Weekend homes the price of luxury

Weekend homes in goaRising income levels have made the dream of having a leisure home achievable. So while you may be able to afford it, the million dollar question is: should you invest in it?

Ashwinder Raj Singh
Weekend homes, also called second homes or vacation homes, are currently an oasis of market activity in India’s the otherwise lacklustre residential real estate sector. In earlier years, only the affluent could and would invest in these whereas now these properties are generating interest even from the country’s middle class.

Weekend homes
After the basic needs of shelter are met, most people have an in-built desire to own properties to use purely for relaxation. Obviously, such properties need to be in the more bracing and beauteous environs than the cluttered, polluted cities. Because quality hotel rooms in most getaway cities are limited and also very expensive, people like to invest in weekend homes there for short, hassle-free getaways. With the basic luxury factor vested in such locations — mountains, lakes or religious shrines — these homes provide their owners with quality family time away from their routine city lives and often serve the extended purpose of providing a peaceful post-retirement life.

Where are these weekend homes?
The weekend homes segment exists in towns and cities that lie within 2-3 hours of road, train or even plane travel. The most famous weekend home destinations have been Shimla, Kasauli and Kerala, with Wayanad in Kerala being the most sought-after in the state. However, with increasing demand, more and more places are being successfully marketed as weekend home destinations: Lavasa, Lonavala, Alibaug and Igatpuri near Mumbai for weekend getaways, vacation spots like Mussourie, Ooty, Coorg and Goa, and the likes of Haridwar, Rishikesh, Vrindavan etc for the religiously inclined. What attracts buyers in this segment are primarily a serene location with good weather, good infrastructure and potential for rental income.

Current trends
Because weekend homes have caught on big time with the middle class, developers are now falling over themselves to cater to the demand. The primary reasons for the increased demand are the growth of the Indian economy, rise in High Net-worth Individuals (HNIs) and the steadily growing aspirational middle class.

In absolute terms, the growth registered by the vacation home segment in 2014 was 57 per cent over the year 2013. The total number of properties sold was 1.3 million, and made up almost 21 per cent of all real estate transactions. On an average, the second homes market is growing at a healthy rate of 10-12 per cent per annum.

With the larger real estate sector not showing any immediate signs of revival, the weekend/vacation homes segment is showing attractive growth. All major developers are vying to get a slice of the pie with options priced from a few lakhs to a few crores being launched quite regularly to cater to different end-users and investors.

The future
Unlike America, where almost 25 per cent of the population has a second or a weekend home, India is just waking up to the idea. The potential of this segment is considerable and growth is assured, given that a luxurious lifestyle ranks high among the priorities of the current generation.

As a buyer, perform your research diligently and only invest if your financial goals are in place. These homes may not offer the best in terms of monetary returns on investments, but they can certainly make you rich when it comes to peaceful living, even in small spurts.