Mini property boom in Nepal

Nepal may not be the obvious next property hotspot but the mountainous country between India and China is experiencing a mini real estate boom as wealthy Nepalese real estate investors seek a safe have for their money, it is claimed.

Government figures show the number of new apartments built in Kathmandu rose more than three-fold last year to 3,385 from 1,088 in 2007, as high land prices and poorly enforced planning laws made building upwards more attractive.

According to the Nepal Land and Housing Association, land prices have risen by 300% since 2003. There has also been an increase in the number of estate agents in the capital city, Katmandu.

Among those who are rushing to become involved in the booming property business is former Miss Nepal Malvika Subba who also had a successful career in television before opting for the less glamorous job of selling housing.

She is now head of sales and marketing at property developer Shangri-La Housing which builds luxury apartment, a new concept in the landlocked country.

Although unrest may put off foreign investors it is having the opposite effect in Katmandu as those living in unstable areas move to the capital and buy property as well as wealthy investors who want to put their money in bricks and mortar.

'People see property as a good investment. Many people tell us that it is not safe outside the capital and they want to put their money in a safe place,' explained Subba.

'When I was offered a job marketing real estate, I said yes straight away, because it looked interesting and I could see that business was booming,' she added.

Land has become a valuable commodity, mainly due to the decade long civil war between the Maoists and the army as people flocked to the relative safety of the capital.

The influx pushed up land values in the city, explained Chiranjibi Subedi, a planning official in Kathmandu.

'The number of proposals for new high-rise buildings and apartment complexes just keeps on growing,' he added.

There are currently more than 250 high-rise blocks being built in the capital, according to the planning ministry. But a spokesman also pointed out that many apartments in Kathmandu are empty as owners cannot find tenants.