Realty firms see jump in enquiries and purchases by Gulf-based NRIs

Bengaluru-based Puravankara sold 50 units to GCC buyers the past two months. Representative image.
Though real estate companies have been dealt a body blow by the nationwide lockdown, one segment of their market has witnessed a surprising uptick in enquiries and sales. Non-resident Indians (NRIs) based in West Asia are snapping up properties in India as they prepare to come back to the home country in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.


Developers say several factors are driving the development: Falling oil prices, and the sense of security in owning a house in one’s home country amid job losses in countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in the wake the Covid-19 crisis. From United Arab Emirates (UAE) alone, about 150,000 people have registered to be repatriated. Of them, 25 per cent cited job loss as the reason for leaving the country.


According to Godrej Properties, sales to GCC customers over April and May this year amounted to almost half of what they were in the whole of the last financial year. Lalit Makhijani, chief marketing officer, Godrej Properties, expects the momentum to continue for the rest of FY21. In FY20, the company recorded sales worth Rs 473 crore from the GCC markets.


Other realty firms are reporting the same trend. Bengaluru-based Puravankara has sold 50 units to GCC buyers in the last two months. The sales include those done by its affordable housing arm, Provident Housing. “We are expecting a healthy uptake in the coming months, with two of our projects scheduled for e-launch on June 6,” said Ashish R Puravankara, managing director, Puravankara.


“Along with the futuristic product offerings, technology-driven amenities such as smart homes, outdoor air purifiers and themed projects are attracting customers,” Puravankara said.


“The oil-based economy of GCC markets is experiencing one of its worst downturns ever. So the returning tide of workforce is investing in this security blanket in the domestic market,” said Kamal Khetan, chairman and managing director of Sunteck Realty, a developer in Mumbai.

Khetan added that sales and enquiries from Indians in the Gulf have now shot up to 10 to 15 per cent of overall sales and enquiries.


Similarly, since March-end, while the country was under lockdown, Bengaluru-based Brigade Enterprises saw sales worth Rs 15 crore from buyers in the Gulf. The company expects sales from this segment to grow by 20 per cent in the current financial year.      


It is also offering multiple sops to GCC customers, including price protection till the end of 2020, low cancellation charges, and e-shopping vouchers with bookings, among others, said Subhorov Roy, chief sales officer, residential, Brigade Enterprises.


Hiranandani Group has also closed a couple of deals with buyers in the Gulf, while some more are in the pipeline. “The response from NRIs in the (GCC) countries has been very positive. Residential real estate in our mixed-use integrated townships offers them the same lifestyle and standards of living that they are used to,” said MD Niranjan Hiranandani.   

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Vikas Oberoi, chairman and managing director at Oberoi Realty, says there has been a 30 per cent jump in enquiries from buyers in this market.


“We have many NRI home buyers from all over the world and a lot of them are from the Gulf.  We have seen a huge surge of inquiries from them,” he said.


Confirming the trend, real estate consultant Anarock Property reveals that about 35 per cent of the enquiries that it is currently servicing are from NRIs, and most of them are from the Gulf.


 “The favourable exchange rate on the back of the sliding rupee against the dollar has, of course, improved affordability for them. But that is just one side of the story. Many NRIs are in the process of returning to India and want to secure a home here,” said Anuj Puri, chairman of Anarock Property Consultants. Interestingly, enquiries from NRIs who will continue to live and work abroad are also on the rise. The coronavirus pandemic has put home ownership high on the priority list of Indians, regardless of where they now live and may continue to live, said Puri.


“We understand from our banking partners that home loan enquiries from NRIs are rising,” he added.


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