Tag Archives: Brotin Banerjee

Growth slow but steady revival of Mumbai realty in 2016

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Brotin Banerjee, MD & CEO at Tata Housing, India real estate news, Indian realty news, Property new, Home, Policy Advocacy, Activism, Mall, Retail, Office space, SEZ, IT/ITeS, Residential, Commercial, Hospitality, Project, Location, Regulation, FDI, Taxation, Investment, Banking, Property Management, Ravi Sinha, Track2Media, Track2RealtyBrotin Banerjee, MD & CEO of Tata Housing believes more optimistic environment for homebuyers is likely in Mumbai. According to him, there is inherent demand for housing in city and the market is also getting realistic. In an exclusive interview with Ravi Sinha he accepts that the growth may be slow but the mid segment and affordable housing in the fast developing locations will be the major demand drivers.    

RS: Do you think Mumbai real estate has become more realistic for homebuyers due to slow down? 

BB: Pricing of housing will continue to increase over a long period of time because there is an inherent scarcity of housing in the city coupled with high demand. The challenge over the longer term will continue to be creation of capacity. In spite of slow absorption rates in the market, new project launches across segments coupled with innovative marketing initiatives has helped spur demand in Mumbai.

This, along with focused efforts by both, the government and developers alike, for steady growth is likely to create a more optimistic environment for end users in Mumbai, especially first-time buyers. The proposed decongestion will also aid in better rearrangement helping Mumbaikars to meet their housing needs.

RS: How would you define affordability in context to Mumbai housing market?

BB: With rapid urbanization and rising incomes, Mumbai has witnessed a thrust in the demand for middle income housing over the last few years. While affordability is categorized by income groups and ticket prices, livability in terms of amenities, comfort and functionality is also a crucial parameter while defining affordability in the Mumbai housing market.

I believe that suburban Mumbai like Thane, Kalyan, etc. and its regions supported by rapidly developing civil and social infrastructure will emerge as the new hubs for affordable housing.

RS: To what extent less launches and focus on inventory sale has brought fence-sitting buyers into the market?

BB: With the Indian economy getting back on track, real estate sector is expected to stabilize in the next two to three quarters. We would anticipate this sector to grow, albeit at a slightly lower pace, as the demand for housing still appears to exceed supply, and the weakening rupee makes India an attractive real estate investment destination for non-resident Indians.

Today, the emerging affluent classes are aware of the different cultures and lifestyles being adopted abroad and are ready to spend on homes that reflect their lifestyle and status.

RS: When do you see the revival of city real estate market?

BB: The real estate market is headed for a steady revival in 2016. Stability in property prices across major locations including Mumbai, along with reduced interest rates has led to an increase in consumer confidence and I strongly believe markets will only improve henceforth. 

RS: Historically Mumbai property market has been known to recover ahead of other cities. Do you see this trend to continue? 

BB: The city of Mumbai is growing at an exponential pace due to the constant influx of working population. Currently, major developing suburbs in Mumbai are witnessing projects that not only fit the budget of end consumers but are well connect in terms of both social and physical infrastructure. These locations basically offer better infrastructure, good connectivity, and accessibility to healthcare facilities, educational institutes and entertainment facilities which makes these locations apt for residential housing.

As these locations are developing at a rapid pace owning to which there is a possibility of higher return on investment. Simply put, the outskirt you choose to invest today is likely to become a prime location within a few years. In addition to this, the price range of properties in the outskirts of Mumbai would be lesser as compared to the main city and the consumer also gets ample green spaces. 

RS: Which are the pockets of growth for Mumbai in the year 2016?

BB: Thane has emerged as an attractive location for residential purchase/investment owing to rapid infrastructural and residential development on par with global standards. The region shows potential for tremendous growth, with several projects in the pipeline like the metro, monorail project and underpass that connects Thane to Borivali. Thane enjoys a central location along good railway connectivity and is steadily moving towards a self-sufficiency model which makes it a place of choice for all buyer segments. Moreover, the region offers quality housing options across the spectrum for an increasing urban population.

