Women hold the key

More women are buy­ing homes, and the in­dus­try is re­spond­ing to this. There are projects now that cater only to women and banks are of­fer­ing ex­tra-low in­ter­est rates

HT Estates - - HTESTATES - Lav­ina Mulchan­dani HT Es­tates Cor­re­spon­dent

More women are buy­ing homes, and de­vel­op­ers are start­ing to recog­nise and cater to this mar­ket seg­ment.

In Mira Road, Ori­gin Real­tors is launch­ing a project this month of­fer­ing flats for own­er­ship only to women. Men can buy too, they add, but a woman must be the joint owner.

“We have 160 1BHK and 2BHK flats in the project Shubh Atika and we of­fer them for ex­clu­sive women own­er­ship and joint own­er­ship with the first name of a woman,” says Bhavya Shah, di­rec­tor of Ori­gin Real­tors.

Hous­ing fi­nance com­pany As­pire Home Fi­nance C o r p o r at i o n , me a n wh i l e, launched a loan scheme ex­clu­sively for women a year ago, called MALA ( Mahila Awas Loan). “MALA of­fers loans rang­ing from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 12 lakh to work­ing and self-em­ployed women across the coun­try,” says Deepali Shinde, head of MALA. “We also have a coun­selling cen­tre to as­sist you in the home-buy­ing process.”

Else­where, the BSA group in Kolkata and the Na­har and Nir­mal Groups in Mum­bai are of­fer­ing spe­cial dis­counts and schemes to women buy­ers and are be­gin­ning to pitch projects specif­i­cally to women. “We em­pha­sise as­pects such as safety, CCTV cov­er­age and lo­cal ameni- ties such as shop­ping ar­cades for all your home and fam­ily needs, while mar­ket­ing and sell­ing to woman buy­ers,” says Manju Yag­nik, vice- chair­per­son of Na­har Group.

This i s i n keep­ing with women buy­ers’ pri­or­i­ties. “Women typ­i­cally pri­ori­tise so­cial in­fra­struc­ture [ malls, hospi­tals, shop­ping cen­tres] and cam­era sur­veil­lance; safe com­mutes; po­lice pa­trolling; and avail­abil­ity of leisure op­tions like spas and mul­ti­plexes, when choos­ing an area to buy in,” says San­tosh Ku­mar, CEO for op­er­a­tions and in­ter­na­tional di­rec­tor at real-es­tate con­sul­tancy JLL In­dia.

Nir­mal Group, mean­while, is of­fer­ing spe­cial dis­counts around Women’s Day for the first time, avail­able all through March. “We are see­ing many more woman buy­ers. So for Women’s Day we de­cided to of­fer an over­all cost ben­e­fit on buy­ing flats in our projects,” says di­rec­tor Ra­jiv Jain.

“Flats in Kalyan are ready for pos­ses­sion at Rs 4,995 per square feet for women with no floor-rise cost.” A BUYER’S MAR­KET Why t his sud­den f ocus on women buy­ers? One in­di­ca­tion comes from a study re­leased last month by real-es­tate think­tank Track­2Realty, ti­tled Women Power in Home Buy­ing.

The re­port states that 32% of buy­ers across the coun­try are sin­gle women with women con­tribut­ing to de­ci­sion-mak­ing in about 74% of all r e al - e s t at e pur­chases. “Women in gen­eral and sin­gle women in par­tic­u­lar have emerged as a crit­i­cal seg­ment of home buy­ers in In­dia,” says Ravi Sinha, head of the edi­to­rial team at Track­2Realty. “Women to­day con­trol an es­ti­mated $ 28 tril­lion in an­nual con­sumer spend­ing and drive al­most 80% of all pur­chases. So it is a pri­or­ity for de­vel­op­ers and lenders to woo them with of­fers, in­cen­tives.”

In a nut­shell, in the rapidly grow­ing ecosys­tem of du­al­in­come house­holds in ur­ban In­dia, women have a big­ger say than even a decade ago, and in some cases equal and some­times higher fi­nan­cial clout.

“At ev­ery stage of buy­ing a home, whether fund­ing, choos­ing a home, reg­is­tra­tion and stamp duty, there are con­ces­sions and in­cen­tives avail­able for women,” says Vikram Goel, CEO of HDFC Re­alty, a realestate ad­vi­sory group.

