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A depreciating rupee and the continuing buoyancy in the Indian residential real estate market are significant draws for non-resident Indians (NRIs) to invest in their country of origin.

The latest CII-ANAROCK Consumer Sentiment Survey showed that Hyderabad, National Capital Region (NCR), and Bengaluru are NRIs‘ top picks for housing investment. Interestingly, MMR comes a distant fourth on the NRIs’ wish list.

Notably, at least 60% of NRI respondents will buy homes in one of these three cities, with 22% focused on Hyderabad, 20% eyeing NCR, and 18% preferring Bengaluru. In last year’s corresponding period survey, Bengaluru, Pune and Chennai were the top picks for most NRIs.

Of the 5,500 respondents participating in the survey, 7% were NRIs currently stationed in the US, Canada, Gulf, Europe, and various Asian countries.

More NRIs prefer investing in Indian real estate over stocks, mutual funds, gold, and fixed deposits. In the survey’s current (H1 2022) edition, 71% NRI respondents saw Indian housing as the best investment bet. This is markedly higher than the 55% in the pre-covid edition.

“Despite the worst of covid-19 now in the past, NRIs have clearly not forgotten the uncertainties associated with living in a foreign country during a major pandemic," says Prashant Thakur, senior director and head-research, Anarock group. “Securing homes in India became, and remains, a priority for Indians everywhere. While domestic homeownership sentiment remains strong despite hardening home loan interest rates and property prices, the depreciating rupee value against the US dollar gives NRIs a distinct advantage."

Housing has seen a 15-20% increase in NRI demand in the first nine months of 2022 compared to the corresponding period in 2021. “As per Anarock Research, the January-September period of 2022 saw about 2.73 lakh homes sold in the top 7 cities," says Thakur. “On an average, NRIs account for 10-15% of homes sold in any given quarter."

The report also noted that demand for bigger homes has been one of the defining new developments in the post-covid era.

While schools and offices have reopened, the desire for extra living space remains undiminished. Many of the large IT employers companies and IT-driven start-ups now operate on a hybrid work model.

For NRIs, the favourable exchange rate is another prime motivator to secure bigger homes. The current H1 2022 survey finds that over 77% NRI respondents will buy bigger homes - 54% favouring 3BHKs and 23% looking to buy 4BHKs. Just 22% NRI respondents are looking for 2BHKs. In the pre-covid survey, at least 40% were eyeing 2BHKs.

Further, 63% NRI respondents currently prefer premium properties priced between 90 lakh and 1.5 crore. In last year’s survey, 59% NRIs preferred luxury properties priced between 1.5 crore and 2.5 crore.

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