Similarly, Kalyan-Dombivli’s has recently witnessed growth, primarily due to increasing connectivity to Mumbai and also the growing demand for affordable housing in Mumbai. A proposal for extending the Navi Mumbai metro rail to Kalyan too has fueled growth for housing in Kalyan-Dombivli. The improving road connectivity and upcoming infrastructure in and around Kalyan, is making the region a preferred location for people looking at affordable housing options. As the region grows and commercial activity increases owing to the nearby Badlapur industrial region, property prices are sure to appreciate. 

RS: Do you expect Mumbai real estate to attract more investment this year? 

BB: Mumbai has seen immense growth in the real estate segment in the past few decades. However, in recent years the island city is witnessing land crunch, which has caused the city to grow far into the mainland in the north and east.

Besides inward migration there is a refurbishment of old housing and infrastructure which is resulting in huge demand for residential properties, which has given birth to areas like Thane, Kalyan-Dombivali belt making them the new real estate destinations of the city.  Additionally, with rapid urbanization, a large section of population being in the working age group, high savings rate and increasing purchasing power at the hands of the consumer, this segment is bound to get a major fillip and see strong growth in the coming years.

With improving connectivity, expanding cities and rising property prices, more and more homebuyers are looking at places close to metro cities, but Mumbai will always remain to be the most favorable real estate destinations. In fact, the outskirts of the city are the best locales with abundance of open and green spaces. The area boasts of good connectivity and transportation facilities as well as amenities like malls, schools, hospitals, and residential houses.

RS: How do you see the future of Mumbai once the other Smart Cities surface and economic activity shifting to many of these places?  

BB: Mumbai is the largest metropolis as well as the financial hub of the country. Currently, the city has reached its expansion limit and hence, it is important that new areas are developed that can act as satellite to the financial hub. The upcoming Smart Cities will help take off the load from Mumbai bringing in better infrastructure and facilities. However, Mumbai is expected to continue to rule as the major financial hub.

Corporate governance to turn Indian realty attractive for investors

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By: Brotin Banerjee, MD & CEO, Tata Housing

Brotin Banerjee, MD & CEO at Tata Housing, India real estate news, Indian realty news, Property new, Home, Policy Advocacy, Activism, Mall, Retail, Office space, SEZ, IT/ITeS, Residential, Commercial, Hospitality, Project, Location, Regulation, FDI, Taxation, Investment, Banking, Property Management, Ravi Sinha, Track2Media, Track2RealtyFrom being the governance wild child to maturing into a market influencer, India’s real-estate sector has transformed in the past decade, with a paradigm shift from family owned businesses to corporates along with a few companies listing on stock exchanges. The change began with the government opening doors to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in 2005 and then welcoming the next wave of stability as corporate houses brought image restoration for the sector. Led by corporate entities, realty companies soon adopted corporate governance wherein transparency began to trickle down into the system as a norm slowly.

An expansion fury gripped the sector during 2005-07 and the market peaked with a staggering growth in demand, substantial development and increased foreign investments. But the highs of 2005-2007 were soon challenged by the global meltdown in 2008 as FDIs flows began to shrink. By mid-2008, the fervour in the sector was replaced by cautious evaluation of business models and plans. The key agenda of entities in the sector was to renew focus on affordable housing and spring back in action. By 2010, the real-estate industry – Indian and global entered into stage of a rehabilitated optimism, mitigating the adversities that the recession had generated.

But after surviving a journey of boom to bust, the optimism of 2010 was short-lived with things gradually moving towards uncertainty yet again in 2013. In the period of 2000-2013, USD 22.43 billion flew in the form of FDI in realty, comprising 11 per cent of the total FDI flow in the country. But 2013 saw a significant fall in the value of the currency, increased inflation, political uncertainty with impeding elections and a highly volatile stock market. Hence, the sector is currently at an inflection point in the cycle.

Not surprisingly, there has been a strong focus from the government to recognise some of the omnipresent challenges that have been plaguing the real estate sector. While there is no doubt that the sector holds huge potential to attract FDI in its various segments – including townships, housing, built-up infrastructure – it is now being addressed, more than ever, that progress is impossible without joint efforts from the industry and the government, alike.

