Why Mumbai’s property market offers a clue on what will happen to British house


Tapering support

The Maharashtra state Government has also moved quickly to taper the stimulus. From January, the discount was cut by one percentage point. From January to March 31, buyers must pay a slightly higher 3pc flat rate.

This reduction to the tax break has hit market momentum. Sales fell 47pc month-on-month in January. But the volume was still up 69pc year-on-year.

“We expect sales numbers in January and February to be lower than December, then there will be another small surge in March because the incentive will end by March 31,” said Mr Thakker.

Sales will then dip in April, said Ms Sinha. But the market will be insulated from a major fall because the Government has also taken steps to soften the blow as the tax break ends by cutting developer taxes. 

Typically developers pay premiums of between 20pc and 40pc of a project’s costs to the state Government, said Ms Sinha. In January, the Government announced these costs would be halved for a year, in the expectation that developers can then pass on discounts to buyers.

Future outlook

In Britain, the stamp duty holiday has pushed home values to record highs, just as unemployment is forecast to hit 7.5pc. 

In Mumbai, however, there has been no such inflation because the market was in a worse condition before the pandemic. Agents argue that years of price falls will protect the city’s property market after the tax break ends. 

“A lot of people have lost their jobs, their incomes have been cut, but the higher income category has not been very impacted, and they want to take advantage of the low prices,” said Ms Sinha. 

Lower interest rates will help buyers going forwards. Rates on mortgages sit at about 6.8pc in India – a steep jump on the 1.5pc rates that are available in England, but a drop on the 8pc charges Indian buyers faced last year.

The up-and-coming metropolitan area of Thane, on the western edge of Mumbai, accounted for 40pc of all of Mumbai’s sales in November and December, said Mr Thakker. 

Price play is key. Homes here cost between INR6m and INR15m (between £59,000 and £147,000). In South Mumbai, the heart of the city’s prime market, homes cost 10 to 15 times as much, said Mr Thakker. “It’s pretty crazy.”

But though the market looks better prepared for the end of the stamp duty holiday in Mumbai, the threat of coronavirus still looms large. Cases in Maharashtra have started to rise again rapidly. The chief minister is considering another lockdown. If it is as strict as the first, it will stall sales just as buyer incentives wind down. Mumbai property could have a cliff edge of its own.

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