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Property prices in India are expected to increase 7.5% on a pan-India basis this year, the fastest growth in five years, according to a Reuters poll of property analysts. Average house prices were forecast to rise 6% next year and in 2024. The poll of 13 property analysts were held during May11-27. In a March poll, the analysts had expected, an increase of 5.0% for this year.

Reflecting the improved sentiment, the BSE index of real estate companies are up 21% in past one year, outperforming 15% rise in broader Sensex.

According to the Reuters poll, prices in Mumbai and Delhi, including its surrounding National Capital Region, is expected to rise between 4% and 5% this year and next. Prices in Bengaluru and Chennai, are forecast to rise 5.5%-6.5% over the course of the next two years.

Improving housing demand and increase in building material cost are some of the key factors for housing price rise, according to analysts. Analysts however warned that higher interest rates could weigh on affordability, especially for first-time buyers.

Earlier, this month, Reserve Bank of India increased the benchmark repo rate - the rate at which it lends to banks - by 40 basis points to 4.40% in its first rate hike in nearly four years. And economists expect the central bank to frontload more aggressive interest rate hikes in its effort to tame high inflation.

“Indian housing sector has vastly benefited by the low interest rates in the last two years. This policy rate hike will translate into higher EMIs for home loans. However, we believe that improved homebuyer attitude, preference for owning a house and strong wage growth will continue to support the housing market. The monetary policy stance is still accommodative and with the receding pandemic and economic growth, we expect that consumer demand will remain buoyant in the near term," said Gulam Zia, (Senior Executive Director- Knight Frank India).

If interest rates go up rather sharply, analysts warn that many would-be first-time homeowners would prefer to rent instead. However, rents too are expected to become more expensive, according to a majority of respondents in the Reuters poll.

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