While on one hand, the industry needs to bring increased transparency, clear land titles, improve delivery and project execution; on the other hand the government must provide fiscal incentives to developers to build environment friendly buildings, low cost and affordable housing for the masses, review existing FDI guidelines for investment and increase the flow of foreign capital into the sector. The sector’s rallying cry hence has been for the adoption of the globally successful model of Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITS). The investment mechanism is also being contemplated by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

Building a single company or group that owns and manages real estate properties on behalf of investors, much like shareholding in a company – REITs, essentially, can sculpt a significant step for encouraging foreign investments and meeting growing demands for additional funds and bring in the required transparency in the system. Nonetheless, in the short run, the main concern for the roll out of REITs in India is clarity on its tax efficiency.

Hence, the industry is increasingly appealing for a ‘pass through’ status through a change in the Income Tax Act, and one-time waiver of stamp duty and property tax. It is only through such initiatives that REITs can be a more investor-friendly vehicle.

Converging corporate governance with growth

For a sector that is the second largest employment generator, growing at a rate of about 20 per cent per annum and stimulating demands in over 250 ancillary industries –cement, steel, paint, brick, building materials, consumer durables; Indian real-estate has huge potential demand in almost every segment including commercial, residential, retail, industrial and hospitality, etc. Being at the forefront of the government’s agenda the sector is expected to grow to approximately USD 140 billion in FY17. Within real estate, the housing sector alone contributes around 5 per cent of India’s GDP currently and in the next three to five years it is likely to increase to 6 per cent.

With its potential to propel economic growth, in 2013 the real-estate sector saw the government addressing afflicting issues and leading a beginning of change. From introduction of The Right to Fair Compensation, Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, regulating industry and taking care of customer interests with the Real Estate Regulation and Development Bill, 2013, re-considering liberalisation of FDI (a decade later of its first introduction) to introduction of real estate investment trusts (REITs); policy revisions on across all aspects of the real estate business are now on the governments radar.

While the implementation of these policies is questionable, the momentum for change for the real-estate sector is encouraging.

Enforcing investment structures

In the period from April 2011 to July 2013 the sector attracted FDI of approximately Rs 1,00,000 crore, making it one of the important sources of funding. However, the volume of FDI into the sector has been on a decline owing to multiple reasons, one of them being unattractive policy which is over a decade old. Hence, experimenting with advanced funding options such as REITs and provide industry players with a globally competitive edge is rightfully the next step.

The draft SEBI (Real Estate Investment Trusts) Regulations, 2013 although well thought out, seems to lack commercially viability. The obvious and much-discussed road blocks are taxation, foreign investments and stamping of agreements relating to transfer of property to the REITs. To make the REITs regulations workable there is a need to provide an exit avenue and liquidity. Further, the definition of ‘real estate’ or ‘property’ should be broadened to include all commercial and residential property and completed infrastructure assets such as roads and highways that have a regular income flow.

On the residential real estate segment, against the backdrop of a rising economy and concurrent income growth it is time to review policies and highlight the gaps, such as repealing the century-old Rent Control Act, proving muscles to the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, Service Tax abatement on construction activity and a consolidated FDI policy.

In Conclusion

As the property markets in the West are emerging fresh out of crisis, emerging markets, such as India, are likely to lose some of their attractiveness. Unless, India rises to corporate governance of a new high, it will no more be that attractive for the investors. Governance of the next level is needed to provide legs to the industry to fight challenges and demonstrate utmost commitment in implementing appropriate and timely policy measures, creating an investor-friendly environment to couple with India’s lucrative market of a burgeoning middle class segment and a growing millennial customer base.

Tata Value Homes expands its presence in North India with New Haven at Bahadurgarh

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Tata New Heaven Bahadurgarh, Tata Housing, Brotin Banerjee, India real estate news, Indian realty news, India property market, Bahadurgarh property, Track2Media Research, Track2RealtyTata Value Homes Limited, a 100% subsidiary of Tata Housing Development Company Limited, announced its entry into Delhi NCR’s Affordable Housing market with the launch of ‘New Haven’ in Bahadurgarh.

‘New Haven’ is aimed at the homebuyers’ full spectrum of lifestyle needs at an affordable cost. The spacious complex in Bahadurgarh will offer state of the art 2 BHK -3 BHK residences ranging from 1296 sqft to 1917 sqft starting at a price of Rs. 49.14 lacs.

Located just 4.5 kms from the under construction  metro stations, namely City Centre & Bus Stand ,  ‘New Haven’ – Bahadurgarh is spread across 21.7 acres and will enable homebuyers to experience quality life spaces at an affordable price. The project boasts of 70% open spaces and has facilities like; a tennis court, basketball court, cricket crease, children play areas, a Peacock Park, saffron field, lotus pond and a 750 m jogging circuit.

