Monthly Archives: May 2012

Bandra Kurla Complex and its Past, Present & Future

Bandra Kurla Complex was created by MMRDA as an alternate CBD to Mumbai, with the express purpose of halting the further growth of offices and commercial activities in South Mumbai. Currently, BKC has a total stock of 8 million square feet of office space. An additional supply of 2.5 million square feet is expected in 2012 with the completion of The Capital, FIFC and TCG Finance Centres. Over the last few years, BKC’s G Block has gained prominence as the key location within this unique micro-market. The current vacancy level at Bandra Kurla Complex stands at 16%.
Leasing and buying activity at Bandra Kurla Complex continued to accelerate during the last two quarters. The rent correction appears to be complete, with most existing buildings and new projects recording flat rates or slight increases over the prior quarter. The overall stability of the market is a sign that it has bottomed out.

With the Diamond bourse soon to be operational in 2 million square feet of premises, the people churn at BKC will increase dramatically. How the MMRDA will address the management of this sudden onslaught of traffic remains to be seen. Other areas of concerns at BKC include the continued lack of F&B outlets and sufficient public transportation. The Metro project announced in 2008 would be a game changer; however, this project has been drastically delayed. The monorail project, now scrapped, could have been a significant infrastructure boost for Bandra Kurla Complex.

Various infrastructure initiatives like the Santacruz–Chembur Link Road will help adjacent areas around BKC such as LBS Road, Sion, Kurla, Kalina and Mahim to develop, posing competition for BKC. Many senior executives who work in BKC are expected to shift their residence to Bandra, driving up residential prices in Bandra.

India’s Lodha Group in Talks to Buy DLF’s Mumbai Land-Sources

India’s Lodha Group is in advanced talks to buy a plot of land in Mumbai from DLF, the country’s largest listed real estate developer, for about $500 million, two sources with direct knowledge of the situation said.

Sale of the 17-acre plot is seen as part of DLF’s plan to sell some of its assets to pare its debt of about $4 billion. DLF bought the land for about 7 billion rupees ($129 million) in 2005.

Mumbai-based developer Lodha has emerged as the front-runner for the land parcel in central Mumbai said the sources, declining to be named as the matter is not public yet.

DLF declined to comment, while a spokesman for Lodha said the company was not in talks with DLF.


Century Real Estate and IIM-B sign MoU

Bangalore-based, Century Real Estate and the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore has signed an MoU for setting up the IIMB-Century real estate research initiative.

The IIMB-Century Real Estate Research Initiative will focus on collecting data and conducting scientific, cross-disciplinary research on the Indian real estate sector that will be published in leading academic and practitioner journals, the realty company said in a statement.

“There is a tearing need for such an initiative in the real estate space that will focus on research, act as an interface between the industry and the policy makers and eventually churn out quality human resource for this sector,” says P Dayananda Pai, Founder-Century Real Estate.

Additionally the research initiative will seek to provide guidance and policy recommendation to government and industry stakeholders on major issues relating to the Real Estate sector.

“The initial charter for the Research Initiative will be to create taxonomy of relevant data that will be required to do meaningful research, initiate research projects that fill key knowledge gaps and engage with key stakeholders within the industry” says professor Venky Panchapagesan, who has been leading the effort to set up this initiative at IIMB.


Will CREDAI, Fire Department MoU work?

Announcement of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (CREDAI) and the Karnataka State Fire and Emergency Services (KSFES) Department on fire safety certification has raised quite a few eyebrows in the real estate industry.

While an industry expert questioned how “credible” would the entire process be, if the issuance of a no-objection certificate (NOC) and a clearance certificate (CC), which earlier took months or even years, would now have to be completed within 30 days. “Currently, the KSFES has been manually going through each drawing and then mulling over all the errors and suggestions. This consumes a lot of time. According to our MoU, we will be providing software prepared by a company which would identify the errors in the drawing. It would indicate whether a particular project proposal is in acceptance of the norms by highlighting the faults in red colour. Then at the click of a button, the department can either condone or reject the proposal. The company has provided similar software to civic bodies of other places like Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Nagpur and other places. Hence, their credibility is established,” asserted Sushil Mantri, under whose President ship CREDAI signed the MoU. He argued that it is important to make this move as almost 90 percent developers are suffering because a handful of builders did not follow norms.

“CREDAI members are responsible for almost 60-70 percent output of the city. Further, to become a member of the confederation, they have to sign a code of conduct which covers all the approvals and rules. By delaying progress of approvals, not only do builders incur losses as production suffers, but also the revenue to the city and BBMP is further delayed,” he said.


