Friday, March 6, 2009

DLF Tries to Mend Ways; But Will Anybody Believe?

How did DLF become India’s leading developer? They led in all those shrewd business practices that defined Indian reality during this last bull run – amassing vast land banks, announcing extravagant projects, hiking up prices to astronomical heights, collecting huge advances from homebuyers, failing to keep deadlines, and, ultimately, financing this utopia-of-an-industry manifold times with public money through an IPO. But ever since disaster struck in the form of this economic downturn, most realtors have remained literally frozen with disbelief. But not DLF. They have once again assumed the mantle of leadership. Most probably forced by its financing institutions, DLF has cut prices drastically – in some projects, even up to 32%. To withstand backlash from existing customers in those ongoing projects, the discount scheme has been extended to them too. All well and good. Some industry pundits are predicting that the DLF step is the first step in a series of action-reactions that all players will be forced to take in the coming days. That too is well and good. But what about credibility? Will a homebuyer now enter into a 20-year commitment with a bank, trusting a developer like DLF? Simply put, there is too much ambiguity. As people who had booked in DLF’s Cochin project found out for themselves, there is reportedly a public notice on the property announcing it as a government land. DLF’s Chennai project has run into even bigger troubles – massive homebuyer activism, collective bargaining etc – finally forcing DLF to announce an exit route for dissatisfied customers, that many are taking. DLF’s closest competitors, the top ten of realty, are too in a dilemma – if they don’t compete with DLF’s price cuts, they are doomed; if they do too, they run the risk of tumbling their filthily profitable industry forever. DLF is also facing regulatory pressure from the Central Government with a special audit by the IT Department, and with its request with various state governments to refund advances paid for townships, getting no response. The firm is facing a serious debt problem – around Rs. 4500 plus crores – and is finding no solace in the stock market where it heads the list of the biggest losers and with analysts still recommending SELL on DLF.

1 comment:

  1. you have got the bulls eye. cheers!

    Whatever is being said and done about the realty developers is actually confusing and got more confusing the way media presented it. Nowadays it's rare that one of us gets to see a news with a positive outlook.



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