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Raining freebies: Builders offer up to 25% discount, free studio apartments …

MUMBAI | NEW DELHI: Good news for prospective home buyers in India’s big cities – finally, some real discounts from real estate majors.

Take a look at these builders’ offers in Mumbai, NCR, Bangalore and Kolkata: flash sales offering nearly 25% discount on per square feet rates, offers of around 3 percentage point interest subvention on home loan2 rates, free studio apartments for those who buy top floors of a luxury residential block, free modular kitchens, air conditioners and even wardrobes. Home sales data is that rare economic indicator that’s refusing to improve – 832.09 million sq ft of unsold inventory as on end-December and 8% fall in sales for the quarter ending December, according to figures from property research firm Liases Foras. Real discounts are a response to this real supply glut.

And builders are not the only concerned lot. Investors who had bet on handsome resale margins are stuck with unsold apartments. Some of them are willing to sell apartments at below current market prices.

So, the increase in home prices on paper – catalogue prices went up by 7% in the quarter ending December – hides the real picture, market watchers say. Builders prefer offering discounts to cutting headline prices. Deepakh Parekh, chairman of HDFC3 and a man who’s witnessed many housing booms and busts, says “it’s a buyers’ market now”.

He says expensive homes especially are not selling. That means, in the context of Mumbai, apartments over 1 crore are finding fewer buyers than those below it. Ashwin Chawwla, CEO of BigDeals4.in, explains why realty majors are somewhat desperate.

“Developers are stressed in terms of sales. They need to show bookings to even raise construction finance,” Chawwla said. Yashwant Dalal, president of Estate Agents Association of India, says developers are offering brokers bigger incentives but the problem is the lack of buyers. “In this kind of market, builders have no option but to lure buyers with incentives and offers,” Dalal says.

Those offers make for a revealing story on housing in India’s major metros. ET spoke to real estate majors across the country to compile a short list. 1. Tata Housing Development Company and Dosti Group are offering subsidised home loans at 7.99% while banks’ home loan rates are around 10.5%.

Dosti’s offer is for its projects in Thane and Wadala. Tata Housing’s scheme applies to 25 projects in eight cities.

2. Lodha Group organised a one-day flash sale at its Lodha Grandezza project at Wagle Estate in Thane.

Apartments were on offer for 8,406 per sq ft compared to the local market rate of 11,500 per sq ft.

3. Neptune Group, for its Bhandup project in Mumbai, is offering buyers possession on 50% payment while the rest of the amount has to be paid in 36 EMIs.

4. Bangalore’s Leela Residencie, Brigade Cresecent and Marvel Developers are offering free luxury modular kitchens, air conditioners and even top range wardrobe for higher end properties.

Bangalore realty majors like Nitesh Estates and HM Group are offering up to 15% cash discount.

5. In the National Capital Region, Supertech had thrown in studio apartments in Greater Noida free for buyers of its top floors in the Capetown project in Noida. In Gurgaon, builders are asking buyers to pay only a small amount upfront and pay the rest when they move in.

6. Siddha Group and Eden Realty in Kolkata have just spent Rs 80 lakh rewarding home buyers who won a draw – a 54 lakh apartment came with free new car, for example. But is any of these offers working?

Speak to real estate majors and they say their real discounts are evincing real buyer interest. But independent market watchers are still skeptical. Says Gulam Zia, Executive Director, Knight Frank India: “Developers are trying all the tricks in the bag, but no luck so far.

Schemes like 20:80 payment options and developers paying home loan interest on behalf of customers are on, but without much success”. Experts say a real upswing in buyer interest may have to wait for big cuts in home loan rates. Deepak Parekh reckons there will be a 100 basis points reduction in interest rates in 2015 over and above the announced rate cut. “This will ease EMI pressure and revive demand post-July,” he says.

A demand revival in five months will sound like great news to home builders, who are sitting on unsold stock that will take 39 months to clear at the current average monthly sales.

The news for home buyers may become even better in the coming months.

