Real Estate Rescue Fund Manager Says First Two Projects To Be Ready By April
A file photo of a housing development project in Noida, Uttar Pradesh. There are many real estate companies in Delhi NCR facing insolvency proceedings because of default to homebuyers and banks. (Photographer: Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg)

Real Estate Rescue Fund Manager Says First Two Projects To Be Ready By April

The first two rescued housing projects will be completed by April, according to the manager of the fund set up to help India’s struggling real estate sector.

“These two projects are in Mumbai and Rewadi,” said Irfan Kazi, chief investment officer at SBICAP Ventures Ltd., the government-appointed manager of the alternative investment fund. “Between these two projects, there are 1,300 units which will be completed.”

India’s real estate market faced multiple setbacks, starting with the overnight withdrawal of 86% of currency in 2016, a stricter housing law (RERA) and a liquidity crunch among non-bank lenders that dried up funding. According to the government’s own estimates, projects with 4.58 lakh housing units and requiring Rs 55,000 crore were stalled at the time. In November 2019, India set up the alternative investment fund to provide last-mile funding.

This Special Window for Affordable and Mid-Income Housing Projects or Swamih fund has so far granted approval to investments worth Rs 13,200 crore in 135 projects with 87,000 units, Kazi said over the phone. Of these, final approval has been granted for investments worth Rs 4,500 crore in 36 projects, and the rest have received a preliminary nod.

Kazi declined to share details of disbursals but said the fund is committed to provide money to these projects.

"In Mumbai and the National Capital Region, we have done about 40 plus deals each; 10 each in Bengaluru and Pune, and five in Chennai,” Kazi said.

The fund has also done about 24 deals from tier 2 cities. “We have approvals from the deals in places like Karnal, Mohali, Chandigarh, Panipat, Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Surat, Dehradun, Kota, Jaipur, Bhopal, Nashik, Nagpur, Hyderabad, Vizag, Thrissur and Coimbatore,” Kazi said, adding that they have formed a team of about 40 people.

According to Kazi, in most of the projects where the fund has started investing, homebuyers are also gaining confidence. “We are seeing that existing homebuyers start contributing and new homebuyers also come in.”

The fund has invested in projects that are completely stalled as well as those “on a ventilator” or barely surviving, he said. “We are making an effort to explain that the fund is not just for stuck projects.”

Besides, according to Kazi, the fund is also taking up stressed slum rehabilitation as well as society redevelopment projects, especially in places like Mumbai.

'Remarkable'

According to Anarock research, 1,132 projects with 5.02 lakh units (launched in 2013 or before) were stuck in various stages in the top seven cities as of 2020-end. That’s a decline from 1,322 stalled projects with 5.76 lakh units as of 2019-end.

This last-mile funding mechanism has proved to be effective in getting stuck projects going again, said Anuj Puri, chairman at Anarock Property Consultants.

“The government and RBI’s liquidity-generation initiatives in 2020 also helped. 190 projects with over 73,560 units which can finally be handed over to their purchasers or marketed as ready-to-move options getting completed in the year is especially remarkable considering the backdrop of the Covid-19.”

Also read: Even Before Covid-19, Stressed Projects Struggled To Get Help From Real Estate Rescue Fund

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