India realty sector to get $4-5 b investments

India’s realty sector is set for inflows of $ 4 to 5 billion from global investors in the next couple of years, with Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai emerging as favourites, according to the  Asia Pacific CEO of global real estate consultancy firm Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL).

“The early foreign investors in India, who came in around 2006-07, did not have very good experience, partly because of their inexperience in doing business in India and partly because of global financial crisis,” Alastair Hughes said at the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting.

They don’t seem to be perturbed by it as India’s growth rate is still an attraction, according to him. “Foreign investors are now looking with a renewed interest at India, given its still robust economic growth rate as that bodes well for good returns to their investments,” Hughes said.

He  added that there is more international money today waiting to be invested in India than any of the last five years. Overseas investors have invested $ 14 billion into the Indian real estate sector over the period from 2006 to 2012.

In the last two years, foreign investment into Indian real estate has been around $ 1.2 billion per annum.

Around half of all transactions were invested in residential property, a quarter in the offices sector and the remaining quarter was split among other sectors.

According to him,  2013 and 2014 look more promising from an investment standpoint and the realty sector would get about $ $ 4-5 billion, mainly to buy income yielding SEZ assets at a capitalisation rate of 10.75 per cent.  Globally, Hughes said, there was a boom in 2007, followed by a bust in 2008, in the realty sector, while there has been a gradual recovery since the end of 2009.

Investments into Asia Pacific commercial real estate market fell around 10 per cent in 2012, from $ 98 billion to about $ 92 billion. “It was because of a sense of caution prevailing in different countries. But now we are seeing a change in the sentiments,” he said.

“One of the reasons for that is people looking to divert their investments from bonds to equities and other asset classes and that include real estate. Therefore more money is coming to real estate and a bigger proportion of that we see coming to Asia Pacific,” he added.

He said that in the retail sector, a very high growth is expected with the (likely) entry of foreign retailers.

Besides, manufacturing and industrial sector would also benefit a lot as retailers would need to set up logistics facilities. The residential space is also set for growth, he added.

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JLL Makes India Property Predictions for 2013

According to global real estate consulting firm Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), India’s property markets closed 2012 with a few notes of positivity as the inflation was below the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI’s) projected levels and the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) growth increased in the last two months of the year, giving new hopes for 2013. Overall, 2012 remained inactive, affecting all the major sectors in real estate.

Office space absorption remained lower compared with 2011. Meanwhile, retail faced challenges of quality supply, affecting the overall absorption.

The residential demand improved; however, developers continued to struggle with unsold inventories, yet expect moderation in inflation and strengthening policies.

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Below are 13 interesting India property and market insights for 2013 from various Jones Lang LaSalle India analysts.

1. Economy – As per RBI, the policies will focus towards growth in 2013, although risks of inflation will continue to remain. Interest rates are expected to witness a downward correction of 100 to 150 bps in 2013.The softening of interest rates is expected to reduce the home loan rates, in turn increasing the buying of real estate assets. Increasing urbanisation and consumption despite the slowdown in GDP growth will be the key drivers of the economy in 2013.

2. Policies – The recent policy initiatives are expected to improve the investment climate and business environment, and they are likely to benefit the real estate sector in 2013. Few policies to look at in 2013 are: the Real Estate Regulation Bill, likely to be tabled in the upcoming winter session of the parliament; the real estate investment trusts (REITs) or real estate mutual funds (REMFs), expected to get launched in 2013; and the Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, likely to be tabled in the upcoming budget session in 2013.

3. Infrastructure
 – The infrastructure sector achieved a substantial FDI of USD 2.8 billion, accounting for a notable 7.7% of the total FDI inflow in FY 2012. In the year 2013, the relaxation of FDI policies in multi-brand retail is expected to surge the investment in back-end infrastructure development such as logistics. Moreover, an FDI of up to 100% is also permitted under the automatic route in built-up infrastructure and is likely to surge the development of the city and the regional level infrastructure in 2013.

