DELHI-MUMBAI EXPRESSWAY, ELEVATED ROAD EXPECTED TO TURN SOHNA INTO NEXT MAJOR REALTY HUB

Delhi-Mumbai Expressway, elevated road expected to turn Sohna into next major realty hub

With the Haryana portion of the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway and the Sohna elevated road likely to be finished by next year, experts were of the opinion that the real estate sector will see a major development as they improve access, create jobs and allow people to move with ease Developers, who had invested in Sohna around five to six years ago, said that the Delhi-Mumbai expressway and Sohna elevated road will boost demand, as it would take residents only 15 minutes to reach Rajiv Chowk in Gurugram.

Completion of major road infrastructure projects is set to turn Sohna into the next big real estate hub of the National Capital Region (NCR), as evidenced by takers for the micro market despite an overall slowdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to experts and realtors.

With the Haryana portion of the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway and the Sohna elevated road likely to be finished by next year, experts believe that the real estate sector will get a major boost as these infrastructure will improve accessibility, create jobs and allow people to move about with ease.

Developers who had invested in Sohna around five to six years ago said these two road projects will boost housing demand as it would take residents only 15 minutes to reach Rajiv Chowk in Gurugram.

Vinod Behl, a real estate expert, said Sohna is centrally located in the NCR, and the growth of any real estate destination largely depends on that area’s connectivity, physical and social infrastructure, established residential and commercial developments in the neighbourhood and its proximity to corporate and industrial hubs, the major centres of employment.

These key drivers significantly influence the price of a property and its future appreciation. In that respect, Sohna scores quite high as a micro market of Gurugram, he said. “The area is contiguous to south Delhi and Gurugram, besides providing access to Palwal, Faridabad and Alwar. He said connectivity to the Jewar airport in Uttar Pradesh, when it becomes operational, will enhance the area’s potential as a realty hub,” said Behl.

As per the details shared by the Department of Town and Country Planning (DTCP), there are 10 affordable group housing projects, 15 projects under the Deen Dayal Awas Yojana, three commercial projects, and 19 group-housing projects in Sohna, besides six to seven commercial projects.

Around 800 acres have been licensed in Sohna since 2012, with maximum licences issued in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2019.

Sohna is spread across an area of 27 square kilometres and is divided into 38 sectors for urban development by the government of Haryana. Lower plot costs, in comparison to Gurugram, is one of the reasons for developers taking up projects there over the past seven years.

According to Santosh Kumar, vice-chairman of Anarock, a real estate consultancy, Sohna has witnessed significant real estate activity since 2013 and supplied around 30,000 housing units till the third quarter of 2021. “Popularly known as south Gurugram, Sohna emerged as a favourable affordable destination owing to its proximity to various business centres and industrial clusters,” he said.

Data made available by Anarock reveals that the maximum real estate activities in Sohna took place in 2014, 2015 and 2017, when 12,000, 6,000 and 4,000 housing units were launched, respectively. The launch of new projects has been muted over the past four years, largely due to unfavourable market conditions.

As far budget segmentation is concerned, Kumar said that 55% of the projects are in the mid-segment ( ₹40 lakh to ₹80 lakh), 26% are in the affordable segment (below ₹40 lakh) and 16% in the premium segment ( ₹80 lakh to ₹1.5 crore).

The numbers also suggest that of the 29,270 units launched, 30% have been completed while 46% will be ready by the end of next year. The average property price in Sohna is around ₹4,100 per square feet (sqft), a slight increase from ₹3,798 per sqft in 2015.

Mubeen Khan, a city-based real estate consultant, said that while properties in Sohna were available for ₹3,500-5,000 per sqft, the area was more focussed mid-segment housing. “In comparison, Gurugram is more about premium housing, with average price of a flat being more than ₹75 lakh,” Khan said.

