How India Can Bridge Its Affordable Housing Gap

– Anil Pharande, Chairman – Pharande Spaces

Affordable housing isn’t just about providing homes to those who need the most – it also plays a crucial part in a smoothly-running economy. Sadly, most of the cities across the globe are struggling to offer decent, affordable housing to their citizens. India is not a unique case – the story is the same for both developing and advanced economies. The world is going through an intensive phase of urbanization, but the growth in individual incomes is not keeping pace, and this presents a gloomy picture for the housing situation.

city-housing

Statistics indicate that over the next decade, the number of people adjusting in substandard housing will rise exponentially. Incidentally, India will be among the most challenged nations, unless the government is able to realistically work on its electoral promise of ‘housing for all’.

The ‘affordability gap’ is defined as the difference between the average rent people pay for their homes without having to spend more than 30% of their family income, and the price of acceptable housing units. In India, population growth has obviously triggered a rise in the affordable housing gap, but it by no means the only country with this problem. In the next 10-12 years, the world in general will have to come up with an additional 106 million low-income housing units.

These statistics illustrate a serious problem – how will this rising gap be bridged? In a country like India, what would be the means that will allow the government to support faster affordable home deliveries? Strategically, there would be three primary approaches to resolve the problem, and all are centered on lowered cost of construction, financing, land, maintenance and operations.

Even if individually implemented, each of the three approaches will significantly cut the affordable housing gap, especially in nations like India. If these approaches could be implemented in a tandem, the cost of affordable housing can be decreased by as much as 35-50%, gradually leading to a manageable situation over the next decade.

Freeing Up Developable Land

Land supply is among the most important element in housing prices. It is also responsible for the largest part of the overall investment in buying a home. If the government decides to open up strategic land around urban locations, it could be a huge solution to the rising prices of homes. At the policy level, making this happen is not too complicated either.

Most Indian cities have land parcels that remain unused or underused. In most cases, this land either belongs to the government or local/private authorities. Bringing forward these land parcels for real estate development will greatly help in launching affordable housing projects.

Bringing Down The Cost Of Construction

Compared to other sectors like manufacturing, the construction sector has been relatively stagnant in the past years. One of the reasons for this is lack of innovation – residential projects still use traditional techniques of construction that were used some 50 years ago. This is not the problem of India alone but many countries across the globe.

By replacing obsolete construction techniques with the latest modern innovative technologies, housing prices can be reduced by almost 30% and completion times by as much as 40%. For instance, using pre-fabricated components of construction that are manufactured off the site are a sterling solution. Processes like this, which are already in use in India but not to the required degree, can improve the efficiency of residential building deployment, and significantly augment budget housing supply.

A communal approach to construction materials purchasing by groups of developers who are committed to the cause of affordable housing would also help bring down housing prices.

Lowering The Cost Of Finance

In a cost-sensitive country like India, banking interest rates play a huge role in housing affordability. At the current interest rates, and even given the current subsidies, it is next to impossible for low income earners to get loans to buy homes. Banks and other financial institutions in the public and private domain should introduce encouraging schemes like contractual savings to assist low income earners to gradually accumulate the corpus needed to make down payments on affordable homes. Of course, lower interest rates would greatly help the situation.

Apart from these, the Indian government must also find means to reduce the cost of financing to developers engaged in affordable housing projects. It is encouraging that the new government is already working on its electoral mandate, but there is still no sign of a unified approach to implementation of its goals. Hopefully, we will see more progress being made on the ‘Housing For All’ promise in the future.

About The Author:

Anil PharandeAnil Pharande is Chairman of Pharande Spaces, a leading construction and development firm that develops township properties in Western Pune. Pharande Promoters & Builders, the flagship company of Pharande Spaces and an ISO 9001-2000 certified company, is a pioneer in the PCMC area offering a diverse range of real estate products catering especially to the 42 sectors of Pradhikaran. The luxury township Puneville at Punavale in West Pune is among the company’s latest premium offerings.

