It is half past noon as the sun beats down on the promenade in the upmarket locale of Hiranandani Estate in Thane, a satellite city abutting Mumbai district. Working out of a 400-sq ft office in one of the bylanes nearby is 50-year-old Mahesh Ahuja, who sorely misses the intermittent buzzing of his phone between sporadic visits from customers, all of whom are looking for a reasonably-priced dwelling in a locality that has fast emerged as one of the most sought-after residential hotspots.
“Did you hear the phone even ring once? It’s that bad,” laments Ahuja, even as he gives a lowdown on how business has gone cold for real estate agents like him over the past year. “My business has dropped by at least 75%. It is a clear case of oversupply in Thane, with no demand,” says Ahuja, who is one of the 300 registered agents among a crop of 2,000 largely unorganised ones who have mushroomed over the past five years in Thane.
Till last year, business was brisk for Ahuja and his ilk, as not just the Hiranandani group but a whole lot of developers — from the likes of Lodha Developers to Dosti Realty, Kalpataru, and Rustomjee — had set their sights on this part of the district to hit pay dirt by either constructing residential townships or standalone multi-storey premium towers. Soon, the number of developers with an interest in Thane shot up to over 80.
Fancy project names promising the moon to buyers started papering every single hoarding across the satellite city. But with prices hitting the roof and buyers suddenly turning away, desperation has crept in across the rank and file of developers. Niranjan Hiranandani, co-founder and managing director of Hiranandani Constructions, which holds over 200 acre in Thane and around 150 buildings, however, sounds rather optimistic. “While there may be a situation of demand being slow to take off, there is nothing to worry about. We have seen even tougher times in the business,” says Hiranandani rather dismissively.
You don’t want to be left behind. Do you?
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