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Cautious optimism at Cityscape India 2009

KUALA LUMPUR: The Indian real estate market is beginning to see signs of cautious optimism but much hinges on how well the global recovery picks up, according to leading industry players who have gathered for Cityscape India 2009 in Mumbai.

Cityscape India, the country’s largest international business-to-business real estate investment & development conference and exhibition, made its first appearance in 2007 when the real estate market was blooming. Much have changed since then after a difficult period of recession.

“There is no escape from the fact that this year we will be meeting under very different circumstances than previously,” said Kosta Petrov, Cityscape India Conference director.

The programme is packed full of industry experts and visionary leaders who will share their insights on overcoming the biggest challenges in the India real estate market and capitalising on opportunities in unique market conditions, Petrov added.

However, the mood at Cityscape India, which opened its three-day exhibition yesterday (Dec 9) was upbeat.

“We are starting to see consolidation in the market following the election of a stable government, improvement in liquidity and rationalisation of property rates,” said Graham Wood, project director for Cityscape India.

“We are still living in times of global financial uncertainty so we are providing all those who attend Cityscape India with a series of reports providing transparent and accurate intelligence on where the market stands and what the future holds,” Wood added.

Jones Lang LaSalle Meghraj’s chairman and country head, Anuj Puri said in the “Cityscape Intelligence Focus on India” report that the commercial sector relied much on how the global economy picks up since Indian office space depends to a significant extent on multinationals setting up shop or expanding.

Cautious signs of promise and recovery could be seen over the last few months in retail real estate while residential real estate has struck a definite high note over the last one and a half quarters, with pent-up demand bubbling over into hardcore sales, Puri added.

The “Cityscape Intelligence Focus on India” report is one of three free reports available to delegates at Cityscape India. The other two are from Colliers International -- an investment perception survey and a report on education as an emerging non-conventional real estate asset class.

Credit Suisse’s managing director, head of real estate Asia Pacific Sameer Nayar said the middle income housing market has “come back pretty strong” but believes other sectors will remain in a depressed state.

New to the event this year is the investors relations initiative, which will feature round tables for investors and developers to discuss key issues such as affordable housing, lessons learned from the economic crisis, retail development and foreign direct investment.

An Urban Leaders Symposium on shaping the future of cities has also been planned, highlighting best practices by local and international governments who have developed successful solutions to the complex problems of cities.

Also being introduced this year is the Great Real Estate Debate with a spotlight on India’s hottest and most controversial topic -- affordable housing.

More than 4,000 senior decision makers have signed up for the conference which ends on Dec 11. The conference will see presentations from over 60 industry experts, covering topics ranging from investment potential in the current market, striking property deals in the current climate to funding and capital raising in a recession, green buildings and distressed investing.

Cityscape India will also showcase over 70 exhibitors from regional and international companies in the various fields related to property. Among the notable exhibitors are property developers like the UAE’s RAK Properties and India’s TATA Housing Development, and architecture firms like the UK’s John Robertson Architects and Hong Kong’s HO & Partners Architects, and Canada’s Ministry of International Trade and Investment among others.

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