The Value Proposition Of Large Vs. Small Flats In Pune

Anil-Pharande

 

 

Anil Pharande

Over the last couple of years, I have been observing with concern the decreasing size of flats on the Pune real estate market. Of course, it is the demand for smaller flats that is driving this kind of supply.

With housing prices in the Pune Municipal Corporation rising relentlessly, the ‘biggest’ opportunity that developers perceive is in smaller flats that get sold in the shortest possible time. This kind of supply is aimed at first-time home buyers who either have limited budgets or low financial confidence.

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Smaller Flats – Pricing Trap

Though these are supposed to be ‘affordable homes’, the pricing of these units is actually on the higher side. They sell because the prices are still lower than those of larger flats, but the buyers are actually paying an excessive unit cost.

The reason for this disparity is that the ‘pigeon holes’ housing model itself has some inherent flaws built into it. To begin with, the share of common area that needs to allocated in a project that consists of only of small-sized homes means that the project loses in terms of overall efficiency and sale-able area. This results in lower revenue potential, so developers bump up their prices to compensate.

Secondly, the cost of construction depends on the quantity of raw materials being used. When a developer is building a project which comprises exclusively of small units, his development costs actually go up because every unit needs to be provided with separate fittings, appliances and finishes.

As a result, he will increase his prices to make up for the loss in profitability.

Home buyers should be aware that the converse is equally true. In a project with larger units, developers save on costs because of more efficient common space utilization and lower consumption of fittings, appliances and finishes for individual units.

Better Common Amenities

This is why a 1 BHK is often only 30-35% less expensive than a 2 BHK. The bottom line is that by opting for larger flats, property buyers are getting more value for their money.

Also, projects comprising of larger flats tend to have better common amenities, which the developer can maximize the overall livability and therefore attractiveness of the project rather than needing to focus on making as many units as possible within the available space.

The obvious question that follows is – where can middle class home buyers from Pune find larger flats that fall within their budgets? The answer is – in the developing (rather than expensive over-developed) parts of the city.

For example, West Pune is a corridor where hundreds of property buyers are still able to find true value for their money.

Property rates in many of the the areas of PCMC are lower than the inner localitions of the Pune Municipal Corporation, which means that buyers can get the benefits of larger flats with better amenities there.

With the vastly improved road connectivity, the newer areas of West Pune close to Hinjewadi and the MIDC are now becoming the destinations most favoured by home buyers working in these employment catchments.

About The Author:

Anil Pharande Chairman of Pharande Spaces, a leading construction and development firm that develops township properties in Western Pune. Pharande Promoters & Builders, the flagship company of Pharande Spaces, an ISO 9001-2000 certified company, is a pioneer in the PCMC area offering a mixed bag of products catering especially to the 42 sectors of Pradhikaran. Puneville in West Pune’s Punawale is the latest integrated township project by Pharande Spaces

 

Affordable Housing In India – Where Is The Supply?

Affordable housing is a term we use for residential units in India’s urban areas which are affordably priced with respect to households that fall within a specific limited income range. There is no single set of parameters to define what an affordable housing unit should cost in India. This is because the pricing and feasibility to developers of affordable housing is a function of the city, location within the city, type of project being built and also the construction technology employed.

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In India, it is appropriate to judge the affordability of a home on three broad parameters – the monthly income of prospective buyers from the target segment, the size of the home and, of course, its price. There is another element that should be mentioned, namely the target clientele itself. We tend to look at the word ‘affordable’ solely in terms of the LIG (lower income group) segment. For this segment, affordable housing would mean 200-300 square foot dwellings priced at between 7-12 lakh.

But what about people who earn more than the average factory labourer but still cannot afford to buy a decent 1 BHK flat of 300-450 square feet within ten to fifteen kilometers of their workplaces? They too need affordable housing – housing appropriately priced for the middle class. The home buyers in this segment can afford to buy flats in the price range of Rs. 30-35 lakh via home loans.

