x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Indian expats on the prowl for property

Rising prices make bricks and mortar back home a popular investment – but not without risk – at a Dubai housing exhibition.

DUBAI // The Indian Property show drew scores of Indian expatriates over its three-day run as they scooped up second homes and investment properties in their home country.

Indian nationals toured the sales stands and chatted with developers at the show, which was at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre Thursday through yesterday, in their hunt for a bargain.

The event showcased a range of developments, from mid-range apartments in Indian cities such as Nagpur and Chennai to luxury cottages in New Delhi.

"People here save any extra income for investment in India," said Ali Sura, 32, an Indian businessman. "These NRI [non-resident Indian] funds push the market at home higher."

Mr Sura said Indians wanted to invest in property in their home country with the assurance that houses there would appreciate in value.

"I'm looking for a property that will give me a good return on investment," added Mr Sura, who has lived in Dubai for the past decade and owns a home in Mumbai. "A property with a good developer is my main criteria."

Manoj Panicker, a 37-year-old who lives in Sharjah, has first-hand experience of property price appreciation.

A three-bedroom apartment he bought two years ago in Pune for Rs2.1 million (Dh175,000) has almost doubled in value.

He has rented out the apartment and plans to buy another, reasoning that the growth of call centres will raise the demand for new property in Pune, a city of 3.4 million that is not far from Mumbai.

"Real estate in India is a good investment option," said Mr Panicker, a business development manager who has lived in the Emirates for seven years.

"Buying a house is a compulsory, imposed investment. Otherwise, in the Gulf whatever you earn, you tend to spend. Investing in a house has a long-term benefit."

Training a watchful eye on her two sons as they darted around the exhibition area, Mr Panicker's wife Meena, 37, expressed a concern familiar to many potential buyers about being duped by unscrupulous developers.

"Sometimes people are very scared to put down money in case a project doesn't work," Mrs Panicker said. "Then your money is stuck."

Perhaps in line with Mrs Panicker's views, most visitors milled around well-known names at the exhibition venue.

Several people queued at the stall of Unitech, a leading construction company which sported banners reading, "Building dreams across India".

Anuj Malik, Unitech's Middle East sales head, said the company opened a Dubai office four years ago to cater to the sizeable Indian population in the Emirates. The country has 1.75 million Indian expatriates.

"Most people invest in their hometown," Mr Malik said. "They identify with the geography. They are comfortable with the area."

While there was some demand for luxury property, he said the bulk of sales were mid-range properties priced from three to six million rupees.

"This is what the average salaried expat can afford," Mr Malik said. "This is what is comfortable from his previous savings. So he can leverage himself rather than get stuck with a big liability and stretch himself thin."

Some developers, such as Reatox Builders and Developers, are offering affordable housing with swimming pools and gym facilities.

Reatox is constructing a development in the central city of Nagpur with one-bedroom apartments starting from Rs 2.6 million.

In a promotion, Reatox was offering a free touch screen in every kitchen, with which residents could place orders at nearby shops.