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Mumbai buyers give Britain a realty check

With property prices skyrocketing at home, more and more middle class Mumbaikars are buying land on the outskirts of London, reports Kiran Wadhwa.

india Updated: Nov 06, 2007 10:55 IST
Kiran Wadhwa

In August, Harish Chheda flew to the United Kingdom to see his little square piece of land. The 38-year-old consultant from Borivli has purchased a 2,500 sq ft plot for Rs 11 lakh about 25 km away from central London, and he is excited. His three friends will also fly to see their investments.

With more and more people making money in a stock market on steroids and the Reserve Bank of India increasing the cap on foreign direct investment from Rs 40 lakh to Rs 80 lakh, the growing middle class is living out its foreign dream.

Until last year, property consultants like Colliers Jardine say, property investments abroad were a niche market. But Mumbai property prices have increased more than 40 per cent in the last year, making it beyond the reach of many. Which is why they are looking at foreign faraway lands.

“For Rs 11 lakh, I will get nothing in Mumbai. In the UK, you get 2,500 sq ft of agricultural land in the outskirts of London. There is no fear of encroachment,” says Alex Walia, chairman of UK-based property consultants Astra Mayfair, which has just launched in Delhi and is soon coming to Mumbai.

“The middle class is venturing into places like Spain and Thailand. For example, a two-bedroom service apartment in Phuket costs Rs 40 lakh.”

Bharat Malik, Mumbai head of UK Land Investments, says: “These plots are reasonable because they are agricultural land. It is a long-term investment. After five years, you will get back more than double. We have already sold 50 plots in the last three months. Once you pay a deposit, we fly you to check out the plot.”

Mahindra Parmar, an executive in a Pune construction firm, has bought a plot for his son outside London. “If he goes abroad to study, he’ll have something to fall back on. And you get nothing here at that rate today,” he says.