Qualified manpower, a steady real estate market, and a stable political scenario puts Pune on the radar of investors who prefer it over other cities, says RASHMI NAKASKAR Pune is, historically, an established education base; manufacturing industrial hub, IT and ITeS hotspot, besides being a second home destination. However, recently it seems to have added another feather to its cap by beating Hyderabad in the realty race. With political agitations erupting in Hyderabad yet again, investors keen on putting their money on property here are now turning to Pune in the hope of better returns. Also, spelling doom for the once booming sector are cash-rich investors and developers who are fast dropping Hyderabad from their radar due to frequent disruptions. Apart from Hyderabad's poor industry ratings, which are now on par with small towns like Vadodara, it is Pune's impressive IT growth, affordable property prices and stable political atmosphere that's pulling investors to its shores. In fact, realty experts say that all corporate firms on expansion mode are now vying for space in Pune as against Hyderabad. Shantanu Mazumdar, Branch Head, Pune, Knight Frank India, Pune, says, “As the global market opened up in the beginning of 2000, IT set up shifted base to Pune as it offered vast tracts of land at economical rates, climatic comfort, HR availability as it is an educational hub. With government initiatives that were aimed to take up more space, maximum number of MIDCs (Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation) came up at Chakan, Pimple Saudagar, among others, that promoted industrial activity. Several IT parks came up in places such as Kharadi, followed by Talawade and Hinjewadi Infotech parks. When the base was created, it was encashed with SEZ operations.In fact, Pune is the only city with an operational IT SEZ.” Additionally, he feels that it is the proactive developers in Pune who were keen to build quality grade A buildings that gives it an edge. "The cosmo culture of the city which has high acceptability proves to be an addition to its positive environment giving a comfort level to companies to set shop here as compared to any other city.” According to him, the real estate growth in Pune per se is on the lines of Hyderabad, Chennai or Bangalore. Explains Rohit Gera, Joint Managing Director, Gera Developments, “The fundamental aspect is education. People come here most often for better educational purposes and once you stay here for about three to four years you develop an affinity towards this place. Even if you move out of here for better prospects, people do come back here after a while. Not only that, a lot of people also consider Pune as a better retirement option.” Pune being an important army and military centre, a lot of defence personnel consider Pune after their retirement too. “The second most important factor is the commute time. The city is designed in such a way that the residential areas are closer to the workplace which not only reduces the time to commute but eventually provides a better quality life. Unlike Bangalore, in Pune the maximum time required to get across the city is approximately 30-35 minutes (depending upon traffic).” Apart from being an education hub, Pune is also established as a major manufacturing hub for the automobile and IT sector. It provides many lucrative job opportunities. States Atul Goel, Director, Goel Ganga Group, "Pune as compared to other cities has a very rich cultural heritage. It is one of the factors which differentiates Pune from other major cities of India. The crowd in Pune apart from being cosmopolitan is very friendly, educated and proactive. We can definitely say that Pune has still retained its rich character." Goel adds, "Hyderabad, due to the recent political instability, has taken a backstage. Moreover it never observed heavy migration. The migration rate in Pune is very high and migration leads to growth. Other cities, for example, Bangalore, witnessed only IT growth but Pune has seen a balanced growth of industries and is developing exponentially." Pune being located closely to the commercial capital of the country enjoys a lot of advantages. Hence, it is the most preferred location for a second home option. Says Kruti Jain, Director, Kumar Urban Development Ltd., "Pune's connectivity to Mumbai is one of the key reasons for its rapid development. It is just not the IT industry which has boosted its development. Education, hospitality, automobile and many other industry sectors have given Pune the much required edge over other major cities in India. "Also many corporates have set up their training centres in Pune considering its proximity from Mumbai. Also, Lonavala, Khandala, the beautiful hill stations are near Pune, which again makes it a preferred location to invest in." According to Jain, townships seem to be the latest trend in Pune. There are about 11 to 15 notified townships. There are about six townships already launched and the balance will soon be launching. "Not only are they organised and planned but townships also improve city's infrastructure," states Jain. The latest addition in Pune's realty sector have been the advent of huge shopping malls. With the launch of Phoenix Market City and the already existing Inorbit Mall, the residents of Pune have a reason to smile. States Gera, "I believe Pune is a little late in terms of the retail development as compared to other cities. But with the recent boom in shopping malls, people now have many options for entertainment and rejuvenation." Commenting on the future trends Lalit Kumar Jain, President, CREDAI says, "Fortunately, Pune has always maintained a balance between the demand and supply ratio. Post Diwali we believe prices will go up by about 5 per cent not only in Pune but overall in the Indian real estate sector."
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