Have you ever noticed how buyers flock to purchase property in droves when real estate prices are at their peak, yet buyers are relatively scarce when prices are most affordable? Notwithstanding the fact that this occurrence defies the generally accepted investment strategy to “buy low and sell high”, one can’t help but wonder why attending social gatherings during the real estate boom years of 2005 and 2006 would inevitably lead to engaging in a conversation about someone’s real estate investment and the promise of future profits to be derived from the venture. It’s not all that surprising that many of those recently boasting about their real estate exploits have softened their tone while seasoned investors, dormant for the past six or seven years, have begun to once again start purchasing lucrative investment property. Despite news about the recent real estate and financial industry tribulations that the public is seemingly bombarded with every day, the last few months of 2008 provided a relatively quiet, yet dramatic, surge in real estate sales.The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has reported that residential home sales have increased by an astonishing 115% when the last quarter of 2007 is compared against the same period for 2008. Have the experienced investors purchasing all of this property been ignorant to the steady stream of media reports warning of declines in real estate values? The answer is no, they have simply been waiting for the right time to emerge like a small swarm of locusts to steadily reap houses for sale like crop. In fact, their buying presence has been so prominent that national housing inventories of homes for sale have significantly decreased during 2008’s final quarter, a reliable sign that demand is beginning to once again catch up with supply.But how do these brave souls know precisely when they are buying at the bottom of the market? Do they throw caution to the wind and simply force themselves to muster the courage to purchase property despite the fact that values may continue to decline in the future? The simple answer is that savvy real estate investors do not purchase property with the expectation of immediate appreciation in value. Rather, investment real estate should be purchased based on the property’s potential for positive cash-flow. Positive cash-flow occurs when a property’s rental income exceeds the owner’s costs to maintain the property. Consequently, when a property provides a positive cash-flow, a decline in real estate prices is of little concern since the owner can simply enjoy the income his property generates until the market revives and the property can be sold for further profit.During the real estate boom years our nation became blindly infatuated with the appreciation of real estate prices, which represents the amount of value that a property will gain over time. So called house “flippers” brazenly leveraged money to buy numerous properties with the expectation that their values would increase, thus enabling them to sell the properties for handsome profits in a short period of time. These novice real estate quasi-moguls, often addicted to HGTV and other television shows created to promote the industry like Flipping Out and Flip This House, regularly failed to consider property cash-flows prior to making their purchases. Why bother when real estate values will always continue to appreciate, thereby alleviating the need to hold properties for long? After the housing bubble burst, many of these speculators realized that they shouldn’t have built their investment houses out of sticks, and social gatherings became pleasant once again.Seasoned investors build their investments out of bricks by carefully and conservatively analyzing a property’s cash flow potential prior to purchasing. The primary reason that these investors have been sitting on the sidelines for many years is that most real estate prices have been far too high to generate positive cash-flows and a reasonable return on investment. It hasn’t been until recently that both residential and multi-family housing prices have retreated to levels where rental income will cover monthly mortgage payments and other operating costs. Further, with the construction of new housing and apartments decreasing to a virtual halt, a still rapidly growing local population, and many families displaced from foreclosed properties, an investment property’s owner is free to choose from a tenant base that is now stronger than ever. One can clearly see why a decline in real estate sales prices typically accompanies an increase in monthly rental prices.No matter what the year 2009 holds in store for real estate investing, it is essential to remember that investing in real estate should always be considered over a long term. Although the opportunity for a “quick flip” may present itself, the distinguishing benefit to sound real estate investments is their ability to provide income no matter what the economy throws your way.