The project is also equipped with a grand club house of over 20,000 sq ft which will boast of a fully equipped gymnasium, swimming pool with a separate kid’s pool, an indoor badminton court, games room & a meditation room.

Speaking on this occasion, Brotin Banerjee, MD & CEO, Tata Housing Development Company said, “Launch of ‘New Haven’ – Bahadurgarh is in line with -our expansion plans for our affordable housing brand, “New Haven” across the country. With this launch we are confident of providing a comfortable lifestyle to our consumers with enough room for everyone to live and grow with modern amenities. 

He further added, “Situated in close proximity to both Gurgaon and New Delhi, Bahadurgarh has the potential of being the hub for the value and affordable housing segment in the NCR area. Its proximity to prime residential areas like Pitampura, Rohini, Janak Puri, Punjabi Bagh, Dwarka will ensure the project becomes a new land mark and establish Bahadurgarh as a major residential location in NCR.”

This project will comprise of towers of 14 storeys each spaciously spread and placed across the landscape. This will enable the residents to enjoy the beautiful open & green views. 

‘New Haven’ is conceptualized with a vision to create a new lifestyle and an all new meaning to life at an affordable price.  The word ‘Haven’ itself means ‘refuge, shelter, sanctuary’  for those who are actively looking for a better lifestyle, ‘Haven’ along with ‘New’ holds out a promise for transition to a new place, a new world where one can realize dreams. New Haven is a promise of a better place. A hope for those who seek to break free from what they believe is a confined existence – An answer for people looking for a better and a more complete lifestyle, for themselves and for their family.

New Haven is a cost efficient, quality product developed post in-depth research and understanding of the homebuyers stated and unstated needs and preferences.

Source: Track2Realty

Challenges of corporate governance in Indian realty-II

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By: Brotin Banerjee, MD & CEO, Tata Housing

Brotin Banerjee, MD & CEO at Tata Housing, India real estate news, Indian realty news, Property new, Home, Policy Advocacy, Activism, Mall, Retail, Office space, SEZ, IT/ITeS, Residential, Commercial, Hospitality, Project, Location, Regulation, FDI, Taxation, Investment, Banking, Property Management, Ravi Sinha, Track2Media, Track2RealtyTrack2Realty Exclusive: The Real Estate Regulation Bill will define and clarify various concepts in the sector; this will bring in transparency and curb unfair practices.  Following the trend seen in other sectors like telecom, banking, insurance etc, the Bill provides for creation of a separate Regulator and Appellate Authority. While it is expected to provide specialized regulation and enforcement, this should not become another regulatory in the ‘approval’ matrix.

The regulator should work more as a facilitator for the growth of the Sector. The Bill proposes to bring in mandatory registration of estate agents, a long due step, and this will help curbing money laundering. The provision of registration of all projects after getting approvals from development/municipal authorities but prior to sale may become another hurdle for the developers in the long term.

By mandating a public disclosure of all project details the bill aims to infuse transparency in the sector and increase consumer awareness. The Bill provides for a speedy and specialized adjudication mechanism to settle disputes between the promoter, buyer and real estate agents, thereby de-clogging the civil courts and consumer forums, from disputes in the real estate sector.

It aims to ensure consumer protection, timely completion of projects and prevent fund diversion. The Bill should have more provisions for promoting affordable housing projects in Tier II cities. Further, it should have pushed for including the housing sector in the infrastructure category. The Bill should acknowledge the importance of affordable housing needs for the rapidly urbanizing demographics in the country.

Another important bill is The Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act that will come into force from 1st January 2014. It has been passed a rightful entitlement. By making it an obligation for the government to make provisions for rehabilitation and resettlement it may become a major hindrance for builders to acquire and develop land. The provisions of undertaking a Social Impact Assessment for every acquisition will definitely slowdown the process of development in the long term. The impact of mandatory Environmental Impact Assessment has been a testimony to this fact in the last five years.

