Tag Archives: Builder Buyer Conflict

Customer is not the king for builders

Posted on by Track2Realty
Track2Realty Exclusive

Bottom Line: Since customer has never been the king for the developers, they have failed to close doors on the market perception, finds Ravi Sinha.

Homebuyer Confusion, Confused homebuyer, Homebuyers grievances, Homebuyers' legal options, India real estate news, Indian property market news, Track2RealtyMany developers do not make themselves available to customers, making it necessary for them to deal with marketing personnel who are trained to be evasive and non-committal.

This is especially true in the case of large developers operating in the metros. According to him, in smaller cities creating such a disconnect, or permitting it to happen, is not possible and also not feasible.

The best way to connect and stay connected with customers is to provide a seamless pre-and-post sales support environment. Buyers should not feel that they have been abandoned once they have signed on the dotted line – developers should keep in mind that a lot of future customer comes from referrals by existing customers.

Nikhil Hawelia, Managing Director of Hawelia Group candidly says that the time has come for two-pronged approach—one is for the developers to sit with the buyers in case of any confusion and the other is for the sector to get an industry status that will weed out the dubious players in the sector. He asserts that collectively these two measures will result in greater transparency in the functioning of the business and will help in growth of the sector.  

“I had to deal with one such incident where the land acquisition has been an issue post the launch of the project. Realising the customers’ apprehensions, I offered to refund those buyers who wished so. As a result, most of the buyers were surprised with the offer and it gave them trust to stay on,” says Hawelia.

It is generally believed in the sector that the lingering mistrust between buyers and developers is the result of many things. Basically, the shenanigans of small fly-by-night operators and also crisis of some of the large developers who are seen as representing the entire industry have resulted in bad press for the entire developer community.

Certain developers do not get all the right permits for their projects, cut costs on construction or are not adequately funded and are therefore not able to complete their projects on time. When the media interprets such instances as indicative of a countrywide conspiracy against homebuyers, the effects can be anticipated.

Silent denials

Developers though agree in principle with the obvious benefits, they nevertheless are in the denial mode as far as direct interface with the homebuyers is concerned.

The fact remains that even though a lot of communication does happen before and at the time of a sale, it is often not the right kind of communication.

At times, the mismatch & mistrust is due to the developer’s fault, at others customers simply do not know what to ask even if they have doubts. And that demands better consumer connect for the benefit of the Indian real estate at large. 

Manju Yagnik, Vice Chairperson, Nahar Group defends that scenario is changing fast and the real estate has undergone a massive change in last one decade. According to her, there has been greater transparency and considerable awareness among the homebuyers. Therefore, it cannot be agreed completely that consumer connect is a missing link.  In fact, of late, social media and digital project promotions have effectively improved the consumers connect.

“Yes, we can say there is a slight gap that exists due to certain conditions such as perception and lack of understanding on various facts which are beyond the control of the developer. These conditions will include lack of necessary infrastructure, complex real estate regulations etc. Consumers are less aware of the formalities and rights involved while purchasing a property. But these flaws can be overcome by creating better awareness among consumers,” says yagnik.

Arvind Jain, Managing Director, Pride Group adds thatthe disconnect between developers and customers was a big problem in the past, but has decreased considerably.

“There are many reasons for this – one of them is that aspiring home buyers tend to do their homework nowadays. Thanks to the Internet, they have access to far more information than ever before. As a result, a developer’s track record and reliability is usually established even before interest in one of his projects is expressed,” says Jain.

While consumer connect might be evolving in the Indian real estate, it is yet way below the desired level. And since the developers are not connecting with the group that matters the most – homebuyers, they have failed to close doors on market perception. 

Digital reality

The digital space, no doubt, is bridging the communication gap but then it is more in the nature of addressing what could snowball into avoidable controversy. The effort no way is in the nature of addressing the consumer touch points. Nor is there any desire for innovation to give the homebuyers an enhanced consumer experience.

With the advent of e-commerce space, there has been an increasing demand from the customers to have a virtual journey of the projects as it will save time and will be hassle-free.

The drones showing online the status of the project and the online help desk for queries is a must for all well known developers. Lucrative and feasible financial schemes for customers will also help in connecting with the customers and also zeal them for turning up. However, these are all wishful thinking in the Indian real estate. 

In contrast, the consumer brands’ strategic approach towards reaching their clients is always focussed. In the current marketing scenario few of the well known consumer brands have very effectively managed the e-commerce platform and have engaged customers to strengthen the brand recall. The real estate sector is yet trying to smartly utilise this platform to reach their target audience.

Realities of connect & communicate   

Growing consumer intelligence and activism forcing developers to connect with responsibility

Digital media helping buyers to vent out against the developer and mobilise the dissatisfied buyers

Developers are now collaborating with buyers for joint control of development to avoid litigations

Buyers as brand ambassadors can not only address complex issue of consumer connect but also help developer with word-of-mouth publicity

Poor consumer connect willful reality of builders

Posted on by Track2Realty
Track2Realty Exclusive

Bottom Line: Nothing hurts Indian real estate more than their inability to connect with the consumers. Ravi Sinha finds that right from showing approvals at the time of booking to the construction lifecycle, the developers continue to take the homebuyers for granted. 