Obviously, they expect a certain standard of living, comforts and facilities for this expense. However, but even such flats are hard to come by in our larger cities. This is the case even in Pune.

Today, around 30% of India’s population lives and works in urban areas. This means that they occupy less than 2% of the land available in the country. If we zoom in on Maharashtra, it emerges that close to 60% of the overall population lives in urban locations. Distressingly, a closer look at a city like Mumbai reveals that over 50% of its citizens live in slums. Mumbai’s slums occupy less than 4% of the land available in the city. Obviously, the affordable housing quotient has gone badly wrong in Pune’s prosperous neighbouring city. However, the problem is larger than just one city, which continues to get negative press only because of its exorbitantly high property rates and enormous annual inward migration.

Despite everything being said on the matter, the shortage of affordable housing in India is getting worse instead of better. The country’s urban population of 285 million has multiplied itself by five over the last half century. It is projected that it will continue to increase at this fast pace, and that 50% of all Indians will be living in urban areas by the end of the next three decades. So, if the shortage for housing for the lower income segment stands at 25 million today and there is no increase in the pace of supply of affordable housing launches, what will this figure look like in 30 years?

Let us look at the situation from a real estate market point of view. There is, in fact, a gigantic market for affordable housing in India. Currently, it is valued at anything between Rs. 5-10 trillion. What is really being done to address this huge market – especially the one constituted by the ever-growing middle class? There are next to no Government incentives for projects with flats in the Rs. 30-35 lakh bracket.

While the only answers to this question in Mumbai seem to lie in small projects on the far outskirts of the city, Pune presents a far more encouraging picture. Developers of township properties in Pune have now begun addressing this market with an internationally inspired property development model called integrated townships. This model is based on maximum value for money to buyers, based on high-grade common infrastructure and shared facilities in more cost-effective, yet progressive areas like the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation.

With fully integrated township projects like Woodsville and Celestial City, we at Pharande Spaces have been successful in delivering affordable housing for the mid-income segment of home buyers in Pune and the PCMC area.  There are various reasons for this success.

For one, land for these integrated townships was acquired early on in upcoming locations such as Ravet and Moshi. This meant that the price of the finished products could be kept within the means of Pune property buyers. Secondly, townships like Woodsville and Celestial City are conceived and constructed on a model that allows luxurious facilities and amenities on an economy of scale. In other words, it is possible to provide luxurious features for all units in these projects on the basis of a large-scale master plan.

Anil-Pharande

 

 

Anil Pharande is Vice President – CREDAI (Pune Metro) and Chairman of Pharande Spaces, a leading construction and development firm that develops township properties in the PCMC area of Pune, India.

Pharande Spaces Announces L-axis, PCMCs Premium Residential Project

Affordably Priced, Will Cater to Management Cadre Homebuyers.

Pune, June 27, 2012:  Pharande Spaces, the leading construction and development firm specializing in township properties in the PCMC area of Pune, is launching its premium residential project L-axis on the PCMC Spine Road, in Sector 6 of Pradhikaran. The launch date is June 28, 2012. The project is spread over 11 acres of verdant green land and will feature 2, 2.5 and 3 BHK apartments.

L-axis layout

“Projects by Pharande Spaces have become a byword for value for money, and our mid-income housing townships in Moshi, Ravet and various locations in Pradhikaran have met with resounding success,” says Anil Pharande, Chairman – Pharande Spaces. “L-axis is our offering to the premium segment of home buyers who value even more advanced levels of comfort, generous living space and high-tech amenities.”

Spine Road, which is where this ahead-of-its time luxury housing project is located, has become one of the most talked about infrastructure embellishments in the progressive Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation. This area is fundamentally at the core of Pune’s most vibrant industrial area, with many manufacturing giants such as Tata Motors, Force Motors and Bajaj Auto close by. It is also well-connected to the Chakan industrial area, which is home to national and international automobile companies like Volkswagen, Mercedes Benz and Mahindra & Mahindra. Apart from this, the Talawade IT Park is also within easy access.