Indian Springs Country Club to be Auctioned by Williams & amp; Williams

Williams & Williams, the premier brand in real estate auctions, today announced it will auction Indian Springs Country Club in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. This private club offers a first class experience with an array of amenities and recreational sports, making it an appealing and unique income-producing investment. The live auction will take place on Tuesday, June 5 at 5 p.m. CDT with a nominal opening bid of $250,000. Interested buyers can bid on-site or in real time from anywhere at

Developed in the 1960s, Indian Springs Country Club was designed to be the focal point of several residential communities. The 38,000+/- square foot clubhouse, which includes an outdoor patio area, is perfect for hosting weddings, birthdays and holiday celebrations for both casual and fine dining occasions year-round.

Indian Springs Country Club features two sprawling 18 hole regulation golf courses including the championship style River Course and the Windmill Course. The River Course features views of the Arkansas River with gently rolling hills, beautiful ponds and streams and challenging elevation fluctuations. The Windmill Course, developed in 1972, tests golfers’ accuracy and iron play with tight fairways surrounded by a variety of lush trees.

The tennis facilities are just as impressive, boasting 10 lighted post tension hard courts and four covered courts. Three swimming areas offer a cool escape in the summer months — two Olympic-size pools with diving boards and slides and a third pool for younger children.

“Indian Springs is more than a county club. For 45 years, it has been a gathering place for family, friends and the community to celebrate important family events, make memories and actively engage in golf, tennis and other social activities,” said DC Roberts, Senior Director of Sales at Williams & Williams. “The sellers have many years of fond memories and look forward to passing the property on to new owners to care for the club for generations to come.”

Broken Arrow and the neighbouring metropolitan area of Tulsa have grown up around this popular country club, although the immediate area still boasts a quiet suburban lifestyle and luxury homes. It is one of the fastest growing communities in the state and has been listed by Family Circle magazine as a top 10 best town for families and included on Money Magazine’s top 100 best places to live.

All club-owned equipment and furnishings will be conveyed with the real estate. For more details about Williams & Williams’ auction of Indian Springs Country Club visit Open public inspections will take place at 16006 East 131st Street South, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma on Friday, May 18, May 25 and June 1 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and two hours before auction.

Unitech’s Net Profit Plunges 98% On Weak Property Demand

Unitech Ltd. (507878.BY), one of India’s top realty companies by sales, Wednesday posted a 98% drop in consolidated net profit for the January-March quarter as expensive loans and property prices crimped demand for apartments and shopping malls. Profit in the fiscal fourth quarter plunged to INR22.6 million from INR1.03 billion a year earlier. The figure lagged the INR790 million averages of estimates in a Dow Jones Newswires poll of five analysts. Sales declined 32% to INR7.16 billion from INR10.54 billion.

Unitech and other realty companies in India have been hit by weak demand in a slowing economy. The central bank raised interest rates 13 times between March 2010 and October 2011, before finally easing rates this April. Also, rising living costs and reluctance of most realty companies to make major cuts in prices have made potential buyers put off purchases.  Unitech’s net profit for the financial year ended March 31 fell 56% to INR2.48 billion. Sales declined 23% to INR24.46 billion.  “Financial year 2011-12 was a very challenging year, particularly in terms of availability as well as cost of funding for real estate projects,” said Ajay Chandra, Unitech’s managing director. “This has resulted not only in an increase in financing costs for the company, but also adversely affected construction activity.”

Chandra said, however, that he expects the current financial year to be “significantly better” as there has been a gradual improvement in availability of funding in recent months. Also, interest rates are expected to come down. He said Unitech plans to deliver nearly nine million square feet of space in this financial year which began on April 1, up from last year’s 3.4 million square feet. The guidance will be helped by Unitech receiving bookings for 7.19 million square feet in the past financial year — including 6.34 million square feet of residential bookings — totalling INR38.08 billion. The company launched projects of 7.81 million square feet last year.

Unhappy with the Allahabad High Court Orders, Farmers Go On Rampage

After the Allahabad high court rejected the review petition of villagers in Noida Extension, a small section of farmers unhappy with the order went on a rampage targeting projects of several builders. Other farmers were, however, happy that the Allahabad high court had turned down the plea made by the Greater Noida Authority in its review petition to not dole out hiked compensation and developed plots to non-ancestral lands of villagers.

Soon after news of the order reached Noida Extension, some agitated farmers took to the streets and targeted under-construction properties of developers. They blocked traffic at the Gol Chakkar in Noida Extension for a few hours. The angry crowd was dispersed following police intervention. “After getting news about farmers agitating in the region, we reached the spot and our officials managed to quell the agitation,” said SP (Rural), Ashok

The police informed that no case has been filed into the incident of violence. “We are likely to register a case into the matter,” Kumar added.

Farmers’ counsel, Pankaj Dubey, informed that after facing rejection from the high court, where they had sought land to be given back to farmers, they would now challenge the October 21 verdict in the Supreme Court.

