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Bust or breather???

“Size of construction activities in a region is good indicator of growth of the region…”everyone related to real estate industry would have heard, read or said this more than once. However, with the property prices going over the roof and sales slowing down in some of the prominent markets, does this proverb still hold true in present day context in Australian real estate market? Since 2011, real estate market of Australia is continuously on upward trend, with some cities like Sydney and Melbourne shown exceptional growth rate. However, despite a great run of sales and development of properties, 2016 is observed as damp year for the Aussie real estate market, with most of the real estate stalwarts observing a slow down in demand owing to ever rising property prices. Although the last quarter of 2016 result in high rate of property sales and steady prices in Sydney and Melbourne, and closed the year on a high note, other prominent markets such as Brisbane, Pert and Adelaide could not generate the spark. With unsold inventories are piling up in almost all the regions, the fear of market crash is impending.


However, despite a sluggish 2016 for real estate market in Australia except Sydney and Melbourne, construction of numerous new residential, commercial and industrial projects going on in almost every market of country. Suburbs are extending almost every month and new DA approvals for commercial and mixed use projects, large residential estates, apartments and condos are being obtained at quite a decent rate. The scale of development is quite large and billions of dollars are being pumped in by real estate developers, investors and end users. Huge gatherings in real estate seminars also point towards the fact that almost all stakeholders; developer, investor and buyer, are equally interested to sail together in this wave of real estate growth. Apart from local buyers and investors, large number of off-shore investors and developers are also showing keen interest in Australian real estate, following and analyzing Aussie real estate trends almost on daily basis.


Australia Federal Government as well as all state governments are equally participating in this real estate development phase by playing their respective roles – keeping interest rates low, allowing off-shore investments and providing fast approvals for new as well as redevelopment projects. The government is also investing hugely into development and upgradation of infrastructure and have commissioned various infrastructure and urban planning projects, viz. roads and motorways, development of metro and new train lines, airports expansion, and various new residential precincts, industrial estates and commercial zones. West Connex and Sydney Metro in Sydney, Western Distributor and Melbourne Metro in Melbourne, and Queen Wharf Project and Airport expansion in Brisbane are some of the largeinfrastructure projects taken up by government, looking to change development profile of these cities.


So, if the story is all positive with strong investment trends, then why all major reports and expert analysis are pointing towards slow-down in real estate in Australia?


The answer lies in the scale of development of real estate sector in the country. The increase in demand over past two years has given too much impetus on real estate developments in Australia, resulting in all local and foreign real estate developers investing in huge number of projects across almost all markets. Drastic escalation in real estate prices over past couple of years have boosted investor’s confidence in the market and most of them have over-committed themselves in various real estate projects, resulting in supply of too many projects in short span of time. This spurt of supply may result in oversupply of stock for a short while, but stable economic condition and strong demand for real estate, coupled with high demographic growth rate, in-migration and huge infrastructure development activities would result into upwards growth in the long run.


This so-called slowdown of real estate provides an opportunity to serious buyers to have much needed breather, and they may be able to negotiate better for new investments. According to areal estate expert, “In 2015 it was a pretty aggressive market, if you were going to secure a property you had to be quick – you had just 15 minutes to decide which puts a lot of pressure on people. The market is tipped to “take a breather” in 2017 which should give buyers increased confidence in the property process”. 


However, there is no shortage of demand in real estate sector, especially in the housing market. Barring some of the overpriced regions, rental market in Australia is quite strong, resulting into good long term demand for properties. Prices are holding good and there is no reason that they will go down drastically in near future. It is expected that eventually the pace of demand will overtake the supply, resulting in stronger growth in real estate prices over a period of time.


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Sydney – The City of Prospect…

Having visited some exquisite cities in the recent past, I was wondering why this largest urban agglomeration in Australia has emerged as one of the best liveable cities in the world. Is it because of its cosmopolitan nature, vertical sky-scrapers, large population size, or state of the art infrastructure? Incidentally, there are various other established and important cities in the region, namely Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Singapore, etc., but Sydney has its own charm and character. It is the only city from the APAC region listed in “The world’s top most liveable cities for 2016” byMercer. This recent survey of approx. 230 cities of the world is based on factors including political stability, crime, currency exchange, recreational facilities, housing and climate. This shows the potential of this quality city, which is attracting the population from all parts of world and growing rapidly in size year after year.The Global Cities Index recognises it as number fourteen in the world based on global engagements and presence of multinational businesses in the city.

