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NRIs Return Boosts Residential Demand

Published & Updated as on - 2009-12-22

An estimated 25 million NRI's living in 130 countries have remitted US$52 billion so far this year. In fact India topped the list of countries in remittance flow followed by China and Mexico, according to World Bank report on Migration and Development Brief. Migrant remittance flow to developing countries will be around $317 billion this year. It was $338 billion in 2008, higher than the previous estimate of $328 billion. A substantial portion of the NRI/PIO investment was directed towards Indian real estate.

The impact of global slowdown, job losses and unviable job offers has necessitated a section of NRIs to return to Indian shores. Time was when Gulf NRIs were bristling with confidence on noticing certain Gulf countries like Dubai in the UAE, Qatar and Kuwait changing local land laws to permit expatriates to invest in local real estate.

While a few HNIs had invested, others could not afford the high cost of local real estate and felt that they were left out in the race. But times have changed now. A significant development is the sudden change in visa rules for investors in local real estate in Dubai. Earlier visas were committed for all expatriate investors in local real estate irrespective of the investment limit but a recent ruling has changed it only for those who had invested a minimum of Dh1 million.

It is said that multiple entry visas for six months are granted to investors which will be renewable thereafter. This has put other investors at crossroads now. They will have to depend on local property management companies in the event of eventual return to home country. Even the existing visas granted for investors in Palm Jumeirah are valid for six months and renewable every time, say Dubai realtors.

According to housing finance companies and banks disbursing home loans to NRIs/PIOs in Dubai, there has been a sudden surge in demand for residential property across Indian cities and particularly for tier II cities in the wake of the economic slowdown in the emirate. The home loan market in Dubai alone has been estimated at Rs 250 crore, Rs 300 crore per month with housing finance companies and banks having representative office to disburse home loans. The demand for built units is said to be more as returning NRIs are keen to move into their own units.

“Our loans are for residential units in cities like Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Mangalore and Mysore”, according to industry sources in Dubai. Property developers in major cities with a consistent track record and units in the price range of Rs 30 lakh and Rs 60 lakh are sought after now in the changing market scenario, say industry sources. Property shows are held at periodical intervals in six AGCC countries where expatriate Indian population has been estimated at 5 million. In a recent survey conducted at the India property show held in Doha, Qatar, southern cities like Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad drew more demand for apartments, villas and developed plots. A substantial number of Gulf NRIs are keen for property management services across the country.

According to Sasi Nair of Real A Consulting Service Inc., in the bay area in California, returning NRIs are keen for built units for investment as expatriate Indians have definite plans to return home. The price range varies for apartments and villas from Rs 40 lakh to Rs 80 lakh. Southern cities in particular Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad are driving the demand though minimal level demand exists for other cities as well. Most of the NRIs keen to invest in real estate back home are looking for home loans as they are unable to get loans locally due to the current tight liquidity situation across US.

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