Photo: Biju Govind
VALUE ADDITION: Most of the resorts in Wayanad have huts attached to them atop a cliff.
A silent real estate boom is being experienced in one of the least expected regions of the State - Wayanad.
This property boom, however, in this picturesque hilly district is of a different kind unlike seen in other parts of Kerala. One of the reasons cited for businesses showing an upward trend is the flourishing tourism sector and hospitality industry whereas in North Kerala, particularly Kozhikode city, it is mainly attributed to the rapid urbanisation, huge NRI remittances and non-availability of space for housing.
Rise in value
"Real estate value has increased in Vythiri and Sulthan Bathery. If the value of land at the Banasurasagar dam site and Karapuzha dam site was Rs.2 lakh an acre earlier, realtors now are quoting prices in the range of Rs.12 lakh to Rs.14 lakh an acre of land," says K. Ravindran, secretary of the Wayanad Tourism Organisation and owner of Pranavam Homestay and Farm House at Pozhuthana.
"The spurt in the tourism sector in the district had an tremendous impact on the real estate industry. Wayanad anywhere is a tourism spot. But lands nearer to dam sites, waterfalls, proximity to forests and historical importance are pricey," says K.G. Rajesh of Aranyakam, near Meppadi. The sudden increase in prices of land started less than a year ago. If the price of a 2.5-acre land was quoted to Rs.8 lakh four months ago it is now sold off for Rs.12 lakh, said Rajesh, who recently purchased land adjoining to his ancestral house at Valathoor, which has been converted into the Aranyakam homestay.
Homestay and resorts have become a big hit with the domestic and international tourists. Most of these have tree houses and independent huts attached to them atop a cliff. A few of the resorts are located inside 100 to 300 acres of plantation with streams and waterfalls. "Facilities offered can be compared with the five-star hotels in the city. These have suites, restaurants, children's park, travel desk and Internet facilities.
Mr. Rajesh says people are not buying land for agricultural purpose ever since the fall in prices of cash crops. But they are buying for cashing in on the growing tourism industry. Interestingly, corporate houses in the hotel industry and multinationals are also eyeing to takeover the developed world-class resorts in plantations and inside jungles. The prices quoted for some of them are in the range from Rs.25 crore to Rs.50 crore, such is the impact of tourism, he says. Victor B. Dey, Director of Tranquil, a Plantation Hideaway, at Kuppamudi Coffee Estate at Kolagappara and president of WTO, says that Wayanad has been put in the global tourism map.
Since trekking is part of the Wayanad tourism, a few places close to the forests are quoted at higher prices. Foreign tourists like wide stretches of wilderness and mysterious mountains. "Land prices have increased at Lakkidi and Vythiri since property developers from Thalassery, Ernakulam and Malappuram districts are willing to pay more than their true value. On the Kalpetta-Mysore National Highway a cent of land fetched Rs.50,000 a few months ago. At present, it is valued more than Rs.1.5 lakh, says Sainul Aveed, based in Kalpetta.