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HindustanTimes Fri,25 Apr 2014

A house in the hills? After tragedy, buyers likely to say no

Abhinav Madhwal, Hindustan Times  Dehradun, July 11, 2013
First Published: 19:30 IST(11/7/2013) | Last Updated: 00:43 IST(12/7/2013)

Devastation caused by the recent flash floods and landslides in Uttarakhand is expected to hit property prices in the hilly areas of the scenic Garhwal region, traditionally sought after for private as well as commercial properties.

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Experts feel people would be apprehensive of buying property in the hills that are vulnerable to natural disasters.

“There is fear among investors in wake of the calamity. Hence, property prices are likely to dip,” said Bharat Chaudhary, a businessman and social activist based in Rudraprayag.

However, he said this could be a phase when long-term investors buy large properties at cheap prices with the intent of selling it in the long run at massive profits.

“There will always be takers for commercial properties in the hills adjoining the national highways. The major impact would be on the agricultural lands that are away from the main roads,” Chaudhary added.

Similarly, Tanmay Mamgain, member of a social organisation called Dhadh, said the slump in property prices could be taken advantage of by businessmen from outside the state, who would invest now to reap profits later.

“It is like investing in the stock market during the bearish phase, when fears are running high,” Mamgain said.

“After the memories of the tragedy have subsided, a boom should definitely ensue and then these businessmen would make enormous profits. They will only have to wait for a few years.”

He also pointed out that affected persons in the hilly areas might try to dispose of their property at throwaway prices.

However, property prices in state capital Dehradun have not been impacted so far.

Until the tragedy struck, the hilly areas of Garhwal – where land is cheaper than in Dehradun – were seeing brisk buying and selling of property.

Wealthy private buyers, mostly from big cities, are often desirous of owning cottages and farm-like properties in the hills. The hotel and resort business has also boomed, milking the massive inflow of tourists.

So much so, the court had to intervene to remove the hotels and lodges from the fruit belt in Tehri, which had almost been sold out. The only saving grace is that the government has not allowed multi-storeyed buildings in the hills, as the areas fall in a highly seismic zone.

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