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Indians lap up property abroad as rupee dips

By Palak Shah in Mumbai
November 27, 2008 13:30 IST
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Tulsi Zaveri, a diamond merchant, who recently sent his daughter for higher studies at the University of Texas, Austin, purchased a house in the United States.

"I could hedge the higher cost of education due to a rise in the dollar with the purchase of property, which is available cheap, and make good profit by selling it after three years when my daughter returns," he said.

Similarly, a mutual fund manager in Mumbai purchased a three bedroom penthouse for a little over $500,000 near Miami, Florida, as some of his close relatives reside and he visits them frequently.

According to data released by the Reserve Bank of India, Indians purchased immovable property worth over $31 million overseas between April and August 2008 compared with $39 million during 2007-08.

The entire investment under the outward remittance scheme, including gifts and donations, during the five months of the financial year are estimated at over $380 million compared with $420 million during the last financial year.

Oswal says a lot of his clients are also looking to buy commercial property in cities like Dubai. "Dubai is fast growing as a tourist destination and most of them prefer the city as travel is easy compared to the US or other European countries," he said.

People are also spending more on travels and education. Compared to $160 million spent on travel and education last year, $207 million has already flown out of the country from April to August, 2008.

Investment in equity- and debt-related instruments abroad this year has not been too large. Only $67.1 million has flowed out of the country compared with the last year's $144-million overseas equity and debt investments.

Between April and August this year, the rupee dropped 10 per cent against the dollar. Since January, the rupee is down 23.86 per cent. It closed at 49.44 against the dollar today.

"Many resident Indians with deep pockets are creating dollar assets abroad as the currency has sharply appreciated and most of them have a view that the US dollar may take time to weaken against other currencies," said Vicky Oswal, a real-estate broker and chairman of Oswal Realty.

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Palak Shah in Mumbai
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