The developers say better connectivity with Gurugram, Delhi and other parts of the country will help this micro-market grow faster. “By 2031, around 640,000 people are going to reside in south Gurugram. With the increase in population and led by multiple government initiatives, Sohna is expected to witness heightened demand for residential spaces in the time to come. Sohna is aligned with the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway, Palwal-Sonipat Orbital Rail Corridor, linked to KMP [Kundli-Manesar-Palwal] and new elevated road to Gurugram will boost housing in the city,” Pradeep Agarwal, managing director of Signature Developers, which has a major presence in the town, said.

According to Behl, what makes Sohna attractive for both end-users and investors is the lower entry point, with good scope for price appreciation that has seen risen significantly over the past seven years.

Improved connectivity

Developers and experts were particularly enthused after Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari visited Sohna on September 5 and announced that work on the Haryana portion of the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway and Sohna elevated road will be completed by mid-2022, even as officials of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) clarified that the Sohna elevated road would be completed by June 2022.

The stakeholders admitted that while the past three to four years witnessed a slowdown across the country, the Sohna micro market and projects on Sohna Road remained attractive due to affordability and good prospects. “Last year, it was Sohna and New Gurugram micro markets which had emerged on the top as far as supply and price of properties is concerned. Once the elevated road is completed, home buyers in Gurugram will have great options to buy affordable houses, plots and also premium housing in this area,” Sanjiv Thakur, a real estate consultant, said.

Although developers admitted that the launch of new projects has been slow over the past two years due to a weak market caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns, they are optimistic that the two new road projects will lead to a turnaround and greatly contribute to Sohna’s growth.

“Owing to its proximity to different business centres and industrial clusters, it promises good connectivity and planned infrastructure upgrades. The proposed link between the new Jewar airport and the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway is the newest and most crucial connectivity factor, boosting real estate on Sohna Road,” Amarjit Bakshi, the chairman and managing director (CMD) of Central Park, said.

Market trend

According to studies by real estate consultancies, homebuyers’ preferences are changing, as many as preferring to reside in gated communities on the outskirts of the cities. A report released by Anarock last year stated that almost 57% of home launches in NCR in 2020 took place in areas on the outskirts of Gurugram, such as Sohna and Sohna Road, besides areas under the Yamuna Expressway in Uttar Pradesh’s Gautam Budh Nagar.

“Sohna, Sohna Road and Dwarka Expressway are some of the most preferred areas among the buyers. Previously, most of the sales in the periphery were made by investors or buyers planning to relocate in future. However, they are now willing to accept the distance between their homes and their workplaces due to boost in infrastructure and connectivity,” an excerpt from Anarock’s report stated.

Echoing this viewpoint, Ashish Tandon, president, sales and marketing, SS Group, said that these two expressways will enhance connectivity and boost demand for real estate. “The improved connectivity and decongestion will push up the prices of residential properties, generate employment opportunities and usher in a socio-economic transformation of the region,” he said.

Basic infrastructure

While most of the stakeholders are bullish about Sohna’s emergence as a housing hub, there are others also who suggest caution as the area is still lacking in physical, social and recreational infrastructure.

“Roads are good but we need much more to survive and thrive in a city. There is need for schools, colleges, malls, hospitals, and similar recreational spaces. It will take a long time for this area to emerge as a subcity of Gurugram,” Ramesh Menon, the chief executive officer of Certes Realty, said.

He said that the supply of housing in Delhi is likely to increase by next year, and this will also impact the growth of peripheral areas. “The private players and Haryana government will have to do lot of work to boost infra in Sohna to ensure its transformation into a city,” Menon said.

Officials of DTCP, however, said that work on setting up the infrastructure is being taken up on priority. “The focus is to build required infrastructure in proportion to population growth. We had envisaged that Sohna will develop as a key micro market and this is happening. We will work with all stakeholders to ensure that this town grows into a city,” RS Bhath, district town planner (enforcement), said.

Bhath said that large-scale exercises are also being taken to prevent the illegal development of colonies and farmhouses in and around Sohna. “We are going to ensure that sanctity of Sohna master plan is maintained,” he said.

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