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Indian Real Estate Market: Bubble or a Bit Trouble?

A fear of 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.

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 in to Indian 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 market last year.

Now question is whether any Bubble is forming in Indian real estate market? Let’s look at the recent housing bubble in USA, Europe and middle-east. Beside economic factors, key contributing factors in those bubbles were rapid rise in price beyond affordability, home ownership mania, belief that real estate is 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 has 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 market in 2007. However during economic downturn in 2008-09, prices fell by 20-25% in these cities. Other factor is home ownership mania and belief that real estate is good investment. Need based buyers and investors were attracted by lower prices in 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 opportunity to buy or invest earlier which has further increased 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 flow of negative news on real estate market correction and/or bubble, people are still highly positive on real estate growth in India.

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