x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Fall in rupee spurs lofty property ambitions for Indian expats

Indian expatriates look home to invest as currency loses 18 per cent against the greenback - and hence against the dirham - so far this year.

Residential buildings in Malabar Hill in Mumbai could be an attractive investment for Indian expats in the UAE as developers are reporting more inquiries about property from non-resident Indians.
Residential buildings in Malabar Hill in Mumbai could be an attractive investment for Indian expats in the UAE as developers are reporting more inquiries about property from non-resident Indians.

DUBAI // The plunge in the value of the rupee has fuelled interest in the Indian property market for the country's expatriates as they go home for the summer.

The rupee has been Asia's worst-performing major currency this year, dropping 18 per cent against the US dollar and therefore the dirham.

Developers are reporting more inquiries about property from non-resident Indians (NRIs), and some have employed celebrities to capture investor interest.

Yuvraj Singh, one of the country's favourite cricketers, will visit the three-day Indian Property Show, which opens in Dubai today, to further drive up interest.

But the chance to take advantage of the falling rupee is the primary motivator.

"There has been a 10 to 20 per cent increase in clients showing interest and booking properties this year compared with last year, mainly because of the rupee depreciation," said Manav Ahuja, head of sales and marketing at Auric Acres.

"Once they go home for the holidays they do a site visit and, if they are satisfied, they book the property.

"Property is a long-term call. Most NRIs eventually go back to live in India, so with the rupee's fall this is a good time to make that call."

Auric Acres will be among dozens of companies to display a total of more than 300 projects across India at the property show.

The rupee touched a record low of 56.5 to the dollar on May 31, and has depreciated from Dh12.5 last year to Dh15.2 now.

In southern cities such as Bangalore, an investor would pay Dh650,000 this year, compared with Dh800,000 last year, for a 10 million rupee property.

The city is one the five in which expatriates were most keen to invest over the next six months, according to a survey of 14,000 NRIs in the UAE conducted by Sumansa Exhibitions, the organiser of the property show.

Mumbai, Delhi, Pune and Chennai were the other favourites.

Singh will visit the show to promote a property consultancy, the Investors Clinic, which said it was trying to forge a connection with its target audience - NRIs and the cricketer's UAE fan base.

"The returns in India are extremely satisfying now," said Singh, a hard-hitting batsman.

"Property is safe, solid and the returns are good."

He has property investments in cities including Gurgaon, Chandigarh and Mumbai.

Singh predicts strong development for Greater Noida, near Delhi, where sports facilities are growing spurred by the new Formula One track and a cricket stadium.

"That's what any sportsman wants to see," Singh said.

"For NRIs, their roots and spirit belong to India so they would like to be part of the growth."

But experts warn expatriates to check developers carefully. Dozens of Indians lost their life savings when developers failed to deliver apartment blocks that were paid for in 2008.

Police in India are investigating allegations against a developer that allegedly defrauded more than 100 UAE investors in Kerala.

"My advice is to always visit the site," said the lawyer Ajit Jakhadi. "Many people are in a great hurry to book the property at the pre-launch stage without seeing it.

"You cannot make up your mind looking at colourful brochures. You must check the infrastructure and find out if the builder has secured permissions."

The three-day Indian Property Show opens today, from 11am to 8pm at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

Singh will be at the show today and tomorrow between 3pm and 5pm.

rtalwar@thenational.ae