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Europe! That's where Indians are buying homes now

Last updated on: June 27, 2011 15:18 IST

Europe! That's where Indians are buying homes now

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Nivedita Mookerji in New Delhi


European countries like Spain, Greece and Italy are among the latest property buying destinations for Indians in the holiday home segment after prices have crashed there, according to industry analysts and consultants.

Real estate assets in exotic locales around the world are often packaged and marketed as "holiday homes".

Even as Indians are restricted by the Reserve Bank of India ceiling while investing in overseas property, their numbers have risen in the recent past in buying a home away from home.

RBI has capped the overseas property investment at $200,000 per person per year.

No concrete data is available to quantify the size of the market as far as Indians going abroad to buy property is concerned, said Anshul Jain, CEO (India), DTZ, an international real estate adviser headquartered in London.

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Photographs: Reuters
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Jain, however, said the number of Indians investing in property abroad or buying holiday homes overseas has gone up substantially in the recent months.

Spain and Greece, which continue to be in the grip of the economic slowdown, have seen 40 to 50 per cent decline in holiday home prices from their peak level, according to Jain.

One can acquire a holiday home in these European destinations at Euro 250,000-300,000, estimates suggest.

While European holiday homes are catching the fancy of Indians, London remains the undoubted leader in overseas property buying for those who can afford it. Singapore is another preferred location, and Thailand is picking up too, say analysts.

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Gulzar Malhotra, vice president, Credit Risk Management (Global Real Property Valuation), Deutsche Bank, told Business Standard that places like Western Tuscany and Sicily in Italy, which are favourite investment and holiday home destinations for Europeans, are getting popular with Indians too.

Due to the economic conditions, investment from Europeans has dropped in these locations and property prices have declined. That explains the Indian rush.

But Malhotra argued that Indians still prefer to invest in property within the country rather than abroad.

"The return that Indian property would generate is not the same in Europe or APAC (Asia-Pacific)," he said. As for the US, it does not usually serve as a holiday home for the sheer distance from India, he added.

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According to Malhotra, Dubai was a popular pick too, but the prices have corrected to a certain extent there.

As for the RBI ceiling of $200,000 per person per year for investing in property abroad, analysts said the norm was a deterrent for the Indian investor.

Sachin Sandhir, managing director and country head, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, said most properties on offer across overseas markets will be in excess of $200,000.

There could be some exceptions though in the case of  smaller assets.

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So, the payment modalities for overseas property have to be structured to ensure that the RBI cap is not breached.

"The RBI cap is a deterrent for retail investors, but for others there are indirect ways of structuring the payment," said a consultant who did not want to be named.

Besides the two categories of investment in property overseas and holiday homes abroad, Sandhir made yet another differentiation. Resident Indians and NRIs have different target destinations for overseas property buying, he said.

"NRIs are investing big time in the Latin American market, for instance," Sandhir said. Brazil and Mexico are among the hot destinations for NRIs.


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