27 February 2020

Editor's Space

The real estate churn


Of all the reforms demanded in India’s burgeoning real estate sector the approval of a bill which seeks to set up regulatory bodies at the Centre and in the various states to protect buyers by ensuring transparent business practices, must rank as a minor sop at best in view of its dilution. The view obtaining in business circles is that a section of the real estate lobby pushed hard for a watering down of the reform and succeeded. 


If India’s real estate sector has long been denied industry status – and viewed derisively – it is because of the lack of regulation and ensuing wrong practices on the part of a few developers who have made it a habit to renege against contractual commitments.  Inordinate delays in delivery of homes, usage of substandard building materials, tall construction promises which don’t materialise are amongst the most common complaints.   


The fact that the country’s real estate sector has for far too long lain outside the weltanschauung of government control, has to a considerable extent encouraged corruption and a lackadaisical attitude among builders to the detriment of the consumer.


That said it is also a fact that those contributing to housing stock have had to encounter systemic failures in the form of delays in obtaining clearances for projects – there are far too many of them, obstacles to easy availability of land, taxes and the like. 


The most recent Union Budget too has done precious little to address concerns of the builder community in an already depressed market. Assuredly the emphasis on development of infrastructure projects and long term objectives like Housing for All by 2022 and 100 Smart Cities has led to a measure of hope that things could improve for business under the new government.


What is worrisome is that the inventory of unsold homes – it stood at 6.88 lakh in the quarter ended March – is steadily heading north. There is now evidence that a few builders have begun to cut prices to reduce their inventory levels. While this will help clear some backlog it does not address larger concerns that India needs about 18 million new homes in its cities. The country’s real estate developers in tandem with the government will have to work out a strategy to reconcile the yawning gap between the two realities.


In the midst of this turmoil there have been real estate developers who have bravely held their own and have been contributing to the skyline of India’s cities through projects of various asset classes – luxe to affordable – keeping Quality, Sustainability and Public Weal in mind. In that process they have brought construction best practices, technology, quality building materials and their sincerity to bear. 


This issue’s cover story, ‘Realty’s Best’, in which we have profiled some of the leading real estate developers of the country, is a tribute to their immense dedication to their profession. These are the people who the nation will look forward to for the building of a Smart India. We know they will never fail. 


Have a wonderful read. 


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