The provision of obtaining consent of 80 per cent of displaced people for private companies and PPP projects will dampen the prospects of investments; instead the Act should center on the concept of Joint Development where the developer forms a partnership with the land owner instead of buying land. This model has the ability to convert the land owners into stakeholders instead of a displaced population. Such a model is presently been followed by the Tata Housing. It has resulted in reduced conflicts and smoother transition through the process of land development.

With the rising number of PPP projects for development of physical infrastructure, the Act should not make discrimination between land acquired by the government and that done by the private sector. Streamlining the procedures for acquisition across sectors will enable all stakeholders a level playing field.

If the provisions of the bills discussed above are implemented in letter and spirit then the realty sector will see an image makeover. The governance of the sector can only be regulated by legislations but its public perception will improve only with more transparency and a focused ethical approach towards all deals and transactions.

Additionally, with real estate developers offering affordable and low-cost home, the demographic story of India points towards the middle class becoming a stakeholder in the realty sector very soon. The introduction of legislations stated above is expected to increase transparency and boost investor confidence in the Indian market. 

Challenges of corporate governance in Indian realty-I

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By: Brotin Banerjee, MD & CEO, Tata Housing

Brotin Banerjee, MD & CEO at Tata Housing, India real estate news, Indian realty news, Property new, Home, Policy Advocacy, Activism, Mall, Retail, Office space, SEZ, IT/ITeS, Residential, Commercial, Hospitality, Project, Location, Regulation, FDI, Taxation, Investment, Banking, Property Management, Ravi Sinha, Track2Media, Track2RealtyTrack2Realty Exclusive: A report released by BNP Paribas earlier this year on realty firms found that each of them performed poorly on one or more of the parameters. Some of the assessment parameters include compensation structure, ability to retain key personnel, financial stability, pending litigation and trading in own stock.

India’s real estate sector has often faced criticism for poor corporate governance standards and lack of transparency. Regulators, analysts, investors and even employees now want to understand more about how the company oversees and entrenches sound corporate governance concept across its subsidiaries. Corporate Governance once focused mainly on the caring and feeding of the main board and corporate record keeping. Today, the world of the Corporate Secretary is evolving into a key strategic player in corporate decisions and matters of governance.

There is not a great deal of space between a company’s culture and its governance systems. Both imply a combination of rules and procedures that drive behavior. There really should be a close resemblance between the Code of Ethics of a company and the principles that guide its corporate governance. In some cases they may be one and the same.

From a sector steeped in murky deals to the one led by corporate entities, the Indian realty industry has undergone a tremendous change in the past few years. The transformation started since 2005, when government allowed FDI in real estate, which saw lot of interests from corporate and MNCs in the realty space.

The real estate industry has undergone drastic changes in the last decade or so, with the arrival of large, respected and responsible corporates. There have also been radical changes in the dealings of the sector, which previously lacked ethics, but is now investor-friendly with the onset of corporate governance, transparency and an increased sense of accountability.

A major reason is also the entry of Private Equity and Venture Capital, which ease access to funding, but insist on absolutely clean balance sheets. As more and more developers realize the importance of PEs and VCs, corporate governance will become a way of life for the sector.

On the residential real estate sphere, the supply of homes is expected as aggressive as it has been in the past. The policy discourse that will materialize due to the implementation of two crucial bills, Real Estate Regulation Bill and Land Acquisition Bill (which recently became an Act) will boost the sentiment of all stakeholders.

…to be continued

Upward movement expected in 2014

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By: Brotin Banerjee, MD & CEO, Tata Housing

Brotin Banerjee, MD & CEO at Tata Housing, India real estate news, Indian realty news, Property new, Home, Policy Advocacy, Activism, Mall, Retail, Office space, SEZ, IT/ITeS, Residential, Commercial, Hospitality, Project, Location, Regulation, FDI, Taxation, Investment, Banking, Property Management, Ravi Sinha, Track2Media, Track2RealtyTrack2Realty: With economy witnessing a downturn, interest rates and inflation reaching all-time highs, 2013 has been one of the most eventful years for Real Estate in India. While introduction of Real Estate Regulatory Bill and Land Acquisitions Bills in the Parliament was positive for the real estate industry, end users sitting on the fence expecting a fall in prices lead to a contraction of demand in the past few quarters.

This year Mumbai, Kolkata and other key markets saw less activation from real estate players as delay in approval process impacted project launches. The market has turned from sellers to buyers in 2013 with attractive offers from various developers across the range of projects.

