Saturday, May 31, 2008
Friday, May 30, 2008
An eerie trend is rearing its ugly face as builders get desperate to prop the flagging sales of apartments. In an echo of what caused the subprime crisis in the US, builders are now luring home buyers with loan options that resemble the exotic mortgages of the US.
Trends reported in Delhi point to EMI holidays, where you book an apartment by paying 10-15% down payment of the apartment's cost - determined by the builder - and arrange for your bank loan. Once you have your bank loan in place, the interest component would be paid by the builder until the flat is ready. Once possession is handed over, usually 18-24 months, you begin paying the balance EMIs.
Even in a seemingly straightforward home loan industry in India, loans can take on subtle flavors not easily visible to the borrower. There are all kinds of caveats loaded in to the agreements which emerge only in the event of a dispute. The EMI itself comprises a capital component and an interest component, which is determined by the bank.
Typically, an EMI holiday means no EMI is to be paid by the borrower until the possession of the apartment is given. This basically means the borrower does not have to pay the capital component until the apartment is in his possession. This non-payment of capital will obviously attract an interest which will be calculated and added on to the balance EMIs, which kick in after possession - there is indeed no free lunch. Home loan borrowers are seldom clear about the underlying structure of these loans.
Now, as far as the interest component of the EMI goes, this would be 'happily' shelled out by the builder. At 10% per annum, it is a steal for all builders, who now have ready access to the cash, since under RBI regulations, real estate funding is not automatically available from domestic banks.
EMI holidays have apparently impressed local Citigroup analysts, Ashish Jagnani and Aditya Narain, who have written glowing reports that such ideas would boost transaction activity. Perhaps they should consult their global chief, Vikram Pandit, who is sulking and brooding about how to make good the $400 writedowns Citibank had to endure, arising from similar kind of loans, which the bank had encouraged in the US.
In my view, EMI holidays are an indirect way of providing builders with funds, and an means to keep housing prices at current ridiculously high levels. Since the RBI has tightened its noose around banks lending for the real estate sector, they have come up with such schemes which contravene the law without transgression. Reports say that such trends are mostly a Delhi phenomenon, but this is not entirely true. HDFC Bank in fact offers a similar scheme for Nahar's Amrit Shakti Project in Powai, Mumbai. [Read the story here]
Experts and industry watchers have clearly sent out the message that EMI holiday schemes are simply a ruse by builders to sell their current inventory of apartments at exorbitant prices. Once you take a loan, home buyers would simply find themselves locked on to a rate, and with the prospect of a decelerating market, it is clear that anyone who buys property at current rates is looking at years of sliding property values.
Read the HT story here
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Barclays Bank, a major global financial services provider, and Britain’s third-largest bank, has done a ludicrous rental deal for office space in Mumbai, where it has ended up agreeing to pay Rs 1.08 crore per month for a 15,000 sq ft office space.
In the same quarter, the financial institution saw its Q1 profits fall, suffering a 1.0 billion-pound (1.25 billion-euro, 1.95 billion-dollar) hit from the global credit crunch. Earlier, the UK bank had announced £1.7 billion ($3.3 billion) in new write-downs amid speculation that it was preparing for a rights issue, to strengthen its capital position.
Yet, the same bank has gone ahead and closed a ludicrous lease deal in Worli, Mumbai, where it is said to have paid Rs 725 per sq ft for 15,000 sq ft office space in an apartment block called Ceejay House (pictured left). This, at a time, when Citibank, in a bid to resurrect itself from the subprime crisis, is selling off global properties, including ones in Mumbai's poshest areas.
This deal is particularly intriguing, considering it is unimaginable that a bank like Barclays would pay such a high rate, which even seasonsed real estate professionals in Mumbai are calling a "freak deal".
The devil of course would appear in the details of the deal, not much of which has been reported. For one, Barclays already occupies 60,000 sq ft, in the same building, which it leased or purchased (we are not sure) in 2006. Interestingly, we do not know what rate Barclays has paid for the earlier deal, and whether the current deal includes the renewal of the older property. Property deals can include many things that do not get recorded in the lease document.
One of my imaginative scenarios are as follows:
- Pay Rs 725 per sq ft for 15,000 sq ft but get the 60,000 sq ft. space for free.
- Pay Rs 725 per sq ft for 5 years and get another 5 years free.
- ▼ May 25 - Jun 1 (6)
The Great Indian Realty Crash of 2008
- 1. Housing Bubble in India?
- 2. India's Subprime Variety Loans
- 3. Months Away from Realty Bust
- 4. Realty's Greater Fool Theory
- 5. Home Loans Diverted to Builders
- 6. Sterling Biotech's Realty Excess
- 7. Paanwala Top in Mumbai Realty
- 8. Mumbai's Realty Crashes
- 9. Realty Stocks Crash
- 10. BKC Rentals Fall
- 11. High Court Puts Builders in Bind
- 12. Pune Real Estate to Crack Soon
- 13. Thane Buildings Could be Razed
- 14. Bangalore on Ghost Town
- 15. Realty Brokers In Luxury Panic
- 16. Builders Admit Slowdown
- 17. Man Sells Flat 30% Cheaper
“When everything’s going up, there’s a feelgood factor and people tell each other how much their houses are going up at dinner parties,” says Professor Mark Stephens of York University’s Centre for Housing Policy. “Then the music stops, as it always does.”
“Last year, Japan was a more attractive market to put money in. If you look at the US, we can now get an internal rate of return of 25% there, so why would anyone want to come to India?” - a senior executive at an international financial services group, who did not wish to be named.
"Most people told us house prices never go down on a national level, and that there had never been a default of an investment-grade-rated mortgage bond, "Mortgage experts were too caught up." - John Paulson, trader, who bet against subprime market and made $15 billion.
The most puzzling are the real-estate projects of Parsvnath. Just have a look at the Pride Asia project near Chandigarh. They are asking almost US $300K-$350 K dollars for 2 bed room apartments. They have Villas in this project that costs more than US $1.5 million dollars. It is true that some people in India have that kind of money in India. However most of their wealth is black money and that can not be used to buy these properties. Obviously, these projects have been launched keeping NRIs in mind. - Sanjeev, comment from another site
Prachi Desai, aka Bani, the star of Balalji Telefilms's soap, Kasam Se, has been house hunting for over a year. She had almost closed a 2-BHK deal last year for Rs 1.5 crore in a Oberoi Constructions' building located at Andheri, Mumbai, but when she went back to confirm it, she was asked to cough up Rs 2.61 crore. Since then, she is still house hunting. - Mumbai Mirror