In addition, L-axis is advantageously placed close to the Bhosari District Centre, Sadhu Vaswani International School, Sri Sri Ravishankar Vidya Mandir, the PCNTDA Traffic Park and the upcoming International Exhibition and Convention Centre at Moshi. The project will feature technologically advanced security and lifestyle features to its residents and boasts of vast green spaces, with paved area kept at a minimum.

L-axis also includes a modern clubhouse with gymnasium, tennis and basketball courts, a multi-purpose community hall and a massive water-world-style swimming pool that offers limitless enjoyment to all family members.

“We have conceived L-axis in response to the huge demand for luxury living spaces coming from the managerial cadre of these industries,” explains Anil Pharande. “Keeping in mind the clientele, we have added every possible lifestyle feature, including multiple parking spaces, luxurious atriums and lobbies in each building and high-speed lifts.”

In fact, L-axis represents a first-of-its kind residential option for discerning homebuyers in the PCMC area for whom ease, luxury and convenience are the primary watchwords. No effort has been spared to make this a landmark development which will become its own distinctive address. The launch price for apartments at L-axis is currently Rs. 4500 per square foot, and will be augmented to Rs. 5000 per square foot thereafter.

Pharande explains that PCMC’s Spine Road is the perfect location for this project, providing a residential catchment that is a focal point of the region’s most prestigious industries. The 10-kilometer road connects two major highways and also runs through Pimpri Chinchwad’s industrial, residential and commercial areas on the eastern side.

Pune Has More Potential For Real Estate Growth

Anil-Pharande

 

 

Anil Pharande, CMD – Pharande Spaces

Pune property market is a lot more conservative than Mumbai, and there is certainly a market-dictated cut-off point for price escalations, says Anil Pharande, Vice-President of CREDAI Pune Metro and Chairman of Pharande Spaces, a leading construction and development firm that concentrates on township properties in the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) area of Pune.

Excerpts…

From technocrat to leading builder…. How did this transformation happen?

I was very interested in what was happening in Pimpri-Chinchwad back then. The idea of being involved in the raising of a planned city on the lines of Chandigarh, so close to Pune, was an exciting prospect. The Pimpri Chinchwad New Town Development Authority (PCNTDA) had taken on an ambitious and laudable task. My first objective was to help steer the path of this planned development, which is why I got involved with CREDAI. Getting into the creation of township properties that would take the best advantage of the benefits that the PCMC offered in terms of superior infrastructure and phased real estate growth was the next logical step.

Can you give us an overview of Pune’s reality market and its growth prospects?

Pune is a powerhouse of potential when it comes to real estate. It is a city of learning and entrepreneurship, and there is a distinctly progressive flavour to everything that happens there. Thanks to the fact that it has become a magnet for IT/ITES and manufacturing companies, the real estate market in Pune is not likely to lose its forward momentum. Having said that, I always had misgivings about the opportunistic manner in which property development was taking place within the PMC limits, and was far more interested in the holistic approach being adopted in Pimpri-Chinchwad.

What is the impact of the price upheavals of metropolis Mumbai on Pune’s realty market?

There is doubtlessly an impact, since a lot of cash-rich buyers from Pune are looking at Pune both as a property investment and retirement home option. The level of demand from Mumbai tends to exert a certain upward pressure on property prices in Pune. However, the Pune property market is still a lot more conservative than that of Mumbai, and there is certainly a market-dictated cut-off point for price escalations.

Do you think that the dismissal of a few big builders from CREDAI over non-compliance will affect the body’s advocacy on transparency?

Not at all. Every administrative body must experience occasional churn in order to maintain its vision and to stay flexible and open to new avenues of progress.

About your ongoing and upcoming residential projects…and future expansion plan?