The Indian economy is recovering and real estate sector is expected to stabilize in the next two to three quarters. We would anticipate this sector to grow, albeit at a slightly lower pace, as the demand for housing still appears to exceed supply, and the weakening rupee makes India an attractive real estate investment destination for non-resident Indians.

We expect the market to start an upward momentum by end of 2014 and suggest end users and investors to utilize this opportunity to book their dream homes as these offers would vanish once the economy starts showing signs of recovery.

Stability in property prices during 2014 will give the required confidence to consumers who have been delaying their decision to book their dream homes in 2013.  We believe that affordable and low-housing segment is likely to see the highest growth but other segments will also grow as people aspire for better homes, better quality of life and hence invest more in buying their own homes.

On the other hand, the demand for luxury housing in India will continue to growing due to influx of global lifestyle trends along with changing lifestyle and aspirations seen amongst young India. The demand for luxury homes has been increasing from cities such as Bangalore, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai and others.

The key reasons responsible for the growth seen in the real estate industry in India include liberalization of Government policies. Furthermore, FDI in multi brand retail will also give a push to the growth in the real estate sector. It will trigger the opportunities for retailers thus leading to an increase in demand for real estate. Ancillary and service industries such as IT/ITes, manufacturing industries which are being set up in tier II and tier III cities also play an important role for rise in property demand.

As the recession market, we need to concentrate on execution as that would help in building the credibility and that’s the opportunity the branded players can build up. Going forward the key to real estate growth would be to get infrastructure status with relevant subsidy for affordable housing, subsidy on technology enhancement so that less dependent on manual labour, curb on raw material cost as that will impact the quality and timeline. Finally, the interest rate should be reduced so as to make it attractive enough for buyers.

Directly engaging with customers is more important than sales lead: Brotin Banerjee, MD & CEO, Tata Housing

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Brotin Banerjee, MD & CEO at Tata Housing, India real estate news, Indian realty news, Property new, Home, Policy Advocacy, Activism, Mall, Retail, Office space, SEZ, IT/ITeS, Residential, Commercial, Hospitality, Project, Location, Regulation, FDI, Taxation, Investment, Banking, Property Management, Ravi Sinha, Track2Media, Track2RealtyTrack2Realty Exclusive: Some of the companies are using online media for generating sales lead; while others are focused on customer relations. With the medium new and realty more or less reluctant in the initial stages, there are very few who are actually understanding the medium and adapting themselves to what others think as a necessary evil. Tata Housing believes in using the medium for engaging with the customers more than just generating sales leads. Brotin Banerjee, MD & CEO of Tata Housing shares with Track2Realty how they strategise their social media usage. Excerpts of the interview:

Track2Realty: What is your online media quotient?

Brotin Banerjee: With 100 million internet users in India, using social media at least once a month, the use of online medium to reach out to our target audience is being increasingly becoming important. Marketing is much flatter now; word-of-mouth is now what makes products click. Online media presents personalized customer service and thus are the quickest way to communicate with our consumers.

Social media, with its capabilities of creating engagement, conversations and activation, allows us a perfect opportunity to connect with our customers. Keeping this in mind, our online media strategy creates a unique brand experience, while converging the brand’s online and offline efforts.

We have embraced all forms of leading social networks to be closer to the customer in order to listen and understand their requirements.

To begin with all our properties have dedicated micro sites linked back to the mother corporate site. Moreover we have our presence across all social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, SlideShare, LinkedIn etc. We have individual Facebook pages for Tata Housing as well all our projects.

We have also have our blog that is a blog aimed at updating consumers on everything related to homes – industry news, design, interior, landscaping, architecture, finance etc.

Track2Realty: A lot of realtors are focused on merely generating sales lead on digital media. Have you leveraged the media beyond that?

Brotin Banerjee: We at Tata Housing utilize social media in order to directly engage with our customers, rather than merely driving sales leads. We use social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube etc. for informing consumers about the industry news, design, interior, landscaping, architecture, finance and much more. Our blog provides us a forum by which we can offer ideas and provide a point of view on a variety of home/housing related topics. In addition, utilizing Facebook and Twitter forums enables Tata Housing to engage in conversations with our customers and respond to their feedback, virtually in real time.

