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What are the best areas to invest in real estate in Delhi/NCR? What will be the good areas to invest in, i.e appreciation in net value of the property in a 3-4 year horizon and approx. time frame by which I can expect the place to be rentable?

Project delays are one of the most alarming issues historically dogging the Indian real estate sector.

The dearth of effective planning and execution of construction activities, escalating construction costs, approval delays, diversion of allocated funds to other projects and tepid sales are some of the predominant factors resulting in project delays. The homebuyer is, of course, at the losing end.

To put it in numbers, during 2017, out of the total 5.8 lakh residential units slated to be completed across the top 7 cities in India, only 1.5 lakh units were actually delivered until December 2017. This indicates that around 4.3 lakh units actually missed their stipulated completion deadlines.

The National Capital Region (NCR), one of the country’s largest residential markets, was seriously wounded by sudden policy changes, structural reforms – and the dubious practices of unscrupulous developers.

As a result, it topped the list of cities with maximum project delays. Around 1.5 lakh units in NCR missed the 2017 deadline. The story in Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) was no different with nearly 1.1 lakh units missing the said deadline.

NCR: Where project delays are the order of the day

In NCR, out of the total 1.9 lakh units expected to be delivered in 2017, only 42,500 units were given for possession as promised.

Approximately 49% (~73,000 units) of the undelivered residential units were in Greater Noida, followed by 17% (~25,300 units) in Ghaziabad, 13% (~19,400 units) in Gurgaon and 11% (~16,000 units) in Noida.

  • Greater Noida:

A deeper analysis of the construction activity scenario in Greater Noida reveals some glaring issues. Developers in Greater Noida were expected to deliver around 84,200 units in 2017, of which only 13% were delivered and an additional 39,000 units (46%) are committed for completion by 2018 year-end.

Due to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) directive, projects in Greater Noida have been stalled for years due to land litigations between farmers and the developers.

Read: NCR Real Estate Market Report: Can NCR Deliver on its Promises?

  • Ghaziabad:

Of the 29,300 units which were to be delivered in 2017, nearly 86% failed to meet their deadline. Only 14% have been handed over to buyers, and around 8,100 units (32%) are envisaged to be completed by year-end 2018.

While a few projects have been sealed for recovering the Ghaziabad Development Authority’s (GDA’s) development charges, others face difficulties in obtaining completion certificates.

  • Gurgaon:

The Millennium City was also not able to deliver around 19,400 units in 2017; the delivery of these units was shifted to future dates.

Out of 27,300 units committed for delivery in 2017, only 29% were handed over to buyers and around 14,400 units (53%) are being pushed for completion by year-end 2018.

The good news is that most of the delayed units are likely to be completed in 2018, and the delivery of only limited units is being pushed to the subsequent years.

  • Noida:

Barring of construction activity within a 10-km radius from Okhla Bird Sanctuary between 2013-15 has stalled a large number of projects in Noida region.

Out of the 23,900 units committed for delivery in 2017, 67% were unable to meet the deadline. Around 7,900 units (49%) of the delayed units are projected to be completed by December 2018.

In addition, a severe cash crunch due to syphoning of funds by developers for other projects, tweaked project details to bypass environmental/regulatory clearances, changing norms, water/sand crisis and red-tapism became some of the common causes of the long-delayed projects of NCR.

Consumer sentiment was severely shaken by these delays and finally brought the sector to a standstill. Developers’ profits took a massive hit and their negative cash flows increased the delays even more.

Can NCR developers beat the odds in 2018?

The above analysis talks only about the delayed projects that are anticipated to be delivered by the end of 2018. There is more to the story – namely the actually planned deliverables for the year 2018.

Besides the delayed 79,400 units whose revised possession timelines are now December 2018, there are actually planned deliveries of around 86,600 units for this year.

Altogether, NCR developers are expected to deliver around 1.66 lakh units (3.9 times the units delivered in 2017) by this year-end. Will developers in NCR be able to deliver such a large number? That is certainly something that bears watching closely.

With RERA expected to streamline residential real estate, homebuyers are hopeful that projects that have been stalled or slowed down over the years will pick up momentum and finally be delivered.

The Government authorities are certainly scrutinizing the issue by auditing long-delayed projects to chalk out initiatives and ensure their completion.

All-in-all, with a massive number of residential units due for completion, year 2018 is a tough one for the NCR property market.

Read more in detail: NCR Real Estate Market Report: Can NCR Deliver on its Promises?

Despite being hit by the overall slowdown in the real estate market and seeing price corrections up to 10% in most areas, Delhi-NCR continues to be attractive to end-users and investors. Being the national capital, Delhi attracts migrants from all across the country.

In fact, as per the Economic Survey of 2017, Delhi, Noida, Greater Noida and Gurugram saw the maximum influx of migrants between 2001 and 2011. Obviously, there is a dire need to fulfil the housing needs of these migrants.

As per ANAROCK data, the housing supply in Delhi over the last two years has been fairly low as compared to its counterparts – Gurugram and Noida. This is essentially due to demand-supply mismatch; there is massive demand for affordable housing in the city, while property prices in most pockets of the city have skyrocketed.

