So, all you people, everybody says GST and demonetisation. No, not at all. This is a small thing. The larger picture is reorient and restructure urbanisation policy," he said. On the housing demand, he said globally the highest importance is given to construction and real estate business. Singh cited the example of China, which is focusing a lot on construction activities to revive its economy post COVID-19. In America and many other countries, he said the number of new houses being built is an economic indicator. To create housing demand in India, he said it should be very simple for anyone to go to any bank and get home loans. "Like what happens abroad, a mortgage loan is at ridiculously low, low rate. Second, so easy that you go to a bank and within a week you get it because banks do not give money like this one, there is an insurance set up of the government which guarantees the bank for any mortgage loan given," Singh said. He said the government should offer tax incentives on home loans to boost housing demand. More tax sops should be provided for purchase of second homes if the same is let out, he said, adding this would give a great push to rental housing. Singh said in the UK the general tax is 42 per cent but if one rents out property it is 18 per cent. On the concept of affordable housing, he said, "What is affordability? What is not affordability? These are all artificial barriers. Marketplace decides what is affordable." He said that the supply should be incentivised to give people choice and buy according to their affordability. "Developers will only construct those items, which market will absorb. They will never construct something for which market is not there," he said. He also termed it as "strange" that the government has removed input tax credit on the GST as it has led to an increase in unit cost. Singh felt that the real estate should be given "greater priority than MSMEs". "Whatever wrong has gone. You cannot set it right overnight. That is a different story. What I'm saying in future you can rev it up by reorienting, restructuring the entire real estate construction industry. If you do that, take it from me. It will have an immediate multiplier effect. Migrant labourers will come back," Singh concluded. Source: The New Indian Express Chandigarh

Real estate builds wealth more consistently than other asset classes: Hiranandani

6/12/2020 10:52:00 AM

Covid-19 has ensured that paradigms are set to change in the real estate sector with the industry evolving in new ways, according to Niranjan Hiranandani, Co-Founder of realty major Hiranandani Group. The executive says the fundamental assumptions of CEOs and executive teams about markets, customers, supply chains, the workplace, technology and other factors underpinning the business model are undergoing a sea change. “Right from architecture to planning, all will be entirely on digital platforms. Sales and marketing will see very minor human interface, while transactions will move to technological platforms like block-chain with payments moving to digital and online,” Hiranandani, also the Assocham National President, told BusinessLine. Better investment The Managing Director of the Hiranandani Group insists investor confidence on realty continues to be high, with real estate building wealth more consistently than other asset classes. The pandemic has only turned the spotlight again on this asset class. “During the lockdown, real estate has come across with flying colours, when compared to other options. If one looks at different asset classes, equities and mutual funds as also similar ‘paper options’ ― they all lost value in the aftermath of the pandemic-induced lockdown. Similarly, bullion and precious metals have seen swings in values,” said the official. The high volatility in the stock market brought on dwindling investor confidence. The only steady investment in these troubled times has been real estate, continued Hiranandani, as it has proved to be “the best solution to the pandemic ― being safe within one’s own home”. As for those who opt to just invest in real estate and not actually live in the same, the official said it offers both capital appreciation and rental income. “In the Covid-19 pandemic, real estate has offered stability and steady value to investors. These, to my mind, are reasons to opt for real estate as an investment class,” the official said. The impediments which the real estate sector faces have been around “since the tsunamis of economic, taxation and industry reforms were introduced”, said the official, and the primary impact of these have been slowdown in sales as also some issues with unsold inventory. “What is required is a single window for clearances and time-bound and speedy permissions and clearances. It is also about the need for easy availability of low-interest credit, a one-time roll-over to reschedule debt, and extension of regulatory deadlines and timelines,” added the executive. New normal Covid-19 has highlighted increased demand for new workplace design, including more digital and flexible solutions. The economy also will have to adapt to the “new normal”, said the official. “Going ahead, it will be about new buyer segments, with specific requirements which will have to be adopted. The whole concept of ‘work from home’, for example, will translate into a changed layout for new homes, a half room will be added as the workplace. It will soon be 1.5, 2.5 (BHK) and so on, which will be the new home segments,” said Hiranandani, adding internal layouts of work spaces (at offices) will need to be spaced out so that social distancing norms can be implemented. Source: The Hindu Business Line Chandigarh

JK to formulate 'Real Estate Policy 2020'