Woodsville in Moshi is virtually a small town within PCMC, spread over 40 acres with vast tracts of open spaces and a very healthy environment. This hugely successful project, which is being developed phase-wise, has been and continues to be a primary focus for us. I’m also very excited about (L)-Axis, which we are launching along the PCNTDA Spine Road. In contrast to our other projects, which cater mainly to the middle-income group, this is a luxury apartments in pune which will have no rivals in Pimpri-Chinchwad.

WoodsvilleApart from (L)-Axis, Pharande Spaces is planning a residential/IT-ITES SEZ project at Punawale, near Hinjewadi/Wakad, Dehu Road-Katraj Expressway bypass. It will encompass 42 acres in the residential segment and 28 acres for the IT Park. The residential part will have apartments, row houses and bungalows.

What is your take on green building concept? Why is it not popular in India compared to West?

There is a lot of change-resistance and no end of misconceptions about green buildings in India. It is taking a long time for developers and buyers to understand the sound rationale behind them. However, I am seeing a definite awakening now, and I am confident that the next ten years will usher in a slow but steady green revolution in Indian real estate.

There is a general belief that affordable housing by private players is a non-starter in India, do you agree?

I completely disagree. A huge amount of affordable housing stock in our cities is created by small private developers who cannot imitate the scale of the larger players. Countless people would still be waiting in vain for the many Government-driven budget housing schemes that are yet to see the light of day if it were not for these private players. Many national players have also made their mark in this segment and consistently delivered.

(As told to KR Iyer (ramanaathan.iyer@sulekha.net)

http://property.sulekha.com/pune-has-more-potential-for-real-estate-growth_news-1093

PCNTDA Turned PCMC Into The Hottest Real Estate Destination In Maharashtra

Anil-Pharande

 

 

Anil Pharande, CMD – Pharande Spaces

There is little doubt in anyone’s mind that Pimpri Chinchwad is now Pune’s new hotbed for affordable residential property. In fact, the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation is one’s of India’s most resounding real estate success stories. PCMC is a planned city, and its development profile has nothing in common with what is happening in the Pune Municipal Corporation limits.

Pune Property

Thanks to the unflagging efforts of the Pimpri Chinchwad New Township Development Authority (PCNTDA), PCMC is now a showcase of outstanding residential areas. The PCNTDA has been vigilant in defending this showcase sister city of Pune from the central city’s unregulated real estate development pattern. One of the hallmarks of this careful town planning is the availability of affordable township properties, which are the best examples of the masterfully planned social, economic and real estate development in Maharashtra.

Those who have never seen PCMC before are amazed at the futuristic look of this progressive city. When it comes to urban planning, the PCNTDA has gone several steps further than CIDCO of Navi Mumbai. Navi Mumbai was Maharashtra’s first planned city, and it certainly began on a good note. However, lack of vigilance by the town planning authorities there soon caused it to fall prey to commercialization. Charles Courier’s initial blueprint was son abandoned, and today Navi Mumbai has become just another extended suburb of unregulated Mumbai.

In Pimpri Chinchwad, however, the PCNTDA was determined to avoid the mistakes which caused the real estate market in Navi Mumbai to degenerate. The blueprint which was adopted was one of uncompromisingly regulated real estate growth, and organized urban planning was the constant watchword. Keeping its focus firmly on the long-term objectives of rational real estate development, the PCNTDA has managed to turn PCMC into a genuine city of the future.

Residents of township properties in PCMC have the unique advantage of owning homes which are near to their workplaces, yet affordable and blessed with green natural surroundings. They live high quality lifestyles and do not have to sacrifice their family’s health to the pollution which defines the inner city. On an average, township property owners is the PCMC spend upto 35% more time with their families than Pune residents, and have up to 40% more living space at the same cost.

The Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation is truly a prime example of social-minded real estate development. Only here will one find spacious properties at affordable prices, coupled with a modern and efficient transportation system. Only here can one find a multitude of employment opportunities, superior infrastructure and modern, yet very affordable homes close to one’s place of work. And only in the PCMC can one enjoy the benefits of carefully preserved natural splendour.

