MUMBAI:The rupee’s plunge has led to a pickup in residential real estate as an increasing number of non-resident Indians (NRIs) are rushing to take advantage of lower prices and discounts as the dollar surges in value.
The rupee has dropped 13.04% against the dollar since the beginning of 2018, 6.20% over the past three months and 3.4% in one month, amid a global rout of emerging market currencies. Recent reforms such as implementation of the Real Estate (Regulation & Development) Act, 2016 (RERA), amendments to the Benami Properties Act, the goods and services tax (GST) roll out and demonetisation have also improved transparency in the sector, thereby offering more comfort to the NRI community.
“Depreciating rupee against currencies such as dollar, pound, the UAE dirham, among others is prompting large number of NRIs to invest into the country’s realty market,” said Anarock Property Consultants chairman Anuj Puri. “Builders are also leaving no stone unturned in luring them with a host of amenities and features.” That’s led to a resurgence in serious inquiries by NRI end-users and investors, leading to deals taking place.
This may result in a repeat of the phenomenon witnessed in 2012. The NRI segment usually contributes about a tenth of annual property sales in India but it soared to 25% in 2012 when the rupee depreciated 17.37% between February 3 and July 22 that year. “NRI segment constitutes around 8-10% of annual residential market in India. However, the contribution of this segment sees a spike as and when there is depreciation in rupee value for a sustained period over two-three months, as was the case witnessed in 2012,” said Pankaj Kapoor, MD, Liases Foras Real Estate Rating & Research.
The property markets that typically attract NRI investments are Bengaluru, Chennai, Kochi, Chandigarh and Pune besides premium projects in Mumbai and Ahmedabad.
While the reforms cited above have increased formalisation of the sector over the past two years or so, they also led to a slowdown in home sales, ensuring a buyers’ market.
“For NRIs, the situation is a deja vu of sorts — it is the same as the scenario we witnessed in 2012,” said Niranjan Hiranandani, developer and national president of lobby group National Real Estate Development Council (Naredco). “Home buying is regaining traction, RERA has made it better — and in a situation where property prices at primary level are down by 10 to 15% and the currency valuation adds another 10-15%, it definitely is a scenario where the NRI buyer is back.”
Real estate in India has always been the most preferred investment option for NRIs across the world. Although the new regulatory environment had revived the confidence of home buyers, stalled projects were a key concern for NRI, experts said.