Gulf NRIs make a beeline for realty
Saeed Anwar, an NRI from Dubai, wanted a house in his hometown Lucknow. He bought two plots for Rs 3.5 million ($880,000) in 2005, which are together worth Rs 30 million on Saturday. With returns as high as this, many Gulf NRIs are investing in the city's real estate.
"Property in Lucknow is very much a sought after option for NRIs in the Gulf," said Sushanto Roy, head of Sahara Infrastructure and Housing, a leading real estate developer currently building several housing estates here.
"There is a large population base of Lucknow working in Dubai and Middle Eastern countries that is looking for high quality life back in their hometown.
"With profit overflowing in this sector, a large number of NRIs from Gulf countries are investing in residential property in Lucknow in a big way as an after-retirement option."
This was the reason why Lucknow properties were in focus at the Indian Property Show held in Dubai in December 2007. The show generated a huge response from Gulf expatriates for a property in Lucknow.
"There are a large number of NRIs in Dubai who have shown interest in buying a property in Lucknow," said Kunal Banerjee, president of corporate communications and marketing at Ansal Properties and Infrastructure Ltd, a prominent real estate developer in northern India.
The company's Golf Villa in Sushant Golf City in Lucknow priced at about Rs 25 million is primarily targeted at NRIs and high net worth individuals.
The reason behind their interest is emotional attachment with the native land and future security sought by Gulf NRIs, say industry observers.
Uday Sinha, director of GC Constructions, said: "With a large Muslim population and improving living standards, they (Muslim NRIs) find investment in Lucknow a sensible bet.
"In fact, half the buyers in our residential project are from Dubai and the Middle East."
NRIs also find the lower realty prices in Lucknow much more attractive as compared to exorbitant property prices in metros like New Delhi and Mumbai.
Sunit Sachar, chief operating officer in Uttar Pradesh for Parsvnath Developers, said: "With high-end luxury apartments and townships, Lucknow has all faces of luxury that an NRI can dream of at a much affordable rate compared to Delhi or Mumbai.
"This, coupled with returns on investment, has attracted Gulf investors who are looking to combine their emotional needs with a sensible long-term investment."