Thanks to the approach taken by the PCNTDA, the PCMC property market is today seen as the smartest option for residential property buyers from Pune and beyond. Yearly inward migration figures clearly indicate that this city is indeed growing rapidly. The year-on-year appreciation rates of residential property in the PCMC range between 15-20%, and this has also attracted property investors from all over Maharashtra.

Anil Pharande is Vice President of CREDAI Pune Metro and Chairman of Pharande  Spaces, a leading construction and development firm that develops township properties in the PCMC area of Pune, India.

What Pune Real Estate Needs From Budget 2012-13

The 2011-12 budget did not offer much to the Pune real estate sector, and neither home buyers nor developers has any reason to feel enthusiastic. At the time when the Budget for 2012-13 is about to be announced, the city continues to face problems because of such industry hurdes as high lending rates and construction costs, insufficient infrastructure and lack of affordable housing.
Pune Property
The provisions that Pune real estate needs from Budget 2012 are:
  • A higher allocation of infrastructure funds, which should nevertheless be disbursed only if clear guidelines on timely commencement and completion for projects are agreed upon and adhered to
  • Removal of the 10% service tax on residential real estate construction, which increases the cost of new homes by as much as 3%. For a cost-sensitive market like Pune, which has a sizeable lower mid-income segment, this additional cost makes a big difference.
  • More incentives for development of affordable housing, so that more developers are encouraged to become active in this important sector and can increase the supply of budget homes in Pune.
  • Reduction of tax burden on rental income. Since buying a home is still an unattainable dream for many Puneites, renting remains the only viable option. In such a scenario, the Government needs to make rental housing a more attractive option for landlords. More fiscal incentives for landlords would also put downward pressure on rents.
  • Broaden the scope of interest rate subsidy for budget homes. Currently, the 1% home loan interest subsidy is only available for properties costing upto Rs. 20 lakh. This is extremely narrow-sighted, since it limits the choice of budget-constrained home buyers to the smallest formats and the furthest outskirts of the city. Increasing the ceiling to Rs. 30 lakh would help homebuyers to live closer to their workplaces, and to buy decent-sized homes.
  • Increase developers’ access to project funding at reasonable costs. The RBI’s step-motherly treatment being extended to real estate developers in this regard is reducing the supply of affordable housing and increasing the cost of these properties to home buyers
  • Reduce taxes such as excise, VAT and stamp duty on real estate so that home purchase becomes more attractive
India Budget 2012 is a great opportunity for the Finance Ministry to prove that the Government is concerned about the lack of affordable housing for the common man. We sincerely hope that this opportunity will be used with wisdom and compassion.

 

Anil-Pharande

 

Anil Pharande is Vice President of CREDAI Pune Metro and Chairman of Pharande  Spaces, a leading construction and development firm that develops township properties in the PCMC area of Pune, India.

 

 

Property Investment – How Real Estate Appreciation Happens In West Pune

Property investment only makes sense when the investor is fairly assured of a property’s appreciation and rental income potential. But these days, even normal home buyers are intent on getting the benefit of property appreciation and the possibility of good rental income when they are buying a home in Pune. Gone are the days when a home was simply a home – today, it is also a means for ensuring future financial security.

Puneville34

The Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation has become one of the most promising areas for property appreciation in Pune today. There are many reasons for this:

  • PCMC is a developing area, which means that property rates are still lower than in fully developed areas
  • Because it is still developing, a lot of new infrastructure is being put in. Infrastructure is one of the prime influencers for property appreciation
  • The fact that PCMC residential real estate is being thoroughly planned by the PCNTDA (Pimpri Chinchwad New Town Development Authority) is ensuring that development is closely monitored. Since the PCNTDA follows a master plan for the development of residential property in PCMC, every location gains maximum investment value. There is no chance of oversupply, destruction of the environment or shortfall of necessary infrastructure
  • West Pune is a hotbed for growing residential real estate demand because of the huge presence of automobile and other manufacturing industries there. There is unlimited demand for homes right from the affordable housing category to the luxury homes segment

It is important for anyone interested in property investment to know how real estate appreciation actually takes place. We have often heard that real estate investment is all about ‘location, location, location’ and this is largely true. However, we also need to understand what it is that gives a location its investment value.