Sydney is best known for its harbour-facing Opera House, an impressive man-made structure having a distinctive sail-like design. Other features include Sydney Harbour, the Royal National Park, Bondi Beach, and Botanic Gardens. The city receives over 10 million international and domestic visitors every year. Sydney is also a gateway to Australia for many international visitors. Moreover, Sydney has been ranked amongst the top fifteen cities in the world for tourism every year since 2000. Given its vibrant economy, favourable weather, rich history, heritage and architecturally important places and diverse lifestyle options, it is not surprising that Australia’s largest city is such a popular destination for tourist and migrants. Sydney has an advanced market economy with strengths in finance, manufacturing and tourism. There is a significant concentration of foreign banks and multinational companies in Sydney and the city is known as Asia Pacific’s leading financial hub. All these achievements make Sydney as one of the best cities in the world.

The CBD of Sydney has a distinct cosmopolitan character. From Darling Harbour to Kings Cross, and from Harbour Bridge to Ultimo, the CBD of Sydney is packed with tall office skyscrapers, shopping malls, eateries, hypermarts and various heritage and architecturally important landmarks, making it an extremely significant and commercially driven downtown of the continent. Its complex on-ground and underground road, rail, water-based and upcoming MRTS networks are seamlessly integrated with pedestrian areas and plazas, creating a unique sense of connectivity and openness. City has undergone many transformations in the past and most of its new age buildings and structures are redevelopment projects, with many more still in pipeline. Being a financial capital of the continent, there is high demand for quality commercial space which is continuously putting pressure on the rental and capital prices in the region. Similarly, there is very high demand for residential and retail spaces as well in the city, owing to very high population influx and growth in the region.

As per NSW Planning and Environment, the population of Sydney Metropolitan area is increasing with a growth rate of 1.6% per annum, the highest in the NSW region. Sydney Metropolitan is largest urban agglomeration in the country, comprising more than 60% of total population of NSW and 20.6% of total population of Australia (Australia Bureau of Statistics, 2015). Some of its suburbs are the fastest developing suburbs in the country and the region continue to attract more and more people. This continued growth is expected to strongly push infrastructure and real estate sectors in the region to match needs of better quality housing, office, shopping and recreational areas, and above all, intra and inter regional connectivity for this expanding urban agglomeration.

Increaseddemand for real estate has resulted in development of new SBDs at various prominent locations in the suburban areas, with an aim to develop new residential destinations in the region, and to ensure balanced and planned development of its suburbs. Prominent commercial centres outside the CBD of Sydney are North Sydney and Chatswood in north, Parramatta and Blacktown in west, Bankstown and Liverpool in south-west, Hurstville in south, and Bondi Junction in east. Most of these areas have exhibited distinctive importance to emerge as true SBDs of Sydney metropolitan region, and demonstrated good growth over years. It is expected that these regional SBDs will play a major role in the growth of Sydney metropolitan region, to provide more commercial, housing, retail and recreational areas in region. Being one of the best cities in world, expectations are always high from town planners and policy makers to develop infrastructure of future, and the city has demonstrated high capability in achieving same in the past. Various new infrastructure plans of government, such as Sydney Metro, expansion of M4 and other highways, development of new roads, train stations and shopping centres, are some of the great steps towards ensuring a seamless and state of the art connectivity and infrastructure in region.

New infrastructure initiatives will definitely shape the future of Sydney, and ensure planned and holistic growth of metropolitan region. City is going through transformation phase once again,expectations are very high and the competition is getting tense as more and more world cities are aspiring to be in top ranks. However, the charm of this cosmopolitan city, economic health, best in class present and upcoming infrastructure and natural beauty of the region will absolutely help Sydney to remain one of the most prospective and progressive cities in world.


(Manish Kumar)

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Senior Living In India – Homes For The Golden Years

India had approximately 100 million senior citizens aged 60 and above in 2012. This number is expected to double by 2030; by 2050, it is likely to reach approximately 320 million – constituting 20% of the country’s total population. There are reasons behind this monumental projected growth.


India’s population has undergone a change in character, which we can also call a ‘demographic transition’. From higher mortality and fertility rates in the beginning of the decade, the country has now entered a stage where there is a fall in birth rate. However, the fall is not as steep as the fall in death rates, as average life expectancy and quality of life has improved dramatically in India in the recent time.


More Senior CitizensThan Ever Before


Though India is still younger than the US and Japan, the process of ageing has begun in the country. India’s elders will increase both in absolute numbers and relative strength, indicating a gradual swing to a greyer population.The marked increase in percentage of India’s senior population expected in the foreseeable future will involve a change in an important sociological aspect -the ‘old age dependency’ratio. Currently, the ratio is approximately 8-9%; however, according to an estimate of United Nations, this ratio will be closer to 20% in India by 2050.


Rapid advances in medical breakthroughs, proliferation and improvement in the overall quality of medical facilities and care and increasing access to medical insurance have much to do with it. Another factor driving India’s increasing elder population is growing awareness related to diet, exercise and personal care.  That is the good part, but there is a more worrisome aspect too.


