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Better than 2018, but still a lacklustre Gudi Padwa for the realty sector
Hindustan Times  |  April 15, 2019

Aishwarya Iyer

Gudi Padwa has traditionally been a time of plenty in the real-estate world. The harvest festival that marks the Maharashtrian New Year is an auspicious day to make big purchases, and in years gone by, developers encouraged home-buyers with bumper offers that ranged from gold coins to cars and complementary weekends in Bangkok. This year it was celebrated on April 6, but with little of the fanfare that marked the occasion in earlier years.


Still, there has been good news. The most important was the lowering of GST rates for affordable housing and under-construction properties. “With that revision, Gudi Padwa was more a hopeful one this year than it has been in recent years,” says Arvind Nandan, executive director for research at realty advisory Knight Frank India.


“Also this year, we have had a lowering of interest rates from 6.5% to 6%, the interim budget provided incentives for the buyer, and a reduced burden of taxation on the developer,” he adds.


While much of the change has brought good news, it has also caused some measure of confusion. “It’s been one change after another since 2017. From the Real Estate (Regulation and Development, or RERA) Act to demonetisation, a new and repeatedly revised Development Plan, and changing GST or Goods and Services tax norms. So it’s been difficult for the customer to keep track and make a decision on whether to buy or wait,” says Rohit Poddar, managing director of Poddar Housing and Development.


The last really good year was 2013, Poddar adds. “After that, we saw improved sales in 2016, but demonetisation dampened spirits,” he adds.


In the wake of RERA, sales have picked up, adds Hardik Agrawal, CEO of Radha Madhav Developers. “Sales in 2018 were much better than in the previous year. But we are still nowhere near our 2016 figures,” says Agrawal.


What movement there is, is largely restricted to the affordable housing segment, particularly in non-prime areas of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.


Tata Value Homes, for instance, has been drawing customers with projects on the outskirts of MMR, in areas such as Boisar, where flat prices start at Rs 25 lakh. “It has helped that we had many ready-to-move-in flats, and that was one segment unaffected by the changes and uncertainty over GST norms,” says Rajendran P, head of marketing and sales at Tata Value Homes.


Now, as elections begin, the industry will go into wait-and-watch mode again. There will be a limited number of launches and new projects till the new government is formed, says Nandan.


Elections tend to put all industries and consumers in wait-and-watch mode due to uncertainty over the policies of the next government, Agrawal adds. “Especially for customers buying second homes or homes as an investment, buying decisions are put off until the elections results are out.”


Overall unsold inventory across the premium metros saw a meagre 1% decline in the first quarter of 2019, says Anuj Puri, chairman of Anarock property consultants. “Recovery will take time,” he adds. “But we can surely expect some stability ahead.”