More and more Indians want to have homes in religious centers, whether it is Vrindavan, Haridwar, or Shirdi, devotees want to be very close to their place of worship. According to global real estate consultancy Jones Lang LaSalle Meghraj (JLLM), investments in religious locations have now taken a back seat because of an intense cash conversion outlook.
There are, however, some exceptions, such as a project in Vrindavan near Dwarka, which saw a healthy response from buyers from the Iskcon movement. The places traditionally of interest to investors and buyers who are driven by religious sentiments include Shirdi, Haridwar, Puri, Vrindavan, Bhubaneswar (60 km from Puri), according to JLLM.
# Religion is not affected by the slowdown. Actually, people become more god-fearing during tough times and Indian developers know this well. That’s why many are headed to pilgrimage towns not to pray but to build projects to sell to those who want to live in proximity to their gods. Over the last few years, many developers have launched projects to capitalize on the demand from people looking for homes in the land of their deities. Investing in such properties for long-term gains is not a bad idea.
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# While most of the end users are buying properties as a second home option, these homes also offer a good investment opportunity for investors to park their money for long-term benefit and earn at present by renting them. There has been a consistent 15-20% annual rise in the demand for such properties over the past 5 years or so. Even during the current slowdown, we have not witnessed any major slump in demand level. Most of the inquiries for these projects are from well-placed people in their 40s to 50s. Homes in such locations are increasingly gaining preference also as retirement homes and weekend gateways for the spiritually minded. Infrastructural development in these cities has further boosted demand for these properties.
# What also makes these destinations attractive is the fact that lands are available here at lower rates as compared to other cities. The lower price here makes these destinations sought-after buys. From a second home or investment perspective, buying properties in these places makes a lot of sense. Religious hubs such as Vrindavan, Ajmer, Haridwar, and Mathura are examples of cities that have witnessed a surge in demand. With upscale development coming up in those places, many have turned into weekend destinations where people besides visiting the holy place also desire to spend the weekend with their families. For home buyers who are looking for peace and tranquility, religious centers could offer just that. Further, the prices too could be attractive.
# The market was at first focused on those looking for a second home or a retirement home. Now, there is a good rental demand as well for which developers are launching rental-focused service apartments. Apart from looking for a long-term tenant, you can also let out your house for short stays to tourists.
# Lastly, developers are offering apartments and villas with all the amenities that a good urban residence can offer. So, without changing lifestyle one can live in a pleasing and peaceful environment after retirement or during religious visits. Pilgrim destinations have emerged as popular destinations with people looking to invest in retirement homes. Since people start focusing more on the religious and spiritual fronts as they age, investing in a retirement home in a pilgrimage or spiritual place ensures high demand.
(By Ankit Aggarwal, MD, Devika Group)