Infrastructure: The Key Real Estate Investment Criterion
We keep hearing the term ‘market drivers’ being used in real estate. What are they? Market drivers can be defined as developments in an area that increase the value of living there. It is a well-established fact that infrastructure is by far the most important driver for real estate demand and property appreciation growth.
Infrastructure can take many forms. It includes road development to boost connectivity of a location, civic infrastructure such as dedicated water and electricity supply, public gardens, etc. that increases the quality of living in the area, and social infrastructure such as schools, colleges and healthcare, which result in shorter travelling time to such very essential services.
Infrastructure must be put in place either before or along with other real estate development. Attempts to put it in place retrospectively create the kind of mess that we can see in many of our cities today. The building of flyovers and road widening are attempted in highly congested areas, disrupting the flow of normal activity and taking ages to be built, causing great inconvenience and massive costs to the city because of the incessant delays.
Building infrastructure is like growing trees – in both cases, there needs to be enough space for them to grow, and sufficient opportunity for a root network to deploy. Without space and depth, neither trees nor infrastructure can grow and flourish. If we take the case of Pune as an example, we can see that building infrastructure as an afterthought to real estate development, rather than as a precursor, does not really work well.
Pune’s haphazard development in the past has not been favourable for decent infrastructure deployment to complement its rapid development on other fronts. Battling severe constraints, Pune’ development authorities are doing their best to counter the ill-effects of unregulated development which has so far been taking place. We are seeing some good results in building support infrastructure, but the Pune Municipal Corporation is actually a losing battle. This is amply illustrated by the fact that the Pune Municipal Corporation is not able to provide suitable parking, traffic management solutions and utilities supply despite enormous investments.
Guidelines For Homebuyers & Investors
• The infrastructure of a location is a major focus area for property investors for a very good reason. Real estate investors want to attract end-users, either as rental or purchase clients, to the properties. They know that an area without sufficient infrastructure will be unattractive to their clients, because the quality of living quotient is low.
• Again, properties in areas without good infrastructure tend to have cheaper property rates for a reason. Developers with projects in such locations know that the area has little or nothing to say for itself in terms of quality of life. The only way they can hope to sell their projects is to offer very attractive rates.
• Buyers should place infrastructure availability prominently on their checklist while scouting for suitable homes. Road and rail connectivity, water supply, proximity of schools, hospitals and shopping outlets are of paramount importance. Buying a home cheaply if the location does not offer these is meaningless, and will give cause for regret.
• If one is buying a property purely as a long-term investment and primarily for capital appreciation, one can afford to be a bit philosophical about existing infrastructure. After all, one is not planning to live there and does not expect very fast appreciation. As long as there is a reasonable assurance that it will arrive in the foreseeable future, it makes sense to invest in a property located in an emerging area where infrastructure is in its nascent stages.
• However, if one is buying the property in order to generate rental income, existing infrastructure is far more important than upcoming infrastructure. People looking for rental options are also looking for a certain ease and dignity of living. They are willing to put the option of buying a home aside so that they can live in a good home in a good location on rent.
• Where the option exists, give a high preference to townships over all other options. While checking out townships, ensure that they are located in areas which have a good saturation of support infrastructure as well. Most large Indian cities now have township projects coming up.
• In Pune, the infrastructure-rich Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation is attracting the highest number of buyers and investors of township properties. In other parts of the country, Navi Mumbai and the Kalyan-Dombivli and Vasai-Virar belts are becoming important township hubs.
• In Delhi NCR, the areas to look at for townships are Ghaziabad, Faridabad and Greater Noida. In Bangalore, the growth hubs for townships are Yelahanka and Devanhalli, and in Chennai they include Sriperumbadur, Perambur, the OMR belt and Anna Nagar.