Consequently, the pockets that offer affordable or mid-segment projects have been performing relatively better than the expensive ones – such as Greater Kailash II, Panchsheel Park and South Extension II, to name a few.

In 2018 as well, it is the affordable micro-markets which are driving real estate growth in the city. Besides affordable prices, improved metro connectivity in these areas will also attract prospective home buyers.

Let’s take a closer look at Delhi’s most vibrant affordable housing hotspots:

L-Zone (Dwarka):

Strategically located between Dwarka, Gurugram and IGI airport, L-Zone is among Delhi-NCR’s most preferred property hotspot in 2018. Proposed to be developed as a Smart City, the area will have all modern facilities including solar power stations, rainwater harvesting and camera surveillance – all very much needs of the hour in Delhi.

In fact, as per ANAROCK data, nearly 2,050 units have been launched in the L-Zone over the past two years, with the maximum supply being in the mid-range segment (Rs. 40 – 80 lakh), followed by the affordable segment (< Rs. 40 lakh). The weighted average price of properties here is Rs. 3,454/sq. ft.

Uttam Nagar:

Located in West Delhi, Uttam Nagar has shown massive real estate growth over the last few years. Affordable property prices have kept the momentum going here, with the current capital values ranging between Rs. 3,150 – 6,050/sq. ft.

The monthly rentals for a 1BHK are as low as Rs. 5,000, thereby luring several existing homeowners to redevelop their old standalone properties and build more floors for good rental returns.

Another factor driving real estate growth here is its easy connectivity to all major areas, including Dwarka, Vikaspuri, and IGI airport via the multi-nodal transport system. The combination of affordability and accessibility makes Uttam Nagar a good option for those looking to invest in Delhi-NCR.

Rohini:

Home to two metro stations, Rohini in north-west Delhi continues to be a popular housing destination for end-users and investors alike. The locality boasts of excellent connectivity to other major areas via metro.

Additionally, its proximity to the Bawana Industrial Area has triggered developments along Rohini’s Phases 4 and 5. Capital values range anywhere between Rs. 7,300-12,500/sq. ft., which is far cheaper than several other localities in the vicinity.

Despite traffic and woes, rising pollution level and safety concerns, people still find Delhi to be a favourable place to live in because of the ample job opportunities it offers. However, neighbouring Gurugram has not lost its magnetism, either.

Gurugram Real Estate – A Hotspot Check

An on-ground check post recent infrastructure developments like flyovers, underpasses, etc. reveal that quite a few localities in and around the Millennium City are expected to gain real estate momentum.

Significantly, the state government’s move to reduce the circle rates in most localities in 2017 has made it easier for developers to gradually clear their unsold ready-to-move-in stock in Gurugram.

Let’s examine which micro-markets are witnessing maximum activity in 2018:

Sohna:

AKA ‘South Gurugram,’ Sohna has found favour among affordable housing seekers due to its proximity to various office and industrial hubs.

Backed by well-planned infrastructure, Sohna saw the most real estate activity in Gurugram from January 2017 onward, with a fresh housing supply infusion of almost 4,600 units.

Almost 50% of this new supply was in the affordable housing category (< Rs. 40 lakh), followed by an equal mix of mid-segment (Rs. 40-80 lakh) and luxury segment (Rs. 80 lakh – 1.5 cr) flats.

ANAROCK data further reveals that out of the overall supply, close to 2,350 units will be ready for possession in the next couple of years as developers are taking RERA’s stringent penalties with regards to delivery delays quite seriously. The weighted average price of residential properties during this period has been Rs 4,370 per sq. ft.

Sector 65:

Proximity to key office hubs, convenient access to HUDA city metro station and its well-defined social infrastructure qualify Sector 65 as a bona fide Gurugram real estate hotspot in 2018.

Located on Golf Course Extension Road, Sector 65 witnessed the launch of close to 1,600 units from January 2017 till date, with the supply comprising of homes priced between Rs. 6,900 – 10,000/sq. ft.

All the projects in question are fairly large with over 500 units, which means that their final completion can be pegged to within a timeframe of 3 years or more.

Sector 68:

A preferred locality for both office and housing developments, Sector 68 continues to be attractive to developers, end-users and investors. Sound social infrastructure and good connectivity via the Golf Course Extension Road and NH 248A have added advantages for Sector 68.

ANAROCK data indicates that this micro-market saw the launch of close to 1,500 housing units from January 2017 till date, with their completion pegged at within 2-3 years. With the weighted average price here being Rs. 4,090/sq. ft., its affordability factor makes Sector 68 score quite well over other localities.

With the dust of new policies like RERA and GST finally settling, 2018 is definitely seeing Gurugram’s realty market heading northward.

Among many other factors, the increased economic activity of 2017 and a number of key infrastructure upgrades such as the widening of NH 8, expansion of Sohna Road and rapid metro connectivity have served the city’s realty market well.

As it always is, infrastructure development has been a key market driver for Gurugram and has convincingly vouchsafed its future growth potential.

Read more: Delhi NCR Real Estate Market – The Growth Story Continues