NRIs keep Kerala property market afloat amid COVID-19

Inquiries for properties in Kerala from NRIs, remain high while conversions have also taken place in the past three months. The most popular destinations include Kochi, Trivandrum, Kottayam and Thiruvalla

While the Coronavirus pandemic has severely affected economies around the world, property sales have witnessed a comeback over the last three months, as compared to the first quarter. While the unsettled feeling is still rampant, owing to job cuts and salary losses, some economic green shoots are visible. In states like Kerala, for example, the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted many to choose upgraded lifestyles and think about long-term settlement plans.


NRIs and the Kerala property market in 2020

Close to 2.5 lakh NRIs (non-resident Indians) came back to Kerala, after the Coronavirus outbreak. While some lost their jobs, some took a temporary break, forced by the pandemic. Around 10% of the state’s population works in the Gulf countries. In 2019, remittances crossed Rs 1 trillion. For Kerala, remittances and NRIs are important, because in many cases, not just the families but the property market is also buoyant due to this money.

However, amid the Coronavirus, many NRIs are coming back home and investing in Kerala, mostly in Kochi or Trivandrum. Harikrishnan Pillai, a local broker, says, “There were a lot of reasons – some had already been planning an investment and they expedited their decision following the Coronavirus, while others chose to upgrade their residences. For most people, the purpose was end-use.”

See also: Impact of Coronavirus on real estate

Pillai points out that in Kerala, 48 lakh people are above 60 years of age, while another 15% of the population is above 80 years old and this number is constantly on the rise. “Life expectancy is higher in Kerala, because of better healthcare but while people are ageing and aware of their health needs, many depend on home nurses while their own children are away. Therefore, bigger homes were always the trend. New buyers are also looking for properties priced above Rs 75 lakhs and up to Rs 2 crores,” Pillai explains. More than half of the property purchases this year have been made by the non-resident Keralites (NRKs), he says.

See also: How NRIs can use power of attorney for real estate transactions


Demand for homes from non-Keralites

While the NRKs have expressed interest in ready-to-move-in properties, even non-Malayalis, such as those who have been working in the state for long, have also invested or shown interest. Sathy Das, an agent active in Kochi, says that there are business families and those in the administrative services, who have spent long periods of time in the state and are familiar with the language, food and people.

“Many have ageing parents with them and they may decide to settle down here, to escape the chill winters of north India. Even on the pollution index, Kerala is much better for the retirement community,” says Das. For many like Das, Kochi is an ideal place for ‘outsiders’. For NRKs, villas and independent homes closer to their native place in Thiruvalla and Kottayam are viable choices. Now, with the upcoming airport in Sabarimala, which will be the fifth international airport in the state, many NRIs are eyeing parts of Pathanamthitta.

See also: Upcoming airports in India that will impact real estate

NRIs keep Kerala property market afloat amid COVID-19



Property prices in Kerala in 2020

Most Malayalees lean towards independent homes and villas. It is the NRK or the younger population employed in the cities or those with frequent work or travel commitments that inquire about apartments for sale. Property prices in Kerala are not too unaffordable but an 8% stamp duty and 2% cost incurred on registration charges, adds to the burden.


Property prices in Kochi, Kerala in 2020

LocalityAverage value (in Rs per sq ft)

Check out properties for sale in Kochi



What is the average per sqf t value in Nedumbassery?

Property prices in Nedumbassery are around Rs 4,000 per sq ft.

Which are some of the best localities in Kottayam, Kerala?

Popular localities for investment in Kottayam include Kanjikuzhy, Kalathipady, Kumaranalloor and Nagapadam.

Which are the affordable localities in Thrissur?

Kuttoor, Nedupuzha and Amalanagar are some of the affordable locations with property prices in the range of Rs 3,000 to Rs 3,300 per sq ft.


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