4. Office Real Estate
 – Office space absorption in 2013 is likely to remain equal to that in 2012. Supply correction will lead to fewer options for occupiers, and steady absorption will decrease vacancy levels. Competition for space in prime buildings in prime locations is expected to increase in 2013, and these spaces will start earning a premium. Rents are expected to increase from 2H13 onwards as fewer new projects are being launched, and vacant spaces are steadily filling up. Decisions on occupying special economic zone (SEZ) spaces will be taken by occupiers who are sure of taking a position in India as they have to go live by March 2014 to avail the benefits.

5. Retail Real Estate
 – The relaxation in FDI policies in multi-brand retail interestingly has surged aggressive growth amongst Indian retailers to take the first-mover advantage. This is expected to drive the demand in 2013. However, as supply of retail malls remains a challenge, retailers are likely to opt for built-to-suit (BTS) options or high-street properties. As most developers are focusing on residential developments, the supply of malls will reduce in the major cities over the year. In 2013, retailers will be cautious and take more time to execute agreements as they will do a detailed analysis before closing transactions. Retailers will commit to space only if they see approvals in place and the construction of the space in progress.

6. Residential Real Estate
 – REITs in India allowing investments in rental housing is a new trend worth watching. The framework and details of REITs, once formulated, are likely to drive the investor demand across the prime cities in India in 2013. Another interesting trend observed in the last two years was that the stock in the range of INR 2,000-3,000 per sq ft was fast sold out. In 2013, this range is likely to shift to INR 3,000-5,000 per sq ft with the increase in inflation and construction costs.

7. Industrial Real Estate
 – Sale and leaseback of exiting industrial assets by existing companies is likely to increase in 2013. MNCs testing the waters in India are likely to focus on BTS industrial properties. Warehousing companies are now preparing for the goods and services taxes (GST) and are slowly moving from go-downs to distribution centers. The growing trend in e-retailing and FDI in multi-brand retail is expected to surge the demand for warehousing spaces in 2013.

8. Education and Health Care – There are aggressive growth plans in K-12 and skill-space educational institutions in 2013, particularly in the non-metro cities of India, where there are large opportunities. In the health care segment, hospital chains, along with day care centers, are expected to expand aggressively in 2013. Both these segments are expected to attract private equity investment in 2013.

9. Investment sentiments
 – Debt capital is likely to increase in 2013. Banks are expected to be more flexible in lending. Most of the realty funds are close to their exit periods as they were invested around 2006-2007. Therefore, the exit of real estate funds is expected to increase in 2013. Meanwhile, interest on income-producing assets by institutional investors is likely to increase over the year. However, the availability of such assets will continue to remain a challenge. Assets will witness a softening of yield rates amidst increased liquidity.

10. Delhi
 – Most of the absorption in Delhi NCR is likely to focus around Gurgaon and Noida, with the exception of Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) and few select stand-alone Grade A projects of Delhi. As the demand supply gap of quality office space is expected to increase because of the supply constraints in select precincts of Delhi NCR, rents are expected to increase in certain micromarkets by 2H13. Developers will focus on delivery of the products.

11. Mumbai
 – Office absorption and residential demand will continue to increase in Mumbai. The trend of completion of high-quality new office projects pushing up Grade A office vacancy levels and providing tenants with greater bargaining power will reduce in 2013. With banks drastically reducing lending activities over the last two years, resulting in debt remaining a constraint, not much of new commercial supply (except spillover from 2012) is expected to be completed in 2013 and 2014. Residential launches are expected to increase; however, price drop is unlikely to happen over the year. Amidst constrained supply of quality retail malls, rental gap between Grade A malls and Grade B malls will further widen in the year.

12. Bangalore
 – In terms of office space, Outer Ring Road will continue to be the sought-after destination in 2013. For residential real estate, North Bangalore is expected to continue to remain as the best performing region in the city with strong infrastructure development, increased demand and price appreciation in 2013. Meanwhile, Whitefield will continue to retain its sheen for both office and residential real estate because of affordability, proximity to key work places and good social infrastructure.

13. Other Cities – Chennai, which witnessed a historical high number of residential launches in 2012, is likely to slow down in 2013. This trend is also expected in Pune. Meanwhile, Kolkata and Hyderabad are likely to witness increased launches. Prices of residential units are likely to increase in all the cities because of the increased construction costs. Ahmedabad, Bhubaneswar Kochi and Coimbatore are other cities in India that are likely to witness immense development activities in 2013.