NRIs often hear stories about investors hitting jackpot by buying and selling properties back home. Very often, they also hear about someone who has lost money in a project that never materialized or in which issues crept up, rendering the property impossible to sell.Eager to bag a slice of the pie, the NRI begins researching how to invest in the Indian market from abroad and which city, to begin with, only to get lost in contradictory sources.It is a fact that the Indian economy is expanding rapidly; in fact, the World Bank projects that India will surpass China as the world’s fastest growing large economy by 2017. For those looking to become real estate investors who wish to participate in India’s growth, choosing which part of the country to buy-in can be a challenge. After all, the economy may be making great strides at the national level, but what forces at work at the local level? Put another way, which city or cities can promise the greatest returns?We have compiled a list of the best cities for real estate investment. Some of these are large metros, known to be the hubs of many industries. Others are smaller, upcoming cities which show a lot of promise in their growth rates in population and per capita income amongst other factors. Read on to identify which city may be the best for you to invest in real estate.1. BangaloreThanks to its combination of rapidly growing population, well-paying jobs, and low real estate prices, the hub of India’s IT industry has become the hub of its property investment as well. JLL recently published its annual ranking of the world’s most dynamic cities, in their City Momentum Index, affirming that Bangalore is the fastest-changing city on the planet.By some estimates, 40 percent of India’s IT industry is based in this one metropolis. These changes have made it the most attractive place in India for real estate investment. A recent survey pegged Bangalore as the top real estate opportunity across Asia-Pacific.All of this makes Bangalore the most desirable place for real estate investment in India.2. PunePune has displayed rapid population growth over the past decade with a growth rate over 30% during this period. The average white collar salary in this city is second only to Bangalore. Currently, property in this city is affordable as compared to other cities, which shows that it’s a good time to invest.The city also benefits from being close to Mumbai. It also holds opportunities in the education, IT, automobile, and engineering sectors. This is yet another example of a formerly slow city that has experienced rapid recent growth and change.The good weather all year round is an added benefit for NRI investors here. A new international airport and increased metro connectivity will bring even more growth and positive change to the city in coming years.3. ChennaiHead over to the capital of Tamil Nadu for yet more real estate investment opportunities. Chennai is also in the leading pack, with a high growth rate in population (30%) and reasonably high average white collared salaries. This industrial city also has many companies that do IT and financial services.The government has made road connectivity a priority here in recent years. This has helped the city and the surrounding area develop faster and attract new business opportunities.A coming monorail and elevated railway line are sure to further help with this connectivity.4. VisakhapatnamAs far as population and area, Visakhapatnam (Vizag) is one of the biggest harbors in India. Because of this, it is considered the commercial hub of Andhra Pradesh.A quickly growing IT industry coupled with good infrastructure makes this city a desirable place for real estate investments.With the first phase of the Vizag Metro Rail slated to be completed in December 2018, transportation options will also soon open up in this city.5. MumbaiAs a growing city with modern urban development, Mumbai is a good real estate investment choice for a non-resident Indian who cares about lifestyle.Considered the financial capital of India, this city is hard to beat when you compare the level of infrastructure with other cities. Target a premium property in an upscale neighborhood for the best return on your investment. There are several luxury hotspots in Mumbai that place you near high-end retail stores and restaurants.As India’s financial hub, Mumbai also attracts many investors and corporate firms, providing plenty of work opportunities. If you want an internationally competitive work culture, this is the city.Mumbai has great education facilities, including international schools. Political stability and easy resale options are added incentives to make Mumbai your investment realty location.6. BhiwadiAs the third-largest industrial hub in India, Bhiwadi is a manufacturing hub for some major firms. Companies like Gillette and Honda ensure plenty of local work opportunities.Real estate projects are also cheaper here than in other cities. The affordability right now makes this a great investment realty choice for the long term.The Indian government has proposed projects in Bhiwadi including new high-speed public transportation. This will make this city even more desirable in the years to come.7. KochiKochi, the commercial hub of Kerala, has seen new real estate prospects thanks to recent changes.An upgrade of the sea port and privatization of the local international airport brought in new business prospects.Many NRIs are already investing in Kochi. In fact, only some 30% of investors in real estate in Kochi are locals.Part of what makes this city so appealing is its recent developments in infrastructure. New planned developments include the Vallarpadam International Container Trans-shipment Terminal, which will expand investment opportunities for this port city.An “oceanarium,” or marine research facility that also doubles as a tourist attraction, is another proposed project that’s sure to attract even more opportunities to the area.8. Bhubaneswar and CuttackThese twin cities in east India are growing education and IT hubs. This boosts real estate development in the area.The real estate market is well-regulated here since most of the available land is still owned by the government.Plans for new commercial projects, a wider highway, and the new Kalinga Nagar Industrial Complex add to the reasons to target Bhubaneswar and Cuttack for real estate investment.9. CoimbatoreThe second largest city in Tamil Nadu boasts a stable industry that revolves around textiles and spinning.Engineering, IT, and manufacturing have added to the industry in Coimbatore in recent years, providing economic growth and increased work opportunities.A planned airport expansion will increase the ease with which travelers and business opportunities can flow into the city. And a proposed bus rapid transit system provides added options for transport on the ground.ConclusionThere is a long list of cities in India that are great opportunities for real estate investments.You may choose an established, major hub like Bangalore, or a newer and growing location like Kochi. It all depends on exactly what your future plans are for your investment.With so many cities undergoing rapid developments and offering new opportunities, it’s hard to go wrong if you consider the key factors to select cities of choice for real estate investments.Don’t be intimidated by the process of investing in real estate. Instead, reap the benefits the coming years will have for real estate investments in India and ride India’s economic growth wave.Have you invested in any of these cities? Share your experience with us in the comments section below!