As per the latest data available from the Reserve Bank of India, the outstanding for commercial real estate is Rs 1187.1 billion as of January 2012, a growth of 12.2 per cent over the year-ago period. Although this rate is lower than the growth figure of 19.9 per cent in the same period the previous year, the double-digit growth stands in sharp contrast to the claims from public-listed realty firms who say bank lending has shrunk considerably.
Central to the theme of continued lending to real estate development are the low-lying, unlisted property developers of the country – a crop of realtors who have always been on the side-lines of the big Indian realty story but who are slowly yet surely climbing up the ladder for a larger share of bank loans.
According to a research report by IDFC’s Institutional Securities team last December, bank and NBFC loans to developers have increased 15 per cent to Rs 1.8 trillion for the 12 months ended September 11 in spite of higher interest rates and the RBI’s efforts to curb lending to the sector. Of this, loans to unlisted developers accounted for more than 72 per cent of the total.
One reason for such a shift could be the hard targets that listed realty firms chase due to the pressure of being listed, with compulsory quarterly disclosures. Add to it the size of the firm and pressure points will become clearer. A listed firm usually places bigger bets with larger projects and when the market faces turbulence, project execution becomes a problem. This reverberates with pending projects and drying up of bank credit.
Even as most unlisted private developers are small realtors, there are some large private groups in different regions of the country. Given the huge set of private developers, even private equity developers have been betting on projects sponsored by such realtors.