(Tasmayee Laha Roy from Kolkata and Sobia Khan from Bangalore also contributed to this story)

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References

  1. ^ real estate (economictimes.indiatimes.com)
  2. ^ home loan (economictimes.indiatimes.com)
  3. ^ HDFC (economictimes.indiatimes.com)
  4. ^ BigDeals (economictimes.indiatimes.com)

‘No proof mobile radiation causes cancer’

New Delhi: At a time when various studies are going on whether radiation from mobile phones is harmful for health, an US expert Saturday said no study or research has proved that non-ionizing radiation, as produced by these devices, causes cancer.

“No study or research about cancer has proved that non-ionizing radiation causes cancer. There is a campaign doing the rounds that the use of mobile phones or the proximity to mobile phone towers can cause cancer.

“Proponents of the theory question arguments in favour of the safety of mobiles. How can you be so sure about it since cancer develops in the body in 20 or 30 years, they ask.

Mobile phones have been around for only 20 years,” M.V.Pillai of Jefferson University said at an event organized by Indian Medical Association and the Press Club.

Electro-magnetic spectrum has two types of radiation on either end. On the right side is the ionizing radiation represented by X-ray, gamma ray and nuclear reactors, which is dangerous. Non-ionizing radiation on the left side of the spectrum is not harmful.

“But there have been many studies conducted in animals.

They have been exposed to wi-fi and microwaves. None of these researches have proved that non-ionizing radiation causes cancer. In other words, non-ionizing radiation is proved to be harmless,” he added.

Pillau mentioned that if someone speaks on mobile phone for a long time, it generates heat.

“Though the heat does not damage DNA’s structure, it could affect other proteins.

Research should go on in this aspect.

Whatever the case may be, it is not advisable to speak on mobile phone for hours,” he added.

The World Health Organisation is conducting many studies on this.

He said a report scheduled to be published in 2016 may bring some clarity on this matter.

BlackBerry appoints new security chief

BlackBerry has a new chief security officer. The company appointed David Kleidermacher to the role this week.

It s a landmark appointment for the beleaguered firm, which parted company with former senior VP of BlackBerry Security Scott Totze last year. That the firm took so long to fill the position shows its commitment to getting security right.

BlackBerry may have had its problems over the last few years, but it has typically had a strong security story.

One of the reasons that it originally sold so well into the enterprise market was because people trusted its secure ecosystem. BlackBerry devices connect to the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES), which manages encrypted messages securely.

More recently, the firm has taken steps to bolster its security capabilities. Last July, it bought SecuSmart, a German company that focuses on encrypting voice communications.

Then, in September, it bought Morvirtu. That company offers a virtual SIM card, which stops people having to use two different SIMs when using the phone for work and personal roles, for example.

David Kleidermacher

BlackBerry has invested a lot in separating personal and business data on its devices. The firm offers a feature called BlackBerry Balance, which uses dual filesystems for work and personal apps.

In October, it bolstered its security position by appointing Michael Daniels to its board.

Daniels is another person with a strong security background. He was the chair of Network Solutions, until it was acquired by VeriSign, and is now the chair of cybersecurity firm Invincea.

Kleidermacher s credentials make him well suited for a particular section of BlackBerry s business, though. He comes from Green Hills Software, where he was chief technology officer.

That company produced real time operating systems, and Kleidermacher is an expert on embedded systems. This ties into BlackBerry s renewed focus on the Internet of Things, which the firm feels well-prepared for with its QNX software. The firm emphasised the executive s IoT expertise in a blog post1, welcoming him on board.

In April, the company will ship2 its BlackBerry IoT Platform, which will focus on automotive and asset tracking applications before expanding out into areas like healthcare and energy.

Will all this be enough to curry favour among CIOs, though?

The company, which suffered huge financial losses in the last couple of years and recently dismissed3 reports that Samsung was considering an acquisition, still has some work to do. Morgan Stanley analyst James Faucette surveyed4 enterprise customers last month, and found that more CIOs were choosing not to buy its software.

BlackBerry has attempted to tempt CIOs back with its latest version of BES, v 12. This allows enterprises to manage older versions of its handsets.

It is also moving towards a subscription-based model for the software, on a per-device pricing arrangement, which it hopes will hopefully draw customers back into the fold.

References

  1. ^ blog post (blogs.blackberry.com)
  2. ^ ship (www.itworldcanada.com)
  3. ^ dismissed (www.itworldcanada.com)
  4. ^ surveyed (www.bnn.ca)