Realtors may cut prices by 30%

DLF, Unitech and other real estate developers may lower prices by 30% by mid-2009 to nudge buyers out of their “wait and watch” stance, according to experts.

The price cut, if implemented by the country’s builders will also push sales higher, especially of the affordable category, property consultants said.

”Many developers will come down on their asking rates after being saddled with unsold stock beyond their ability to hold on,” added Anuj Puri, chairman and country head, Jones Lang LaSalle Meghraj (JLLM).

Property prices in the key cities have more than doubled in the past few years helped by a boom in the stock market and a spurt in salaries of home buyers. The subsequent measures of the Reserve Bank of India to cool the overheated economy and a sub-prime crisis coupled with a credit crunch, has tempered growth prospects in the country hurting sales of property developers.

The benchmark sensitive index, the Sensex, has dropped more than 60% from the beginning of the year, eroding much of the investors’ wealth and RBI has increased repo rates by 150 basis points till September this year to curb inflation.

“If you take same time next year, there will be better volumes at lower prices than what they are today. Buyers will be tired of waiting and all the developers realise that price cuts are necessary across the board,” said Pranay Vakil, chairman of property consultancy Knight Frank India.

To boost sales, property developers have been forced to cut prices of real estate but buyers are still adopting a “wait and watch” stance as many feel that even the lower rates continue to be unaffordable.

Property prices in Gurgaon, Noida in the National Capital Region (NCR) have fallen by 25-30% while Mumbai’s distant suburbs have seen 15-20% drop in prices. Now property consultants foresee further price correction of 25-30% in 2009.

“By the middle of 2009, developers will loose holding power and cut prices sharply. Cuts will follow big time after elections,” said Ambar Maheshwari, director of DTZ, an investment advisory.

Experts say that developers are likely to focus on sub Rs 20 lakh flats due to huge demand for such flats and the government’s stimulus package for Rs 20 lakh home loans.

“Earlier, developers thought that there is latent demand for premium homes, but in the current slowdown, that perception has changed. There is always demand for Rs 5 lakh-Rs 15 lakh homes and developers will look towards that,” Maheshwari said.