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Moushumi Das Gupta, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, September 23, 2012
The practice of buying houses not for staying there but just to trade in them has deepened in the Indian realty market, creating a shortage for many. A report released on Saturday by the housing and urban poverty alleviation ministry said of the 17.95 million housing units that came up in the country between 2007 and 2012, 11.09 million houses, or nearly 62%, were either “vacant or locked up”.

This could be a factor behind inflated prices. And, housing shortage at the beginning of 2012 was 18.78 million. If there is a liquidity crunch, this has the potential to create a sharp fall in housing prices, with destabilising consequences for the rest of the economy, as happened in the US in 2008.

JNU professor Amitabh Kundu, who headed the technical committee that authored the report, said: “If the houses were available to the homeless, squatters, slum-dwellers and those living in extremely congested conditions, the shortage would be much less.”

Sanjay Dutta, executive managing director (South East Asia), real estate brokerage firm Cushman and Wakefield, said: “It reflects the government’s skewed housing policy.”