Demand plummets, prices rise: Kashmir real estate activity continues to baffle

Srinagar: Mujeeb Ahmad (33) had invested all his savings in the real estate sector after leaving a corporate job in New Delhi a few years ago.

The first years of activity were very good. This encouraged Mujeeb to expand his business by borrowing loans from banks. “The last three years have not gone well. The real estate market is in dire straits and small fry like me have been hit the hardest,” he said.

Mujeeb said he rarely found a client or sold land in the past three years. “Previously, I sold at least three plots a month. Simultaneously, work would continue on the construction of new residential apartments or houses,” he said.

Mujeeb is not alone in this sinking ship. Imran Ahmad has also failed to find customers or new offers for the residential apartments he has built.

“The situation of this company is no longer what it was a few years ago. Many of us have moved on to other options. People are now afraid to invest in this sector,” he said.

Estate agents said business fell more than 50% due to COVID-19, even as land prices soared.

“We have witnessed a series of blockages. This affected people’s purchasing power. Our business is down 50% in the last three years,” said Talib Farooq, owner of Prop Experts JK, a leading property company, which has outlets in New Delhi and Dubai.

He said scrapping Darbar Move increased their woes. “The demand for residential land in Jammu has also been affected. The state of real estate in J&K is very bad compared to New Delhi and other states,” Talib said.

He said the steady rise in land prices has contributed to the drop in demand. “Rates have risen extremely high in Kashmir. A one-canal plot that would cost Rs 2 crore earlier is being sold at Rs 4 crore. Land prices after 2019 have skyrocketed in many parts of Srinagar,” he said.

Real estate brokers said the fall in their business had cascading effects on many other sectors in Kashmir. “It is not just a real estate agent, but many industries are related to it. Currently, suppliers of cement, iron and other construction materials are also suffering,” said Mushtaq Ahmad, a senior real estate agent.

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