It is very difficult to get hold of numbers when it concerns the real estate sector in India. The numbers usually put out are by organisations and institutions close to the real estate companies. The one genuine set of numbers that are put out every month is related to the total amount of lending carried out by scheduled commercial banks to the real estate sector in India. These numbers are put out by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) as a part of the sectoral deployment of credit data, which is released once every month.
The latest set of numbers were released by the RBI on July 31, 2015, and make for a very interesting reading, especially if you have had a long(and perhaps lost) dream of buying a home to live in. Why do I say that? Allow me to explain.
As on June 26, 2015, the total amount of lending carried out by banks to the commercial real estate sector stood at Rs 1,66,900 crore. As on March 20, 2015, three months earlier, the number had stood at Rs 1,68,000 crore. Hence, the total amount of lending by banks to real estate companies has actually come down by around 0.7%. What can safely be said is that in the current financial year (which started on April 1, 2015) on an aggregate basis, the banks haven’t lent a single rupee to real estate companies.
How did the scene look like last year? As on March 21, 2014, the total amount of lending by banks to real estate companies had stood at Rs 1,54,400 crore. By June 27, 2014, the total lending had gone up by 1.7% to Rs 1,57,000 crore. This year the total lending has fallen by 0.7% during a similar period.
How do the numbers look over a longer horizon of one year? The lending to commercial real estate by banks has slowed down considerably. As mentioned earlier, as on June 26, 2015, the total amount of lending to commercial real estate by banks stood at Rs 1,66,900 crore. Over a period of one year, it has grown by just 6.3%. The overall lending by banks grew by 7.3% during the same period.
This is the third month in a row when the lending to real estate by banks has grown at a much slower pace than the overall lending. In fact, we need to look at numbers in June 2014 to realise how much the situation has changed over the last one year.
As on June 27, 2014, the total lending by banks to real estate companies had stood at Rs 1,57,000 crore. It had grown by 17.2% over a one year period. The overall lending by banks had grown 12.8%. Hence, the lending to real estate companies by banks had grown at a much faster rate than overall lending.
Further, lending to real estate companies by banks had grown by 17.2% last year. This year it has grown by only 6.3%. Also, as mentioned earlier, since the beginning of this financial year, the lending to real estate companies by banks has actually fallen.
And all this should be good news for buyers. Why? For the simple reason that the funding source of real estate companies is drying out. Real estate companies have to repay the interest on the loans they had taken on previously. They also need to pay interest on it. Over and above this, there are projects that are still being built and need to be delivered by a certain date. Money will be needed for all these things.
All these reasons will ensure that the companies will have to get around to selling the unsold apartments that they have built and have been unable to sell. The number of unsold homes in cities across the country is huge. As per an estimate made by the real estate consultant Knight Frank the number of unsold homes in National Capital Region stands at around 1.89 lakhs. In Mumbai Metropolitan Region it stands at 1.94 lakh. In Ahmedabad the number is at 42,000. In Bangalore the number is at 1.05 lakh. And so the situation is all across the country.
The only way these unsold homes can be sold is by cutting prices. While the real estate companies have resisted this so far, with the funding from banks almost coming to a standstill, they really have no more options left in the days to come.
Finally, acche din should be on their way for those looking to buy homes to live in.
The column originally appeared on Yahoo India on Aug 4, 2015