Other sections of farmers have expressed happiness over the fact that the plea made by Greater Noida Authority, vide its review petition, in which it had expressed its inability to pay hiked compensation and developed plots to all farmers has been turned down. The Authority had asked for relief from the high court in granting it order to pay compensation and plots only to those farmers who had ‘ancestral lands’ in the region as against ‘non-ancestral lands’ belonging to those who are not originally from the region but own land in different villages.

“The Authority had been trying to make a difference between ancestral and non-ancestral land in the region in giving compensation to farmers,” said Ranveer Pradhan, president of a farmers’ organization, Grameen Panchayat Morcha. “Not only was the Authority shy of giving any developed plots in lieu of acquiring ‘non-ancestral’ lands, they had also been paying 10% less compensation to owners of such lands. It is a matter of great satisfaction that farmers across the board are eligible to get 64% hiked compensation and 10% developed plots now that the high court has upheld its original order delivered on October 21,” said Pradhan.

The Grameen Panchayat Morcha said that there is a vast amount of land in the Noida Extension region which the Authority had classified as ‘non-ancestral’.


Allahabad High Court Says No Review of Noida Land Order

Home-buyers in Noida and Greater Noida will have to wait longer for their flats. The Allahabad high court on Monday dismissed the plea of the Noida and Greater Noida authorities seeking review of its earlier order requiring all projects in the area to get the NCR Planning Board’s approval. So, till these clearances are in place, buyers will not get possession.

However, there was some relief for the buyers as well, with the court striking down a review petition by a group of villagers who wanted the land acquisition quashed in a village where construction work had started. The ruling led to some farmers in Noida Extension taking to the streets and attacking housing projects. They blocked traffic for a few hours.

The court also stuck to its earlier ruling granting increased compensation as well as 10% of the developed land to farmers. Both the Noida and Greater Noida authorities had filed applications seeking review of the order dated October 21, 2011 which requires the NCR Board’s clearances for projects. The authorities argued before the three-judge bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, S U Khan and V K Shukla that there was no need for such approvals but the bench was not impressed.

The court also dismissed applications to review the order on providing 10% developed plots to farmers. The authorities said development work in the area was almost complete and there were no leftover plots which could be given to farmers. Appearing for the farmers, Kamal Singh Yadav, opposed the review applications saying developed plots were available but were not being provided to farmers. On October 21, 2011, after hearing 491 petitions against land acquisition filed by farmers of 63 villages falling under Noida and Greater Noida, the Allahabad High Court had cancelled land acquisition in three villages where construction had not started.

The acquisition was undertaken by the authorities using the urgency clause in the name of industrial development. But later the land use was changed to residential and plots sold to builders. However, in 60 villages where substantial construction work was already done, the court did not quash the acquisition. Instead, it asked the authorities to increase compensation and provide 10% to the affected farmers.

Thus, while ensuring enhanced compensation to farmers, the court also took into account the interest of more than 50,000 people who had booked flats and houses in projects on the acquired land. Now, the two authorities have no other option but to take approval of NCR planning boardwhose meeting is scheduled later this month and pay enhanced compensation to farmers.

Affordable Housing Policy for All is Coming Soon

In two months, India could have a brand new affordable housing policy, an effort to give some boost to a weakening real estate sector. The Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation is in the process of finalising such a policy in two months.

The government had already allowed external commercial borrowing for low cost houses in India in the annual Budget. But the real estate companies are not too keen on this segment because of the low margins. Hence the government is now trying to make affordable housing attractive for the developers as well.

The policy will raise the floor space index to compensate developers for high cost of land and also ease density norms, the Business Standard article says. It would give capital and interest subsidy to developers. Even government land would be auctioned on the basis of who could build maximum number of low cost houses.

The Mhupa has also built an internal committee to fast track the process of granting approvals of housing projects in a bid to reduce costs by 25-40 percent. Approvals would be given in six-eight weeks as against almost 70 approvals they require at present which typically take   between two to three years.

A recent example of such a case is the allegation by the Maharashtra Chamber of Housing Industry and the Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Associations of India that plan to construct 500,000 affordable homes in Mumbai, Thane and Raigad districts of Maharashtra is gathering dust due to “inaction and policy paralysis” on the part of the state government. Such projects could be better executed with some sort of a single window clearance system.

On the other hand, the government is also making strict riders for the ECB borrowing so that money cannot be borrowed for low cost housing and transferred to other segments. So the government could mention specific projects and developers that could access the ECB funds and also mention specific channels like National Housing Bank to borrow the funds.


With Stringent RBI Policy Do You Benefit From Buying a House Now?

Interest rates and escalating property prices had forced many prospective buyers to postpone their plans of buying a house. However, the recent easing of monetary policy by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has brought them relief in at least one aspect-lowering of interest rates.

