Foreign Investors May Avoid Real Estate

Foreign investors may shun the Indian real estate market as lower asset prices in the US and the potential to earn better returns skew the risk-reward equation against emerging markets such as India.

Mr. S Sriniwasan, CEO, Kotak Real Estate Fund, said, “Real estate developers face a double whammy of slowdown in the overall growth and hardening of interest rates, while the perceived risk-reward equation for India is going down”.

Take a pension fund in the US, which has the option to invest in the real estate in India or other markets. As the level of information is better in other markets, investors find it easier to take a call there.

According to a real estate expert,”These are existing assets, so there’s no development risk unlike in India. Also, if they are investing at home, there’s no currency or political risk compared to here. As they can make a return 18-20% in the US, they are wondering if it is worth going to India for an additional 5%”.

Investors feel that the marginal higher return is not commensurate with the higher risk investors have to take here. These are early days yet, but this is reflected in the slowdown in decision-making for investment in India.

In April, Citi Venture and AIG put off plans to invest Rs 1500 crore in Mumbai-based real estate developer Akruti City.

Experts say PE majors are delaying decision because they are not sure. There’s lag effect, but developers are beginning to accept the reality, and offer better terms. This is evident in the financing terms they are accepting these days.

Typically, if a PE major and developer invest in a project in the ratio of 75:25, beyond an internal rate of return 15-16 per cent, the profit-sharing shifts in favour of promoters, in the ratio of 60:40. This hurdle rate has now shifted to about 20%.

Mr. Sriniwasan said, “Real estate is headed for difficult times. The next 12 months could see a lot of turmoil. Inflationary pressures will keep the interest rates high. The deficit financing (oil subsidies) will put a lot of pressure on the economy”.

What this means is that the days of super-natural profits are over, and developers will have to start pricing their end-products at affordable prices. Two, the frenzy for acquiring ‘land bank’ will go away and land prices will start correcting.

The land aggregators, who have been buying land for companies going public, are stuck or running out of money. A correction may not be such a bad thing.

One Comment

  1. Posted June 27, 2008 at 2:13 am | Permalink

    Chief Minister of Goa, Mr. Digamber Kamat said that his government is seriously considering regulating the sale of property to foreign nationals in the state. The Goa government is working out on a bill to tense up the control on sale of land to foreigners. On this issue, Mr. Kamat said, “It’s not yet a cabinet decision but we are all concerned about how the image of Goa is being ruined in the wake of certain incidents involving foreign nationals”.
    While Law Minister Dayanand Narvekar has announced that the government has decided to ban foreigners from buying properties in Goa, the ground reality may be different

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