The jump in land, materials and labour costs has pushed property prices up by 25%-30% per cent and slowed the growth of the real estate sector in Coimbatore in the last two years. Property developers in the city believe that if the real estate sector has to grow at pace similar to that of Chennai, which despite the global economic slowdown, registered a steady growth quarter after quarter, as per the residential price index brought out by the National Housing Bank, the government has to develop infrastructure facilities, promote industries and improve water bodies.
“There is not much space left for property developers inside the city. All construction activities are moving towards the suburbs,” said V Subramanian, president, Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (CREDAI), Coimbatore. However, land prices have increased in the outskirts in the past two years. The cost of material and labour is also on the rise. This has seriously affected the middle income group, which is the major segment that invests money to buy property. Property developers have been forced to pass the cost increase burden on the people, which have slowed down the market.
“Land costs have increased four-fold in Coimbatore, which is causing major problems for developers,” Subramanian said. Cement, which was costing Rs 190 a bag a year ago, is now available for Rs 300. Steel prices have increased from Rs 38000 per tonne to Rs 60000 per tonne now. Developers are struggling to control their costs and boost sales. Omkar Sankar, director, Sankar Foundation, said there is huge demand for affordable and low-budget houses in Coimbatore. But the jump in prices of affordable houses is now becoming a cause for concern, he noted.
Flats that were sold for Rs 4500 per sq. ft. in Ramnagar area are now being sold for Rs 6500 per sq. ft. Similarly, in areas like Vilankurichi, Thondamuthur, Vadavalli, which are outside the city, costs have moved from Rs 2300 per sq. ft. to Rs 3500 and more. Though the recent lowering of interest rate by banks may bring some respite, developers are still in a wait and watch mode. The situation in Coimbatore is different from Chennai, which is well connected with infrastructure facilities even in far-off areas.
There is a huge demand for housing in Coimbatore and in the next few years there would be at least a demand for 1 lakh housing units, said P Karthikeyan, Chief Executive Officer, Trishul Shelters Private Limited. However this would require good connectivity and infrastructure development in the suburban areas, which is lacking now, he said. Besides the developers have to look at ways to keep costs down by adopting innovative methods and different technologies, he noted.