One of the hallmarks of Mumbai’s real-estate market is the way it keeps growing, enveloping areas further and further away as its fringes continue to expand.And while most vibrant new markets are scores of kilometres away, some are also right here in its older suburbs.They’re called micro-markets and they’re typically places that had been bypassed by realty development until growing demand, lack of space and new infrastructure combined to make them hot property for residential projects, commercial projects or both.“In Mumbai, the past seven years have seen such micro-markets boom in Chembur, Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC), Powai, Thane West,” says Pankaj Kapoor, CEO of real-estate research company Liases Foras.Chembur is a unique case even among the new micro markets, says Ashutosh Limaye, national director for research at JLL India. “The arrival of significant infrastructure projects boosted the importance of the area in a way rarely seen in the city in recent times,” Limaye adds. “The Eastern Freeway came in 2013, connecting it with both Navi Mumbai and CST, then the monorail in 2014. With a residential base and basic retail spaces already present, it grew very rapidly as a market.”Suddenly, Chembur became central, connected, ‘prime’. “It enjoys a strategic location in terms of connectivity to south central Mumbai, the western suburbs, Thane and Navi Mumbai — but this was only discovered once the new links were in place,” says Amit Wadhwani, director of construction company Sai Estate Consultants. “Its proximity to the eastern and western express highway makes commuting easy too.”HT File PhotoChembur has witnessed massive infrastucture development.TIME LAPSEIn other cases, it was saturation in nearby prime suburbs that saw a new market emerge and boom. Thane, for instance, went from being a popular affordable housing destination for middle-income families to a top real-estate investment destination.Two factors contributed to this: Areas alike Ghatkopar, Mulund and Bhandup became relatively saturated, driving demand north.“The focus started shifting towards Thane as it had sufficient land availability. Proximity to the Airoli-Belapur commercial-industrial belt helped too,” says Vikram Goel, CEO at realty advisory group HDFC Realty. “There is now an 11-km tunnel road planned to link Thane to Borivali, making it a good place to invest today.”Business analyst Sheela Singhal, for instance, picked Thane over Powai and Andheri East in 2010. “Coming from Delhi, I was really not comfortable with the size of the houses in most parts of the city. They were too small,” she says. “Here, the roads are wider, the area is greener and the flats are much bigger. Even culturally there is a lot more to do within a smaller area. In other parts, you may have to travel all the way to Juhu to watch a play.”TREND ALERTPowai, meanwhile, has acquired such a buzz over the past decade — thanks in large part to the Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road — that it’s become a leisure destination even for people who don’t live there.“Powai was once a deserted location, out of the way and hard to get to,” says Aniket Haware, managing director of Haware Builders. “But it is now a key business and residential destination. The proposed Metro line will add on to this location’s appeal.”Powai is already scoring over parts of Andheri. “In Mumbai, we have a tough time finding open green spaces, Hiranandani has two big grounds, where I send my children to play,” says Binu Hallan, a homemaker who moved to Powai from Saki Naka 18 months ago.Hallan says the family moved because Saki Naka had become too congested.“In Powai we find the convenience of Andheri, with none of the chaos. There are good schools, nice restaurants and plenty of space,” she says.