Efficient use of digital platforms also works wonders in brand and project promotion. For Example, the first phase of one of our project – Inora Park was totally sold using the digital medium. Also digital medium contributes to over 25% of leads being generated in our complete marketing mix.

Track2Realty: Realtors feel Facebook and other social media presence is meant to hook buyers, what is your take on online reputation management as a matter of corporate philosophy?

Brotin Banerjee: Our customers are changing the ways in which they search for information on real estate. Tata Housing recognizes these changes, and we are moving rapidly in the digital age and adapting to these changes. Though most companies have Facebook buttons featured on their home pages and Twitter updates streaming down the side, there is still so much more that can be done to engage customers and take advantage of the full power of social media.

Track2Realty: You mean virtual interactions taking over personal space?

Brotin Banerjee: Digital media will never replace face-to-face interactions, but Tata Housing is known as an innovator and a customer service leader in the real estate space in India. We are the first one to invest significantly in the development of mobile sites and apps, and we will strive to be a leader in social media and thereby make it easier for our customers to communicate with us.

One of Tata Housing’s goals is to maximize the marketing potential of social media in a way that meets the needs of our customers. For us engaging with the customers comes first and later selling, if you visit our Facebook page, which currently has over 36000 fans, you will find that lot of engagement activities being promoted and not hard core selling done over the page. Selling will happens when customers trust you and engages with you, shares their concerns with you and offer feedback.

Track2Realty: To what extent the digital format, with its scope of free criticism against the company deters you?

Brotin Banerjee: Social media has changed the rules when it comes to customer service. While the rules of customer service and complaint management are changing, customer service itself is very much the same. Social media simply provides increased communication channels. At the end of the day, our job is still to put quality and service first, pay attention to what customers are saying, and be open to all forms of customer engagement.

If anything is changing, it is the need for us to have an organized system in place to manage and respond the ever-increasing feedback coming from customers. Tata Housing has invested its time and efforts in opening up these channels of direct communications with customers not only to increase the likes, but listen to the customers more efficiently.

Track2Realty: Consumer connect, Users feedback, Sales preference, or sheer Brand Competitiveness among peer groups, rate your order of preference?

Brotin Banerjee: Our social media strategy primarily focuses on Consumer Connect, Feedback, Consumer research to identify their needs and requirements and Information are some of the order of engagement we drive using social media.

Key challenges to move towards smart cities in India-IV

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By: Brotin Banerjee, MD & CEO, Tata Housing

Brotin Banerjee, MD & CEO at Tata Housing, India real estate news, Indian realty news, Property new, Home, Policy Advocacy, Activism, Mall, Retail, Office space, SEZ, IT/ITeS, Residential, Commercial, Hospitality, Project, Location, Regulation, FDI, Taxation, Investment, Banking, Property Management, Ravi Sinha, Track2Media, Track2RealtyTrack2Realty Exclusive: Cities of Ahmedabad and the twin-city of Pimpri-Chinchwad are excellent examples of Smart Cities or city-states and a great deal can be learnt from their planners.

Ahmedabad’s resurrection came about after the earthquake of 2001. Town planners went about doing things the right way. Take property tax collection – by revamping its core team and by introducing greater transparency, Ahmedabad’s property tax collections reportedly ballooned from about 40% to roughly 90%. It also happens to be one of the few credit-worthy cities in India.

Pimpri-Chinchwad has online services right from birth registration to property tax payment, death certificate. The Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation has a four-phase agenda, spread over as many years to host all services electronically. In fact, the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation is said to have generated a large part of its budget through collections from octroi.

From the citizens’ perspective, the UIDAI is a great place to begin with. Once properly implemented, each and every citizen of the country will have all his personal and financial credentials mapped to a unique number. Although, the social service number in the western world is a far greater example, it will take some time for the UIDAI to reach that stage.

Recently, the Bombay Electric Supply Transport (BEST) initiated a service of sending out SMS alerts to travellers on expected time of arrival of its buses. Some LPG service providers too have made the move to online bookings. Payments of utility bills need not require hours, waiting under the sun and requesting a cheque book is done at the click of a button.

If all local bodies, state governments, service providers like banks, blood banks, hospitals take the initiative to switch to electronic modes of operation, it will result in the exchequer saving a lot of the public money and also result in better results.

