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The Real Estate Roller Coaster

Trials and tribulations of the Goan building boom

With the season upon us, viagra 60mg the real estate industry in Goa has already gone into overdrive. Builders, brokers, banks, investors, buyers and sundry other players jostling with each other to give and get the best deals.

The last few weeks have seen a number of ‘Property Expos’ in the major cities like Panjim and Margao. The ‘Goatimeline Property Expo’ was held November 30-December 1, at the Ravindra Bhavan in Margao, while the ‘Goa Mega Property Fair 2013’ was  held at the Chicalim Sports Complex in Vasco. Coming up soon is the biggest show, ‘Times Homes Goa 2013’ to be held on December 14-15 in Panjim. Not to be left behind the Herald newspaper group will present their ‘Goa Property Expo 2013’ – ‘the biggest property show in Goa’ – on the same dates in Margao.

So many property shows and so many apartments, villas, entire buildings and more for sale, but are people buying them? A real estate developer, requesting anonymity, explains, “The problem is that there are too many properties chasing too few buyers. Most of the properties have been priced out of the reach of the ordinary Goans, and only the NRI Goans are in a position to buy the properties. Since many of them come to Goa for their annual holidays during this time of the year, when the feast of St Xavier happens, followed by Christmas, these shows are held to attract them. This is how it is done abroad. Instead of making inquiries with different builders and developers who are located at varied locations, they can check them all out under one roof.”

Most NRI Goans, especially the younger generation born to Goan parents abroad, would like to own property in Goa, and tend to buy in their ‘ancestral’ villages. But increasingly in recent years a large number of non-Goans, especially those who have retired, are buying up properties in locations like Porvorim and Dona Paula because Goa offers a reasonably good quality of life, particularly if you are arriving after having lived in a mega city.

Talking about the recent Goatimeline property expo, Jyotilaxmi Kurup of Aakar Realty, says, “We’re definitely happy with the response. There were a lot of local people, working couples who came to make inquiries. A lot of Goans are working abroad, on ships, with their families here, and they’re looking at buying properties so that when they come back in some years they have their own place. Also a lot of the local people here itself are economically much better than they were, say, even three years ago, so they’re also looking at investing in properties by taking loans.” Aakar Realty has a number of premium properties in Margao, Colva and elsewhere.

According to Damu Naik, the chairman of Ravindra Bhavan, where the expos are held in Margao, the buyers will definitely have the advantage of choice given the number of builders participating in the shows. “Also the participation of banks in the expos will go a long way in benefiting those who need finance. People can avail loans from the banks participating in the show at affordable rates.”

For the Ponda-based Civilco Engineers, this was the 4th time that they have taken part in a property expo. Says Mr Mohammed, managing partner, “When you take part in these expos, then people remember you; for example, right now we don’t have a project in Margao, but we may have one in the future, and then people will remember our name. Usually there is no spot buying at these expos, but people notice your name, make inquiries.”

With projects in areas like Ponda, Mohammed says the demand has come down after the mining ban, so their clients are mostly government employees and others. Talking about the real estate scenario in Goa, like others, he says “Right now the growth is not there; the ceiling is coming down. This industry depends a lot on rumours. They say after the Lok Sabha elections things will improve, so let’s see.”

Jyotilaxmi says demand is definitely less than supply at the moment because of the high costs of most premium properties. “There are two things which are holding back the market. One is the high cost of production because of shortage of sand, massive rise in stamp duty, all of which means the price of properties has gone up.  Also people are hesitating to take loans because of the uncertain fiscal policies, so right now people are saying it’s better to wait till July after the new government comes in Delhi when the picture will become more clear. The uncertain fiscal policies means people’s loans might become costlier because of a rise in interest rates and so on,” she says.

Not everybody who buys property in Goa, however, has a happy experience, given the large-scale corruption and fraud by many builders and also the lawyers who handle the legal aspects of the transactions. A large number of properties which have been developed into apartment complexes don’t have clear titles and many of them are in litigation, which is not revealed to the buyers.

This is particularly true for the many foreigners who bought property in Goa over the years hoping to lead a peaceful life. At the time of purchase, they are given all the assurances they think they need, which they fall for. But this corruption comes back to haunt them when they try to sell their properties. They are told their papers are not in order, they cannot sell, and on top of which, one or the other local politician will raise the bogey of ‘outsider’ to incite some locals, and then you’re in a mighty jam. Because it benefits them, some local stake-holders are uninterested in having more clear-cut legal procedures to make property buying and selling a hassle-free experience here.

Increasingly, though, it is the large-scale builders and investors who are looking at buying property in Goa with an eye on the long-term future. Goa is also apparently becoming a haven for parking ill-gotten wealth. Joseph Sequiera, who controls the Calangute village panchayat which issues construction licenses in the booming tourist resort village, says, “Calangute has become the investment destination for all the black money being made by the big politicians in the country.”

Many of these projects are simply set up to launder the black money of politicians, which is one reason why property prices are shooting up in Goa, at least in some areas. In this scenario the ordinary Goan discovers that he stands little chance of buying a decent apartment, except in areas where nobody else wants to stay.