Canada’s biggest Indian landlord, Bob Dhillon, who started his company in the back of his car and now owns more than 6,000 rental properties across the country, is set to enter the Indian real estate market.
Dhillon, who has been invited by Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper to join him as he visits India beginning Monday, is bullish on the Indian market.
“Despite the current slowdown, I am sure the Indian real estate sector will take off in a big way. We are ready to come here next year,” says 43-year-old Dhillon, whose Mainstreet Equity is the first Indian-owned company to be listed on Toronto Stock Exchange.
Dhillon, who started selling homes at the age of 19 and became a millionaire at 21, says: “Today, India is a realtor’s dream. It is the fastest growing real estate market in the world after (western) Canada.
Three things make India a dream destination for him, he says.
"One, 50 per cent of India’s population is below 25 and they will spur demand for housing. Two, a vast majority of Indians live in rural areas which are set to see huge housing activity. Third, as prosperity increases, people’s hunger for home ownership will also increase.
“These three things are any real estate man's dream,” he says.
Dhillon, whose family first emigrated to Hong Kong, then Liberia and finally Canada from Tallewal village near Barnala in Punjab, was born in Japan and educated in India.
He says the visit of the Canadian prime minister could not have come at a better time as the worst of the economic slowdown seems to be over.
Interestingly, Dhillon's company boomed even in these troubled economic times, and is today worth well over $1 billion.
“We own mid-segment apartments mostly in western Canada which was not that badly hit,” he said. “Then we had a lot of cash flow which we used to buy back 40 per cent of shares. Further, we have taken advantage of low prices to buy more properties.”
Dhillon considers his upcoming 2,300-acre island in Belize (Central America) the jewel in his crown. He is developing it into a tourist resort for Hollywood celebrities. The likes of Madonna and Leonardo DiCaprio will be its residents, says Dhillon.