MUMBAI: Real estate developers have welcomed the RBI's decision to cut repo rate by 50 basis points, but have also appealed to banks to pass on the benefits to consumers by easing the home loan rates. The reduction in the banks' lending rate is also expected to lower the borrowing cost of builders and ease the pressure on interest outgo.
"The reduction will have a positive impact on developers' borrowing cost. However, operating performance of these companies should not deteriorate any further as credit ratings have already worsened and resulted in higher cost of borrowing," said Sandipan Pal, analyst, Motilal Oswal Securities. "To see improvement in operational performance of developers, we need more of price correction than interest rate reduction." Realty developers' debt levels have been mounting in the backdrop of low sales for some time now and a saving of 40-50 bps in interest cost would be significant, reckoned analysts. The total debt level of the top 15 listed realty developers stood at over Rs 54,567 crore as on FY15 end, against Rs 50,400 crore during 2012-13 end. Developers are also expecting the easing of cost burden to result in better prices for consumers. "It will be easier for developers launching new projects to pass on the savings on borrowing costs to consumers. These can be significant savings for both developers and homebuyers, given that a project usually takes about two years for launch after land acquisition," said Sandeep Runwal, director, Runwal Group.
Prior to Tuesday's 50-bps cut, the central bank had earlier cut the repo rate by 75 basis points since January, but the net loan rate reduction by banks so far has not been more than 25-30 points. "This is a helpful move, but was long overdue. We now appeal to banks to pass on the rate reduction to consumers. They can now pass an entire 1% rate reduction to home loans," said Getamber Anand, president, CREDAI. "If that happens, this year's Diwali will see a revival in home sales momentum." Apart from the rate cut, the RBI has also announced that it will lower the risk weightage for lowcost home loans.
With a view to improving "affordability of low-cost housing" for the economically weaker sections and low income groups and giving a fillip to "housing for all" initiative, the RBI has also proposed to reduce risk weights applicable to lower value but well collateralised individual housing loans, the RBI said in its policy statement. The central bank will separately issue detailed guidelines on this. "Risk weightage for home loans need to be halved to 25% from 50%. And not only for the economically weaker sections but across categories, because the NPA in home loan segment is less than 1% and it's justifiable to lower the risk weightage," said Niranjan Hiranandani, MD, Hiranandani Constructions.