Portfolio

Resigned to soaring prices in Chennai

R. Balaji | Updated on June 23, 2012 Published on June 23, 2012

BL24_IW_CHENNAI

People believe they need to decide fast on buying before houses go out of their budget.

“Even water is costly at a property fair,” laughs a visitor, after asking for a bottle of packaged drinking water at a kiosk at the venue. A litre of water normally available for Rs 15-17 is being sold at Rs 20.

That summed up the mood at the property fair going on this weekend at Chennai, not that it appeared to deter visitors. Maybe some are “just window shopping,” as another visitor commented. But according to the organisers, just at the start of the second day over 5,000 visitors have come in and the peak is expected on Sunday.

Interest in buying property is apparent, but how many can afford?

An interaction with a few of the visitors throws up some of the sentiments and frustrations of the buyers. Prices of newly built up space in Chennai continue to increase by the month, but many like Mr Bhaskar and Mr Kumar believe it is inevitable and the earlier one makes the decision the better off they will be.

fast decisions

Mr Krishna is at the fair with his family, wife and six-year-old son in tow. He is from Karnataka and is working for an engineering firm. He is on the lookout for a property around Rs 30-35 lakh, preferable a two-bedroom apartment close to about 900 sq. ft. But the houses in this segment are no where near the city. Projects in the far suburbs — about 30-40 km from the city — are commanding such prices.

“I have two options,” he says. “Pick up a property in my native town and go back there some time later. Or pick up a house in the periphery, rent it out and use that to stay in a rented place in the city.”

Now his son is studying in a school in the suburb and that decided his choice of residence. He rented a house close by and commutes to office.

He believes he will have to come to a decision fast.

Why?

A few months back some of his colleagues moved into apartments in the western suburbs of the city in that price range. Now the prices are up a few hundred rupees a sq ft. Houses in the near suburbs were out of the price range, he says. Today he has narrowed down his search to a few projects and will sit down to come to a decision, he says.

Another visitor says, “I make about Rs 50,000 to 60,000 a month, but I cannot hope to buy a two-bedroom house in the city within commuting distance to my office.” But he is keen on picking up a property.

Rush at the fair

People can be seen leaving with stacks of brochures giving details of projects. Information they will sieve through over the weekend and may be find a perfect fit of pricing and practical location.

At the property fair organised by the portal IndiaProperty.com, visitors had begun to pour in on the second from 10 in the morning.

The number of young couples, people just starting to set out on their own, is striking. Or at the other extreme, it is the elderly. Inevitably they are there to collect information to pass on to their children living abroad and are planning to make an investment close to home.

Whether a first-time home buyer or somebody looking to invest, people generally shrug when questioned on their views on the price levels. What can be done about it? That is how it is, they say, with a resigned shrug.

If you can afford it, pick up a property while you can, seems to be the attitude among the buyers.

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Published on June 23, 2012
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