Places you can buy a house in 2013 and gain from price appreciation

If you are looking to buy a house for investment in 2013 and are not sure where you can earn the best returns , don’t worry. We bring you what experts say about real estate destinations that will give good returns over the next three-five years.

New Ground

In the last couple of years, the real estate market has changed remarkably in both metro cities and small towns. Prices have crossed the peaks reached before the 2008 economic slowdown.

However, in 2012, the companies grappled with economic uncertainty, low demand, fund crunch and high inflation. “High inflation and interest rates dealt a double blow to developers by increasing input and debt costs. Sales fell as buyers became wary of rising interest rates,” says Shveta Jain, executive director, residential services, Cushman & Wakefield (C&W) India, a property consultancy firm.

Still, the mid-end residential segment continued to generate buyer interest. This, and increase in prices of raw materials, pushed up prices in most cities.

Realtors will grapple with a lot of inventory and debt in 2013, say experts. “In 2013, developers will price projects more judiciously and offer a lot more pre-launch benefits. Those with large projects and inventory will be under more pressure to give discounts,” says Anuj Puri, chairman and country head, Jones Lang LaSalle India, a property consultancy.

The Union Budget can also be a milestone as the sector looks forward to big policy decisions and reforms, including the grant of industry status.

DELHI-NCR

The Delhi-NCR is the favourite of property consultants. With massive infrastructure works in the pipeline, locations such as Dwarka Expressway, Noida Extension and New Gurgaon are likely to attract a lot of buyers-both investors and end-users.

“The market, once driven by investors, has slowly shifted towards end-users, as the former’s cash position worsens and end-users step in to capitalise on low prices,” says Aniruddh Wahal, co-head, occupier services, DTZ India, a real estate consultancy.

Dwarka Expressway:

Since 2009, developers have started residential development along the upcoming Dwarka Expressway, an eight-lane expressway that will provide an alternative link between Delhi (Dwarka) and Gurgaon. New projects, expected to be ready by 2015, cater to the middle and high-end segments.

“Its proximity to the capital city and the international airport gives it an edge over other emerging destinations such as Noida-Greater Noida Expressway, Yamuna Expressway, Bhiwadi and Dharuhera,” says Wahal.

The area is divided into two parts-the northern region on the side of Dwarka and the southern region closer to Gurgaon. The north (Sectors 103, 106, 109-113) is expected to surpass the south in returns due to proximity to Dwarka and the international airport.

DTZ India says prices in the region will go up by 25-30 per cent per year over the next five years. Knight Frank has forecast an annual return of 16 per cent during the period.

Noida Extension:

Though developers recognise Noida Extension as a separate location, it comprises Sectors 1, 2, 4, 16B, 16C, 16D and Knowledge Park V of Greater Noida. It is close to Noida (10km from Noida City Centre) and 18km from Connaught Place, New Delhi’s prime business location. A proposed metro rail link will improve connectivity between Noida and Delhi.

“It is the most attractive location in the NCR for affordable housing and is expected to see yearly growth of 15-20 per cent in the next five years,” says DTZ’s Wahal. Knight Frank says properties in Noida Extension will give an annual return of 16 per cent over the next few years.

 

Quote:With options ranging from Rs 3,200-15,000 per sq ft and returns of 18-30%, residential real estate looks promising over the next five years.

SAMANTAK DAS Director, Research & Advisory Services, Knight Frank India

Greater Noida:
Situated around 40km from the south-eastern part of New Delhi, Greater Noida is emerging as an industrial region and an educational hub.

It has good infrastructure and is home to several big companies. It is connected to Noida by a six-lane highway operational since 2002. You can drive from Noida to Greater Noida in 15-20 minutes. The Yamuna Expressway, which has also become a property hotspot, connects it with Agra via Mathura. A metro link will connect it with Noida, Ghaziabad and New Delhi.

Greater Noida is an attractive location for mid- and high-end residential segments. “Though there was not much activity in last 15-17 months due to land acquisition and master plan issues, things are expected to pick up. The area may witness a year-on-year price increase of 20-25 per cent,” says Wahal.

