Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Distress Sales Await Real Estate Investors

Real estate companies have so far been booking paper losses, but after Diwali, these losses will be real, according to Nayan Bavishi, a UK investor of the Baron Group, who invests in Indian and Dubai real estate. This should lead to some sudden wave of distress sales, which would bring apartment prices to realistic levels. "Right now, it is only depletion of paper profits; wait till after Diwali and their [real estate companies]'s pockets will get eroded further."

The Indian real estate market has been hurt by a slide in the stock market, rapidly rising interest rates and aggressive demands from private equity investors. After five years of boom, real estate firms in India are grappling with lukewarm sales and cash crunches as inflated property prices and interest rates at near-decade highs scare away buyers.

"The aggression for acquiring land has disappeared. Deal volumes are down 35-40 percent," said Anuj Puri, who heads property consultant Jones Lang LaSalle Meghraj. Till last year, property firms, flush with funds from public offers or advance bookings, rushed to bid for land parcels, even at distant locations in metros, and in second-tier towns.

Even mid-size developers in India say they hold land reserves of 60-100 million sq ft, sufficient for projects planned in the next 3-4 years. But slumping demand could drive down land prices soon, leading to some distress sales, officials say. "We have not acquired an inch of land in nine months. I think by December-January, land prices should soften," Vyomesh Shah, Managing Director of Akruti City told Reuters late last month.

Akruti City, a leading developer, has not acquired any land in the last 9 months. A shortage of cash has caused delay in projects and it is likely that some announced projects may not even take off the ground. Builders are now unable to fund through advance bookings by buyers. "Developers normally did construction through booking advances for planned projects. Sales are down, so obviously there are delays," said an analyst at a Mumbai-based brokerage that has revised downward target price on sector stocks by 15-25 percent.

Most real estate firms are still getting by with advance bookings done 18-24 months ago, a sustained lack of demand in the coming quarters may worsen the situation.

Read the Reuters story here




Consider how the crisis has unfolded over the past eighteen months. The proximate cause is to be found in the housing bubble or more exactly in the excesses of the subprime mortgage market. The longer a double-digit rise in house prices lasted, the more lax the lending practices became. In the end, people could borrow 100 percent of inflated house prices with no money down. Insiders referred to subprime loans as ninja loans—no income, no job, no questions asked. - George Soros in latest book

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.”

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.

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.

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

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


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