DELHI: Luxury holiday homes in the hills are once again becoming an object of desire and India's top real estate companies are ready to meet this demand, especially as the slowdown has eroded sales in urban markets. Entrepreneurs, retired industrialists and top executives are all looking to pick up a second home to get away from the hassles of city life.
While small local developers have been offering homes in the hills in places such as Shimla, Kasauli, Nainital and elsewhere, it's the entry of larger national players such as DLF and Tata Housing, besides others such as Fire Capital and Woodside Developments that has energised the market.
Tata Housing has launched a gated project in Kasauli in Himachal Pradesh which will have 70 villas spread across 24 acres. The Myst villas are priced at Rs 3.5-8 crore. Woodside Developments is close to completing a project in Kasauli with 35 villas of 2,800-5,000 sq ft area and a clubhouse.
Buyers include Dabur Group chairman emeritus Vivek Burman, Ambuja Cements chairman emeritus Suresh Neotia, Rajya Sabha MP and lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Arun Bharat Ram of SRF Group, Deepak Jain of Lumax Industries and Ram Sarvepalli, partner at EY. DLF has launched one project each in Kasauli and Shimla, where it is selling plots as well as homes.
"Luxury developments in the hills are the most sought after today as ideal holiday home destinations," said Jaiwant Daulat Singh, director, Woodside Developments. The market has grown in the last few years as people have moved beyond beach destina tions for holiday homes.
Gated communities in the hills are a new concept, said Rajeeb K Dash, head of marketing at Tata Housing. "People are looking for a contemporary lifestyle even in their holiday destinations."
Tata Housing has sold close to 20% of inventory in the first destinaphase of its Kasauli project, marketed as a mix of lifestyle and nature. "Ours is a biophilic design," he said, which implies harmony with nature.
Until recently, there weren't too many options for buyers except for projects built by local developers where quality was an issue, said Mudassir Zaidi, national director, residential, Knight Frank India. "Now with some credible developers in the fray, people know what to expect."
Private equity fund Fire Capital has entered the segment with a luxury apartment project called Clouds' End in Kufri, also in Himachal Pradesh, where apartment sizes have been deliberately kept small to bring down the ticket size —Rs 60 lakh to Rs 1.5 crore.
Change in law helps buyers
In states such as Himachal Pradesh buying property isn't easy for people from outside the state. They can, however, buy land from an agriculturist if they get approval under Section 118 of the Land Reform Act of 1972.
The new Town and Country Planning Act that was put in place in September to replace the erstwhile Himuda Act of 2005 has brought more clarity to the transfer/conveyance of land and buildings for projects approved under Section 118. This means apartments in projects by developers which have approval under Section 118 can be bought by outsiders.