Many public and private sector banks have announced a cut in their interest rates by 25 basis points. This means a reduction in the EMI that a borrower would have to pay. Suppose you had taken a home loan of Rs 30 lakh for 20 years at an interest rate of 11%. If the bank cuts its rates by 1%, resulting in a rate of 10%, your instalment will be slashed by Rs 2,000.

While this is undoubtedly a piece of good news, the recent regulation that has been introduced in the real estate sector has the potential to dampen your soaring spirits since it could impact your eligibility as a borrower and, consequently, your home buying decision.

If the interest rates drop, your eligibility as a borrower increases marginally, depending on the percentage of reduction. Says Adhil Shetty, chief operating officer of “While calculating the borrowing capacity of an individual, it’s typically considered that the EMI will be 40-50% of the net take-home salary.

So, if there is a substantial drop in the interest rate, his eligibility goes up.” This is because the borrower will be able to afford a higher EMI or be more comfortably placed to pay the same amount of EMI. However, Shetty says that most banks pass on the benefit only to new loan borrowers.

“If there is a drop of 50 basis points, the average borrowing capacity of an individual goes up by Rs 60,000-70,000, which is not much. Of course, this differs from case to case, but banks consider various other factors before offering a low rate even to new borrowers,” says Pankaj Maalde, head, financial planning,

He also advises that the fall in rates shouldn’t tempt you to prepay a loan. You will have to weigh whether the advantage of a lower EMI is higher than the prepayment penalty you may have to pay.

Demand in Residential Market will Remain Stagnant

A recent report by Global Property Consultants CBRE South Asia, India Residential Market View – 2011 states that while the residential markets across NCR and Mumbai witnessed steady escalation in prices during the revival period from 2009 to first half of 2011 (as high as 40-50% in certain micro-markets), the latter half of the year brought in stagnation in overall prices.

Numerous repo-rate revisions by RBI, which led to upward revision of mortgage rates, tighter control on teaser rates earlier being offered by financial institutions to reduce EMI burden in the initial years of loan tenure, and inflationary pressures impacted end user as well as investor sentiment by the end of 2011. This coupled with supply pile-up lead to downward pressures on capital values across various micro-markets in these leading hubs. While the year 2012 started on a positive note with the central bank reducing repo rates by 50 basis points for the first time in several months (after increasing it 13 times in the last 2 years), the impact on demand rejuvenation might be limited.

“During 2011, we witnessed initial buoyancy in the real estate market as investor and developer sentiment improved, riding on the high residential demand wave. However with repeated interest rate hikes, rising prices and prevailing economic conditions, the market saw a dip in sales towards the middle of the year,” said Anshuman Magazine, Chairman & Managing Director, CBRE South Asia Pvt Ltd. This led to a supply pile-up in the key markets of NCR (National Capital Region), Mumbai and Bangalore, leading to capital values remaining flat across various micro-markets in these three leading hubs.

“While the recent rate cut by the RBI has helped generate positive sentiments in the market, stagnancy in demand will continue in the short to medium term unless there is an overall improvement in the economic scenario,” Mr Magazine added The NCR market witnessed considerable appreciation in capital values in the first half of the year, with premium markets witnessing steady demand from expatriates, high net worth individuals (HNIs) and executives from multinationals and Indian companies.

IL And FS PE Plans Fresh Fund under Euronext-Listed Yatra Capital

IL&FS Investment Managers Ltd (IIML), the country’s largest home-grown private equity firm by assets under management (AUM), is planning to launch a fresh fund under the banner of Amsterdam’s Euronext-listed Yatra Capital.

Yatra Capital is an India-focused real estate investment firm, promoted by Saffron Capital Advisors.

Archana Hingorani, chief executive officer and executive director of IIML, told “We are in the process of getting shareholder approval at its upcoming annual general meeting. After the approval comes and depending upon the capital markets, we will be able to raise fresh money for the same.”

IIML would be hoping to be second time lucky.

This involved renaming the existing shares of Yatra Capital as ‘real estate shares’ whereas the new share class was to be christened as ‘infrastructure shares’. This would have developed Yatra Capital as a multi-class fund house with a strategy to invest in Indian infrastructure through debt and equity components, as against its present strategy of primarily equity investments in the Indian realty sector.

Yatra Capital has invested across asset class but its maximum exposure is in the retail segment where it has invested in market city projects of the Mumbai-based realtor Phoenix Mills Ltd. It also has enterprise level stake in Saket Engineers Pvt Ltd and the Phoenix Mills.

After the proposal was submitted, a number of amendments were suggested by the concerned shareholders and the board had later determined that until a final position was reached on the potential amendments to the proposal, it would not be implemented. This happened in spite of the board getting what it called a ‘broad’ investor support.

