February 23, 2022
If, like most of us, you’re still struggling to chart a course through an uncertain future, the last thing you need, the very last thing, is instability and uncertainty: such as, for example, inflation rates in the UK, which have veered wildly from 2% to 5.4% over the space of six months. But while property prices in most Western countries have (somewhat peevishly) risen erratically over the course of the pandemic, you won’t find shimmies and shakes like that in India, where stability is the order of the day: to such an extent that even “minor rises” in interest rates over the near term aren’t likely to dent property prices, according to HDFC, India’s largest private bank (www.hdfcbank.com).
Oddly enough though, this localised dampening effect doesn’t reflect a surplus in new housing supply, where in general terms the Subcontinent’s construction sector (no doubt as a result of the pandemic) has yet to catch up with demand. But unlike most western economies, speculative investment hasn’t been making up the difference (driving up prices artificially). And that makes perfect sense. Because over the long term, speculation can’t and won’t mask the fact that homes are ultimately places for people to live in…especially with some 1.6 Billion people currently homeless worldwide.
China, on the other hand, is struggling with severe issues of oversupply in its domestic property market: fuelled by over leveraged developers, and that’s certainly a lesson Boris Johnson might take to heart with so many Russian Oligarchs still making their way to London. We have to recognise, as India already has, that there’s more to social housing policy than building more glass towers in the sky, and cutting away regulatory restrictions.
Housing demand on the Subcontinent is instead being fuelled (and fuelled unambiguously) by a real undercurrent of demand, driven by individual, aspirant homebuyers…not speculators. A steady and stable upwards trajectory, reflecting a burgeoning demographic with more money to spend than ever before. It’s certainly something to set a steady course by…
And it’s why house prices in India have stayed stable too, when the rest of the world seems to have gone crazy: “low interest rates have helped, and the real estate sector has already self-corrected” said HDFC’s Chairman (with a certain sense of understatement). But he still couldn’t fully control his enthusiasm: “Indian real estate markets are on an upward cycle, which bodes well for us”… Indeed it does: India’s housing pipeline is stronger than ever before, more resilient than ever before, with a surge in new construction projects, all underpinned by expansionary measures introduced in this year’s Union Budget.
So, if you’re looking for a stable course to chart…it’s time to look East.
Like any investor, I look for as much certainty and stability as possible: that’s why Indian real estate markets are so attractive at the moment.