Journalists are misleading the home buyers, said the savvy second-generation developer, reclining on the deck of his corporate yacht, anchored off the Gateway of India, sounding truly concerned about the fate of middle-class Mumbaikars. With all sincerity, he explained how the prices of land have gone through the roof, how the cost of material has shot up and how even the labour cost has nearly doubled. Of course, he didn’t talk about increasing profit margins. “When all input costs are going up, how can the price of real estate go down? By writing reports that realty rates could go down, you are only delaying their decision. And finally, they will have to pay an even higher price for the delay,” the young turk clad in designer suit said, adding as an afterthought, “Do they have a choice?”
I think they do. The choice of not buying a home at all; the choice of renting it out! What does rising input cost and galloping interest rate mean to someone who opts out of the realty acquisition spree? Like this friend, who owns a 1BHK apartment in Seawoods, New Mumbai, and has for long been planning to move into a bigger home. A 2BHK apartment in the nearby Seawoods Estate costs upward of Rs1.4 crore and even after selling the existing flat, he would have to take a loan of Rs1 crore to move into his dream house — with a monthly instalment of at least Rs1 lakh dangling on top of his head like a sword. The monthly rent for the same apartment is just Rs20, 000 — a saving of Rs80, 000 every month, not to mention the pressure of servicing a gigantic loan. It would be a pity to buy your dream home, and lose your sleep over it.
In these days of fluctuating fortunes and unstable jobs, locking into a lofty home loan may not be the best idea and living on rent may well be a smart move. Leave aside complicated calculations and the conventional wisdom that realty prices only go up, and living on rent makes better economic sense too. Imagine paying a fat instalment for five years, and finding that the price of your flat has remained the same, or even worse, gone down by 30%. Live on rent and not only do you get to keep all that money which would largely make the interest component of your home loan, but you also have the flexibility of moving to a new address, or a new city.
Not that we are new to the concept of living on rent. A good percentage of the population in the west lives on rent, as did a good percentage of Mumbaikars too, till just 25 years ago. Very few people had the resources to buy a house, and one’s own home was a result of a lifetime of hard work. The rest rented it out, and home loan companies did not even exist.
Should every Mumbaikar make the choice of living on rent, the young Turk on the yacht has a lot to worry about not only about repaying his creditors, but also the fat installment for that anchored yacht!