In a recent newspaper advertisement, the developer of an under-construction housing project in Gurgaon, offered a two-bedroom flat at a price of Rs 22 lakhs. Property prices in the region, where the project is situated, are already high and speculative. A two-bedroom apartment in Gurgaon, in a regular housing project, is generally priced between Rs 60 lakhs and Rs 80 lakhs, depending on its location and the colony. In the recent past, a number of developers, like the builder in Gurgaon, have announced affordable housing projects across the country.
These projects offer units having one to four bedrooms, in the price range of Rs 15 lakhs to Rs 60 lakhs, which varies according to the micro-market and the city. A unit in an affordable housing project in Mumbai, is likely to cost more than one in Noida or Greater Noida. For example, a two-bedroom affordable house in Gurgaon may be priced below Rs 30 lakh, while a similar unit in the upmarket central suburbs of Mumbai, may be priced between Rs 40 lakhs and Rs 60 lakhs.
While some houses may be available through outright sale, others may be sold through a lottery system, under the government’s affordable housing schemes. Gurgaon has several projects, where the allotment is done through a lottery system by the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA).
The demand for affordable housing in the country is huge. Moreover, the interest shown by a number of large corporate groups in this segment, is likely to facilitate timely delivery of projects, which remains a nagging issue in the realty sector. Consequently, buyers in this segment may not have to wait indefinitely, like their counterparts in other segments.
A closer look at the upcoming projects, indicates several challenges, in spite of their price advantage. “Most of these projects are located on the outskirts of cities and in far off areas. So, the absorption in these projects could remain low, despite the demand for affordable housing,” feels Prabhat Ranjan, chairman and MD of the Mumbai-based Olympeo Infrastructure Pvt Ltd. Buyers still prefer central areas, even though they may have to compromise on the size of the flat.
The present slowdown in the market, could affect the sales in these projects. Thus, even if the developer completes the project, subsequent occupancy may remain a challenge. Owing to the dearth of buyers, the formation of the society or the residents’ welfare association may be delayed. Consequently, the maintenance of the projects’ premises will be affected and buyers may have to depend on the developer, for the same.
While the units in an affordable housing project are cheaper, than those in the mid-income and premium housing segment, most upcoming affordable projects may not provide the basic amenities on account of their location. “A majority of these projects are being launched in remote areas, where the development firms get land at cheaper rates. Most of these areas still lack basic social infrastructure,” points out Ranjan.
What should buyers do?
The prevalent situation indicates that it is a buyer’s market. Prospective buyers should bargain for greater discounts on the quoted price, advises Manju Yagnik, vice-chairperson of the Nahar Group, a Mumbai-based real estate firm. “Negotiating with developers may be easier, under the current circumstances,” suggests Yagnik, referring to the trend, where markets across India are witnessing poor sales and high inventory pile-up. Buyers can also expect some rationalisation in property prices.