MUMBAI

The Mumbai market was subdued in 2012 with prices rising just 2-7 per cent. The demand is expected to pick up in 2013, mainly in the mid-end segment. The eastern suburbs of Mumbai (mainly Chembur, Kurla and Wadala) are expected to provide good returns on account of lower prices compared with areas in central Mumbai and western suburbs.

Ulwe:

Ulwe is an emerging location south of the Panvel creek. It is connected with the Uran Road that connects it with the Thane-Belapur Road as well as the JNPT Road to Jawaharlal Nehru Port. While Ulwe is just 7km from Belapur, a commercial hub, five other office destinations are within the 22km radius. Once the Nerul-Seawood-Uran rail network is ready, Ulwe will be connected with major office locations through a mass rapid transport system. At Rs 4,000 per square foot, one can buy a one-bedroom flat here for Rs 20 lakh. Ulwe is the most attractive destination in the Knight Frank report, which says it may give an annual return of 20 per cent in the next five years.

Quote: In 2013, developers with large projects and inventory will be under more pressure to give discounts than those with smaller projects and limited inventory.

ANUJ PURI Chairman and Country Head, Jones Lang LaSalle India

Chembur:

Located in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region’s central zone, Chembur’s proximity to the Bandra-Kurla Complex and other office destinations will fuel demand for residential properties here, say experts.

The upcoming rail, metro and road networks such as the Eastern Freeway, the Santacruz Chembur Link Road and the Chembur-Wadala-Jacob monorail will boost connectivity to the area.

Limited land availability will limit new construction and keep supply under control here.

Knight Frank says prices here are expected to rise from the current Rs 12,000 per square foot to Rs 27,000 per square foot by 2017. This comes to an annual return of 18 per cent.

Wadala:

Strategically located in the MMR’s central zone, Wadala is at a comfortable distance from the MMR’s main employment centres. The Eastern Expressway connects it with other regions of the central zone as well as business hubs in the island city. It is also connected through the suburban train network. It will also benefit from the under-construction Chembur-Wadala-Jacob monorail project as the Wadala-Chembur part is expected to be ready in 2013.

The regional development authority’s plan to develop Wadala on the lines of the Bandra-Kurla Complex may add to its appeal. Knight Frank says the area may give an annual return of 18 per cent over the next five years.

 

BANGALORE

This information technology (IT) hub saw steady sales in 2012, prompting developers to launch new projects. Prices in under-construction projects in growing submarkets have risen by 10-30 per cent in the past one year.

“The demand for houses is expected to remain stable or grow moderately in 2013,” says Wahal.

Bangalore is expected to offer an annual return of 15 per cent over the next five years.

“The city is the lowest in terms of capital values (compared with Delhi and Mumbai) and has seen moderate price appreciation,” says Jain of C&W.

The international airport and other infrastructure projects have shifted momentum towards the northern and eastern regions.

Kanakpura, Sarjapur Road, Bannerghatta Road, JP Nagar, Jaya Nagar, Whitefield, Varthur, Mahadevapura, CV Raman Nagar, Uttarahalli, KR Puram and Electronic City have emerged as the city’s main residential markets.

Hebbal:

The Bangalore international airport has made Hebbal an important destination. It has also emerged as an IT hub with several technology parks and companies.

Quote: In 2013, the demand for residential units in the top eight cities is expected to be 3.3-3.5 lakh as against the supply of 2.2-2.3 lakh units.

SHVETA JAIN Executive Director, Residential Services, Cushman & Wakefield India

KR Puram:

Closeness to the IT hub of Whitefield and Manyata Tech Park makes it a desired residential destination for IT professionals. KR Puram is located on the National Highway 75. The Baiyappanahalli metro station is just 3km away. The proposed Peripheral Ring Road and widening of the Old Madras Road will improve connectivity.

Realtors defer launches, shift focus from luxury

Property developers who have been holding onto high prices despite falling demand, especially in the luxury segment, are finally changing course. They are not dropping prices yet, but are holding back new launches and focusing on relatively affordable homes, industry researchers said.

New project launches came down by 16% in 2012 compared to 2011 levels, and high-end and luxury segments saw a drop of 24% and 23%, respectively, says a report by real estate consultants Cushman and Wakefield (C&W). “Of the number of units launched, a majority were launched in the middle segment comprising 83% of total launches,” the C&W report said.

