Trust the festive season to improve the mood of the real estate market. Lakshmi Krupa finds out about the deals on offer

Even as home buyers grapple with the eternal ‘to buy or not to buy’ question, builders are gearing up to make up for lost time in the upcoming festive season, with offers of cars, gold and even air-conditioners to customers.

A project in Perungalathur from StepsStone is offering a free modular kitchen and free registration for all spot bookings while Cee Dee Yes Infrastructure Development offers a free Hyundai Eon with a 3BHK flat and a Maruti Alto with a 2BHK.

The innovation does not stop here. If you don’t want a free car, the builder offers to give you rental returns upfront to the tune of Rs. 3.96 lakh for a 2 BHK apartment and Rs. 5.76 lakh for a 3BHK.

Besides this, there are offers of free car parking, registration, EB connections, sewage treatment plants, waiver of legal and documentation charges, and so on.

Says Advitiya Sharma, Co-founder and Marketing Head, Housing.com, “The unsold real estate inventory has been dampening the industry’s mood this year. Now, with the festive season around the corner, the market is likely to pick up again.” The other reason behind the freebies is the RBI’s clamp-down on schemes such as the 20:80 payment scheme. Builders are working hard to find alternative ways to attract buyers. One of these is to monetise the waiting period. Chennai-based XS Real, for instance, is offering a ‘No pre-EMI until possession deal’. Vikas Ramanathan, Manager - Sales, explains, “We have had a lot of enquiries and closed six deals in one day. Since the RBI has abolished the 20:80 scheme, we are offering a No Pre-EMI scheme. Here, upon an upfront payment by the customer we offer cheque payments to him or her for the EMIs until the property is handed over.” If you cannot bear rental and EMI expenses simultaneously, such offers are worth exploring.

According to Makaan.com, which has done a research of festive season expectations and offerings in the real estate industry, “Looking at the economic condition of the country, developers are taking a cautious approach this festive season but they don’t want to disappoint buyers and lose out on an opportunity to revive sales.” Their research shows that several developers plan to launch between one and five projects this season, while about 27 per cent are more upbeat and might launch five to ten new projects.

Although the overall number of launches this year is likely to be lower than last year, the number of discounts and freebies is likely to be more. The Makaan.com report shows that nearly 29 per cent of developers are considering offering more than 5 per cent cash discount, while 21 per cent is willing to offer 2-5 per cent discounts. “Moreover,” says the report, “homebuyers can also expect offers such as ‘pay 40 per cent at the time of booking and balance on possession’ or ‘pay 20 per cent at the time of booking and no EMI for next 12-18 months’.”

When we scouted the Chennai market, there wasn’t much by way of cash discounts. However, there were other offers that could work to the buyer’s advantage, such as better instalment facilities or value additions to their home. The other major attraction this season is the offer of up to 500 grams of gold with each new booking. M.K. Prakash of Olympia says, “We are offering four grams of gold with a booking as well as two air-conditioners to encourage customers. We have already sold about 78 per cent of our inventory and we are confident that the remaining 22 per cent will be sold with these offers.”

Also, use the festive season to up your bargaining power. N. Hariharan, Office Director, Cushman & Wakefield, says, “The ongoing festive season is an apt opportunity from the end-users’ perspective as they can take the advantage of flexible payment schemes, the various offers, and sometimes even reduced interest rates on home loans.”