Once stopovers and vacation spots see rise in demand for first homes
Two years ago, when Rajesh Pai, a marketing manager from Andheri, was looking to buy a home closer to his workplace in Powai, he found himself considering the eastern industrial suburb of Kanjurmarg. It wasn’t a popular residential option. But the neighbourhood was green. It was well connected to the northern side of the city. And fast-climbing prices were an indication that people were cashing in on these charms.
“Prices are much higher now, glad I got a piece of this pie,” says Pai. “The locality is close to IIT-Bombay, Seepz, Bhandup and Powai. There are premium towers around the locality that is the starting point of Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road.”
Over the last decade, skylines of once industrial and verdant suburbs have transformed into plush locations with large gated communities for middle-class consumers. Vacation spots or stopovers like Karjat (home to resorts and health spas), Neral (connecting Mumbai to Matheran), and Vasind (between Kalyan and Kasara) are attracting homeowners. Industrial suburbs like Boisar (north of Virar), Diva (following Mumbra on the central line), Nahur (between Bhandup and Mulund) and Ambernath (beyond Ulhasnagar) are now becoming attractive options to stay or invest in.
Going through the roof
Spread your net far and wide while looking for homes in the city, suggests Rushabh Vora, co-founder and director of SILA, a real estate services company. “Developers offering mid-segment and even luxury homes are flocking in the localities that previously housed warehouses and tourist spots, the demand for homes in Kanjur Marg and Boisar is pretty upbeat.”
Nahur has had a curious transformation. “It had huge tracts of unused land,” says Girish Shah, director of Wadhwa group, which has a project in Nahur.
“A major part of it housed one of the biggest container yards in Mumbai until a decade ago.” But a railway station was established in 2006, opening the zone up to development. Developers quickly realised its value – it was easily accessible from the Eastern Express Highway, connected to Navi Mumbai via Airoli and to the western suburbs via Goregaon-Mulund Link Road. “Several developers have set up their projects here, leading to significant infrastructure development around the area, there are now fine dine restaurants and schools” says Shah.
Lal Bahadur Shastri Marg, which cuts through Sion, Ghatkopar and Thane, used to mostly have long distance trucks and picnic buses. It is now the area’s lifeline. “It is a destination of many offices, retail and residential developments,” says Anuj Puri, chairman of Anarock Property Consultants. “Job creation is the driver of the residential market here, there are several corporates and engineering companies along the road.”
Mumbaiites largely knew of Boisar, north of Virar on the Western Railway line, as a stopover to Tarapur, which houses an atomic power station or a connection zone to get to Gujarat. “But in the past few years, Boisar has seen a lot of economic activity, resulting in a significant amount of job creation and a strong demand for housing,” says Sriram Mahadevan, business head at Happinest. The affordable housing arm of Mahindra Lifespace Developers has a project in Boisar. “Today, the town is a gateway to Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) and is among the most affordable places near Mumbai.”
In areas such as Vasind, Boisar, and Ambernath, development of infrastructure has fuelled the demand for residences, says Samantak Das, chief economist and national director-Research, Knight Frank India. Their findings between January and June 2017 [see box] indicate that Mumbai’s peripheral central suburbs including Ambernath and Vasind accounted for 45% of the total sales in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. “There was also a 170% hike in the number of launches in peripheral western suburbs Boisar and Vasai,” observes Das.
Life in a transit zone
The homes might be affordable, but living in a new far-flung suburb comes with challenges. Kanchan Ahuja, 26, works as an interior designer in Lower Parel and lives in Boisar. “Commuting to work is always an issue since the frequency of trains coming from Dahanu is very low, there is one train every hour or more,” she says. “But since I have moved here in 2010, I have seen the locality transform for better, upper middle-class people with jobs in Tarapur, Virar and Churchgate live in the neighbourhood and businesses from Gujarat have offices here.”
Vasind, best known for its picnic spots and the spot where the Bhatsa dam flows, is now the new home address for Ramesh Siddique, 30, a businessman from Byculla. His brother, Paresh, moved there from Mulund as well. “Paresh works at JSW Steel, a company that has a factory there,” says Siddique. “It is a good deal. He does not have to stay on rent anymore as he could easily afford a home there. There are more first homes than holiday homes in Vasind now.”