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Developers consider one and two-bedroom flats in Mumbai and upto three-bedroom flats in Delhi to be middle income. Those above this are considered luxury property.

Industry experts say that real estate companies are also facing liquidity issues as bankers have become cautious about lending to the sector. While private equity deals were visible till the first half of 2012, it has come down sharply in the second half.

“Banks’ credit exposure to developers has fallen from its peak growth rate of 23.21% in June 2011 to 3.88% as per the latest reported data on September 2012,” a separate report by Knight Frank India said.

“The demand of residential apartments has come down substantially but prices have remained high and in some cases developers have increased prices, especially in the National Capital Region (NCR) and Mumbai. Now a correction is taking place and prices are not likely to increase for next 18-months,” said Pankaj Kapoor, managing director at realty research firm Liases Foras.

Increasing share of peripheral markets are likely to keep prices under check, especially in Mumbai and the NCR, the Knight Frank report said.

The analysts say controlled new supply of apartments in the NCR, primarily in new sectors in the Gurgaon area, will likely keep a check on the quantum of unsold stock.

Pure mall business out, mixed development in, say realtors

After having a bad year in 2012, several mall developers are now planning to venture into mixed-use development or multi-use projects in the coming year 2013.

They say that mixed-use development is the way forward given the issues pertaining to land scarcity, fund raising and slowdown.

According to market experts, the multi-use projects, which include residential, retail, entertainment, hospitality and office space, will come up in tier 2 and 3 cities on back of availability of huge land parcels, growing mall culture and low rentals.

Mixed-use, a model popular in the West, is slowly catching up in India. Such projects not only reduce the overall cost of capital expenditure but also help in getting better valuations for both residential and the mall segment, said Rituraj Verma, founder of real estate consultant firm Otaku Effect. He further added that it helps create catchments for new malls or shopping centres by developing residential projects simultaneously thus making it a win-win situation for both.

Developers such as Neptune Group, Metro Junction, Prozone Realty, Supertech, Phoenix, DLF, and Hiranandani are planning such projects in different parts of the country. Prozone is already planning in Pune and Nagpur, Neptune Group is coming up with a project in Bhandup and Century is constructing a similar project in Bangalore.

“Apart from competition and increasing challenges in the mall business, the returns are reducing while the land and construction input costs are rising. In these times, developers are shifting to other realty segments that offer better returns,” said Kishore Bhatija, Managing Director of Inorbit Mall.

He further said that the quantum of properties going for mall construction has reduced this year and is likely to dwindle further in 2013 as well.

With an operational stock of close to 65 million sq ft during 2012, the retail mall supply across the top seven cities of India slowed considerably compared to the supply recorded in 2011, according to Jones Lang LaSalle. These cities comprise Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune.

“With a drop in supply of over 65 per cent, new completions in 2012 YTD were at a new low when we consider the trend of the past five years since 2007. Barring Hyderabad, all cities recorded completions during 2012, albeit at a slower pace than witnessed in 2011,” said a JLL report.

The FDI in retail is another reason several mall developers have withheld supply and rolled over their launch plans, in turn reducing supply. “Developers want to make their malls more useful and attractive from international investment perspective. So they are re-working their plans to launch them at a later date after tweaking its quality and design and making it more conducive to demand from international retailers,” added Ashutosh Limaye, Head of Research & REIS.

Subhranshu Pani, Managing Director (Retail Services), Jones Lang LaSalle, added that the widening gap between supply and delivery was likely to continue for at least the next two years.

“Long gestation time in mall construction is leading to a situation of oversupply, rents crashing and eventual walking out by developers. Mixed-use can help fix some of these problems though catering to two different type of footfalls and its planning and execution can be a challenge,” he said.

Signs of recovery in real estate but challenges ahead

After a long lull, the year 2013 is expected to bring back hopes of growth to the real estate sector, mainly due to the government’s positive approach towards reforms and moderation of interest rates, experts say.

Land Acquisition and Real Estate Regulation Bills are expected to be passed during the year, while there is a likelihood of Reserve Bank bringing down the interest rates.

