Pune Real Estate: The Year That Was, And The Year Ahead

Kishor Pate, CMD – Amit Enterprises Housing Ltd.

2016 did not bring as much cheer to Pune’s real estate market as previous years had. Nevertheless, Pune outperformed Mumbai by between 20 to 25% in terms of overall sales.

The highest-selling category in Pune was mid-range properties priced between Rs. 35-50 lakh within the city’s municipal limits and its nearby periphery, followed by lower budget housing on the outskirts priced between Rs. 15-30 lakh.

The latter pricing category offered on the market saw some response; however, whether it sustainable is debatable.

The questions which bothered most buyers in 2016 were:

  • What are the hidden cost?
  • Does the location serve my purpose?
  • Will the project I am interested in be completed as per promised timeline?
  • Is the developer inherently RERA-compliant?

Due to these completely understandable apprehensions, reputed builders saw the most number of serious inquiries in 2016. It would not be an exaggeration to observe that the year saw developers being examined with microscopic scrutiny.

There was clear evidence that Pune’s property buyers have become very aware of their rights, and that they can expect their interests to be protected by the upcoming RERA; promoters will not be able to dictate terms as they so far have.

However, irrespective of the potential protection that RERA will provide, buyers were more focused on the reputation of the builder than prices.

This was a significant change of temperament among Pune’s traditionally price-sensitive consumers. It indicated that long-term investment value and growth now matters more to them than short-term savings.

More than ever before, the inherent value of sticking to players with an established track-record will make itself felt in 2017.

When RERA becomes a nation-wide reality in mid-2017, Pune’s established developers with a good track record quality products and transparent dealings via official financial channels will emerge as dominant.

Once the Real Estate Regulatory Bill kicks in, fraudulent builders will be pulled off the market, and there will be more clarity than ever before about the genuine opportunities that Pune’s real estate market offers.

For the entire year of 2016, Pune remained a buyers’ market and primarily end-user driven. Developers vied with each other for customers in most locations – a ‘competition’ in which only those with projects nearing completion emerged as clear winners.

High buyer caution prevailed throughout the year with regards to pre-launches and under-construction projects in the earliest stages of development.

With many projects offering ready-to-move options to buyers and investors, the thought of having to wait for 2 to 3 years before gaining possession simply failed to entice.

The locations which scored highest with buyers in 2016 were not the overpriced central locations, but those which offer good connectivity to Pune’s various workplace hubs while circumventing the steep price points of the city’s central areas.

property investment

Most buyers had a firm list of must-haves to refer to:

  • Proximity to the city’s various workplace centers; good overall connectivity via roads and public transport
  • Rational property prices
  • Availability of good schools, affordable healthcare, shopping and entertainment
  • Market-proven reliability of developers’ brand

In terms of location, Undri-Pisoli in Pune’s south-eastern sector was a clear favourite with buyers employed in the city’s Infotech sector and manufacturing industries, as all the requirements were available as above,

Also Ambegaon in the south-western part saw a lot of conversions, thanks to its good connectivity to Mumbai as well as onward to Satara and Kolhapur.

Apart from the fact that these locations are extremely well-connected, they also drew demand because they have a good supply of completed projects by reputable developers.

Fast-paced infrastructure deployment also helped bring these two locations to the top of the charts in 2016, and will continue to sustain their desirability in 2017.

Bhugaon, Keshavnagar and Manjri in the city’s eastern quadrant saw a lot of absorption because of overall access they provide to various key areas of the city. Though they are still emerging in terms of general infrastructure deployment, these are certainly locations to watch in the future.

In terms of general pricing, Pune saw a correction of 3 to 6% in property prices in most markets. Most developers rolled out additional schemes to attract buyers to their projects, with varying degrees of success.

Construction-linked plans drew some interest, but the clear winners among such schemes were all-inclusive packages which included all statutory costs such as VAT, stamp duty and registration fees.

Buyers showed a lot of preference for transparency in pricing, a decent saturation of in-project amenities and facilities, and developers whose trustworthiness was not in question.

2017 will be a year of significant and much-needed change for Pune’s property market. The Government’s demonetisation initiative has kick-started a process of elimination of fly-by-night developers and the cash components in the transactions will come to an end- a process which the final implementation of RERA will bring to culmination.

There will be a lot of consolidation throughout the year, with such players yielding whatever marketable land parcels and incomplete projects they hold to more established players.

2017 will not bring any further correction in Pune’s residential property prices, as demand is already returning in force to the city’s property market. Also, the fact that RERA will bring with it a significant additional financial burden on developers with regards to various statutory compliances, prices may go up towards mid-year.

