Apartments once sold like hot cakes. But today completed residential projects having a total area of five lakh sq ft are lying vacant in Kochi city. The ongoing projects offer space of about 76.4 lakh sq ft in Ernakulam district. Marine Drive and Kakkanad are hubs of vacant apartments. As per sources in the industry, the occupancy rate of residential projects is as low as 20 per cent in some areas of the city. Feeling the heat of low demand and excess supply many real estate developers have either abandoned their future projects in the city or are in search of other places. According to the 2011 census, Ernakulam district topped the list with 1,36,722 vacant houses, of which over one lakh was in the urban sector. The developers who have given up hope in the real estate scenario in the city are Nitesh Realtors, Sahara, SRK and Brigade Enterprises. Though Kerala-based small and medium builders say that they are going ahead with the projects, sources said that some projects have been stagnant for six months to one year. “The average occupancy rate in the residential projects in the city is 40 per cent. This is due to the slowdown in the overall economy. In normal case, 60 per cent of the projects are bought by investors, mostly NRIs. But now they stay away from the market which makes the occupancy level low. In some places the occupancy is only 20 per cent,” said Joseph Nivin, managing director, Nivin Builders and Developers Private Ltd.
Sources said the projects of Puravankara and Tata Realtors on Marine Drive are awaiting takers. As per Joseph Nivin there was 50 per cent excess supply in Kochi in recent times. A recent study by CREDAI-Kochi, revealed that the number of residential projects prior to 2003 was 200 but during April 2003 to March 2013 period, the number of projects has risen to 700, with a total area of 774 lakh sqft in Kochi. Builders place Kakkanad as the hot destination as 139 projects were built in the region. Aluva seconds the list with 51 projects followed by Tripunithura with 50 projects, the study said.
John Thomas, president, CREDAI-Kochi said that though there are 75 registered members with CREDAI in Kochi about 75 per cent are active in the field.
There was a time when builders gave up the project but now it is not so. Paul Raj, joint secretary,CREDAI-Kochi said that since the slowdown has affected the sector, developers in the unorganised sector might have pulled down their shutters.