For most potential homebuyers, there are three barriers to be overcome: price, location and value for money.
A new category is helping address all three. Seeking to woo buyers in a largely stagnant market, developers have begun constructing what are called nano or matchbox homes.
These are small houses that range from 150 sq ft to 300 sq ft in carpet area, with price tags of Rs 7 lakh to Rs 15 lakh. Most of these projects are in Navi Mumbai.
Two things distinguish them from the existing homes in this size bracket — aesthetics and amenities. Far from being slum rehabilitation projects, their interiors, fittings and infrastructure mirror those of the 650-sq-ft to 1,000-sq-ft range of mid-level housing.
Some come with sleek, in-built folding furniture, mini-refrigerators and small washing machines. Others are set amid landscaped gardens fitted with swimming pools and gyms.
“This idea is to cater to young couples looking for ‘starter’ homes from which they can later upgrade, and corporate employees who just need a place to crash and want a slice of the realty pie,” says Rahul Purohit, principal partner at realty consultancy Square Yards. “And the model seems to be working. There is a growing demand from younger individuals and couples.”
Some of this growing demand was on display at a property exhibition in Navi Mumbai last month.
“Of the 80 developers showcasing projects, about 25 were offering nano homes,” says Haresh Chheda, secretary of the Builders Association of Navi Mumbai (BANM).
Nano homes are typically available in 1RK and 1BHK configurations, and are currently concentrated in up-and-coming areas such as Boisar, Khopoli, Karjat, Badlapur and Vasind. Builders offering such homes include Tata Housing, Xrbia Homes and even a company called Nano Homes.
“There is definitely high demand for compact homes in Navi Mumbai because they are so much more affordable,” says Ramesh Nair, business and international director at realty consultancy, JLL India. “The main advantage of investing in these homes is that they are likely to be fast sellers on the resale market too.”
Nano Homes is currently building three projects in Boisar. “These are being designed as studio homes, and the aim is to keep the affordability factor high,” says group director Vikas Tripathi. Each of the three will have a swimming pool, open-air gym and CCTV cameras for added security.
The homes are semi-furnished, with in-built wardrobes. “In our upcoming nano homes projects in Palghar and Vasai, we will also offer foldable furniture,” Tripathi says.
At Sapphire Residency, currently under construction by Om Builders in Badlapur, the 1RK and 1BHK flats cost between Rs 10 lakh and Rs 14 lakh. “These homes will be equipped with refrigerators and washing machines,” says director Roshan More.
Similarly, Xrbia Developers is offering 1RK and 1BHK homes in Vangani with a carpet area of 162 sq ft for Rs 7.7 lakh. “Keeping in mind that our target audience will be mainly young people, we’ve designed this as a township project where everything is available in one place — convenience store, gym, shopping complex, even primary health centre. Townships offer economies of scale to us and the buyer,” says vice-president for marketing Naqisa Silva.
Tata Homes ventured into compact housing in 2009, with the Shubh Griha townships in Boisar, Vasind and Ahmedabad. These homes too came with amenities such as a community hall and gardens with medicinal plants.
“I wanted to invest in real-estate but didn’t want the liability of EMIs, so a nano home worked out to be the best option,” says Vilas Kadam, a 55-year-old banker who bought a Tata nano home in Vasind in 2009. “The township attracted me because it was a good mix of amenities, the house is the right size for a family of two and natural lighting and ventilation were in place.”
With Vasind’s developing infrastructure, Kadam says that he always manages to find a tenant and draws a decent rent too.
“Focussed efforts by the government towards promoting affordable living coupled with an increasing interest in compact housing has spurred growth in this segment,” says Rajeeb Dash, head of corporate marketing for Tata Housing. “We are currently in the process of developing affordable compact housing across various cities because the demand is extremely high.”