Most Indians who live abroad secretly nurture a desire to come back to their home country sometime in the future. Sriram C, who has lived in the US for the last 15 years, is yet to get a green card because he wants to settle down in India once his son goes to college. While he has never lived in Chennai, his family has roots in the city which encouraged him to buy a house in a gated community in the city. “I bought a house in Chennai as I have relatives here. I found exactly the kind of place that I was looking for, where my lifestyle will be similar to the one I have in the US. This will make it easier for me to settle down here,“ he says.This is a sentiment prevalent among many NRI home buyers. According to Sarita Hunt, managing director Chennai, JLL India, “Chennaiites have moved to different parts of the world. And many of them still opt to buy a house in the city. Of course, this could also be because they are from Chennai and when they come back they prefer to settle down here.“ With the dollar at an all-time high of `68, NRIs, especially from the US find investment in real estate a sound proposition. “For the last 10 years, people from the state have moved abroad and many of them look to buy a house in Chennai. Since the time to invest in real estate has been bright over the last two to three years, it is a good bet for people looking to invest,“ says Navin, director, Navin’s. Another reason would be the rising oil prices in countries where many Chennaiites are employed. This results in more cash in their pockets resulting in the desire to invest in something stable. With prices in the real estate sector being stable over the past two to three years, Chennai comes across as a good real estate investment option, he adds.
The fact that land prices in Chennai are lower as compared to other metros makes it an attractive investment destination.“Chennai offers a huge advantage to NRIs mainly because of the cost factor and also better infrastructure,“ says Varun Manian, director, Radiance Realty. Stable electricity supply, sustainable environment, safety, good governance, sanitation, efficient transportation, better lifestyle, all give an edge to the city. “NRI investors primarily look for these characteristics in a location, and they also prefer to have a hassle-free investment process,“ Manian says.
When it comes to buying in the real estate sector, location plays an important role. Over the years, the development on the outskirts of the city have resulted in the growth of newer areas such as OMR and ECR which are fast becoming hotspots of residential activity. The major advantages here are increased space and new buildings that specifically take into account the needs of NRIs. “OMR, Anna Nagar, Porur and Perambur are some of the best areas that NRIs can invest in. While OMR is known for its IT presence and infrastructure, Anna Nagar is for people who prefer a contemporary and luxurious lifestyle. Porur, apart from its strategic location is fast becoming a hub for education, manufacturing and IT and has a growing number of residential communities.Perambur on the other hand, is a fastdeveloping area with good price appreciation,“ Manian says.
There are also areas within the city that are seen as safe bets due to their locational advantage and social infrastructure. “Areas such Adyar and Indira Nagar have established markets and good social infrastructure like schools, work places, hospitals, entertainment and stores for dayto-day needs. From an investment point of view, location matters. Areas around Kathipara, Gemini, Medavakkam, Perungudi, Sholinganallur, Chrompet, Tambaram, Porur, Perambur, Moolakadai and Avadi are good options,“ adds Navin.
Some of the factors that NRI investors should consider before investing in real estate are the price appreciation of the area, the connectivity of the particular location to other parts of the city, the credibility of the builders, the social infrastructure in the locality and facilities in the apartment complex, says Manian.
But before making any purchase it is important to do due diligence. “With the Real Estate Regulatory Act (RERA) they now have a voice and can make developers accountable. They could also take the help of credible consultants who are aware of the markets and will be able to give them a good deal. While real estate may not be as good as having investments where it is easy to convert into cash instantly, people who feel that money is just lying in the bank with hardly any interest, real estate investments that result in an 8 to 10 percent increase is any day a better option,“ says Hunt.