Oberoi Realty: Mumbai Land Prices Set to Extend 15% Decline

Mumbai land prices, India’s most expensive, may extend their 15 percent decline this year as high borrowing costs force indebted developers to sell real estate, Oberoi Realty Ltd. (OBER) Chairman Vikas Oberoi said. Land transactions have dried up as buyers aren’t willing to pay higher prices or “ferociously” compete to purchase land, while sellers have been holding out, he said.

“We are waiting for the right opportunity to buy,” Oberoi, who runs India’s second-largest developer by market value, said in an interview in Mumbai. “I don’t want to waste my bullets. Oberoi, with no debt and about 13 billion rupees ($244 million) in cash, will take advantage of falling prices to buy land, he said. Oberoi Realty reported a 5 percent increase in earnings to 1.43 billion rupees in the three months ended March 31 as the company increased home prices, beating analyst estimates.

Analysts have expressed concern that Oberoi isn’t deploying cash to buy land and putting the money to better use. The “missing clarity” on new land acquisitions may be a drag on valuations with “idle cash” offering lower returns, Mumbai-based analyst Tejas Sheth at Emkay Global Financial Services Ltd. said in a note to clients on April 26. Oberoi said he is in the market to buy land. “I am not watching the audience; I am watching my game, not playing for the gallery.” Oberoi said. “I am very interested and very aggressive to acquire land, but aggression can’t be jumping off the cliff, it has to be backed with caution and preparation. After I jump I want to land on my feet not on my head.”

Mumbai’s amended building rules for home construction will spur new projects and increase supply in India’s most expensive property market, where permissions to build had come to a virtual halt, Oberoi said. “The rules have crystallized what one can get, the basic land potential is clear,” Oberoi said. “Discrimination between two developers has now gone as everyone gets the same area. It’s levelled the playing field in a big way, which is fantastic.”


Due to Allotment Cancellation the Competition Commission of India Pulls Up DLF

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has pulled up real estate major DLF Ltd in a recent order for cancelling the allotment of an apartment of a member of DLF’s Park Place RWA, stating that it was in “direct contravention” of its stay order of September 2010.

The order was passed by the commission to prevent the opposite party from abusing its dominant position to the detriment of allottees during pendency of the proceedings. The CCI also severely admonished the builder for discriminatory behaviour towards members of the owners’ association and other allottees/owners.

The cancellation letter for one Vipin Mahajan was issued on January 28 last year when the interim order was in force. According to Mahajan, despite the directions being in force to date, the opposite party issued a letter in January last year, cancelling the booking of his apartment and forfeited a sum of Rs 23,06,778 out of the total amount of Rs 44,89,503.

While the CCI accepted this restoration of status quo and therefore felt that no further direction needs to be passed as far as restitution of Mahajan’s apartment was concerned which had been a great relief for the allottee concerned, the CCI as prescribed by the Competition Act 2002 “is obliged to impose penalty because of the deliberate non-compliance”? This, the order stated, was a violation of Section 42 of the Act.

Also, Section 48 of the Act makes it a liability of every person for penalty, who at the time of contravention was in charge of or was responsible to the company for conducting its business. DLF will now have to disclose the name of the errant persons who were responsible for the misconduct and also give a show cause notice as to why the penalty should not be imposed. The case on the same is up for hearing on May 17.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson of DLF Ltd clarified that the company had “restored the ownership of the apartment which was %cancelled due to non-payment of dues by the %allottee”.

Cognizant Raises Investment in Realty Business

Cognizant Technology Solutions has increased its real estate infrastructure expansion in India by nearly $200 million. The US-based company, which has large offshore presence in India, has revised its investment plan to a total of $700 million in real estate from 2011 through 2015.

This is to expand its campuses in India by an additional 10.5 million sq ft. This expanded programme includes expenditure on land acquisition, facilities construction and furnishings to build new company-owned IT development and delivery centres in regions primarily designated as Special Economic Zones in India.

In February 2011, the company announced $500 million of investment in its India infrastructure expansion through the end of 2014. However, at the beginning of calendar 2012, the company decided to expand its planning horizon for the India real estate programme to 2015 and beyond, said a company spokesperson. For the first quarter ended March 2012, Cognizant finished with $2.5 billion of cash and short-term investments. It spent around $60.5 million for capital expenditures during the quarter. “During 2012, we expect our capital expenditure to total approximately $370 million,” Ms Karen McLoughlin, Chief Financial Officer, Cognizant, told analysts while discussing the company’s financial results.

Cognizant ended the March quarter with around 1, 40,500 employees globally. Of this, nearly 105,000 are in employed in its India centres.


