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Hunt for bargains in these recessionary times
Source : The Hindu Property Plus Published On : 2009-03-07 City : Kochi

Property rates have come down in some prime places. SHYAMA RAJAGOPAL says buyers can capitalize on the lower prices.

Recession has its benefits. As builders and brokers look to beat market sentiments, homebuyers should find it easy to get good deals.

It is the time when one can get a good barg ain, says a real estate dealer.

Property rates have come down drastically in some prime places in Kochi, such as the National Highway bypass area, where prices had been high because of the huge development potential.

The boom had seen the prices soar to about Rs.35-40 lakhs a cent in certain areas on the roadside, says K.A. Mohandas, land dealer.

Now, the prices have dropped by about half in certain areas.

“People will never say it so. But if a buyer offers a price lower than what has been quoted, the seller will consider it over,” he says.

Location factor

What holds the prices from falling further is the location, says another land dealer. People wish to live in places with easy access to bus and railway stations, schools, markets and so on.

The wonderful view of the backwaters and other splendors of nature are secondary to many.

But if a picturesque locale comes with all facilities and easy access, the prices are resistant to recession, the dealer adds.

People look to build houses a little away from the roadside, by about 100 meters. They do not want the bustle on the road to enter the house.

This is one of the deciding factors in buying land, says a land dealer.

Some do not think about the difficulties in living close to the road when they buy land, he said.

It only dawns on them when they start living there.

It is the buyers’ market now, he says.                                    

But the irony is that people with investment interests will not buy at this time.

Only those who want to build a home are interested.

It is a good time to build too.

There is a definite hold on inflation, unlike in the past when the prices of building materials shot up every quarter or even month.

Enquiries about land and property are on a steady increase on web sites, says the promoter of a web site dealing in property in Kerala. Though the surge in the property business had come down, searches on the web site are increasing steadily — may be to check out any major investment opportunity or because of the fact that most of the likely investors are from the web-savvy young group.

Less hype   

He says the market has lost the hype.

Builders are on the guard, wary of announcing launches, as completed projects seem to have better demand. There are fewer property advertisements.

People are definitely more vigilant now in buying property than they were earlier as there is more awareness on building rules.

Many people had earlier fallen victims to the designs of unscrupulous builders who had flouted rules — some continue to cheat in spite of the State government’s promise to come down heavily on such operators, he says.

There are quite a few builders, no big names in the construction sector, who have managed to sell their products because of their reputation with the investors. The faith of the investor in the builder is most important, he says.

It is the reliability factor that has kept many builders going and the lack of it that has put many out of business. The funds have stopped trickling in for many.

Certain groups of builders have been systematic in their approach to provide housing. They are continuing to hold on, he says.

Low-cost housing

However, what was missing in the builders’ approach here was low-cost housing.

The recession has brought in the possibility of a number of expatriates returning home.

They will be looking for a small house or landed property. This is an area that the builders have not yet looked into.

Though the government has earmarked funds to cater to their needs in the budget this time, the sum is rather inadequate considering the number of people likely to return, says Antony Kunnel, secretary of Kerala Builders’ Forum.

The government should provide them investment opportunities here to enter into business that will keep their morale up.

Return of workers

As the construction sector in the Gulf countries has come to a halt, it is likely that the sector here can gain with the return of these skilled workers, says a builder.

There is a dearth of skilled workers, most of whom had found better opportunities abroad.

Now, migrant workers from West Bengal and Orissa form a large part of the labor force in the construction sector, finding better wages here than in their home State.

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