February 02, 2022
For as long as COVID has maintained its icy grip on real estate markets, India’s increasingly middle class, increasingly urbanised population responded by tightening their belts, and that in turn caused developers to reduce property prices: offering a dazzling spectrum of attractive deals to maintain sales figures, as well as creating virtual home hunting and purchasing platforms to cater for a buying public that was conspicuously wary of venturing out. And it worked: in the most trying of circumstances, real estate on the subcontinent has held up exceptionally well over the past two years.
So well in fact, that Knight Frank’s global affordability index (www.knightfrank.com) pointed to an increase in the total “carpet area” of homes costing $1 Million or more, despite the short term shocks of COVID.
All fine and dandy, you might say…but as we ride out the storm, what’s coming next?
Most informed commentators have predicted an across the board rise in Indian property prices this year, animated in substantial part by dark grumblings from developers that recent hikes in the cost of materials, combined with systemic supply chain disconnects (COVID again), will leave them with no other choice. Harsh Patodia for one, President of CREDAI (India’s Confederation of Real Estate Developers: https://credai.org/), expects bottom line variables of this kind to be passed on to buyers more or less in full through a ten to fifteen percent increase in prices: especially if (which seems likely) those pesky supply chain issues continue to rumble on into the third quarter of 2022.
And then, of course, there’s always (inevitably) inflation…the recently published Consumer Price Index was still running hot at the end of December (5.59%), and that’s bound to have a forward impact on house prices, despite the dampening effect of any possible increase in base rates (designed to keep inflation under control).
So, taking all that into account, it looks like we’re in for a price bounce (making it a good time to buy), but what exactly is Prime Minister Modi’s Government proposing to do to stabilize and regulate the bounce? With this week’s Union Budget Announcement, it’s a good time to ask, and that’s why we’ve all been listening so attentively to what Nirmala Sitharaman had to say.
When it comes to real estate, Union Budgets have historically been pretty much exclusively focused on infrastructure, and (you might say) quite right too: but in this week’s Budget Address Ms Sitharaman (no mean economist herself) had her eyes fixed firmly on the demand side of the curve: so, for example, there’ll be an additional $60.4 Million for the Affordable Housing Scheme (PMAY), as well as $80 Million for Northern Border communities under the Har Ghar Nal Programme, strengthening the resilience of what are already highly successful initiatives, whilst at the same time delivering more demand where it really matters: 1.8 Million new homes by the end of the year, and a 34.5 increase in capital spending.
That’s precisely the sort of tonic the sector has been crying out for, especially after going through such a tough two years. And, of course, let’s not forget infrastructure itself, the traditional turbocharger of India’s economic miracle: Ms Sitharaman had a thing or two to say about that too, delivering an all-out Budget for growth, intended to ramp up spending with a special focus on public investment…so, once again, real estate comes up trumps.
What’s not to like…it’s exactly the shot in the arm we need.
There’s a bright world beyond COVID lockdowns, and it’s as well to start thinking about it now.
That’s certainly what Nirmala Sitharaman was doing in this week’s Union Budget: she deserves full credit.