The wish of millions of middle-class Indians to own a home remained just a pipe-dream as soaring prices and builders’ keenness to focus on exclusive gated communities shut them out of the market.
It could change because bank loans become cheaper. More middle-class Indians can hope to get a step on the housing ladder in 2009. Various builders cut prices to move unsold stock and build cheaper homes.
The past few years have seen houses become just another financial asset, as punters and wealthy investors, buoyed by surging stock market earnings, trooped into the property market in the blind faith that the only direction to house prices was up. Their faith was rewarded, and house prices were driven up to surreal levels. Builders were only happy to play along, and many of them focused on high-margin exclusive developments, almost oblivious to the fact that such properties were beyond the reach of the vast majority of India’s 300-million middle class.
But sometime last year, realty discovered reality. High prices together with double-digit interest rates put off genuine buyers and many families abandoned their search for a home. And the stock market collapse turned the tables on the speculators, and with them, the building trade.