Bottom Line: If only IT/ITeS was the driving force behind the economy of a given city in general and its real estate market in particular, then Bhiwadi would have no choice but to accept its fate as a city that could never shape up as Grade A City.
Bhiwadi as a city has for long weathered the perception of an industrial belt which was seen to be an alternative destination for those who can not afford Gurgaon or Manesar. After all, office occupancy pattern has been a benchmark of the prosperity of a given city since it indicates the jobs and disposable income which eventually is a catalyst for the growth of housing and retail as well.
The fact that Bhiwadi is an industrial city with no major presence of IT/ITeS, it was enough for the critics to conclude that the city can never scale up as a Grade A city.
However, the latest reports indicating that IT/ITeS has slipped down to fourth position in terms of office occupancy with the BFSI (Banking, Financial Services & Insurance) leading the pack followed by engineering and pharmaceutical clearly suggests that IT/ITeS is not the only driver of the economy of a given city to elevate it as a Grade A city.
This also proves that since the planned development of Bhiwadi as against the crumbling infrastructure in other locations in the vicinity has always been an eye shore, the absence of information technology driven job market was just an excuse for the critics to write off the otherwise robust economy of the city.
Today, Bhiwadi has silenced its critics as a truly realistic market which has many job opportunities and the expat professionals are increasingly opting to buy an apartment to settle down in the city. This also has a chain effect on the overall socio-economic indicators of the city. The old Bhiwadi city is increasingly making room for a modern urban industrial city.
Bhiwadi may not be a happening city like Gurgaon or Pune for the young professionals; it nevertheless has its own traction points. At a time when the unrealistic appreciation across many of the major property markets of Delhi-NCR are leading to the saturation point of those markets the young professionals are finding Bhiwadi to be a realistic market to bet on for not only the appreciation potential but also liveability index of the city.
Even the investors in the region believe that most of the micro markets are over-heated in region and Bhiwadi promises to be an exception for medium to long term outlook.
The Multi-National Companies (MNCs) are hence increasingly scaling up their presence in the city with a long term outlook; something that promises to change the very socio-economic outlook of any given Grade A city.
A definite indicator of the long term outlook of the corporate sector is the office occupancy which is today tilted in favour of buying than leasing; thus indicating long term plans of the companies.
The brands have also realised this emerging reality of the city and today nearly all the big brands have opened their outlets in Bhiwadi. So, it is not just the affordable housing that is the USP of the city. Though affordable housing continues to be one strong attraction in this part of the property market, yet the supply of quality office spaces and a number of upcoming malls clearly suggest that it is time to reposition the Bhiwadi city as a Grade A property market.
In agreement over Bhiwadi’s elevated positioning, Nikhil Hawelia, Managing Director, Hawelia Group says Bhiwadi is fast emerging as a property hot spot and there has been a significant price appreciation in the last four-five years. Bhiwadi is modernizing fast and has all the lifestyle facilities of a city. For the working population of Gurgaon-Manesar, Bhiwadi is still a pocket friendly destination when compared to other areas of the NCR.
“Moreover, with all the surrounding industrial settlements in the city and its smooth connectivity to the national highway & capital of India, Bhiwadi has received mega push for realty to flourish which is expected to grow further,” says Hawelia.
Analysts tracking the market in this part of the world point out that Bhiwadi has always been a Grade A city in the making with the seemingly two contrasting concepts of affordable and luxury shaping up so very well in the city that the aspiring middle class with relatively moderate budget and luxury aspirations and choices found Bhiwadi a natural nestling zone.
Luxury was within the budget not only for the professionals in the city but also the retired persons. To add to it, Bhiwadi does not have the infrastructure bottlenecks of metro cities or other corporate cities.
Bhiwadi, as a matter of fact, still carries the tag of affordable destination since land price in this micro market is still on the lower side compared to Gurgaon or even Manesar. This is the primary reason why property in Bhiwadi is available even today at approximately one tenth the price of Gurgaon. However, due to its location and increasing economic opportunities Bhiwadi is today pulling out buyers from across the boundaries of Delhi, Haryana and Rajasthan.
Gaurav Gupta, Director of SG Estates finds the affordable luxury living ingrained in the very basic DNA of the city. He asserts that there are not one or two but a multiple of factors that have helped Bhiwadi getting shaped up as affordable luxury locations. The best part is that this market does have its own distinct identity without competing with the ultra luxury locations in the vicinity, even though in terms of DNA of a smart city Bhiwadi fares better than the more glorified markets in the neighbouhood.
“It is not just about the vicinity to the ultra luxury locations like Gurgaon which is helping this location; rather the economy of the region is driving the market to a point of affordable luxury. Very much like Gurgaon where the young expat professionals have raised the bar of living, in Bhiwadi too they are the prime demand drivers. However, unlike Gurgaon where the presence of IT/ITeS and hence better pay package led to demand of ultra luxury living, in Bhiwadi the major economy is the manufacturing sector. In manufacturing sector you don’t have as high paying jobs as the IT/ITeS and hence the positioning of the city has been as affordable luxury destination. That, however, is changing now” explains Gupta.
In a nutshell, the emerging market dynamics has changed the outlook on Bhiwadi beyond a mere affordable destination; and today it is very much scaling up as a Grade A city in its organic growth trajectory. However, the biggest challenge that the city faces today is the perception in the collective consciousness about the city as a mere affordable zone.
Urban planners in this part of the world also admit that this thought process needs to be changed in order to ensure Bhiwadi gets a few big-ticket investments that could change the urban landscape of the region.
Beyond town planning, the change in outlook also requires the meticulous positioning of the city from a different perspective and altogether new mindset. As of now, what can be conveniently vouchsafed about the city is that it is time to reposition Bhiwadi as a Grade A city.