As per the findings by National Family Health Survey in 2005-06 (NFHS-3), every three Indian household out of five – or about 63% – are nuclear families. This changing social environmentmeans that India’s younger generation is facing serious challenges when it comes to taking care of their elders.


Housing India’s Seniors


In the past, generic old-age homes – and all the real and perceived drawbacks they presented – were more or less the only answer. However, the country is now witnessing the gradual evolution of a concept that is already well-entrenched in the developed countries – senior living homes, sometimes called retirement resorts.


Currently there are approximately 30–35 senior living projects in the country. Unfortunately, this represents a major shortfall – they accommodate only 0.0001% of the target segment (India’s senior citizens) as compared to 10% in the US and approximately 4% in Australia. India currently contributes less than 1% of the Global Senior Living industry, highlighting the huge demand and supply gap and growth potential of the sector.


This begs the question – if the demand for senior living projects is so high in India, why is the sector’s growth so slow? Actually, thesenior living concept took hold in the country in the early 2000, but the sector started gaining any kind of serious momentum only after 2010. Also, growth in this sector has been happening in pockets rather than holistically.


Stilted Geographic Distribution


Most of the country’s senior living projects have cropped up in the Western and Southern regions. This is because these regions have a greater prevalence of nuclear families, higher level of education among their population, and a more pronounced yen for young professionals to migrate to other countries. Two other factors very visible in West and South India are higher purchasing power, resulting in a lower dependency ratio of seniors on family members.


It is only after witnessing the high acceptance rate of senior living projects in West and South India that developers began training their sights on the northern and eastern regions of India, predominantly targeting tier 2 and tier 3 cities.



Senior Living – The Finances Involved


Unlike other parts of the World, Senior Living a new concept in India and hence is not part of social infrastructure sector, which means it is purely private developer led sector at present. Many developers and operators find venturing into this sector profitable and are developing various senior living projects, albeit with different financial models as per the local demands, financial viability of projects and sale plans.


Broadly, three financial models have been observed in India, to acquire/reside a senior living project. These are the outright purchase model, the pure rent model and upfront deposit with periodic rent model. All three models have their advantages and drawbacks.

  • OutrightSale Model

Outright salemodel involves the transfer of title of the property in name of the end user. It works like a typical residential real estate purchase, where the developer sells the residential stock in the market while the construction is still in progress.

Advantages: The developer is obviously able to make higher and quicker returns using this model, and it appeals most to customers as well. This is because actually owning the property means that it can thereafter be used for mortgage or collateral purpose, which makes it easier for buyers to raise bank loans or other forms of financing from the property.

Disadvantages: When a developer sells a senior living property, it becomes difficult for him to differentiate between an end user and a speculative buyer. Also, it can lead to a lack of control of the developer or senior housing operator, which may have a bearing on the quality and ease of day-to-day operations of the project.Seamless operations are a critically important aspect of a good senior living project and hence most of the Senior Living developers and operators are willing to have more control on usage of these projects, which is difficult to achieve in pure Sale model.

Some of the senior living projects operating on an outright sale model in India are:

  • Ashiana Utsav
  • Serene Covai Properties
  • Golden Nest Pune


  • Pure Rent Model


Under the pure rentmodel, residents pay a monthly rent along with nominal deposit over their period of stay. This model is suitable for developer and operators from the point of gaining control on usage of properties, but with no upfront deposit or sale revenues, it is difficult to manage profitability in this model.


Advantages:This model ensures that the customers (senior citizens) subscribing to the project are most likely to actually occupy their unit. It also allows the developer or operator to determine the scale of day-to-day operations required in the project. Customers benefit from this model since their entry cost into the project is much lower, thereby reducing their financial burden.Further, it is ensured that the essence of the project is maintained since the end users occupying the project would be of a pre-determined similar age group, having similar preferences and requirements.


Disadvantages: The pure rentmodel exposes the developer / operator to higher level of financial risk because of low and deferred returns. Further, there is an increased tendency among the end users to switch projects. For the customer, the drawbacks of this model would include lack of participation in capital appreciation associated with the project.


Some of the senior living projects operating on a pure rent model in India are:

  • RakIndo Senior Living Coimbatore
  • Dignity Lifestyle Neral


  • Upfront Deposit and Lease Model


Upfront deposit and lease model is fusion of above two models. Under this model, a percentage of capital value of the project is charged upfront, while the rest of the amount is paid in the form of monthly rentals over the period of stay.


Advantages:This model allows flexibility of payments for entry cost into the project. The customer can pay an upfront fee followed by regular lease rentals. This model is preferred by end users because it reduces their entry cost into the project. The developer can retain the ownership and control in the project.


