There will always be takers for luxury real estate. But one pointer that many of India's premier league developers seem to ignore is that it should be served up in short supply.Bengaluru is one of the locations seeing a huge amount of job creation and infrastructure development," said Om Ahuja of Jones Lang LaSalle India. "The Metro's first phase has already gone live and many more initiatives will start reflecting change in the months to come.
"Today, spending power is driving home sales among young IT employees. At the rate at which employment is growing, the key areas of Bengaluru will see a shortage of properties in quality locations in the years to come."
Even as some of the infrastructure concerns get mitigated, Bengaluru is now repositioning itself as a haven for wealthy expatriate Indians looking out for retirement homes or secondary property investments that come with all the trappings of luxury. That's just what UKN Properties is intent on delivering.
"For the Miraya Rose in Whitefield, we sell at a 40-50 per cent premium over the next upscale products available in the location," said Nambisan.
The developer's doing equally well on the leasing side of things. For one of the units at Alila Bangalore Residences, it attained a rental of Rs450,000 a month in January. It is said to be the highest ever achieved for a residential property in the city.
"High networth expatriate Indians do have options to buy properties in the Gulf but those came with a lot of lacunae," said Nambisan, who will be launching six projects in Bengaluru next month with three coming with the Miraya branding and offering properties in the range of Rs30 million and over.
"They know that when they retire, the cost of living is going to rise, the variables are so different from what they can expect in India, and there is always this sense of wanting to go back to the home country.
"This will lead to huge demand in key cities and states. For instance, this is what's entirely driving property sales in parts of Kerala, or at least anywhere by up to 90 per cent."
Dubai It is rather ironic that while India's property market is perking up after a relatively soft year, the fortunes of some of its leading developers are mired in quicksand.
Some brought it on themselves by diversifying into other sectors such as telecom and then coming a cropper. Others have been caught with huge debts on their banks which they had taken in the gold dust years leading up to 2009 to acquire extensive land banks.
Gautam Nambisan of UKN Properties offers an overview on the situation: "In some cases banks have stopped lending because developers have siphoned off money and there are very little ways to control it. There are a lot of non-performing assets featuring land banks. "Speculation has driven a lot of what has happened and banks are not lending on track records. The situation could have been much worse. What I am concerned about is the bank interest rates, which are now at 15 to 16 per cent. "If a developer invest his entire funds in the project before he has sold anything, the returns are marginal. To that if you add the interest, the developer will not be making any money."
UKN Properties maintains a debt level of 10-12 per cent of the asset value as against the industry average of 35 to 55 per cent. "All developers pay a certain equity on a project and leverage the rest. If the sales are brisk, you make better returns on that initial equity," he said.
But don't expect UKN Properties, a developer specialising in super-premium residential and hospitality developments in Bengaluru, to make that mistake. "Luxury should come in small numbers," said Gautam Nambisan, managing director.
"We do a staggered sales programme and the number of units is never more than 30 to 40 units. During the pre-sales, we had buyers from the Gulf. It's been through word of mouth, but people are coming and saying they are ready to wait three to four years for the delivery. These are commitments of $1.5 million (Dh5.50 million) and more."
Bengaluru is emerging strongly as a strong magnet for NRI investments in property. In the second half of the last decade, the southern metropolis was at risk of losing its status as the premier IT hub for the country to Hyderabad and even from Chennai. The biggest concern at the time was infrastructure bottlenecks.