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Neta’s neighbourhood

The Delhi CM has suddenly made Kaushambi famous. However, can any area be categorised as premium just because of celebs?

realestate Updated: Jan 13, 2014 20:24 IST

If you’re among those who happen to live in the tower where Arvind Kejriwal lives, you’ve probably experienced mixed emotions – a sense of pride that you share your address with Delhi’s new chief minister or dismay and anger at the resultant hubbub in the building, not to mention the security checks you are subjected to even when you want to get into your apartment.

Having a home close to where a celebrity lives does have its plus points – an address your courier will locate easily, less power cuts and better infrastructure. The important question, however is: does the celeb quotient push up prices of properties in the area?

Kejriwal currently resides in flat number 403 in Girnar Tower in Kaushambi, a 1,600 square feet three-bedroom apartment. The tower is owned by the income tax (IT) department and the apartment is allotted to Kejriwal’s wife, Sunita – who works for the department.

Kaushambi is now a star attraction, says Ajay Pal of Diyansh Investments Solutions, Kaushambi. Ever since Kejriwal became CM, Pal has been inundated with calls from people keen on buying properties in the area.

Lends prominence

People can now easily identify Kaushambi, says Gaurav Chawla of Kaushambi Properties, adding that he had to take pains to give prospective property buyers directions to drive to this place. “It’s on their mental map now,” he says, adding “they know this is where the CM lives.” Prices in this Ghaziabad locality now are high, with a 2BHK apartment costing anything between `80 lakh and a crore, depending on the size and the location.

Ironically, now home to anti-corruption crusader Kejriwal, Kaushambi had earlier been in the spotlight because of corruption cases filed against former union communication minister Sukhram. The CBI had during a raid conducted in August, 1996, seized `2.45 crore in cash stashed under his bed at his official residence in Delhi and `1.16 crore from his house in Mandi in Himachal Pradesh. Recoveries of cash and documents relating to properties were also made from his residence in Kaushambi.

Even in other areas of Delhi, brokers claim that their phones have not stopped ringing ever since candidates from the area were sworn in as ministers. In Paschim Puri, Madhipur, home to Girish Soni, minister of SC/ST, labour and skill development in the Delhi government, broker Sanjay Rana of Rana Properties confirms that even though the realty market is slow at the moment, queries regarding properties in the area have increased by almost 25%. He also reveals that pocket 2, where the minister lives, has been an extremely ‘lucky’ lane, for people contesting elections have always won. A 45 sq yard (405 sq ft) Janata flat in the area today costs anything between `75 lakh and `80 lakh.

Infrastructure gets a boost

Does a celeb-in-residence mean better infrastructure development in and around the property? Dhruv Khanna, a Gurgaon-based broker with LJ Hooker says yes, mentioning apartments in DLF’s Aralias project on Golf Course Road, owned by a number of high-profile people. “While the price of apartments in the tower where they own units may not be higher, the area has definitely got a boost in terms of infrastructure development. Even in the Chattarpur area, where several high-profile people own land, there is a fair amount of movement in property prices. An arterial road connecting Gurgaon and Delhi, too, has come up nearby. Therefore, in areas where there is political ownership, the local infrastructure gets a boost and decision-making (on issues related to development) is a lot faster.”

Rohit Kumar, head, research DTZ India, says there is no correlation between price appreciation and celebrity presence in an area. It’s actually the other way round as high profile people prefer to live in premium localities that go with their ‘image’. Politicians prefer living in areas close to the central business district and near their place of work to avoid long commutes. Such ‘VIP’ areas include the Lutyens zone in Delhi that is close to the Parliament House, Vasant Nagar in Bangalore and Cuffe Parade and Churchgate – which are close to the Mantralaya in Maharashtra. Having said that, it’s also true that there will definitely be more infrastructure development in areas where these leaders get elected or to which they belong. Infrastructure development in Rohtak, the hometown of Bhupinder Singh Hooda, the chief minister of Haryana, has been faster and greater than even Gurgaon.

Dual impact

Sam Chopra, chairman, RE/MAX India is of the opinion that celebrities have a dual impact on the locality they live in, both in terms of price and perception. “First, people get to know about that area, it gets on to the map of the mind and has immediate recall. Aurangzeb Road is known as a tony colony because of the who’s who living there. However, their presence also adds to the nuisance value. Imagine going through the security drill to get into your own home?” On costs going up due to celebrity presence, he says even if one were to take the example of the duplex five-bedroom government flats on Bhagwan Dass Road where Kejriwal was initially expected to move in, the area would have certainly gained in value compared to other parts of the Lutyens zone.

Physical occupation important

Also, it’s always actual occupation by celebrities/people holding public offices that makes the difference. A property 100 metres from a Bollywood celebrity’s home in Mumbai or even sharing one wall with the celeb home is likely to command a premium provided the celebrity physically resides there. Also, if there is a cluster of apartments or a row of houses in an area where celebrities live, the area would definitely command a premium in terms of value. Such areas have “snoot value,” adds Chopra.

Areas that are not well established will also command a premium if political leaders move there. It’s like Palo Alto in California where every aspiring IT start-up champ desires to live because everybody, from Bill Gates to Mark Zuckerberg have homes there.

According to Anshuman Magazine, CMD, CBRE, the presence of celebrities and politicians does enhance the perception and credibility of an area but there is an impact on prices only if new infrastructure develops in the area.