Nevertheless, the year ahead will be favourable for property buyers in Pune. It will continue to be a buyers’ market, and the relationship between developers and buyers will see a major upgrade because buyers’ rights and interests will be well-defined and well-protected by the new Real Estate Regulatory bill. This is what the Government wants to achieve.

About The Author

Kishor Pate, Chairman & Managing Director of Amit Enterprises Housing Ltd. is the driving force behind one of the most successful real estate development firms in Pune and beyond. Apart from its signature luxury projects like Montecito in Sahakar Nagar and other premium gated townships, AEHL has also launched highly successful affordable housing projects like Astonia Classic and Colori in Undri and the Mediterranean-style township Astonia Royale in Ambegaon.

Demonetisation: Immediate And Long-Term Impact On Real Estate

Kishor Pate 2Kishor Pate, CMD – Amit Enterprises Housing Ltd.

PM Modi’s surprise move to remove Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 currency notes from legal use came as a shocker to all Indians. As of now, everyone is still inconvenienced, but all Indians also realize the greater good this move will accomplish in cleaning out black money from the economy.

Crowds outside ATMs are already thinning out and life is gradually normalizing across Indian cities. However, the ones who will continue to be affected the most are obviously those who have been holding and transacting in large amounts of unaccounted cash.

When considering the business sectors on which the demonetisation move has greatest pertinence and effect, the real estate sector comes almost naturally to mind, and Indian real estate industry has historically seen a high incidence of cash transactions.

However, the large-scale turmoil that many market pundits have been predicting is an exaggeration. The market is expecting a correction in the resale properties segment, which is very likely to happen.

The primary sales market in the larger cities is not going to be affected, especially when it comes to strong, established developers.

Prices have already stabilized in view of the situation prevailing prior to the demonetization move, and there is minimum chance of further correction – especially in low-end projects. High-end and luxury projects may see a correction to some extent.

Land transactions, which have historically been driven by cash, are taking a major hit and we can expect a correction of 20-30% in land valuations in the unorganized sector.

Lower land costs in emerging areas and smaller cities will eventually result in lower cost of budget housing, as developers will assuredly pass on the benefit of these savings to their customers.

Pricing is a critical factor in the current market environment, and no player will lose the chance to offer more benevolent price tags in order to secure business.

The full impact of demonetisation will be more visible only after the next Union Budget is announced in February. The negative sentiment currently prevailing is likely to be negated to a large extent by some very positive announcements.

We expect the Finance Minister to roll out special incentives for first-time home buyers in the budget properties category, and also a positive revision of income tax slabs – which will help reduce the financial burden on home buyers and increase purchasing power.

With home ownership always being a priority investment objective for all Indians, this will have very positive implications for the residential real estate sector.

DEMONETISATION

On the whole, the demonetisation move is very good news for the health of the Indian real estate sector. The Real Estate Regulatory Bill (RERA) will be deployed across the country by mid-2017, and Maharashtra has recently put forth its own draft laws.

Along with the impact that the demonetization move has had on India’s parallel ‘black economy’, we will see a lot of sanitization in the industry.

The Indian real estate sector will now become more transparent, credible and attractive to all kinds of serious investors, especially institutional investors.

In the long term, we will see a much more holistic and healthy pattern of growth in the Indian real estate sector.

The Government’s many initiatives to render the Indian business environment more attractive for both domestic and foreign investments will definitely bear fruit.

For end-users and investors, the current time is extremely favourable to make their move to secure the best real estate bargains.

Smaller residential developers and investors will be more eager than ever before to offload their inventory so as to alleviate their liquidity woes to some extent.

The salaried class which uses home loans to purchase properties will not face any problems at all because of the demonetisation move.

Since the above measures will serve to make the real estate sector more transparent and wholesome, future growth in the residential property sector will be steady and rational.

Those who invest in residential real estate now can, therefore, look forward to very satisfactory long-term capital appreciation.

Also, to be noted – the slowdown induced by the demonetisation move has nothing to do with the huge pent-up demand for housing in India. This is still very much intact and in fact growing at steady pace.

The residential sector was in fact in revival mode shortly before this move, and though overall sentiment has now faced a new setback, this is strictly temporary.

Fly-by-night developers get driven out and large players who have already made transparent transactions a standard will emerge stronger.

Within the next 12-18 months, we will see a much more sustainable and robust real estate market emerging in India.

About The Author

 Kishor Pate, Chairman & Managing Director ofAmit Enterprises Housing Ltd. is the driving force behind one of the most successful real estate development firms in Pune and beyond. Apart from its signature luxury projects like Montecito in Sahakar Nagar and other premium gated townships, AEHL has also launched highly successful affordable housing projects like Astonia Classic and Colori in Undri and the Mediterranean-style township Astonia Royale in Ambegaon.