Lost Battle for Bargain Hunter

By Murari Chaturvedi

The last battle for bargain price is almost over, as of now. Bargain hunters have lost the battle to arrest the rising prices of real estate all over the country. On the eve of rising price trend from now, the rates started stagnated in many developing zones. Sellers are capitalising on short supply of real estate, especially in Mumbai, where local demand looks for local supply. In 2006, Kandivali was selling for Rs. 5500/- per sq.ft. These rates touched almost Rs. 10,000/- in 2007. Though 2008 had seen a 30% drop but now it is selling for Rs. 7000/- to Rs. 9000/- again. In Ghatkopar, the story repeats itself. The era of discounted prices, it seems, over before the festive season starts. A marginal increase is expected in the next three months because of usual demand converting into sales. A further slump is expected in the last quarter of this financial year. But by April 2010, property rates are most likely to touch sky high again. The tug-of-war between sellers and bargain hunters is losing grounds from the latter’s end.

Buying property is every homeless person’s dream. But at what cost? Buyers became bargain hunters, some of them were lucky but majority of them feels that the bus left them without boarding them. To arrest the prices at once, buyers waited long enough to get maximum of minimum. The rates were reduced for want of affordability and cash crunch in the economy. Builders started budget homes on the rural country side where there was no promise of water and power and basic road network. Railways lifted their hands to carry such huge passengers from such isolated places to Mumbai. The rates offered on package basis instead of per sq.ft. basis. In the name of budget homes, places like Virar and Thane booked properties for as high as Rs. 4000/- per sq.ft. without the knowledge of budget buyers. The definition of affordability is changed in the current era. Builders have reduced price by Rs. 2000/- psft. and claiming to have affordable houses rates at Rs. 25000/- psft. in posh western suburbs of Mumbai. Premium properties like these never took buyers seriously and never lower downed their rates, not even in so called recession. World over, USA and UK property market collapsed. But bargain hunters failed to capitalise their dreams in Indian markets. Nexus between power centres of our civil society and cartelling of margin extruder and intermediaries never gave chance to these hunters a sign of relief. Housing finance institutions also gave step motherly treatment to budget buyers and honest cases. Government enhanced the reserved prices of land which were to accommodate masses like in Navi Mumbai and NCR. In all, every interested party joined hands to make bargain hunter loose the battle to find affordable homes within the city limits.

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