The current economic depression, it seems, has not spared the millionaires. In the past 6-8 months, sales of the country’s most expensive apartments have stopped.
Morarka Bungalow on 29, Nepean Sea Road in south Mumbai, not far from Altamount Road—recently tagged the world’s tenth most expensive street by Wealth Bulletin published by News Corp.—is being rebuilt from a palatial colonial bungalow to a high-rise. At Rs 80,000 per sq. ft, each of the 12,000 sq. ft duplexes in the building would cost some Rs100 crore. The project, however, currently does not have any takers.
Bookings opened in 2007 and six duplexes were sold till February, 2008 after which no transaction has matured. Pankaj Shah, promoter of Satellite Group, which is developing the Morarka bungalow project, said, “I can’t disclose the booking price and status of sale for the project.”
Sea-facing residences have always been in great demand in Mumbai, more so given their extremely short supply. Most are sold privately by invitation only.
The last big ticket sale in south Mumbai was in May 2007 — a Rs 30 crore apartment bought at Rs1.2 lakh per sq. ft by actor and BJP MP Vinod Khanna in the Il Palazzo building on Malabar Hill.
“Apartments, particularly big ticket ones above Rs 25-30 crore are getting difficult to sell. Demand is down and that has reflected in the sales,” said Abhisheck Lodha, director of Lodha Group. The company’s project Lodha Solitaire on Nepean Sea Road, which has only nine apartments, one to a floor, has 20% of the stock left. The last sale was about nine months ago, Lodha said.
A south Mumbai property consultant said another residential project with 11 apartments on Altamount Road hadn’t sold a single flat since it opened for bookings six months ago. The price quoted for the 5,500 sq. ft apartments was about Rs55,000 per sq. ft at that time. “The project got the occupancy certificate six months back and now the sellers are willing to negotiate at a price of Rs30,000-35,000 per sq. ft as well,” the consultant said on condition of anonymity.
Pujit Agarwal, MD of Orbit Corp Ltd, says current market conditions have also propelled him to consider leasing out his upcoming project, Orbit Haven on Nepean Sea Road, rather than waiting to sell or sell at a lower price. It’s currently marked at Rs 55,000 a sq foot. “With the markets being down, investors have generally kept away from making big investments now,” he said.
S.G. Maheshwari, former chairman of lobby group Estate Agents Association, said he doesn’t expect sales to gain in the next six months. “Developers will compromise heavily on their profit margins because they can’t afford to sit on such expensive properties without selling them,” he said