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Demand up for budget
September, 11th 2009

Even as the economic recession is running its course, there is one area where the shadow of gloom has not fallen. The demand for affordable houses in the NCR has, in fact, gone up as more and more people are coming forward to buy their dream house.

According to reports by leading property consultant agencies, there's good news on the residential segment more and more people are coming forward to buy their dream house, albeit with minor adjustments. Affordable housing is the buzzword as the real estate market is limping back to normal.

Pramod Thakur, a broker in Gurgaon, said, "Its not that people have stopped wanting to buy a house. Prices were too high for most projects. However, in the past couple of months, a number of low or medium budget housing projects have been launched in the NCR, and the response has been good.''

It's a trend that consulting agencies, too, have noticed. A recent report (for the second quarter of 2009) by Colliers International notes that residential projects launched 25-30% below prevailing market rates have received good response. A market report by Cushman & Wakefield added, "In the mid segment, Gurgaon and Noida witnessed noticeable correction (of prices) over the year due to competitive prices offered by the developers.''

A senior executive of a leading developer said, "Luxury housing, with world class amenities, is restricted to high end users who constitute only 5% of the population. It was time for the developers to look at the large middle class population which requires affordable housing.''

That developers have realized it is obvious from their behaviour in the past few months. Even as new projects were launched in Gurgaon and Noida in the low to mid range Rs 30-45 lakh other big projects that had already been launched saw addition of smaller flats in high-end projects.

For instance, Tulip Orange, The Residences, Vatika Bellevue and IRIS-Emilia-Primrose apartments were launched by builders like Tulip, Unitech and the Vatika Group in the affordable segment some months ago even as reports of DLF changing its housing designs in Gurgaon to squeeze in more two-bedroom units, along with four-bedroom homes, makes the rounds of the real estate circle.

That there's a world of difference between the high end projects and the affordable housing is obvious. For instance, most of these new projects have reduced floor areas, with some even having reduced floor heights to cut costs. However, the fact that the prices are within budget and there's support from banks most have slashed rates with SBI offering housing loans at 8% interest in the first year has prompted many to opt for buying a house in the prevailing downturn.

Incidentally, the affordable housing market in India that is increasingly being targeted by developers is worth at least Rs 3 trillion and will see demand for 2.06 million homes by 2011, said a survey conducted by property consultant Knight Frank India.

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