First of all, one needs to consider how much demand exists for homes in a particular area. Then one needs to look at how many projects are being constructed to meet this demand. If the demand is more than the supply, the location has great appreciation potential. If there is more supply than demand, there is an oversupply situation and property appreciation will be low.

Another factor to consider is the existing cost of residential property in the location, and the manner in which property prices have moved. For example, if property prices in a location five to seven years ago were half of what they are now, the appreciation potential is definitely high. This is usually the case in so-called ‘growth corridors’, where a lot is happening every year to develop the area further.

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If property prices have moved less than 10-12% over the last five years, it means that the area has very little appreciation potential. This invariably happens in city centres, which have been developed to such an extent that no further development is possible.

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What kind of new developments cause property prices to shoot up? These include:

  • New roads, widening of existing roads, bridges and flyovers, which improve connectivity of the area to other areas
  • The arrival of new office complexes or industries, which increase employment and create demand for homes in the area
  • Education and healthcare institutes and facilities, and also shopping and entertainment complexes. These increase the comfort levels and quality of life for residents

About The Author:

Anil-Pharande

 

 

Anil Pharande Chairman of Pharande  Spaces, a leading construction and development firm that develops township properties in Western Pune. Pharande Promoters & Builders, the flagship company of Pharande Spaces, an ISO 9001-2000 certified company, is a pioneer in the PCMC area offering a mixed bag of products catering especially to the 42 sectors of Pradhikaran.

Pune Real Estate: The Price Of Rapid Urbanization

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By the most recent reckoning, India’s population currently hovers around the 1.15 billion mark. It is estimated that by 2030, this figure will have grown to around 1.53 billion. India’s urban areas are just about ready to burst at the seams, on the heels of an accelerating population explosion.

The population growth in India’s rural areas in the present decade is around 18%, and over 30% in the urban areas. This pattern of urbanisation is seen as encouraging, since it seems to indicate that India will attain the global urbanization standard average in the course of the next decade.

However, it is also true that this upsurge in our cities’ population is putting available civic structures like public transport, water supply, drainage, sewerage and obviously the supply of housing under severe pressure.

This raises the question – how are India’s real estate developers addressing the problem of insufficient infrastructure in and around their projects in the main cities? The fact is, they can’t do much.

In cities like Pune, property buyers have no choice but to turn a blind eye to the absence of sufficient infrastructure. They are aware of the fact that they will face numerous inconveniences, but what can they do?

Many opt to buy into projects that boast of compensatory measures to overcome the infrastructure deficit. These would include independent water supply if a reliable municipal pipeline doesn’t exist, electricity backup to make up for unreliable power supply and sump pits if the area does not have adequate sewage.

However, such projects in Pune City are few and far between, and homes in them come at extremely high prices. Also, no matter in how many ways Pune developers compensate for lack of civic infrastructure, they cannot add more than a token patch of landscaped lawn by ways of natural ambience.

The high property rates are a real problem. Many of those who buy flats in Pune have saved all their lives for buying their Pune dream home. They have made a lot of sacrifices to make this happen; having finally managed to save enough, they buy their homes and immediately regret it.

The maintenance costs for their flats are far too high for them to bear – a lot of them can’t afford petrol for their cars anymore. They travel to and from work by bus.

We have all looked at the parking lots of highly-priced residential projects and seen dusty cars with handmade posters on the rear windows saying things like ‘Homemade Detergent Soap Available at Flat 12A’ and ‘Tuition For Stds. V to IX – Contact Mr. XYZ at Flat 26C.

