Ulwe, a village of dusty, uneven streets on the outskirts of Mumbai, lacks basic amenities like water supply and electricity, but a two-bedroom, 1000 sq ft house costs about 5 million rupees, beyond the reach of many middle-class Indians.
According to prospective buyers, many developers will demand up to 30 percent of that price in cash, a small slice of the ubiquitous, unaccounted "black money" that costs India's straitened exchequer billions of dollars in lost taxable income.
Legislation that would bring more transparency to the industry will be considered during the winter session of India's parliament, which started on Thursday, November 22.
However, investors, tax officials and bankers who spoke were sceptical the law would stamp out illegal practices they say are closely entwined with politics.
"Four out of 10 developers were ready to do it in full white and six were asking for a black component," said 35-year-old Umesh Kolhapure, who was looking for a three-bedroom house around Ulwe, near the proposed site of a new international airport serving the country's financial capital.
Image: A woman carrying a child walks ahead of her husband on a railway track in front of residential buildings under construction on the outskirts of Kolkata April 26, 2012.
Text: Aditi Shah and Swati Pandey, Reuters
AFP, Reuters and Associated Press