LIC Housing Finance for Real Estate Private Equity Fund Raises Rs 250 Crore

LIC Housing Finance Ltd, the mortgage unit of India’s biggest insurer, has achieved a first close of Rs 250 crore for its maiden real estate private equity fund. Launched late last year, the fund has a target size of Rs 500 crore, with a green shoe option of Rs 250 crore. This provision will allow LIC Housing Finance Asset Management Company, the manager of the fund, to sell more units than planned.

“We have raised Rs 250 crore so far from institutional investors like banks and corporates,” AK Sharma, chief executive of LIC Housing Finance, told ET. We also have additional commitment of Rs 50 crore and are hopeful to finish fund raising by June end.” The fund has a target net internal rate of return of over 22%. It will invest in urban real estate such as mid-income housing projects, IT parks and warehouses across tier I and II cities. “There is a huge demand for mid income category homes in the range of Rs 1,600-4,000 per sq ft and we will target such opportunities,” Sharma said.

The fund is already looking at various proposals. The asset management arm of LIC has received a commitment of Rs 50 crore each from LIC and LIC Housing Finance. LIC, which earlier targeted retail investors, is now looking to raise the remaining capital from the institutional investors. “Retail investment in private equity is yet to pick up. Retail investors do not understand the risks and rewards associated with the business,” Sharma said. There are at least half a dozen real estate-focussed funds in the market that are trying to scoop up fresh or follow-up funds to invest in Indian real estate. These include HDFC Property Fund, JP Morgan Asset Management, IndiaReit Fund Advisors and Kotak Realty Fund.

Delhi Government’s New Directive on Sale of Properties

Government of Delhi issued a fresh directive to the revenue department asking it to allow sale and purchase of immovable properties only through proper sale and not allow any such transactions by way of General Power of Attorney.

The direction issued by Divisional Commissioner Vijay Dev came as registration of properties at 13 sub-registrar offices across the city had slowed down drastically due to confusion on the issue following issuance of an advisory last month by the government clamping down on property transaction through GPA. “In today’s direction, the government has asked all concerned officials to strictly comply with the Supreme Court order on the issue. The order has been issued to remove the confusion,” said an official.

The government had put restrictions on GPA as a mode of property transfer following the apex court order on October 12 last year but such transactions had been taking place despite the order, prompting the government to issue the advisory. Following the advisory, registration of properties has come down at the sub-registrar offices.

The Supreme Court had on October 12 last year ruled that sale transactions carried out in the name of GPA will have no legal sanctity and immovable property can be sold or transferred only through registered deeds.

Koramangala a Hot Real Estate Destination in Bangalore

Decades ago, localities used to call Koramangala ‘Sollemangala’ (Solle means mosquitoes in Kannada). The area spread over 1,800 acres in eight blocks, was once petrified by mosquito menace and mangroves. It was a village and was considered not a great place to live for a Bangalorean in the 80s and 90s.

Today, it is one of the hottest real estate destinations in India’s Silicon Valley. “I would kill to get a place in Koramangala,” said MR Jagannathan jokingly. The 60-year-old retired employee stays very close to Koramangala. “It used to be in the outskirts of the city when I could afford it. Now, unfortunately I cannot buy a place there.” This is just a glimpse of how much the landscape and aspiration for Koramangala has changed over the years.

“You won’t believe it. I once had an offer to buy a plot in Koramangala for a few lakhs in the 90s. That time if I would have stretched a bit I could have actually owned something in Koramangala, but it was not so good then. This is one decision I regret to have made,” added Mr Jagannathan.

The Rahejas, real estate developers, are often credited with changing the landscape of Koramangala when they come up with mixed-use project called Raheja Arcade. Many companies those days shifted from other parts of Bangalore to Raheja Arcade. Then Forum Mall, which further increased the value of the locality. In fact Forum is one of the earliest malls in the country, which was constructed to meet international standards. Even to this day, it is one of most successful malls in the country.

At present, the rentals for mid-segment residential properties are expected to grow by 5-10 per cent in the Koramangala locality over the next few months. “This is due to good social as well as physical infrastructure, good connectivity to various business districts and availability of premium developments,” said Naveen Nadwani, director South India, for Cushman & Wakefield, a real estate consulting firm.

“Rentals for residential properties in the high-end segment are expected to remain stable while mid-segment are expected to witness further increases on account of persistent demand. While in the commercial office market space as well as in the retail segment, rentals may remain stable in the short to medium term,” added Mr Nadwani

While the rate for land parcels range between Rs 13,000-15,000 per square feet, not much of commercial space is available for sale. “At present, no major land parcels suitable for developers are available in Koramangala. Only a few scattered small plots ranging up to a size of 3,500 sq ft owned by individuals are available,” added Mr Nadwani. The residents of Koramangala are buying whatever is available. Recently, a well-known local businessman bought two adjacent plots in the vicinity. 

