The year has not started well for the real estate sector in Pune. Its just a continuation of where it left off in 2008. The figures collected at the office of the Inspector General of Registrations,Pune (urban and rural) says it all. There has been a 68 per cent drop in revenue this January against a year ago.
In January 2009,the revenue collected towards stamp duty and registration was around Rs 60 crore. This was a massive fall from Rs 175 crore last January. In
December 2008,the drop was to the tune of 53 per cent at around Rs 66 crore from Rs 140 crore a year ago.
This is against a 40 per cent dip in revenue for the entire state in January with Rs 541 crore,down from Rs 896 crore in January 2008. The drop was 37 per cent in December 2008 at Rs 573 crore,down from Rs 908 crore in December 2007.
This is as good a denominator as any of the real estate blues that has gripped Pune as bad as any other part of the state,though builders still claim its not been as bad as its been made out to be. A bulk of this revenue stream comes from sale deeds; the other components being rental agreements,power of attorneys,mortgage deeds and development agreements.
Real estate agents admit that sale transactions have come to a virtual standstill in the city,especially in the last two months. Most say that they do not know yet if realty market has hit the bottom yet.
The agents said inquiries were on the rise in January and February,but these are not getting converted to sales. Inquiries are from customers who quote ridiculously low rates. On the other hand,the prospective buyers said the sellers and the estate agents are still living in an era gone by and quoting fantasy prices.
Abhijit Kulkarni is both a seller and a buyer like many others in the city and advocates both sides of the divide. While he is pushing down the price of his new purchase,he expects a good price for the one he is selling; his key argument being that his old apartment is in a better location.
Out of every 10 inquiries we get,two are from customers who quote really low,sometimes ridiculous prices,six are from people who are just looking around to see if the prices will drop further or are indecisive about buying now; only around two are serious customers, said Rahul,a real estate agent in Aundh.
Sometimes,after a lot of negotiations we bring the price down,but the customers back out and talk of waiting for some more time. They are of the opinion that the prices will further tumble. It is most aggravating, said Vijay,a real estate agent from Wakad.
If there is one thing that stands out about the Pune real estate sector today it is the huge disconnect between the buyer and the seller. Its almost as if the seller and the buyer are speaking two different languages. And the estate agent who should be playing the role of a translator suddenly forgets all about his business. The builders,sitting on a four-fold rise in rates,feel they can wait indefinitely to ride out the present slump. The wannabe buyers say 25 to30% correction has taken place in other cities. Both refuse to blink. The result: A classic standoff,with almost no business being transacted. The Indian Express begins a series.