Affordable Housing: The New Buzzword In India’s Real Estate Industry

The new buzzword in the country’s real estate industry today is ‘affordable housing’. Developers stung by a credit crunch, besides the drop in demand for commercial spaces and premium residences in recent times, have turned their focus to the middle-class segment.
Due to weak demand in commercial and retail segments, most developers have started looking at the affordable residential segment to maintain cash flow in order to meet their contractual obligations. Further, with buyers being extremely price conscious, the demand for affordable housing is on the rise.
A Relative Term
A simple definition for affordability can be — the consumers’ ability to purchase. However, this is a relative term. The idea of affordability may vary from individual to individual as well as from place to place. For example, what is considered affordable to a home seeker in Pune may not be affordable to someone else in Mumbai.
With the common man (read middle-class segment) constituting nearly 70 per cent of the demand for housing, we shall keep our understanding of ‘affordability’ limited to that which is deduced by the aam aadmi.
Affordable housing refers to residential units offered by developers at prices that are within the budget of low- and middle-income groups of a society. The housing units should also have all the basic amenities to cater to the daily needs of the household.
Monthly carrying costs of an affordable home should not exceed 30 per cent of the household gross income. Affordability is quantified by household income and price of the product.
Demand Growth
With the ever-increasing urban population, demand for affordable housing is witnessing a constant rise. According to recent a Planning Commission report, the shortage in urban housing as on March 2007 was estimated ar around 24.71 million.
The report went on to say that this shortage would to 26.5 million by 2012. Ninety nine per cent of this shortfall comes from the economically weaker sections (EWS) and low-income groups (LIG).
With real estate players witnessing a credit crisis, several of their big projects have come to a halt. Considering the huge demand in the affordable housing segment — which is relatively insulated — developers have now increased their focus on the fortune at the bottom of the pyramid.
An estimated 450 new projects have been launched, or are expected to be launched, in the affordable housing sector from big and small developers across the country.
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