It is well-known that residential real estate creation was historically dependent on customer advances. As customers booked homes, the initial capital flowed in. Stage-wise payments from customers ensured that the construction process remained a customer-funded activity. Often, in the absence of a transparent mechanism and due to lack of disclosure mechanisms, the payments thus received were deployed in other projects as well. One of the fundamental changes brought about by RERA was a halt to this practice of diversion of funds to other projects or land purchases. 75% of the funding received for a certain project, was to be deposited in escrow and full disclosures were required. This did create a grind for the developers, who could no more use customer advances for any activity other than what it was meant for.
It should be remembered that this period of negative growth in prices coincides with, and is closely linked to, some other remarkable events, namely, demonetisation, temporary ban on construction in Mumbai, implementation of GST, and a little later, the liquidity crisis of 2018. All of these, along with RERA, contributed to the slowdown in the industry, leading to falling sales every successive half-year as well as negative price growth.
As is also evident from the price chart, the downward movement in prices has been increasingly arrested in 2018 and continues along the upward path. It can be understood that while the flurry of reforms and various policy measures sent successive shock-waves in the real estate industry, the eventual acceptance of the new reality is sinking in. The supply side has clearly begun learning the dynamics of this changed environment, and has been redrawing its business models.