2016 was a year of landmark decisions for the Indian real estate industry, with the residential sector, in particular, witnessing concerted efforts by the Government to bring in transparency and boost consumer confidence. With the implementation of regulatory policies like the Real Estate Regulatory Act (RERA) and GST to provide a uniform and transparent taxation regime, 2017 has turned out to be quite positive so far. The green shoots of revival are now visible in India’s residential real estate sector.
This is heartening, as the realty sector was quite lackluster over the past two years, defined by low absorption levels and oversupply in many cities. However, the 2017 Union Budget and the recent deployment of pro-market regulatory policies such as GST and RERA have begun setting a positive momentum, with cities like Pune benefitting the most.
With its unique confluence of economic growth drivers and rapidly developing infrastructure, Pune’s real estate market has for long been performing much better than many other major cities. The city’s inclusion in the ‘100 Smart Cities’ list has now led to Pune gaining increased importance on the back of the implied infrastructure enhancements that this major Government program demands.
The MahaRERA Effect: Simultaneously, the implementation of MahaRERA has caused a significant realignment of the market. In fact, the day on which RERA was officially deployed created visible ripples on the Pune residential property market. A majority of the project hoardings which previously occupied every nook and cranny of the city vanished, thanks to RERA’s strict stipulation that only duly registered projects could henceforth be advertised. Today, RERA registration numbers are prominently displayed on the new hoardings – a clear indicator that the city’s credible developers have taken this new Act to heart and are living up to it.
In the post-RERA era, new residential project launches in Pune have slowed down. The larger developers are focusing on completing ongoing projects and making them RERA-compliant; most of the smaller players in the unorganized segment are choosing different tactics to sustain in the market. They are either finding buyers for their land, integrating with big players through joint ventures or are trying to make their projects RERA-complaint.
Despite being one of the most active residential markets in Maharashtra, Pune’s real estate market did show declining growth in 2016. Launches reduced in the last few quarters of 2016 due to accumulated unsold inventory of 2015 and uncertainty about the impending regulatory changes. The unsold residential inventory in Pune stood at 41,000 units by end 2Q17.
Current Market Trends: The effects of the generalized market slowdown across the country, combined with the effects of demonetization and RERA, certainly had an impact on Pune’s realty market. While the city’s residential property market is now displaying signs of returning interest by end-users, this momentum is defined by a lot of caution and indicates that growth will be gradually going forward.
At this stage of 2017, the city’s property market continues to be largely end-user driven, with speculative investors now accounting for only 10-15% of purchases, where they used to account for as much as 20-25% in 2010-11.
- The highest-selling categories in Pune currently are mid-income housing (which ranges between Rs. 4,500- 6,000/sq.ft.) and affordable housing (priced at Rs. 3000 – 4500 /sq.ft.)
- The higher mid-income segment (defined by properties selling at between Rs. 6000- 9000/sq.ft.) is currently seeing relatively lower traction, while luxury housing continues to underperform significantly when compared to peak years of 2010-11.
- Some established micro-markets such as Hadapsar, Wanowrie, Kharadi, and Aundh witnessed robust rental growth of around 8-12% in 2016, while emerging markets like Undri-Pisoli, Bhugaon, Wagholi, Dhanori, Pirangut, Hinjewadi and areas in close proximity to it saw the highest annualized capital price appreciation of 8-10%
- The rate of residential sales settled at 12.2% in 2Q 2017 as compared to 11.4% in 4Q 2016 – clearly indicating that the Pune market is absorbing the new regulatory environment maturely
- Housing priced in the budget range of Rs. 20-35 lakhs is now witnessing increased interest from private developers and is turning out to be a key driver for housing sales in Pune.
- The average capital value appreciation across micro-markets in 2016-17 was rather tepid at 3-5%, but the readings are expected to look a bit more positive towards the end of 2017, by which times the market will have recovered from the larger regulatory after-shocks.
Affordable and mid-segment housing (in the price range of Rs. 3,500-6,000/sq.ft.) added more than 25,000 units to the Pune residential real estate market in 2H 2016-1H 2017. The fringe areas of Pirangut, Bhugaon, Wagholi, Dhanori, Hinjewadi and areas in close proximity to Hinjewadi saw the maximum demand on the back of lower ticket sizes coupled with good connectivity to the city’s primary IT hub. This trend will continue, with several more affordable and mid-segment projects likely to hit the market in these areas over the next 12-18 months.
Areas such as Dhanori, Wakad, Ravet, Undri-Pisoli, Hinjewadi and Wagholi are now witnessing significantly increased sales inquiries and will remain among the preferred destinations for middle-income end-users in the short-to-mid-term. The response to newly-launched projects by strong, credible developers demonstrating RERA compliance is noteworthy, which in turn is encouraging developers to put maximum efforts during the launch process
With many new players having ventured into the affordable housing segment, the luxury homes segment is currently seeing stagnant prices, with limited demand and supply. Demand in this segment is likely to pick up significantly only after 18-24 months.
Market Drivers: IT/ITeS continues to be the key demand driver for residential real estate, with the population employed in this sector contributing significantly to residential demand. Pune City has witnessed an average commercial absorption of 4 million sq. ft. in the last 3-4 years.
- Apart from IT/ITeS, continued healthy job creation in the city’s manufacturing and automobile industries isdriving sustained inward migration from Pune’s rural areas, other Maharashtrian cities like Kolhapur, Nashik and Satara, and other parts of India
- Technology will play a key role as residential developers explore newer ways to optimize space utilization within their projects.
After the undoubtedly dampening effects of the demonetization move in late 2016, Pune’s property sector retained its status of being one of the country’s most stable and reliable residential markets. With various major infrastructure projects underway or on the charts, the city will soon experience vastly accelerated momentum in terms of real estate development:
- The proposed plan for the development of Pune Metro will have an effect on the prominent areas on the city’s CBD belt along with areas of Hinjewadi, Aundh, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Kharadi and Viman Nagar.
- The proposed Ring Road project will leverage the peripheral areas of Pune
- The Pune River Front Development Project will positively impact the areas on the Western and the Eastern belt.
Conclusion: In 2016, Pune remained a buyers’ market and primarily end-user driven. Developers vied with each other for customers in most locations – a ‘competition’ in which only those with projects nearing completion emerged as clear winners. High buyer caution prevailed throughout the year with regards to under-construction projects in the earliest stages of development. In 2017, sentiment on the Pune’s residential property market will remain positive, and fringe areas that offer better affordability and returns on investment will pick up.