Indian property opens up after fall of rupee

Property developers are hoping to cash in on investors interest following the recent slide of the Indian rupee against the US dollar.

Indian property developers gather at last year's Indian Property Show at the Airport Expo, Dubai. Sammy Dallal / The National
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DUBAI // Indian property developers are hoping for higher investments from expatriates after the relentless slide of the rupee against the US dollar and the dirham.

About 300 projects will be on display at the three-day Indian Property Show that starts tomorrow at the Airport Expo, Dubai.

Developers have forecast renewed interest among expatriates in the UAE because the Middle East is among the largest markets for overseas investment in Indian property, followed by the US and UK.

"We feel the Middle East market is more lucrative in terms of sales compared to any other NRI [non-resident Indian] market in the world," said Pankaj Pal, the vice president of sales with the property company Ireo.

The company will promote new townships in northern Punjab and in New Delhi's Gurgaon area at the Dubai show.

"With the rupee depreciation, it's as if NRIs have a 15 to 20 per cent discount, so property will seem that much cheaper," Mr Pal said.

"People will see it as a good opportunity to go in and make purchases. With the rupee at such low levels, the same amount of dollar/dirham will help them get 20 per cent more benefit."

The rupee plunged to an all-time low of 52.84 against the dollar on Tuesday. The dirham is pegged to the greenback at a rate of 3.67.

The rupee has fallen about 17 per cent since July, making it the worst-performing currency in Asia, analysts say.

The rupee was trading at about 44 to the dollar before the slide. Its depreciation has brought investment opportunities for expatriates such as Mohan Gulshanrai, who plans to take advantage of it by buying a second home in Mumbai. "This is probably the best time to dive in," said Mr Gushanrai, an advertising professional in Sharjah who is among thousands of Indians who will attend the property show.

"We have been thinking of buying property purely for investment purposes for some time. This may be our best shot because our dirham will stretch so much more. I will definitely make an investment soon."

Nearly half of the Indian expatriates living in the UAE are planning to buy property for investment, according to a survey by Sumansa Exhibitions, the organiser of the property show.

The study covered 15,000 NRIs across the UAE and identified hot spots for investments in India.

The middle-class expatriate Indian segment is a key target for Amit Jain, the head of sales at Nirmal Lifestyle. The company will show a range of affordable and premium apartments in suburban Mumbai at the Dubai exhibition.

"Our current focus and our focus next year will be the international market because we see more demand coming from here," Mr Jain said.

"We see this trend continuing because even if the rupee appreciates it will not happen overnight. The Middle East is a big market. It makes up 60 to 70 per cent of our overseas purchases, with about 35 per cent coming from the US and UK."

Developers have come up with unusual offerings to attract expatriate interest.

The well-known singer Lucky Ali will launch the Holistic Republic project at this week's show, and sign autographs for fans.

Described as sanctuaries of serenity, the project will be located in 36 cities, away from the main city centres.

Its sellers promise that for a one-time investment of 5 million rupees (Dh345,248) investors can relax in each location for 10 days every year.

"You can ride a horse, milk a cow, pick your own vegetables and cleanse yourself in different places in India all 365 days of the year," said Lucky Ali.

"We're not pushing you into one little box apartment, but giving people a chance to rejuvenate themselves and explore their freedom.

"This is not a time share because you can stay in different places the whole year through."

Fall of rupee pays off, page b4