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Location still the top consideration for real estate investment

Monday, May 30, 2016
By Kishor Pate

Kishor Pate CMD - Amit Enterprises Housing Ltd

Thanks to the fact that prices in the residential property sector have bottomed out across most cities, real estate as an investment class is back on the radar. The investment angle aside, buying a property is also on every end user's wish list. While looking for a suitable property either for investment or personal use, there are many factors that should be on one’s checklist before arriving at any decision. One way or the other, location plays an important role in all of them:

Look for a safe neighborhood
Certainly, you should look for the basic amenities that will provide comfort and convenience to your family or tenants. However, it is even more important to gauge the safety of the neighbourhood. A safe neighbourhood is one where one can move about freely and not remain confined indoors, regardless of the time of day.

Pertaining to today’s job environment and also social preferences in terms of enjoying the nightlife, home seekers require a locality where returning late at nights will not be an issue. This parameter should be the first to check while choosing a location. The most attractive property prices and amenities are of no value if one has to live in fear.

Distance from basic necessities of daily living
It is a fundamental fact of the property market that a locality with all the basic amenities within a couple of kilometers ranks higher on the desirability scale. These amenities should include a properly equipped hospital and a good school or college, but social infrastructure such as supermarkets, malls and places for leisurely activities must also be counted among the basic requirement of daily living.

Ease of commuting
It is common knowledge that the closer the property is to railway stations, metro stations or bus terminals, the more valuable it becomes. Today’s society is perpetually on the move, with at least one family member having to travel a certain distance to work and back every day. With the dual income family becoming more common, the importance of an area’s ’commutability’ rises.

In every city, there are localities that are defined by the type of office hubs or industries they host. Most cities will have areas where a number of Government offices or bank head offices are located, and others which have a high saturation of InfoTech firms. From a residential demand perspective, these localities are obviously always the most preferred ones if they have attached residential catchments. If a walk-to-work option is not available, people working in these areas will definitely prefer the shortest possible commute.

Future developments
If one is on a constrained budget, then the best areas to invest in a property are those which are not fully developed yet. Homes in such areas are cheaper when compared to their counterparts in fully developed localities, but will see higher property valuations over the mid-to-long terms. The localities that have been earmarked for future infrastructure developments are the best to invest.

Areas such as Devanahalli and Bannerghatta Road in Bengaluru, Panvel and New Panvel in Mumbai and Undri and Ambegaon in Pune are examples of localities which have seen rapid increases in property values starting from a relatively lower base. They are well-connected to the main city and provide all the basic social amenities that home buyers look for but still have more affordable housing valuations when compared to the main city rates.

High-value locations – pros & cons
It is definitely not true that the cheapest properties are always the best to invest in. Going by the location yardstick which holds true in all real estate investment, the cheapest locations are usually the most remote or least likely to see future development. However, it is definitely true that the costliest properties will usually see the least capital value growth in the future.

Invariably, such properties have seen saturation of price growth and are less likely to offer any positive returns in terms of capital appreciation even though they tend to be located in high-value areas.

However, extremely costly properties are very likely to give very good rental returns, because people who want to live in these areas but cannot afford to buy properties there will choose the rental option. The tenants who prefer such properties would be highly-paid corporate executives and even firms who are looking to lease such a property as their company guesthouse.

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