‘Realty boom coming in smaller cities’

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New Delhi: The population in India’s big cities is exploding and in the next five years, the housing boom will reach the smaller urban centres to target new segments of customers, says realty finance expert and author Sitaraman.

“The real estate sector will go to the tier 4, 5, 6, 7 cities – the small towns – in the next five years. The industry intends to target government servants, small businessmen and small companies in the small towns. The big cities are bursting at the seams,” Sitaraman said.

The sector wants the “infrastructure heads to develop parallel across India and people to go to the smaller cities”.

“The real estate can follow,” said the writer, who has spent 20 years in real estate finance.

He has penned the new business thriller, “The Whistleblowers: Of Doing What is Right”. The book, a humorous work set in the big-ticket world of real estate financing, was released in the capita.

Enumerating his vision for the future, he said: “Once you call people to the smaller towns and cities, there will be growth of ancillary industries. Once the infrastructure builds, it will spur others to follow.”

“Let us consider the stretch along the Delhi-Jaipur road. People will soon move to places like Rewari and Maneswar to look for a home priced Rs.30 lakh to Rs.40 lakh or even less than that. They can come to Gurgaon for business and shopping. The future will see more satellite townships as big cities expand where salaried and the educated middle class will own homes,” he said.

The bottom-line will be pricing, with affordable housing as the cornerstone for the industry to boom and sustain.

“The complaint in India is that homes are not affordable. The trend will catch up: the homes will be far away from the city. But with growing connectivity, distances will cease to matter,” said Sitaraman, who owns a management consultancy firm specialising in realty finance.

Commenting on the changing pattern of real estate loans, he said: “As of now, the salaried class was getting more loans than businessmen.”

“But the trend is changing. Lenders are now more open to consider businessmen for loans because businesses have stabilised after 2000,” he said.

The spate of realty scams has made lenders and buyers of real estate more conscious.

“Realty finance comes with several checks and balances, like the audit commission, before a proposal is cleared and even after approval. One has to convince the financier that the building is legal,” the writer said.

Sitaraman’s book is built around a series of scams and fake deals – a builder of dubious antecedents tries to hoodwink a finance company, a manager fudges business figures to become the CEO and a journalist is out to unravel the truth.

“Writing the book was both fun and entertainment. It turned out to be fiction because I wanted the readers to feel entertained.

“I want to write more industry- oriented books. I spent three years, 2008-2011, to research and write the book. I want people to know about how to buy homes and the functioning of the industry through a novel, a story. I also want to write on subjects like humour,” Sitaraman said. By Madhusree Chatterjee