6/11/2020 10:09:00 AM

In 2018, then State Administrative Council had approved Real Estate Regulatory Act for J&K. However, under the provisions of the J&K Reorganization Act 2019, that Act was repealed as it allowed only state-subjects to buy properties in the erstwhile state. Now according to sources, the new policy will pave way for outside developers to invest in J&K. The committee to be headed by VC Srinagar Development Authority will have VC Jammu Development Authority as member-secretary, and Commissioners of SMC, JMC, MD Housing Board, Directors of Urban Local Bodies, Chief Town Planners of Jammu and Kashmir as members. The committee constituted by the Housing and Urban Development Department shall formulate the Real Estate Policy 2020 and building bye-laws. The committee has been given a timeframe of 15 days to come up with the policy document, which will then be examined by the Administrative Council. The government in J&K has powers to notify Real Estates Regulatory Act. A senior government official said that the real estate policy is aimed to safeguard interests of both the developers as well as the investors. “Except Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, all other states and UTs have Real Estate Regulatory Act which mandated constitution of Real Estate Regulatory Authority to oversee the implementation and grievance redressal,” he said. He said the move is aimed at promoting planned development of real estate and to ensure sale of plots, apartments, buildings and other real estate projects, in an efficient and transparent manner and to protect the interests of consumers. The RERA would ensure a fair and just treatment of the buyers and protect them from any unscrupulous builders. The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016, is an Act of the Parliament of India which seeks to protect home-buyers as well as help boost investments in the real estate industry. The Act establishes a Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) in each state for regulation of the real estate sector and also acts as an adjudicating body for speedy dispute resolution. The bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha on 10 March 2016 and by the Lok Sabha on 15 March 2016. The Act came into force on 1 May 2016. The Central and state governments are liable to notify the Rules under the Act within a statutory period of six months. The Act makes it mandatory for each state and UT to set up its own real estate regulator and frame rules to govern the functioning of the regulator. It is aimed at encouraging greater transparency, citizen centricity, accountability and financial discipline in the sector. Source: Greater Kashmir Chandigarh

Housing finance companies have adequate liquidity: ICRA

6/10/2020 9:56:00 AM

As housing finance companies raised approximately Rs 34,000 crore through debt market route and from National Housing Bank (NHB) during April and May 2020, it is expected that most of the HFCs will maintain an adequate liquidity profile for meeting their debt obligations even with lower collection levels (50-80%) in the portfolio, according to ICRA Ratings, a rating agency. ICRA said that HFCs weighted average on balance sheet cash and liquid investments stood at about 7% of the AUM as on March 31, 2020 and at 12%, including the sanctioned funding lines. The available liquidity is sufficient and could typically cover about two months of debt repayments of most HFCs, while access to the sanctioned funding lines could enhance the cover to three months. Supreeta Nijjar, vice president, Financial Sector Ratings said, “Around 31% of the HFCs’ portfolio was under moratorium for 2-3 months as on April 30, 2020. Further most of the HFCs have not applied for a moratorium from their lenders. While the HFCs in the affordable housing segment have a higher share of portfolio under moratorium owing to the relatively marginal borrower profile, which may have been impacted more during the lockdown, they are carrying adequate liquidity to service their debt obligations till August 2020”. ICRA expects the inflows from advances not under moratorium to likely support the liquidity profile of HFCs. However, RBI’s extension of the moratorium till August 31, 2020 could lead to an increase in the share of portfolio under moratorium thereby reducing the liquidity cover. Based on rating agency’s estimates, the total maturing debt for FY2021 is estimated to be Rs 2.9-3.2 lakh crore of which Rs 1.4 lakh crore is accounted by debt markets. Incremental funding requirement on this account would largely be met through refinancing by banks and primary issuances by HFCs in debt markets. Source: ET Realty Chandigarh

Government Stimulus Underlines A Self-Reliant India, Major Boost For The Real Estate Sector

