Realty stocks took a tumble on the bourses and many logged their 52-week low on Monday.

The BSE Realty Index closed at a 52-week low at 3,407.87, down 5.26 per cent. It had dropped 16.79 per cent over the week from 4,095.50, and 31.78 per cent over the month. In January, the index clocked a high of 13,848.09.

Over the week, almost all real estate company stocks have taken a hammering, dovetailing the Sensex's fall with the negative market sentiment at an all-time high, which this week is compounded by the wait for the US congressional nod for the $700-billion bailout package for bankrupt investment firms there.

Delhi-based DLF Ltd stock closed at Rs 350. 60, 5.12 per cent lower than its previous close. The DLF issue was priced at Rs 525. (52-week high – Rs 1,225, low Rs 329)

In July, the company announced its buyback intention of up to Rs 600 a share for Rs 1,100 crore.

On September 18, it informed BSE that its board of directors would meet on September 30 to consider and approve a public announcement with the proposed buyback of equity of the company.

Sobha Developers' stock suffered a 9.59 per cent drop, closing at Rs 171.55. The issue price was Rs 640 (Rs 1,060, Rs 164.50). Puravankara Projects traded at Rs 154.05 at close, down 3.14 per cent. The IPO price was Rs 400 (Rs 535, Rs 132.05). At close, Omaxe stock traded at Rs 96.05, down 4.38 per cent, far below its issue price of Rs 310 (Rs 613, Rs 93.60). Housing Development and Infrastructure Ltd was at Rs 166.05, down 13.72 per cent lower than its previous close (Rs 1,432, Rs 160.20). Parsvnath Developers was down 7.04 per cent at Rs 89.85 (Rs 598, Rs 86.60).

Among the marginal declines, was Ansal Infrastructure at Rs 77.30, down 4.13 per cent, and Unitech, which lost 1.98 per cent at Rs 108.85, but recovered from day's of low Rs 97.5, which is its 52-week low. Of the many investments Lehman Brothers made in India, Delhi-based Unitech received about $175 million (Rs 740 crore).

Mr Hardeep Dayal of Centrum Broking Pvt Ltd said it was a knee-jerk reaction as the medium and long-term story remains strong. Market sentiments were down and only need-based buying was happening. People have held back their decisions to purchase properties, in anticipation of a price fall which is real. Mr Dayal was however, hopeful of a turnaround in a year.
Liquidity crunch

Enam Securities Researchers pointed out that aggressive land acquisition at peak prices through short-term high cost debt and huge working capital mismanagement (short-term debt used for long-term projects) were some of the ills that plagued the industry. Moreover, developers had stubbornly held on to selling prices and high-cost inventories, hoping for a renewal of demand and hike in prices.

Enam said the realty business model consists of three stages of value creation — land acquisition/aggregation and conversion, construction and development, and the lease/sale of the property.

The whole business model depended on the ability to infuse cheap monies at the earliest stages, including additional infusion through exits at the end of each stage, to be able to funnel monies back to stage 1 — land acquisition. Further, as each project funds another in this working-cap intensive business, liquidity is the key exponentiator of the business. This funnelling process has now unravelled. With decreasing options, distress-sale of land parcels was the only option for some