Almost 12 million homes are vacant across India while the country faces an acute housing shortage. While urbanisation, increased life expectancy and changing living patterns have all contributed to the current housing shortage of 20 million homes, the millions of homes built with nobody living in them must also shoulder some of the responsibility. Housing supply is being increased in India, but it is simply not accessible for the majority of Indians. The issue of affordability must take precedence if the country is to achieve “housing for all” by 2022.
Until now, the housing market in India has typically catered to the needs of a wealthy elite looking for investment opportunities, rather than ordinary families looking for a place to call home. Indeed, for the wealthy few with cash to spare, purchasing real estate represents a sound investment that promises spectacular returns. Real estate developers have been happy to oblige, building new apartments which typically cost over Rs 2 crore within the city centre locations. With many new homes bought by investors who have no intention of living in them, the housing crisis has been left to worsen.
The speculative nature of the real estate market has now reached breaking point, however, with disastrous consequences for those of middle and low incomes. The average house in Mumbai city centre now costs Rs 1.5 Crore, while the average salary is Rs. 50,000 a month. Even discounting necessary spending on food, travel and clothes, it would take your average Mumbai resident twenty years to buy a home.