“Rootedness is a thing of the past, my dear, we have people today owning multiple houses in multiple locations across the globe and barely living in any of them”, my good friend and real estate agent ‘H’ answered in reply to my bewildered query about the real estate boom in pandemic times in Hyderabad where I am the “daughter of the soil” so to say. “Of the soil” claims are of course redundant when excess money can get you homes anywhere in the world and the lack of it leaves you walking miles seeking shelter in your village as seen in the case of thousands of migrant workers in India uprooted by the pandemic. While the Nirav Modi’s and the Mallyas quietly left the country evading arrest to live in luxury homes abroad, many affluent Non-Resident Indians are reverse migrating, planning to spend months when the weather is unfavourable in exotic Indian homes bought with their Dollar or Euro power. Those whose children are grown up have realized that they are no longer needed and are scurrying back to spend longer periods in the country of their origin. They want to be there for their parents if they are still alive or just chill in better climate to the luxury of domestic help and chauffeurs, glaringly missing in their magnificent mansions abroad. ‘H’ tells me about NRI clientele who are excited at the bigger gated communities and plots with the exclusive tag, so that they can make an impression back home when they return with their massive savings. “I have a client who shortlisted “foreign-looking” homes and zeroed in on it as if he were purchasing an “over the counter drug”. This guy with his American accent (“I caeent believe this”) mentally calculating the price in dollars… is one of my top favourite clients. The higher the bracket he chooses, the better for me” ‘H’ winks thinking gleefully of his impending commission.
It’s not just the NRIs. Several desi migrants from other states, IT employees and expats omnipresent thanks to the Amazons, IKEAs and other firms wooed by the government with various concessions are responsible for the great realty surge and skyrocketing rents in Hyderabad’s surroundings. With the ring road network growing exponentially, lands several hundred kilometres from the capital are already in the net of builders coming up with gated communities with exotic names (foreign ones preferred) close to the districts surrounding Hyderabad. The city boasts of numerous second and third homes, weekend houses and year-end villas that remain- locked for a major part of the year. When the owners arrive, they are busy getting them cleaned, repaired and aired often complaining that dealing with the local labour is ‘Oh! so laborious’. By the time the house is fit for the occupants, it’s time for them to leave. Indians planning for retirement homes outside America and other countries where they have spent a substantial part of their lives may be suddenly filled with the yearning to bridge both worlds in the evening of their lives. A world without borders is replete with possibilities and locked homes across the globe is one of them. For the realty sector ‘locked homes’ spell unlocked potential.