BANGALORE: Economic slowdown has cast a shadow on Bangalore’s housing market, with the rising cost of living and poor salary increments forcing an increasing number of IT professionals in the city to put their upscale homes on sale.
Gen Y techies, who had invested in apartments, row houses and bungalows in Bangalore — India’s IT capital, some 15 years ago, are now finding it difficult to service their expensive home loans or even maintain these houses amid falling rental yields. Resale inventory in this housing segment has grown 30-35% over the last six months, according to property portal CommonFloor.com.
Six of every 10 such properties are owned by IT executives, up from around four about two years ago, it said. “The booming real estate market was a major incentive for techies, but now that salaries are not going any higher, inflation is getting the better of these people, they are feeling the heat and the burden of hefty EMIs,” said Mohandas Pai, the former CFO and head of HR at Infosys, who has seen the IT industry grow in Bangalore over the last 20 years from close quarters.
“Now they are eager to get rid of any excess property they possess while they can still getting a good deal,” added Pai, who is chairman of Manipal Global Education. Since 2001, the city has seen an addition of 350,000 apartments, about 8% of which are now up for sale. During this period, about 45,000 villas and penthouses were added to the city and 8% of these are now in the resale market.
“These properties would fetch a huge premium now, running into a crore or more. Why not sell them off,” said Kalpana Murthy, associate director — residential services at Cushman & Wakefield, a property consultant.
Bangalore’s realty sector had witnessed steady investment by salaried IT professionals till a few years ago, with well-paying jobs making even a second or third home affordable for some. Around this time, real estate prices were low and the return expectation high, which helped push up rentals. That demand, however, began to peter off as recession set in, hitting company bottom lines and employees’ salaries. Salary increments in the IT sector this year have been in the 6-8% range, compared with a minimum of 15% between 2007 and 2010. Adding to the gloom is IT industry body Nasscom’s forecast that the domestic IT sector could generate 50,000 less jobs this year, down 17% compared with last year.
“Looking at the appraisals for the year, I stalled my shifting plans, which would only increase my expenses,” said 35-year-old Ankit Jain. The Accenture employee recently sold his 1,500 sq ft, three-bedroom apartment on Sarjapur Road, which he had bought in 2009, for twice the purchase price. But not everyone is as lucky. With several such professionals in the market to sell, and builders launching new projects every month, Bangalore is facing an oversupply of sorts while demand has been dropping steadily. “The market is certainly slow and sellers are finding it difficult to find buyers.
The slowing economy and rising inflation is making matters worse,” said Srinivas Reddy NS, senior manger — research at Jones Lang LaSalle, another property consultant. Home sales across the country have been slipping over the last few quarters. According to property research firm Liases Foras, new home sales in Bangalore in the June quarter were down 23% from a year ago. Another techie, Shameer VK, 35, who works with Cisco and lives in a 2,000 sq ft apartment in Marathalli, said his home is “too lavish”, given the current economic scenario.
“I bought my apartment for close to Rs 50 lakh in 2008, and I pay an EMI of Rs 39,500. A similar house in the same project now goes for Rs1.3 crore,” Shameer said, adding that if he is able to find a buyer for his flat, the money will help him pay off his debt and also buy a smaller property in the neighbourhood. The housing resale market in Bangalore is dominated by peripheral localities in the east and south of the city, which are close to major IT hubs.
According to Sumit Jain, chief executive of CommonFloor.com on Sarjapur Road, which is equidistant from Whitefield and Electronic City, more than 11% of all properties are available for resale. At Whitefield and Bannerghatta, it is 10.9% and 6.9%, respectively. Marathalli has 4.9% while JP Nagar has 4.6%. With the rupee having fallen sharply against the dollar, experts say it could be an opportunity for non-resident Indians who are repatriating dollars.