Disadvantages: For the developer, the payback period and returns are generally lower vis-à-vis an outright sale model. For customers, the drawback of this model could include payment of substantial amount of upfront deposit (though lower amount than in case of outright sale model), yet very little or no participation in the capital appreciation associated with the project. Further, switching of project in case of mediocre or unsatisfactory services and facilities could become a challenge for the end user in case of lack of defined rules for refund of deposit / upfront payment.


Some of the senior living projects operating on a lease/deposit model in India are:

  • Brindavan Hill View, Coimbatore – Deposit Model
  • Dignity Lifestyle, Neral – Lease and Deposit Model
  • Impact Senior Living, Amritsar –Deposit and Sale Model


The way forward


With families getting smaller and nuclear, children travelling across the globe, and a paucity of social security programs, upwardly mobile Indians see senior living as an attractive option for their elders. Senior living industry in India is poised for significant growth and the industry is expected to see the entry of new players from various backgrounds, predominantly from the real estate and healthcare sector. However, since the sector is still at its nascent stage in India, it is expected to undergo various changes to mature into a new cornerstone for Indian real estate and healthcare industry.

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Australian property market –the opportunity in price correction

Buying a house in their dream city is an important milestone and a lifetime decision for mostAussies and people residing in Australia. It requiresyears of savings, diligent planning, property market research and various other factors reach a decision of purchasing a house. It can be considered as an asset, financial security, a source of rental income and a place to live andsee their children growing carefree for most families, without paying huge rentals and accommodating routine property manager’s inspections. In addition, a home purchase also helps in tax savings.


Although there is much talk about correction of real estate market in Australia and many experts still projecting a price correction, a cursory look at average property prices in various markets of Australia reveals that overall there isn’t too much variation in sale prices as compared to the previous years.Also, property prices differ in each city and vary hugely as per the location and its inherent growth drivers.


However, a deep-dive assessment of the market conditions reveals that a pseudo-price correction has come in the form of freebies, discounts, offers or schemes. Although developers and builders are not in favour of visibly reducing the prices as it transmits negative sentiments in the market, there are some discounts being offered to serious buyers who are ready with their purchase decisions.


The problem in Australian housing marketis comparatively lower demand as most of overseas investments are drying up and huge unsold / under development / planned inventory in almost all states. Some of the high growth areas like Melbourne CBD and outer markets, suburban regions of Brisbane including Gold Coast and Ipswich, and north-western and south-western suburbs of Sydney are presently dealing with this issue of more supply compared to actual demand over short span of time. Most of the developers and builders are battling with huge unsold inventory and are keen to offload the same at the earliest, creating pressure on real estate pricing.

All-in-all, this could be the ideal time to purchase a house for end-uses and for investors looking to invest in the property market. The market is a totally purchaser-friendly at the moment and builders are taking out time to discuss in details with purchasers for their home buying requirements. If one has good financial planning and feels that the future is safe, it is the right time to purchase a house and seal the deal.In addition, with pressure on inflation rates, house financing is likely to harden in the future. Therefore, for end-users and investors, it is the right time to avail the home loan at best possible rates.

A home purchase is a long-term investment, and for properties at good locations and with the right configuration and amenities, there will always be good demand and should appreciate over the long termin all likelihood. However, it is important to understand that the fundamentals of location, connectivity and amenities of the project are essential for price growth to happen. The projects which are closer to or well connected with business centres, retail areas and job markets (present and future) have more potential for price appreciation and sound rental returns in the long run.


Also, property market is bound to have price fluctuations. In an established market, investors and buyers generally keep a minimum horizon of 2-4 years before putting the property on the market again.At the end of a sufficiently long period, prices for the right type of properties should appreciate, and in the meanwhile, if the home is not for personal use, it can earn rental income as well.


The best way for all homebuyers to address a property purchase is to think like an end-user and focus on buying a home that meets one’s own needs. This way, they should be able to appreciate the right project amenities and automatically pick properties which have the right attributes such as connectivity to workplace hubs, availability of public transport, hospitals, schools and shopping, and is resultantly investing in a property which can certainly appreciate in future.

Price corrections tend to happen in projects and locations which are bereft of the right fundamentals. Areas which have not taken off because of lack of the requisite infrastructure, and located away from job markets, public transport, schools, hospitals and retail areas, are bound to see price corrections as demand will flow to areas and projects which have the right attributes. 

Although prices in locations and projects that tick all the right boxes may remain stagnant for a while, but their inherent advantages will safeguard against any serious short-to-mid-term corrections. Also, these areas would be the first ones to witness price appreciation as and when there is any price increase in property market. Therefore, it is a perfect opportunity for investors and self-users to pick up the right property at right prices. For the intelligently chosen properties, the inevitable law of demand vs supply should gradually bring in capital value appreciation.


Finally, one should remember that every asset class witnesses fluctuations, but homes are also ‘performing assets’ which one can live in or rent out till the time you don’t put it in the market again for the capital price gain.