Slum dwellings across India’s urbanised areas have been around for as long as many can remember, growing up alongside wealthy parts of the city as the low paid workforce required to keep those cities working, struggled to find somewhere affordable to live. Indeed, in a country with a population of 1.37 billion, according to the latest UN figures, at least around a quarter of the urban population are living in slums, many of whom don’t have reliable access to sanitation, electricity or homes that are safe to live in.
Recent fires in neighbouring Bangladesh, in the capital city and a coastal slum area, highlight the problems of slum dwellings and the dangers they pose to those living in them and the surrounding areas, too.
In recent years, a number of ways to improve or even remove the slums of the Indian sub-continent, have been discussed. One previously popular way to modify India’s – and other countries’ – slums, was to remove them completely, bulldoze them out of existence. However, while this method does eradicate many of the issues that arise with slum developments, it also displaces everyone who lives in them.
After assessing different approaches to solving the problem of slum areas, which has gained in importance amid the increasingly rapid urbanisation of India, two answers have proven popular enough to take forward. They are:
- Improve existing slum areas, without displacing those existing households and eradicating their investment.
- Find ways to build affordable housing across India’s cities for lower income households to live in.
With those solutions now being formalised by the Government, the next step is to find a way to finance these methods, in order to achieve the target of creating affordable housing for the entire population by 2022.
PPP and affordable housing
Among the ways in which India is seeking to provide enough affordable and safe housing for its growing urban populations, is through Public Private Partnerships (PPP). As the value of land is high in cities and nearby urban areas and can account for up to 60% of the total cost of housing developments, the Government has sought a way to lower the cost of urban real estate. They do this by allocating a proportion of publicly owned land to be developed by private companies and investors.
This vehicle has been created to encourage private real-estate investors, who previously have predominantly favoured higher income developments, to take an interest in India’s affordable housing sector. The potential rewards are three-fold:
- Affordable and safe housing in the right areas, for India’s fast-developing urbanisation.
- The beginning of the end of the growth of slum areas in urban regions.
- Reliable and attractive returns for investors.
There are a number of ways in which this works financially for investors, all of which result in a notable increase in affordable housing across the areas of India in which it’s required.
Coupled with the improvements to investing and doing business in the country, the option of affordable housing and real-estate as an investment vehicle is one that is beginning to appeal to a growing proportion of investors. Both from overseas and within the country, too.
How to access India’s affordable real estate investment opportunities
Of course, knowing about and understanding the real-estate opportunities in a country whose population is undergoing a fast and significant change, is one thing. Accessing those opportunities in a secure and moderated fashion is quite another.
However, doing business in India has become easier, more transparent and accessible to all kinds of investors. Among the ways in which investors can benefit from the opportunities in India’s real estate sector, is through Funds specifically created for the purpose.
According to data from JLL, the value of investment grade, real estate projects under construction, has risen from $173.9 billion in the fourth quarter of 2012, to $242.6 billion in the second quarter of 2018. That number doesn’t take into account future options, plans or approved, shovel ready projects.
Red Ribbon will soon launch its own Indian Real-Estate Fund, to bring investment access into the sector to those investors interested in diversifying their portfolios with something that will benefit from Government support and help provide a solution to a real need from the existing and changing population.
As with all of Red Ribbon’s asset management options, sustainability, eco friendly and broadly beneficial outcomes form the basis of most of the assets that make up the Fund. Providing affordable and sustainable properties for the millions of people moving from rural to urban living is a challenge that can be met, provided every investor in Indian real estate takes it into consideration.
India’s Government has shown real willing to support the rapid urbanisation of the country and encourage a country in which investors can feel confident in doing business, both from a transparency and prospective returns, perspective. Red Ribbon is proud to be the forefront of supporting an economy that is of major importance on a global scale, while working to create a country with real prospects that future generations can enjoy and reap the benefits from.
Our Indian Real Estate Fund will help provide affordable and sustainable homes for the millions of people moving from one way of life to another. It also gives investors the chance to create a well-balanced investment portfolio, with exposure to a growing and developing economy.