Rising demand for affordable homes

Property prices within the metropolitan areas of Delhi, Bombay, Hyderabad and Bangalore have seen massive growth in recent years and prices in some areas are considered
to be excessive. But, outside this golden circle, in cities such as Mohali in the foothills of the Himalayas and in the boom town of Rudrapur, in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, where 465 factories are being built, construction is booming. In the south, Goa and Chennai are still steadily attracting investment.

In recent times, demand for housing has risen rapidly as income levels have soared, new jobs have been created and people’s aspirations have changed – although this is slowing down due to the credit crunch. A new report on commercial property by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors lists India as one of the countries most vulnerable to the crunch.

Jane Jorgenson of Hamptons says: “The Indian property market is being affected by the credit crunch, as with all countries. Buying has certainly slowed. However, the growth of middle and high income earners continues to supply a steady market of buyers.” The property market has grown from £6.5 billion in 2005 to an estimated £30 billion. Hamptons has opened an office in Delhi, and has an India desk in London for UK-based investors.

Land prices have quadrupled over the past three years as developers rushed to build luxury residential developments, with starting prices at a minimum £125,000 for two bedrooms. But the big boom will be in low-cost affordable housing. The number of people earning more than £2,500 a year is forecast to double to 20 million in the next two years – not least because of the 2.5 million students teeming out of Indian universities each year.

The UK-based agency David Stanley Redfern is selling off-plan apartments in Rudrapur, northern India, costing £28,000 for two bedrooms. Called Mountain View, the scheme quickly sold out, but another is being built nearby which will also offer affordable housing, ready to capitalise on the anticipated demand. Rudrapur, designated a Special Economic Zone, offers tax incentives to companies moving into the area. The city’s new factories are expected to employ 300,000 people, at least 50,000 from outside the area, who will be looking for homes to rent. With only 20,000 new units being built, buy-to-let flat owners are hoping to cash in.

Emaar Properties and MGF are planning to build townships in Delhi, Hyderabad, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Chennai, an investment of more than £2 billion.

The potential for growth remains vast. Sebastian Siddiqui, who heads up Hampton’s Delhi office, claims: “With a rising middle class, 400 million people – more than the entire population of the USA – are set to buy their own homes.”

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