Gurgaon is new South Delhi

Gurgaon, arguably India's most expensive suburb with glitzy high-rises and neon-flashing malls, could be on the road to emerging as the new equivalent to South Delhi locations. A look at the rise in property prices over the past three-four years shows why.

Apartments in Gurgaon/ New Gurgaon, which were priced at Rs 1,825 a sq ft in 2009, now have a price tag of about Rs 4,983 a sq ft, an increase of 173 per cent. In South Peripheral Road, Gurgaon, a high-growth area in the region, apartment prices have risen from Rs 2,550 a sq ft in 2009 to Rs 6,145 a sq ft, a rise of about 141 per cent, according to data provided by PropEquity, a realty research firm.

Let's compare the rise in realty prices in Gurgaon with that in Vasant Vihar, one of the most expensive locations in South Delhi, housing many of the city's rich and famous. In 2009, apartments in Vasant Vihar - not too far from Gurgaon - were priced at Rs 28,000-31,000 a sq ft; now, these cost Rs 35,000-50,000 a sq ft, a rise of only 61 per cent, if one considers the higher end of the price bands, according to data from international consultancy CBRE.

In South Delhi, Golf Links, Jor Bagh, and Sunder Nagar are among the areas that have seen the steepest rise in apartment prices---from Rs 44,000-48,000 in 2009 to Rs 85,000-95,000 last year, an increase of 97.9 per cent, many notches below the escalation in property prices in Gurgaon.

While the price differential between Gurgaon and the most expensive areas in South Delhi is stark (1,446 per cent if one compares Golf Links with South Peripheral Road in Gurgaon), there's little doubt that Gurgaon, the biggest investor-driven real estate market, is fast catching up with the prime locations in the capital. In fact, property prices in the Golf Course Extension in Gurgaon, which is not seeing any new launches, are close to those in some South Delhi localities.

Gurgaon, which started being developed as an industrial and information technology hub about 30 years ago, is now seen as the dream destination for investors looking for extraordinary property returns. (Click for graphs)

Although average property prices in South Delhi are three to six times more than in Gurgaon, depending on the location, the gap is expected to narrow to two to three times in five years, says Sanjay Sharma, managing director, Qubrex, a real estate research and brokerage company.

However, experts throw in a caveat. The gap between prices in Gurgaon and South Delhi would narrow further, provided the infrastructure around the Dwarka Expressway is developed soon, says Sharma. The Dwarka Expressway, where a series of housing projects have been launched in recent months, looks promising and is expected to come up fast. However, it has been marred by litigation, delaying the progress of nearby areas.

Shweta Jain, executive director, Cushman & Wakefield, says despite the fact that the gap between property prices in South Delhi and Gurgaon has narrowed, it remains significant. She adds that on an average, the gap would remain at the same level. Only locations such as East of Kailash, Lajpat Nagar and Kailash Colony, where prices stand at Rs 22,000 a sq ft, can be compared to some areas in Gurgaon such as Golf Course Extension, she says.

"Private developers in Gurgaon are giving competition, in terms of prices, to some locations in South Delhi because of lack of infrastructure in the capital. And with Gurgaon becoming a commercial hub, people are compromising on address and preferring better facilities and amenities over a South Delhi address," she adds.

Experts also agree that Gurgaon prices are not comparable to that of South Delhi because there have been neither new launches nor many high rise apartments in the latter.

However a lot of real estaste analysis company feels Gurgaon is a better version of South Delhi. The comfort level of living is much higher in Gurgaon, which has better infrastructure than in South Delhi. Plus, there are added amenities such as clubs, swimming pools, and security -- all in a gated community, which makes the price comparison impossible, says Singh.

With hardly any space left in the metros for real estate development, increasing project launches on the periphery are bound to stretch the boundaries of big cities even more. That, along with enablers such as infrastructure, could change the complexion of the property market like never before, to the advantage of the likes of Gurgaon.