Some cities are proving that technology can be leveraged to compliment and not supplement. Surat, for example, has an on-line water quality monitoring system; Greater Hyderabad uses GPRS to track solid waste management. In fact, maintenance of parks and street lights is done with the help of citizens, who send pictures via their mobiles. These cities are just a few examples of how e-governance can bring about a change.

The utopian Smart City will have excellent road and rail network, clean water supply, hygienic sewage and waste management systems, equal distribution of power/energy, transportation that is smart and fuel-efficient, pollution levels that are under control, local bodies and government that is operational on all levels and transparent. All this should be at the click of a button and no conditions should apply.

Key challenges to move towards smart cities in India-III

Posted on by Track2Realty

By: Brotin Banerjee, MD & CEO, Tata Housing

Brotin Banerjee, MD & CEO at Tata Housing, India real estate news, Indian realty news, Property new, Home, Policy Advocacy, Activism, Mall, Retail, Office space, SEZ, IT/ITeS, Residential, Commercial, Hospitality, Project, Location, Regulation, FDI, Taxation, Investment, Banking, Property Management, Ravi Sinha, Track2Media, Track2RealtyTrack2Realty Exclusive: Urban Planning, experts suggest, is based on the three-tier concept of engineering, architecture and social concerns. Each is incomplete without the other. While a city needs its share of road networks, it also needs space for, say drainage and it needs hospitals and schools and blood banks et al. although each city has separate agencies to deal with these needs, a central agency is needed to provide a holistic approach to crisis management and to contain chaos.

Technology can be a great leveler, if used correctly. It can provide a one-stop solution to traffic management by providing regular and correct updates to citizens about public transport; it can help better manage water and waste management; channelize power and energy sans any wastage.

Citizens can avail a host of services at the touch of a button and the authorities too can reduce their work load by integrating the use of technological platforms with traditional methods, and gradually upgrade completely.

The biggest challenge lies in changing the mindset of millions, who are used to traditional modes of operation, to switch to electronic modes.

By providing for and advertising it properly, if gas connections or refill, utility bill payments are all hosted electronically, it saves the citizens and the authority time and money.

Villages or small towns in western parts of the world, compared to our metros, are better equipped to handle emergencies because of their dependence on technology.

One of the foremost objectives of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission was to introduce e-governance in all municipalities to bring transparency and to increase accountability. In fact, financial assistance is provided for the redevelopment of old cities, water supply, waste management, drainage, transportation amongst others.

…to be continued

Key challenges to move towards smart cities in India-II

Posted on by Track2Realty

By: Brotin Banerjee, MD & CEO, Tata Housing

Brotin Banerjee, MD & CEO at Tata Housing, India real estate news, Indian realty news, Property new, Home, Policy Advocacy, Activism, Mall, Retail, Office space, SEZ, IT/ITeS, Residential, Commercial, Hospitality, Project, Location, Regulation, FDI, Taxation, Investment, Banking, Property Management, Ravi Sinha, Track2Media, Track2RealtyTrack2Realty Exclusive: Mumbai, while being known for its ability to provide a livelihood for one and all, is infamous for having the highest population density in the world: close to 30,000 people per square kilometer, about three times that of Delhi.

With its local rail network, thousands of buses and millions of taxis and auto rickshaws, many consider Mumbai to be better planned than its urban counterparts. While Delhi, Bangalore and Kolkata might have the metro rail, its connectivity in each of these cities is far less than Mumbai’s rail. The experience of travelling in auto rickshaws in the former two is almost always termed nightmarish.

While the Delhi Metro Rail was a rare case of projects being on time, the same cannot be said for Mumbai’s Metro rail project, which is said to supplement the railway network. This project is divided into three phases: eight lines covering about 140 km by 2021.

The first line, Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar line, should be completed soon. After many delays, it is expected to be operational by early 2012. The other eight lines have not yet been given the green-signal. Even the new symbol of the city’s skyline, the Bandra Worli Sea Link, was about half-a-decade behind schedule.

While it is understandable that these world-class infrastructure projects involves investment from all concerned, what makes it complicated to get these projects on track is the involvement of multiple agencies, all vying to do their bit. A classic case of ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’.

In Mumbai alone, there are dozens. There’s Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA), the state Roadways Development Corporation (MSRDC).

…to be continued

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