Even as India’s middle-class grapples with the prospect of an uncertain future in their careers and financial ability — the main drivers of housing demand — the rise of India’s super-rich continues unabated. According to a Credit Suisse report, there were an estimated 342,000 dollar-millionaires in India as on mid-2018 who collectively held around $6 trillion.

It is forecast that 526,000 Indian dollar millionaires’ wealth will be around $8.8 trillion by 2023. Market fluctuations make very little difference to the personal net worth of these individuals.

A different dynamic

In India, as in the rest of the world, super-luxury housing remains largely insulated from median real estate and economic dynamics. Buyers in this housing category, coming from both “old” and “new” money, remain personally wealthy despite ups and downs in their businesses or the economy at large. The country’s most aspirational and expensive locations are their exclusive playgrounds.

Indian luxury housing is also the preferred real estate asset class for NRIs, for at least two good reasons. The first is consummately higher purchasing power than the median Indian resident middle-class. Secondly, NRIs have been exposed to the residential trends in other countries and aspire to live in a similar manner once they return home.

Expat demand

Generally, we are seeing increased traction among NRIs keen to buy properties in India. There are various factors involving in this increasing demand. Game-changing policies like RERA and GST have now boosted confidence and transparency and streamlined the property-buying process for NRIs.

This has begun fuelling new NRI investments into the Indian property market. The fact that the rupee value against dollar is sliding is another sound reason for NRIs to view Indian real estate more favourably.

Also, while developers have been offering substantial freebies and even discounts to draw NRIs as well as domestic buyers to their projects, the current festive season brings with it the usual slew of attractions. Developers are pulling out all stops to draw demand from both resident and non-resident Indians.

Finally, mindful of the importance of fostering more positive sentiment for NRI investments into the country, the government also eased norms to facilitate a more streamlined and less cumbersome property buying process. These factors have combined into a potent package of attractions for NRIs and ensured luxury housing remains attractive.

While NRI investors currently show a higher preference for affordable housing because there is more demand for such units overall, end users among them remain focused on the best possible lifestyle that they can afford back in India — for themselves and their families.

A recent Anarock report confirms that the top 10 most expensive luxury housing hotspots in India are Tardeo, Worli and Mahalaxmi in Mumbai in the first three slots, while Nungambakkam, Egmore and Anna Nagar in Chennai — from where a significant number of Gulf-based NRIs hail — rank fourth, fifth and seventh.

In NCR, Karol Bagh ranks in sixth and Golf Course Road ninth on the list of most expensive luxury residential destinations. Pune’s Koregaon Park ranks eighth while Alipore in Kolkata ranks 10th.

The average sizes of premium properties in these locations range between 1,190-3,500 square feet. While these may not seem like luxury-grade apartment sizes, it must be borne in mind that it is largely limited land supply and moderate construction pipelines that drive high prices in India’s most expensive luxury housing destinations.

Shajai Jacob is CEO — GCC at Anarock Property Consultants.