Godrej Properties Posts Its Worst Ever Quarterly Performance after September 2010

Godrej Properties,  part of the Godrej group and one of the most promising Indian real estate companies, posted its worst ever quarterly performance after the September 2010 quarter when compared year on year. The company has registered a subdued growth of 8% in its consolidated net sales and 17.4% drop in operating profit. The company’s performance was impacted by subdued sales volumes, weak operating margins and a slowdown in execution. Over 60% of its total income during the quarter was accounted for from projects connected to group companies. The remaining projects earned a negligible margin. Certain commercial projects were sold below the break-even cost leading to drop in margins.

Cost escalation and higher share of minority interest also impacted the company’s margins. Growth in sales volumes have not been very encouraging in its Garden City project in Ahmedabad which contributed 16% to the total income compared to 49% in the preceding December quarter. Net debt after excluding the money rose from IPP stood at 1554 crore leading to debt equity of 0.85. This is higher than the ratio of 0.55 at the end of the previous fiscal.

The company’s management though is optimistic about improving margins, ramping up execution and launching 17 new residential projects in FY13. Maintaining the health of its balance sheet is going to be a major priority. However for now, the stock is likely to see some more correction as the Street would knock off the premium built into the realty stock price on account of the company’s asset light model, good track record and reputation of its promoters.

Blackstone Buys StarHub Business Park in its First Singapore Deal

Private equity group Blackstone Group has made its first acquisition in Singapore, buying the StarHubGreen project from Germany’s SEB Asset Management for S$215 million ($173 million).
Stargazer Blackstone bought the 400,000-square-foot business park as part of an opportunity real estate fund, according to a source familiar with the deal. SEB and Blackstone agreed to the terms of the deal last week, the source said.

SEB, which held the business park in an open-ended property fund, was facing redemptions and opted to liquidate the asset, the source said. Singaporean mobile phone and television operator StarHub, majority-owned by sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings, is the anchor tenant in the building.

The transaction comes as European financial institutions seek to raise capital through asset sales, with French banks such as BNP Paribas, Societe Generale and Credit Agricole all offloading portfolios of loans in a bid to deleverage.

SEB Asset Management is based in Germany and is a unit of Stockholm-based bank Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken. The company had been trying to sell the property for some time, the source said.

Blackstone, one of the world’s largest private equity and alternative-investment companies, has about $38 billion in real estate assets. It recently established an office in Singapore that is expected to house a private-equity real estate team. The company is among a number of global players such as KKR & Co. LP that are expanding in Southeast Asia and building teams in Singapore.

Blackstone and SEB officials declined to comment on the deal when contacted on Monday.

Girish Karnad Reflects On Bangalore

Until a few decades ago, people came to Bangalore essentially for the horse races. Once the racing season was over, the city emptied out. Bangalore had little else to offer.

Today the racecourse has been moved out of the city—a former chief minister’s dream of erecting a 100-story commercial tower à la Singapore in the course’s place was foiled by public outcry—and Bangalore throbs through the year with no concern for the seasons. Its roads are chock block with traffic, and its hotels crammed. Bangalore started its life as a cantonment built by the British to keep a watchful eye on the nearby princely city of Mysore. It was European in its orientation, with wide roads, bungalows with pillared porticoes, and spired churches where everyone spoke English. And nearby was its “native twin,” Bengaluru, congested and cowed, where the lingua franca was the South Indian language of Kannada. In 1956 the administrative map of India was redrawn on a linguistic basis with each of its nearly 20 languages defining a separate state. And Bangalore found itself the capital of a new Kannada state, at the mercy of political and economic forces it was unprepared for. The first to pour in were bureaucrats who needed offices, houses, and roads to run the new state, their numbers swelled by the philosophy of a socialist economy that led to the setting-up of government-sponsored enterprises, like the telephone and the aeronautical industries. Ancillary enterprises followed, leading to an influx of migrant workers.

Rs500cr Housing Project in Gurgaon to be Built by Assotech and Sunapollo

Real estate Company Assotech and private equity firm Sun-Apollo Friday announced the development of a housing project in Gurgaon at an investment of about Rs 500 crore over the next three years.

Sun-Apollo Real Estate Advisors has invested Rs 75 crore to pick up nearly 50 percent stake in Assotech’s subsidiary firm which would develop this project. Assotech has infused Rs 76 crore for nearly 51 percent stake in the subsidiary. “We are entering into the Gurgaon market by launching a 12-acre housing project in partnership with Sun-Apollo. This is our first project to receive private equity investment,” Assotech Managing Director Sanjeev Srivastava told reporters.

The project, which is located on Dwarka Expressway, has been launched at a price of about Rs 5,000 per square feet. He said the company has bought the licensed land where it would develop about 580 apartments, 23 villas and 102 flats for economically weaker section. “The total investment in this project ‘Assotech Blith’ would be about Rs 500 crore including the land cost over a period of the next three years,” Srivastava said.

