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No dearth of interest for luxury homes

Over the better part of the last two years, expatriate Indians in the UAE and the Gulf were quick to spot opportunities in Indian realty as the rupee went into a precipitous tailing off and even flirted near the sub-70 (to the dollar) level for a while.

This “resulted in an increase in NRI enquiries for property in India,” CBRE’s India operations stated in a recent report. In the UAE, market feedback suggests there was a marked increase in loan offtake to expat Indians by local banks during the second and third quarters of last year, when the rupee’s drop was at its steepest.

But the Indian currency has been recovering ground, initially helped by Reserve Bank of India intervention and thereafter as concerns over the country’s current account deficit narrowed.

Does that mean the party is over for expat Indian buyers? “There might be a case of weakening expat demand in the mid-priced property category, but not when it comes to the luxury end of the market,” said Mudit Gupta, founder of Emgee Group, a developer who has a portfolio of choice projects in western India. It recently decided to have the launch of its latest project — a beachside cluster of limited edition villas in Goa and priced upwards of Rs100 million (Dh6.13 million) — in Dubai.

“At this end of the market, I don’t think elections or the state of the economy will be factors in when they decide to buy. For us, Dubai was the ideal place to get the word out and will be followed by an event in New Delhi.”

CBRE notes that the premium housing category recorded “steady interest” from high-networth individuals and non-resident Indians. There was also a steady inflow from private equity groups.

“Despite the subdued pre-election economic scenario, the period observed an increase in private equity (PE) activity,” said Anshuman Magazine, who heads CBRE’s India operations. “Most investments by PE groups were structured debt deals and their preference was for residential projects or well-leased commercial projects. Investors spotted opportunity in fully leased IT parks and SEZs (special economic zones) in cities such as Bengaluru, Pune and Gurgaon.

“Land and/or development sites for residential and mixed-use development in the peripheral locations of leading cities also attracted investor attention.”

CBRE’s recent ‘Asia-Pacific Investor Intentions Survey 2014’ identifies India as one of the priority markets for global real estate investors, particularly Asian investors. India was ranked as the fifth most attractive investment destination in the region, behind the likes of China and Australia.