Soaring property prices are forcing buyers to look for houses outside the city.
Thane and Navi Mumbai are now much sought after as the rates there are almost half of those in the city.
“Even with a budget of Rs 40 lakh I could not get a house in Mumbai, so I shifted focus to Thane,” said Vishwas Rane, who recently bought a 850-square-feet house at Ghodbunder Road.
Many put the blame for housing being out of reach for most Mumbaiites squarely on the builders. “Builders have junked the concept of smaller homes and are only interested in building luxury houses for the rich,” said Ramjit Yadav, secretary, Shrujan Foundation, which takes up social issues. “They are leaving out vast sections of the population.”
He said that Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority prices its houses in the Rs 2,500 to Rs 6,000 per square foot range, while private players in the same localities charge at least double these rates.
Builders say they have little choice. “Constructing smaller houses means more homes per project, which raises costs. We have to provide the same amenities to all flat owners irrespective of the size of the flats,” said Kailash Agarwal, managing director, Nish Developers, which is redeveloping 26,000 square metres at Islam Mills, Lalbaug.
Agarwal plans to construct 300 flats measuring 1,100 to 1,400 square feet each in his 50-storey tower there. He said smaller houses would mean he has to construct more buildings, which requires more space.
“For the last three years, my project is on hold. I will have to recover my interest cost at least, which is possible only with bigger houses,” said Agarwal.
Many builders in Navi Mumbai and Thane are using this dilemma faced by builders in the city to sell their projects as affordable alternatives.
“The rates in Thane are realistic, it has excellent infrastructure and clear land titles,” said Ajay Tiwari, business head, Better Homes, a real estate consultancy. At Ghodbunder Road, houses are selling for Rs 3,000-Rs 6,000 per square foot, while at Pokhran 2 Road, you can get a house for Rs 4,500-Rs 5,000. A budget of Rs 30 lakh, he said, can get you a decent house.
Navi Mumbai is booming too, but Vashi, Nerul and Jui Nagar are almost saturated. It’s Khargar, Kamothe, Panvel and Taloja that are seeing large-scale construction activity.
“This is a well-planned area and we are seeing a real estate boom because costs are low,” said Suresh Haware, chairman, Haware Engineers and Builders.
Some experts, though, advised caution. “Most of the land does not have a clear title and there are many fly-by-night operators promising low-cost houses. Buyers should make adequate inquiries before investing,” said Ajay Chaturvedi, CEO, Accommodation Times, a fortnightly realty magazine.