25% divides buyer & seller

Buyers are treading cautiously and not taking hasty decisions given the economic slowdown,job insecurity and the likelihood of interest rates falling further.

Written by Ranjani Raghavan | Pune | Published: March 9, 2009 3:45 am

If there is a consensus among buyers,it is that the property rates need to come down further. On the other hand,most sellers insist that rates have bottomed out. In the concluding part of this series on the disconnect between buyers and sellers,both sides spell out their differences

Buyers are treading cautiously and not taking hasty decisions given the economic slowdown,job insecurity and the likelihood of interest rates falling further. Sellers rue that of every 10 potential buyers,only a couple get back with an offer – the rest are just buying time.

“My daughter is a serious buyer,as her friend is. Why would we run around the city,investing time and energy away from our jobs if we were not serious about buying an apartment?” said Renu Walia,whose attempts to find an apartment for her daughter has drawn a blank as she found most advertisements promising affordable/reduced rates to be incorrect.

“We liked a 2BHK apartment in Sopanbaug and the developer quoted Rs 42 lakh. How is the price any different from what it was during boom time? I have offered Rs 30 lakh,” she said.

“That is precisely the trouble. You reduce the price on what was the earlier rate,and then the buyer wants to bargain on that reduced amount too. People are now quoting almost absurd figures,” said city developer Rohit Gera,spokesman for the Promoters and Builders Association of Pune (PBAP).

Indeed,buyers are quoting rates that are 25 per cent lower than the offer prices. They are quick to point out that rates had grown absurdly in the last couple of years (see

rate chart).

The mismatch between buyers and sellers has been growing in the last 10 months,said Mathew Oomen,a realtor. “People want to know if there are any distress sales going on. If a seller says Rs 50 lakh,buyers are quoting Rs 32 lakh,” said Oomen.

That buyers are feeling bold enough to quote what they feel should be the right price is resulting in as much disquiet for the realtor as for the builder,say buyers. They point out property prices remain “over-hyped” and have no direct correlation with cost incurred by the developer. From Rs 20 lakh,rates went up to Rs 60 lakh in no time,with builders justifying it by citing the spiralling cost of cement,steel and crude oil,they say.

“The prices of these commodities have fallen drastically now but developers have brought down their prices only marginally,” said Sujith Unni,who has seen apartments at Sinhagad Road,Vishrantwadi and Baner. “It is difficult to negotiate with developers. They will quote Rs 3,500 per sq ft and bring it down to Rs 3,300 per sq ft; that is what they call a price cut,” he said.

Nitin Nyati,city developer,admitted that prolonged negotiations have become the norm with buyers – if they made a decision after the third visit last year,now they need to visit 10 times. “We’ve reduced our prices by 10-15 per cent everywhere. And if buyers want alternative less expensive assets in their homes – say plain wall instead of a wooden paneling,we further accommodate prices,” Nyati said.

Col Shirish Kamboj,who is searching for a 3 BHK apartment,said it was not true that there has been any serious price correction in Pune so far. “Developers say they are willing to negotiate. But buyers like me find the situation similar to sale offers in malls – where the prices tags are inflated and then a percentage discount is offered to the buyer,” he said.

Naresh Malkani,who runs a realty firm,said sellers need to realise that prices were earlier targeted towards investors who have now disappeared.

“You only have end users left who will buy only at largely corrected prices. In places like Kharadi,Mohammadwadi,Balewadi that are seeing excess capacity,prices need to fall much more. Only in prime areas can sellers afford to hold on,” he said.

(Concluded)

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