6/9/2020 10:56:00 AM

The INR 20 lakh crore (USD 266 billion) economic package announced by the Prime Minister is heartening. Estimated to be around 10% of India’s GDP, the stimulus will not only provide relief but will also ensure a faster turnaround. The emphasis on a ‘self-reliant’ India is based on the potential and the inherent strength of the country’s domestic demand. These five pillars &ndash stronger economy, better infrastructure, technology driven system, vibrant demography and demand &ndash will position India on a stronger footing in the long run. Over the past three days, the Finance Minister has enlisted several measures as part of this package &ndash covering micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME), non-banking financial companies (NBFC), micro finance institutions (MFI), housing finance companies (HFC), farmers and migrant labourers amongst others. Although the overall stimulus announced by the Prime Minister includes the INR 1.7 lakh crore relief package for the poor provided previously it is amongst the largest financial packages announced by governments across the world to deal with the economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the key measures announced are as enclosed: Construction / Housing Sector The finance ministry has provided certain incentives to the construction and housing sector to reduce the stress it is currently under. It has extended all central agencies’ contracts by up to 6 months (without costs to the contractor), with the agencies asked to partially release bank guarantees to the extent contracts have been partially completed, so as to ease cash flows for contractors. Further, COVID-19 would be treated as an ‘Act of God’ and ‘Force Majeure’ can be invoked to secure a six-month extension of registration and completion timelines for all RERA-registered projects whose registration was expiring on or after 25 March 2020. This will provide relief to the developer community which was facing issues due to labour migration and lack / delayed supplies. The government further strengthened the affordable housing segment by extending the Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS) for the middle-income group up to March 2021. In addition, it opened a new investment class in the form of an affordable rental accommodation scheme for migrant workers and urban poor under the PM Awas Yojana. Under this scheme, government-funded housing in cities would be converted into Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHC), while at the same time the government will provide incentives to manufacturing and other industries to build affordable housing units. NBFCs, MFIs and HFCs The government’s relief package for these three sets of companies has come at an opportune time and will especially benefit the real estate sector as these companies are one of the largest lenders for the industry. As part of its relief measures, the government has launched an INR 30,000-crore special liquidity scheme for NBFCs, MFIs and HFCs &ndash which will involve investment in both primary and secondary market transactions in investment-grade debt papers of these companies. This is likely alleviate the short-term liquidity woes of these companies. The government has also extended a pre-existing partial guarantee scheme for NBFCs to cover borrowings such as primary issuance of bonds. The government will bear the first 20% of the loss incurred papers rated AA and below will also be eligible for investment. MSMEs MSMEs are the backbone of the Indian economy and one of the most severely affected segments due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is why, the government opted to focus on this sector in the first tranche of its relief measures. Collateral-free automatic loans worth INR 3 lakh crore will be provided to these enterprises with a time frame of four years and a 12-month moratorium. Combined with the INR 20,000- crore subordinate debt, these measures will go a long way in providing liquidity to stressed MSMEs and enable them to retain employees as well as kick start production. The government also provided them an INR 50,000-crore fund of funds through ‘mother fund-daughter fund’ to enable them to expand capacity &ndash this will benefit about 25 lakh stressed MSMEs (according to the MSME ministry). Outlook While this package is expected to provide much-needed liquidity to the economy, the extension of project completion timelines and other statutory compliance's is welcome news for the real estate industry. We are hopeful that more measures will be announced by the government to support the industry in the coming few days. Source: Businessworld.in Chandigarh

Offers to homebuyers keep realty afloat

6/4/2020 2:31:00 PM

Low mortgage rates coupled with a wide range of offers from developers appear to have enticed a section of home buyers out of their lockdown blues. City-based developers and brokerage firms claim they have managed to carry out 30-60 per cent of their average transactions, mostly by way of initial booking, during the last two months. Promise of price protection for 6-12 months on the downside and easy exit option with no penalty till the end of the lockdown were some of the offers almost every developer extended to homebuyers during April-May when work at the construction sites came to a standstill and cash flow nearly dried up. Some developers such as Godrej came up with easy payment schemes where buyers only have to pay 10 per cent of the total cost now and the rest 90 per cent after three years. Sanjay Jain, managing director of Siddha, said his company managed to bag almost 60 per cent of its pre-lockdown average business in the last two months. The company, which has multiple projects in affordable and a few in the premium segments, was apprehensive that initial bookings would not translate into concrete transactions. Instead, it was pleasantly surprised. “My team is very confident that there will be only a minuscule cancellation. Most of the buyers who have booked are from stable private sector jobs (IT, education, healthcare) or from PSUs and the government sector. More than half the buyers do not live in Calcutta,” Jain said. NK Realtor, the largest city-based realty broking and consulting firm, said it managed to get 159 bookings in May, higher than 120 in April and 128 in March. As traditional means of promotion — print media and outdoor advertisement — were not in the play during the lockdown, the brokerage focused on digital presentations and virtual tours of properties and apartments, to acquire new customers. “Our strategy has worked. The number would have been even higher in May but for Amphan, which knocked out a week. The result shows that home is an essential item,” Pawan Agarwal, director of NK Realtor, said. Respondents to a survey, carried out by NK during the lockdown, among 500 homebuyers in Calcutta and Hyderabad overwhelmingly preferred real estate over other asset classes. They are also now looking for bigger homes considering the possibility of working from home for a long time, the survey revealed. Rafikul Islam, a Murshidabad resident, who recently booked a flat near Joka, agrees. “I am looking at it as an investment, which can be for self-use if my kids want to settle down there,” he said. The 56-year businessman has taken the 10:90 scheme from Godrej as he thinks it would give abundant time to assess the evolving pandemic situation. “If the going gets tough, I may look at exiting before making the final payment after three years,” Islam added. Jitendra Khaitan, chairman and managing director of Pioneer Properties, said low home loan interest rate is fuelling demand. “There is definitely interest in properties up to Rs 75 lakh. After the crash in stocks, people are looking at property as a safe haven,” Khaitan said. His firm also got a reasonable number of bookings during the lockdown. The next six months, however, will be anything but easy as cash flow has dried up. “We need a bit of extra push from the state and the Centre. Limited period discount can be considered on stamp duty or GST on under construction properties to spur demand,” Siddha’s Jain suggested. Source: The Telegraph Chandigarh