Home / Mint-lounge / Features /  Celebrities stay old school, stick to real estate for their investments

For the rich and famous, a home is not just a sweet abode. It is an extension of their lifestyle and, very often in India, it can become a neighbourhood landmark. So the fact that people splurge on one should not come as a surprise.

The real-estate market may not have emerged yet from a slump, but B-town celebrities and cricketing stars are betting on some of the uber-luxury residential projects in Mumbai. Despite the slowdown, real estate continues to be the top investment option for many of them.

In May, Bollywood actor Ranbir Kapoor signed one of the biggest deals in the city, paying a huge Rs1.42 lakh per sq. ft for a 2,460 sq. ft apartment at Pali Hill. Located on the seventh floor of Vastu (Pali Hill), an upscale residential building, the luxury apartment cost Rs35 crore. This is Kapoor’s second purchase. Last year, the actor and his father Rishi Kapoor each bought a 6,100 sq. ft apartment at Trump Towers in Pune for Rs13 crore per flat. The project, which gets its name from US presidential candidate Donald Trump, is being built by local developer Panchshil Realty and has two 23-storey buildings.

Though south Mumbai continues to be the favourite destination for celebrities, the suburbs of Juhu and Bandra are home to quite a few famous names; and many are now making a beeline for Worli, where a number of luxury projects are coming up.

According to data compiled by global property consultant JLL India, Worli is the new luxury destination for ultra-rich high net-worth individuals, including Bollywood and cricketing stars. Cricketer Virat Kohli has purchased a 7,000 sq. ft apartment on the 34th floor of Omkar 1973 Worli, Omkar Realtors & Developers Pvt. Ltd’s property in Worli, for Rs34 crore. Some of the other famous names associated with the project, cricketer Yuvraj Singh and Babasaheb Kalyani, chairman and managing director of Bharat Forge, have each bought a flat.

“Celebrities including Bollywood stars and prominent sportsmen are significant investors in real estate. Their portfolios are skewed towards real assets rather than financial assets. Due to the lumpiness & unpredictable nature of cash flows, their financial advisors or chartered accountants have built objectives around capital protection." said Prateek Pant, co-founder and head of products and solutions, Sanctum Wealth Management.

Other luxury projects in Worli like Oberoi Realty Ltd’s Three Sixty West, Ahuja Towers and Samudra Mahal have attracted a similar high-profile crowd. Last year, actors Abhishek Bachchan and Akshay Kumar spent over Rs41 crore and Rs28 crore, respectively, to buy a flat each in Three Sixty West, according to the JLL report.

“One thing that celebrities look at is how strategically the building is located and what kind of amenities the developer is providing. Third part: Is it going to attract the same kind of audience they would like to rub shoulders with?" says Amit Parsuramka, chief marketing officer, Omkar Realtors & Developers.

South Mumbai, he adds, gives celebrities a sense of pride, an exclusive feel where they may rub shoulders with the CEOs and CXOs of large conglomerates.

Mumbai-based developer Sunteck Realty’s luxury projects Signature Island, Signia Isles and Signia Pearl, located in the city’s financial hub, the Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC), have already drawn many big names from both the entertainment and business worlds. Last year, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan bought a 5,500 sq. ft apartment in Signia Isles for Rs21 crore. The Bollywood actress is believed to have chosen the flat because of its proximity to the Dhirubhai Ambani International School where her daughter currently studies. Last year, Sonam Kapoor invested around Rs35 crore in buying a 7,000 sq. ft apartment in the neighbouring project, Signature Island.

Signature Island already boasts of names such as billionaire Uday Kotak, executive vice-chairman and managing director of Kotak Mahindra Bank, and former Citigroup chief executive officer Vikram Pandit.

“Real estate is one avenue where celebrities can invest a bigger chunk of their money. Since they make good money, they cannot make a scattered investment. It is one area where the value does not depreciate and secondly, it is an easily understandable option as compared to other investment avenues like capital markets or bonds," says a Mumbai-based luxury developer, on condition of anonymity.

Property agent Prakkash Rohiira, who sells luxury apartments in south Mumbai, says real estate continues to be “the best hedge against inflation"—and celebrities find it an easier mode of investment. “After you invest, you don’t need to work over it. You can invest and forget," he says.

Rohiira says most celebrities normally look at buying homes within a budget of Rs20-35 crore, with a carpet area of 2,500-5,000 sq. ft, depending on the location and floor. The requirements generally include a good view, “no lower floors", and multiple car parking slots. And, of course, the brand of the developer, exclusivity and privacy.

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