It simply makes no sense to invest everything in a home and then live in financial stress afterward. The solution obviously lies in finding a home where the same investment buys you more.

The choice is between paying a certain amount on a small, under-equipped flat in the crowded central city or on a spacious home in a location blessed with natural beauty and and sound infrastructure.

The Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation, which planned its residential areas decades ago, offers such options. The integrated residential projects in Ravet and other sectors of Pradhikaran close to the upcoming International Convention Centre offer the kind of homes that Puneites have always dreamed of, but never been able to own.

The Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation also has an extremely vibrant economy, offering more and more job opportunities across all business sectors with every passing year.

Finally, because of the regulated nature of the PCMC real estate market and the high emphasis on civic facilities and amenities, there is no question of an eventual infrastructure deadlock. The real estate prices are way below those see in Pune, too. For that reason, these are the kind of homes that will be sources of joy for several generations.

Anil Pharande is Chaiman – Pharande Spaces, a leading construction and development firm operating in the PCMC area of Pune, India.

You may reprint or quote this article with full credit to the author and a link back to PunePropertyBlog.com

Pune Real Estate Needs Special Residential Zones

It has been a while since anything concrete has been done about creating more affordable housing in India. Considering the great need for budget homes, it is remarkable that there is so little interest being shown in providing them. Of course, Indian developers have their own constraints – the cost of bank borrowing, the lack of realistic incentives from the authorities, the ever-increasing cost of land are just a few of them.

Meanwhile, the Government is busy battling inflation and simultaneously trying to keep India’s economic growth from sinking even further. It is very evident that, despite its obvious linkages to the economy, the real estate sector is not on its priority list at the moment.

In cities like Pune, even middle income home buyers are struggling to find homes within their budgets. Pune property rates have gone through the roof, with many blaming investors from Mumbai for this fact. The employment situation is far from brilliant in Pune these days. People are unable to increase their financial situations by shifting to better jobs because the job market has shrunk considerably over the last one year. Interest rates are also astronomical. Many aspiring home buyers are looking at buying small 1 BHK flats in dilapidated housing societies – projects so old that most banks to grant home loans for them.

What is the solution? Is there another model of affordable housing that would help both the EWS and middle class to realize their dream of home ownership? While this is a difficult challenge in land-strapped cities like Mumbai, Pune still has enough land to spare to offer one possible solution. This solution, which requires the involvement of both the Government and the developer community, is Special Residential Zones (SRZs).

The concept of Special Residential Zones or SRZs is not a new one. It has been discussed in the past and is, in fact, nothing but a natural extensions of the existing SEZ model tailored to the Indian residential property market context.

A Special Residential Zone is a model of affordable housing development that creates a separate economic microcosm or entity. The model can be tailored to attract developers by means of various incentives and tax breaks. A important feature of a SRZ would be subsidized rates for land and construction materials, which would be a further incentive for developers to get involved. In this model, the Government would provide the necessary infrastructure to make the SRZ approachable and inhabitable. In other circumstances, developers would have to see to this themselves.

The SRZ model calls for a change in certain fiscal policies, and also for simplified parameters for development approvals and sanctions. The primary objectives would be one of social responsibility, though part of the incentives for developers would be a commercial component.

In the SRZ model, the Government would incentivize the development of affordable residential units. The long-term objectives would include the lowering of housing prices in certain areas, since the SRZ model will eventually alter local property market dynamics.

As in the SEZ model, the land on which the units are developed would be long-term leasehold. In other words, the property buyer would own the property, but not the land it stands on. As everywhere else, ownership dynamics would conceivably change once the property has been occupied for over 12 years.

True, the concept of SRZs still needs to be developed. However, the point here is that it can be implemented very well around Pune, since there are considerable land parcels available on the periphery that would make the SRZ model possible.
Anil-Pharande

 

 

Anil Pharande is Vice President of CREDAI Pune Metro and Chairman of Pharande  Spaces, a leading construction and development firm that develops township properties in the PCMC area of Pune, India.