“The passage of FDI in multi-brand retail by the government shows its seriousness on introducing reforms. RBI can be expected to lower interest rates in the coming months which will benefit developers as well as consumers. This will boost the sentiments,” Knight Frank India chairman Pranab Datta said.

Residential prices, which have been increasing over the past few years are likely to witness subdued growth in most markets in a short to medium term till the pressures of unsold inventory are eased out, CBRE chairman and managing director Anshuman Magazine said.

Finance Minister P Chidambaram had recently asked the developers to sell their unsold inventory at a lower price.

“Besides, infrastructure initiatives such as Greater Noida metro rail network and proposed metro link in north-west Bangalore are likely to have a positive impact on the residential market of these cities,” Magazine said.

FDI in multi-brand retail will also boost the demand for commercial real estate.

“Apart from the international brands, several domestic brands are also exploring opportunities to increase their foot prints across the country. This anticipated growth in demand is expected to bring some upward movement in retail rentals, particularly along established hubs,” DTZ-India chief executive officer Anshul Jain said.

According to Jones Lang LaSalle, major cities like Mumbai, NCR-Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Pune, Hyderabad and Kolkata will see the addition of close to 9.5 million sqft of mall space in 2013.

“The primary reason is that a sizable amount of supply that was expected to reach completion in 2012 has been being pushed to 2013,” JLL Chairman and Country Head Anuj Puri said.

While Mumbai, NCR-Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai will together contribute 70 per cent of the total retail space absorption, cities like Pune, Hyderabad and Kolkata will account for the remaining 30 per cent.

Further, the ongoing policy reforms are expected to provide some cushion to corporates who are likely to execute their expansion plans in near future.

“Demand for office space is expected to be broad-based and not restricted to IT-ITeS and banking sectors. However, even as leasing activity performs relatively well, rentals are expected to remain stable owing to large upcoming supply and high vacancy levels across most cities,” Jain said.

According to JLL, cities including Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi NCR, Chennai, Hyderabad and Pune will witness commercial corporate property transactions focused on their own occupancy needs.

“We expect 2013 to bring a larger-than-usual number of NRI investors into the commercial space arena. This is because NRIs are currently enthused by the prevailing exchange rate benefits and the fact that commercial real estate capital values are still 15-25 percent under their 2007-08 peak levels,” Puri said.

A lost opportunity for the real estate sector

The year 2012 was a difficult one for the Indian real estate sector as tough economic conditions led to lower sales and higher construction costs.

There is a general industry view that 2013 will see an improved economic climate and the real estate sector will follow suit, albeit with some lag.

However, Lalit Kumar Jain, National President, Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Associations of India (CREDAI), felt that the year 2013 would be “make or break time for the real estate sector as it is going through a liquidity crisis. The year 2012 is one of lost opportunity for the sector as no corrective steps were initiated”.

But Anuj Puri, Chairman & Country Head, Jones Lang LaSalle India, a real estate consultancy, was more sanguine. “The most tangible benefits of economic improvements on the Indian real estate space will be seen in the second-half of 2013,” he said.The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) also recently allowed established real estate developers and housing finance companies to raise up to $1 billion through external commercial borrowings.

Some projects in mass housing segments that sold well were priced in the range of Rs.4,000-5,500 per sq. ft. in areas such as Noida, Navi Mumbai and Bangalore. Projects in the Rs.16,000-19,000 per sq. ft. range in Central Mumbai, too, sold well.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail was permitted. Pranab Dutta, Chairman, Knight Frank India, a real estate consultancy, felt that “This will attract foreign investment which will not only benefit the retail industry but also boost the demand for commercial real estate”.

On measures to boost the sector, developers felt that it was essential to have a ‘single window’ clearance for projects as there were 50-odd permissions required to begin construction of a project and this could take two years to obtain. “For the common man’s benefit, interest rates should be corrected soon,” said Jackbastian Nazareth, Group CEO, Puravankara Projects, adding, “the first quarter of 2013 is likely to see some consolidation but thereafter and into 2014, we are likely to see good growth”.

The year 2013 is likely to reap the benefit of the Real Estate Regulation Bill and the Land Acquisition Bill. “The change in sentiment on account of these measures will certainly make 2013 a much better year in comparison to the last year,” said Mr. Dutta.