House-hunting became an adventure for Sumeet Rathod last month when he hired a helicopter and flew over a residential complex in Prabhadevi where he wants to buy a flat.
Rathod, who owns an IT firm called Version-Next, paid Rs 60,000 for the one-hour ride, perhaps a huge sum in itself but less than half a per cent of the flat's value.
"I gained clarity about the topography of the area after the ride," said the 27-year-old, who took his parents along.
"We also had a great time."
Private chopper operators have been getting a steady stream of bookings from house-hunters.
Airnetz Aviation, a city-based private charter company, received 10 bookings in the past two months, said Ameya Gore, spokesman for Airnetz.
In addition to individuals, construction firms have also been hiring helicopters for taking premium clients on such aerial tours. Captain Vijay Madan, managing director of city-based AAA Aviation has regularly taking buyers on aerial tours of upcoming townships in Lonavla and Khandala.
"Such tours are common in the West, but now the trend is catching on in the city."
Rides start at Rs 60,000 for a return trip from Juhu aerodrome to South Mumbai. Trips to upcoming weekend homes in the outskirts of the city go up to Rs 75,000.
"It is value for money because the aerial trip gives you an idea of the traffic pattern and the neighbourhood," said Rupesh Mokashi, a share trader who took the ride last month.
Chopper operators said that business from this section could be even better, but not all enquiries translate into bookings because some customers say that they will sign up for a tour only if they are allowed to take photographs.
But this is prohibited by law for security reasons, said Suneet Rawat, owner of AK Aviation.