Many developers are at great pains to point out that their projects are close to a major highway or expressway while marketing them. Obviously, there is a lot of notional value attached to homes which enjoy such a locational advantage. However, there can be both advantages and disadvantages to buying a home which adjoins or is close to a major highway. Both should be considered before investing in a property.
In cities like Pune and Mumbai, inter-city connectivity is literally a lifeline that feeds the economy. Both cities depend a lot on each other on various counts, not least of all being services, business exchange and manpower. As a result, being able to travel quickly either way is important for countless numbers of people living in either city.
However, because of increasing inner-city traffic congestion, it can take an inordinately long time just to travel to the expressway itself. This puts a heavy toll on both precious time and fuel expenses, so living close to the expressway - or any highway which affords quick access to key parts of the city or adjoining cities - can be a very desirable benefit for a home buyer.
One of the potential disadvantages of investing in such a property can be the higher rates which most developers will quote. The asked-for premium can vary, depending on factors like the overall benefits being offered in the project. In a standalone smaller project which offers few or no additional facilities and amenities, the price difference may not be all that much while it would certainly be higher in a full-fledged integrated township.
Smaller Housing Projects - Several Demerits
There is certainly no shortage of such small individual housing projects in locations adjoining expressways or major highways. The developers of such projects would have purchased their plots quite a while ago in anticipation of the future demand, and therefore acquired them relatively cheaply. These are often anonymous builders with little or no previous experience in real estate development. Their main objective is to make a quick buck on the back of the locational factor, so they keep the amenities in their projects to a minimum and will usually also cut corners on the construction quality.
Obviously, buying into such a project merely to lock in the advantage of proximity to the highway or expressway can prove to be mistake. The standard of living will be quite low owing to the lack of lifestyle features and conveniences, while maintenance costs can be quite high because of the low-quality fittings and construction. There are usually issues with water and electricity supply in outlying areas, and air and noise pollution emanating from the highway can be severe.
Often, there will even be problems with the land title and building permissions, since the concerned builders are not concerned with anything but constructing, selling and exiting as fast as possible. Additionally, residents of such projects are often far removed from conveniences like shopping, entertainment, schools and healthcare. Literally the only advantage they enjoy is proximity to the expressway or highway.
The Township Advantage - High Location, Lifestyle and Investment Value
As opposed to such smaller projects, integrated townships offer a vastly superior investment and lifestyle proposition. Because of their massive land requirements, integrated townships will invariably be developed on the outskirts of the city. Developers will obviously seek to juxtapose their township project along one of the key highways or expressways in these locations, as this will draw a lot more end-user and investor interest. However, the very nature of an integrated township is that it provides several key advantages to its residents.
Thanks to the size factor, housing projects in such a township tend to be sufficiently removed from the expressway or highway to ensure freedom from noise and air pollution. At the same time, access roads ensure that one can still reach the highway in a short time. Integrated townships also have their own independent water and power supplies, as well as shopping complexes, hospitals, schools and entertainment facilities. They also have green open spaces, jogging parks and playgrounds. Finally, only well-capitalized and highly reputed developers can venture into township development, and such players will at all times ensure that all the legalities and the overall quality of the project are beyond reproach.
Naturally, the premium attached to properties in an integrated township close to an expressway or highway is higher. However, the additional investment is definitely worth it. Apart from the ease and quality of life, they also enjoy a much higher resale value on the property market.
The author Anil Pharande is Chairman of Pharande Spaces