x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Indian expats buying property at home

Luxury property developers in India are set to benefit from a flood of investment coming from Indians living in the UAE.

Luxury property developers in India are set to benefit from a flood of investment coming from Indians living in the UAE.

Market experts say the number of expatriate Indians from the Arabian Gulf buying property on the subcontinent is rising significantly as they take advantage of the falling value of the rupee to buy property on the cheap.

"At the moment NRIs [non-resident Indians] account for only a tiny proportion of the newbuild market in India - perhaps 2 to 5 per cent," said Nishant Singhal, the director of strategy and alliances at the Dubai based Investors Clinic. "We expect that number to increase to around 8 to 10 per cent over the next year or so."

"We have seen that NRIs are most interested in luxury schemes," he adds. "Indians living in Dubai develop a taste for luxury property and then they find out that prices for this sort of product in India are around half that in the UAE."

Laws in India prohibit anyone not a resident of India or of Indian origin from buying property in the country. "The rupee value is weak, but for them [NRIs in the UAE] it's an advantage," said Prabhjoth Singh, a sales executive at Expat Properties in India.

Demand for properties in India from non-residents is strong, he said. "People who are staying in the UAE will have to come back to India, maybe in the next five years or 10 years down the line. They want to own property in India and save some money."

This comes at a time when slowing economic growth and high interest rates have impacted property sales in India, particularly in cities including Mumbai, where prices have remained sky-high.

Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore and Hyderabad are among the popular locations where Indians living abroad look to buy back home, said Mr Singh. With land and property prices remaining high in some cities, many buyers were increasingly opting for developments outside the cities, he added.

"There is substantial demand from NRIs who prefer to buy real estate as it is considered a safe investment," said R Karthik, the chief marketing officer for Lodha Group. Lodha, a luxury developer, with projects including the 20 billion rupee (Dh1.33bn) World One project in Mumbai, which is set to become the world's tallest residential tower and features interiors designed by Giorgio Armani.

Lodha's luxury properties range from about US$2 million (Dh7.34m) to $20m in price.

"Realty purchases by NRIs constitute about 8 per cent of all property transactions in India," said Mr Karthik. "Ninety per cent of UAE's NRI investors have been buying real estate here."

Omkar, a luxury developer based in Mumbai, said that non-resident Indians, including those from the UAE, form an important part of its customer base. "I would say as of now about 10 to 15 per cent are NRIs buying into our projects," said Bharat Duppar, the company's chief marketing officer.

A number of developers in India have launched new projects in time for the festival season around Diwali, which takes place this week and some banks have offered festive discounts on home loan rates.