A fear of a bubble comes in the mind of everyone who is looking to buy or invest in real estate now a day. But without looking at facts one should not come up with any conclusion that speculates real estate bubble in India.
The Indian real estate industry is growing with a CAGR of more than 30% on the back of robust economic performance of the country. After a little downturn in 2008-09, it has revived rapidly and shown tremendous growth. The market value of under construction project has increased from $70 bn at end-2006 to $102 bn by end-June 2010, which is equal to 8.2 per cent of India’s nominal GDP for 2009.
Besides the Govt. initiatives- liberalization of foreign direct investment norms in real estate in 2005, introduction of the SEZ Act, and allowing private equity funds into real estate, key factors contributed to this tremendous growth were ‘lower price’ which has attracted buyers and investors not only from India but NRIs & Foreign funds have also deployed money into the Indian real estate market. In addition to that, aggressively launching of new projects by builders had further improved this positive sentiment which paved the way for rapid growth in the market last year.
Now the question is whether any Bubble is forming in the Indian real estate market? Let’s look at the recent real estate bubble in the USA, Europe and middle-east. Beside economic factors, key contributing factors in those bubbles were a rapid rise in price beyond affordability, home ownership mania, belief that real estate is a good investment and feel good factor among which rapid price hike is a key cause of any real estate bubble.
Comparing it with Indian scenario, all those factors are working in major cities of India specifically Tier-I cities. Prices have skyrocketed and crossed earlier pick of 2007 in the cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangaluru, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Gurgoan, Chandigarh& Pune. Even in some cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Gurgoan and Noida prices have gone by 25-30% higher than the pick of the real estate market in 2007. However, during an economic downturn in 2008-09, prices fell by 20-25% in these cities. The other factor is home ownership mania and belief that real estate is a good investment. Need based buyers and investors were attracted by lower prices at the end of 2009 and started pouring money in real estate market. Tier-I cities Mumbai, Delhi-NCR, Bangaluru, Chennai, Pune, Hyderabad, Kolkata has shown maximum investment in real estate projects. Developers have taken the advantage of this improved sentiment and started launching new projects. This has further boosted confidence among those buyers and investors who had missed an opportunity to buy or invest earlier, which has further increased the price unrealistically fast. And at last feel good factor which is also working since last few months. The key factor of any bubble market, whether we are talking about the stock market or the real estate market is known as 'feel good factor', where everyone feels good. For the last one year the Indian real estate market has risen dramatically and if you bought any property, you more than likely made money. This positive return for so many investors fueled the market higher as more people saw this and decided to invest in real estate before they 'missed out'. This feel good factor is at the heart of any bubble and it has happened numerous times in the past, including during the stock market crash of 2008, the Japanese real estate bubble of the 1980's, and even Irish property market in 2000. The feel good factor had completely taken over the property market until recently and this can be a key contributing factor for bubble in Indian property market. Even after the flow of negative news on real estate market correction and/or bubble, people are still highly positive on real estate growth in India.
Looking at the above factors, there is a possibility of bubble formation in a few cities in India but it can harm buyers and investors only if it bursts. Generally bubble form with artificial internal pressure and can stay for a long time if not acted by external force. Similarly, in case of the real estate market, bubble can burst if demand and price start falling suddenly and drastically. Few findings of recent research by IKON Marketing Consultants throw more light on this. According to that majority of investors from Delhi, Mumbai, Bangaluru, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Gurgoan, Chandigarh & Pune are now not willing to invest at this level of price as not seen any rise recently. The majority of them are about to exit, and book profit on their earlier investment. Another factor is a demand, supply gap. In a city like Mumbai,where around 6500 apartments with 45 million square feet space is under construction, but the majority of developers is worried about the lack of 100% booking. The same situation is with Delhi and other major towns of India, which has demonstrated higher than expected enthusiasm. Though developers giving a positive outlook of market while interviewing them, but their confidence level is very low which is giving negative signals of falling demand in nearest future. Third important factor is expected outflow of foreign fund. India, as an attractive investment destination a huge fund has been deployed in Indian property market by foreign institutes and NRIs. But now property market in the US, the Middle east and the Europe has been stabilized and started growing gradually which is attracting foreign funds due to lower prices. A huge fund is expected to withdraw from India as foreign investors see greater opportunities in those countries. All these factors may act as external pressure, which may lead to a bubble burst.
Considering above facts, IKON Marketing Consultants predict that there is a possibility of the real estate bubble in Tier-I cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangaluru, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Gurgoan, Chandigarh & Pune. However, IKON does not see much trouble in the overall market as Tier-II and Tier-III cities are growing gradually and are the backbone of Indian real estate industry. According to IKON’s research, Indian real estate industry may see some downturn in 2011. It may start from 1st quarter of 2011 and last up to 3rd quarter of 2012. However, it will be not too intense as it was during recession period. It is expected that the price may slash by 10-15% during this phase of the correction, but under certain situation, it may last up to end of 2013 with price correction of 30% specifically, in Tier-I cities.
By its nature, a bubble is a short term phenomenon while the Indian property market has shown continuous growth, apart from periodic adjustments, in the last few years. One should not forget that there are more than 400 million Indians waiting to hit the middle class group which will require more than 75 lacs housing units by 2013. Whether the bubble burst or see a bit trouble in short term, growth story will remain intact for Indian real estate industry. However affordability is the most important factor when it comes to housing prices and middle class housing is much levels of affordability in most of the major cities in India. People, who compare India with developed European cities, forget the huge difference in affordability in both areas. Ofcourse, there is a huge demand for housing, but they can only buy what they can afford.