A home on the hills

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Ever thought of owning a home, in the hills? Getting one may save you from all the hassles related to spending holidays in blocked and crowded hill stations. With the idea of a holiday home in the hills of Indian state of Tamil Nadu slowly changing to include not just sprawling estates but also smaller properties, a second address in the hills has become an option being considered by many.

“The market for second homes in hill stations dates back to India’s colonial days and will certainly grow, but not on the scale seen in the West where buyers tend to spend their entire summers at their vacation homes and buy them accordingly in terms of scale and numbers,” says Badal Yagnik, Managing Director, Chennai, Jones Lang LaSalle India, a global real estate services firm.

“With the entry of developers who now buy and sell smaller portions of land, the entry level has now come down to as low as Rs. 10 lakh,” says Anjan Rangaraj, Managing Director, Catalyst Properties.

However, even among those who decide to invest in a second home, the idea of buying a holiday home is still catching up. “The concept is an emerging one in India and the driving motives and scale are different,” says Badal Yagnik. “Since hill stations fall in the Tier II / III category of real estate markets, properties are, with some exceptions, not as expensive there as they are in the primary cities. They are definitely accessible to the middle-income group with a second home investment objective.”

With Tamil Nadu having well-known hill stations like Ooty and Kodaikanal, and upcoming ones like Yercaud, Yelagiri and Kotagiri, deciding on a destination to invest usually stems from where the buyer is based and whether they are looking at it as an investment or as a holiday home.

Badal Yagnik suggests a basic checklist before investing in a hill station, especially while buying an individual house. “Ensure that the property exists in an area with sufficient security since it will be known in the locality that the owners visit only rarely, creating criminal interest. Invest in a location and project that allows for sufficient re-sale value if fast liquidity is required. Do a due check on the property’s antecedents and ensure that all necessary permissions and clearances are available. Also, since this property would be in an unfamiliar area, enquire about local property rates or have it valued professionally if in doubt about the builder’s asking price.”