The investment would be met through equity contributions from both the partners, bank loans and advances from customers against sales, he added. Sun-Apollo Principal Alok Aggarwal said: “The two partners are committed to invest more if required for construction activities”. The private equity firm has also invested in real estate projects of Parsvnath Developers and Godrej Properties in north India. “We will do more projects with Assotech in future if there is good opportunity,” Aggarwal said.

Assotech is currently developing many housing and hotel projects in the National Capital Region (NCR), Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar.

All Power Of Attorney Property Deals got Banned in Delhi

In an order that puts thousands of property transactions in Delhi under a cloud, the revenue department has made all realty sales through transfer of general power of attorney null and void with retrospective effect from October last year.

The order, dated April 27, directs all 13 sub-registrar offices, DDA and NDMC to follow the Supreme Court’s order last October that no sale deed will be registered if it is through a GPA transfer. This means transactions carried out since October on GPA transfers will have to be registered afresh with complete documents.

On average, around 20% of registries are done through GPA transfers, a common way of selling leasehold properties and those that don’t have a clear title. In Delhi’s northwest district, for instance, of 5,300 documents registered across three sub-registrar offices in March, 1,157 were GPA transfer registries. Bankers said the proportion of GPA transfers were even higher in sales involving bank loans.

Top revenue department officials steered clear of taking responsibility for the delay in implementing the Supreme Court order. They said that as this was a Supreme Court order, it should have been implemented at the sub-registrar offices since October. They admitted, however, that registrars have only stopped registering such sale deeds after the April 27 directive from the revenue secretary and divisional commissioner Vijay Dev.

Realty watchers said the order will reduce the number of saleable properties in the capital and lead to a hike in the value of properties on freehold land.

Real Estate Bill Delayed

The much-awaited regulatory Bill for the real estate sector is still a long way off. The draft Real Estate Regulation Bill will not be tabled during the current session of Parliament, a senior official in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation has confirmed.

For many years, the Bill was in making and was slated to be introduced during the Budget session. The housing ministry is now targeting the monsoon session of Parliament. The official said the final draft was ready. The draft bill has gone through some changes related to clauses on imprisonment and compulsory registration.

The imprisonment, according to the final draft, applies only in the case of non-registration with the real estate regulation authority. Registration is mandatory for projects of a certain area and type. The maximum term of imprisonment is up to three years, and penalty may be extended up to 10 per cent of the project cost. In the earlier draft of the Bill, imprisonment was recommended in case of wilful failure to comply with orders of Appellate Tribunal too. The ministry has also reduced the area size for compulsory registration from 4,000 square feet in the earlier draft to 1,000 square feet now. This would mean registration would be mandatory for the smaller players too.

National Real Estate Development Council (Naredco) hailed this as a good move. “It would also check fly-by-night operators in real estate, which are majorly into smaller projects,” said R. R Singh, Naredco director-general. “However, the load on the authority will increase, as it would get flooded with projects for registration as smaller projects are more in number.” Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (Credai), however, wants no limit on the registration. “No developer should be left out of the ambit of Real Estate Regulation Authority,” according to Credai chairman Lalit Jain.

The objective of the proposed legislation is to establish an authority to regulate, control and promote planned and healthy development and construction, sale, transfer and management of colonies, residential buildings, apartments and other similar properties, besides to host and maintain a website containing all project details.


Delhi Homes Sells Faster Than Mumbai.

Mumbai may be second to Delhi in unsold homes, but it will take longer to sell them. Real estate developers in the financial capital must wait over three years to clear 1.13 lakh units or 120 million sq ft as high prices deter potential buyers, shows a study released by Liases Foras, a real estate rating and research consultant.

The study covers units in Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) — including Mumbai city, Thane, Kalyan and Navi Mumbai — National Capital Region in Delhi, Pune, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai. NCR, with 232.57 million square feet or 1.60 lakh units of unsold homes — roughly double Mumbai’s —will likely sell homes much faster, in 23 months.

“The NCR market is primarily an investor market and has very little comparison with Mumbai,” says Om Ahuja, chief executive officer (residential services) at Jones Lang LaSalle India. “The real estate market in areas like Gurgaon or Noida attracts a lot of money from neighboring states like Punjab, UP and Delhi as people invest in residential properties.” Among the six metros, Pune homes will be sold the fastest, taking just 14 months to sell its 43.06 m sq ft at the current pace of buying. A steep rise in interest rates in the last 18 months was seen as the key reason for low sales as buyers try to avoid high home loan instalments.

The Reserve Bank of India cut key rates by 50 basis points last month, forcing lenders to lower their retail lending rates which could push sales.