“This is also boost­ing the num­ber of women real-es­tate own­ers. As the mar­ket of women home buy­ers ex­pands, the ben­e­fits are in­creas­ing, so you can think of it as the start of a vir­tu­ous cy­cle.” WHAT’S ON OF­FER Na­tion­alised and pri­vate banks have spe­cial schemes and in­cen­tives for women, so do gov­ern­ment bod­ies. “State Bank of In­dia and HDFC of­fer the low­est rate of in­ter­est on home loans to women and many other in­sti­tu­tions of­fer eas­ier EMIs to them,” says Goel.

“In New Delhi, a woman pays 4% stamp duty on a home com­pared with 6% for a man. Ut­tar Pradesh, Pun­jab and Haryana of­fer tax ben­e­fits when a prop­erty is bought in the name of a woman. Even when the prop­erty is gifted to you, if you are a woman, the stamp duty is lower.”

You are also el­i­gi­ble for larger tax de­duc­tions on the in­ter­est you pay on home loans if you are a woman, says Suresh Sadagopan, founder of Lad­der7 Fi­nan­cial Ad­vi­sories.

“All this is help­ing boost the num­ber of women buy­ers,” he adds.

Ad­ver­tis­ing ex­ec­u­tive Zal­ifa Sheikh, 29, can tes­tify to the dif­fer­ence this makes. She booked a home last week in an up­com­ing project in Gore­gaon.

“I took a home loan from SBI that of­fered me an espe­cially low rate of in­ter­est be­cause I am a woman, and bought a house in an af­ford­able lux­ury project that of­fered me lower stamp duty, took no reg­is­tra­tion charges, has cam­era sur­veil­lance se­cu­rity and con­nec­tiv­ity to my work­place,” she says.

“I did not ex­pect it to be so easy, flex­i­ble and cost-ef­fec­tive for me to buy a home in a city like Mum­bai. It def­i­nitely is a good time to buy home in the coun­try for women.” Mum­bai, Delhi and Ben­galuru may be world’s fastest grow­ing city economies the In­dian Emerg­ing World Ci­ties but they are yet to at­tract di­rect com­mer­cial real es­tate in­vest­ment vol­umes to match their eco­nomic weight due to chal­lenges such as trans­parency, in­fra­struc­ture and own­er­ship styles

JLL’s l at­est I nvest­ment In­ten­sity In­dex – which com­pares the vol­ume of di­rect com­mer­cial real es­tate in­vest­ment in a city over a three-year pe­riod rel­a­tive to its eco­nomic size – re­veals that of the top 30 ranked ci­ties, only four are in Asia Pa­cific: Syd­ney (eighth), Mel­bourne (16th), Hong Kong (28th) and Tokyo (30th).

This means that while places like Ben­galuru, Ho Chi Minh City and Shang­hai are rac­ing ahead in their speed of de­vel­op­ment as real es­tate mar­kets, they still have room to grow when it comes to at­tract­ing in­vest­ment pro­por­tion­ate to their gross do­mes­tic prod­uct (GDP).

“Al­though the emerg­ing ci­ties of Asia Pa­cific are at­tract­ing an ever greater share of global real es­tate in­vest­ment, our lat­est in­dex shows there is some way to go be­fore they punch their weight in terms of in­vest­ment in­ten­sity,” says Dr Me­gan Wal­ters, head of re­search, Asia Pa­cific, JLL. “How­ever, the bal­ance is start­ing to shift. What we’re see­ing is that real es­tate in­vestors are look­ing more to de­vel­op­ing ci­ties to sat­isfy their diver­si­fi­ca­tion re­quire­ments.”

While of­fer­ing huge in­vest­ment po­ten­tial, the re­port says that emerg­ing world ci­ties will need to boost trans­parency, im­prove reg­u­la­tory over­sight and build ro­bust fi­nan­cial plat­forms to at­tract real es­tate in­vestors in the long-term.

“The In­dian Emerg­ing World Ci­ties of Mum­bai, Delhi and Ben­galuru are not yet at­tract­ing di­rect com­mer­cial real es­tate in­vest­ment vol­umes to match their eco­nomic weight” says Ramesh Nair, CEO & Coun­try Head, JLL In­dia.

“Al­though they are among the world’s fastest-grow­ing city economies, there are a num­ber of is­sues which may be partly re­spon­si­ble for hold­ing back di­rect in­vest­ment, in­clud­ing mar­ket trans­parency - they are ranked as Semi Trans­par­ent Mar­kets in JLL’s 2016 Global Real Es­tate Trans­parency In­dex,” he adds.

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