Builder Buyer Meeting, Builder buyer conflict, Builder harassing buyers, Builders arrogance to buyers, Buyers protest against Builder, India real estate news, Indian realty news, Real estate news India, Indian property market news, Investment in property, Realty Plus, Realty Fact, Housing News, Track2Realty, Best real estate portal, Best property website “When a buyer buys a BMW car worth INR 1.5 crore does he ask to meet the owners of BMW? I think the expectation is way too high in real estate purchase,” says a Pune-based developer during an informal chat.

The statement, though in an informal chat, nevertheless shows the callousness of developer community at large towards the homebuyers. It also shows their level of commitment to the desirable element of consumer connect.

Going by the developer’s remark, one wonders whether a real estate purchase can be termed as another expensive purchase. In a BMW purchase, for example, the buyer can look & feel the end product before one takes a final call. But in real estate it is only a promise and the product is yet to be produced.

Moreover, the net-worth of a person buying a car worth INR 1.5 crore is not less than INR 20-25 crore, whereas for a house worth INR 1.5 crore the majority of buyers hardly manage the 20 per cent margin money of INR 30 lakh and the rest is through bank loans.

No wonder, the homebuyers are not impressed with the poor consumer connect of the developers. They are increasingly questioning their callous attitude and their frustration is vented out through protests, social media bashing and court cases.  

Relevant questions; unsatisfactory answers

“Even when I buy perishable consumer goods and there is any dissatisfaction I do write to the company and most often they do address my concerns. Why should the benchmark be so very different when making the costliest purchase of my life,” questions Ajay Raj, a Chandigarh-based dissatisfied real estate buyer.

Ajay is not alone to have such a query in mind. The homebuyers across the country are today asking whether there is any element of accountability with the biggest investment of their life in housing. The cynics even have it that the absence of any regulation makes it a sellers’ market with a ‘take it or leave it’ gesture on part of the developers.

Developers, on their part, assure that they have started interacting with the homebuyers and they even address the website visitors and solve their doubts and queries which have started reflecting in their conversion ratio as well. But by and large addressing the consumer touch points is few and far between in the Indian housing market.

More importantly, the consumers are nowadays being pacified due to the fear of consumer backlash than a serious concern to address the grievances and be seen as a responsible and committed real estate brand. 

“There is much space left for improvement and innovation to have better connect with the investors and facilitate them with the information they require for their final call. With the e-space platform also, the focus of Indian property market is to tap the NRI customers and other HNIs outside the catchment area or advertised geographical boundaries than to create a dialogue platform for the buyers,” says Devika Menon, a dissatisfied homebuyer in Chennai.

Reality of consumer intelligence 

Ignorance of the homebuyers for long has been the bliss of the Indian real estate developers. But the reality is that the informed buyer is today less of a liability than misguided consumer activism, often resorting to the consumer blackmailing in the process.

Consumer intelligence is hence being debated within the built environment of Indian real estate and there is a growing evaluation as to what is the way out in an age of informed buyers.

The developers, on their part, are mostly living in denial that the challenge of meeting up the consumer expectations in the Indian real estate sector is more challenging than in other domains. This is because the sector has been largely unorganised and that all stakeholders do not follow the same ground rules. 

In fact, the rules and regulations for the sector have varied from state to state and region to region. As a consequence, transparency in the dealings of many real estate entities has been found wanting. Low transparency has created a trust deficit, with most consumers viewing the sector with a high degree of scepticism.

Abhay Kumar, CMD of Grih Pravesh Buildteck agrees that customer intelligence should be a key component of effective Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and when effectively implemented it can be a rich source of insight into the behaviour and experience of a developer’s customer base.

“We always look at the CRM from the perspective of who all have bought our apartment. And the dynamics are defined by satisfied versus dissatisfied customers. I feel the time has come when initial buyers in the housing project should be made part of decision making; something that will lower the buyers’ grievances as well as generate goodwill leading to referral clients,” says Abhay.

In today’s hyper competitive real estate market, buyers’ viewpoint can no longer be ignored. It is hence a better strategy to make use of the intelligence of the informed buyers, instead of letting the ill-informed and disgruntled buyers making an opinion about the developer in the open marketplace.

Voices getting louder

The property rally and huge demand made the developers complacent and the buyers satisfied with the appreciation. And hence, there were only a minority of the buyers cribbing.

The slowdown made the cribbing buyers grow in number while the developers also realised that consumer connect is not only economical means to communicate but equally beneficial for brand positioning. 

Consumer connect is by and large still a missing link with direct interface meaning different things to different set of developers. A sector that has gone overboard on brand campaigns and publicity has not been seen translating that aggression for connecting with the customers to whom they want to convey the message.

Though on the face value they agree that the efficient consumer connect is the best brand positioning yet the scores of consumer cases tell a different story. The disconnect has its genesis with the way the sector has been witness to a horizontal growth where the focus has been more on volume than value.

When the market was at its peak ATL (Above the Line) mediums such as newspaper, radio, television, mobile and digital marketing took precedence while BTL (Below the Line) activities took a back seat.

The slowdown nevertheless made the developers get into a cost & benefit analysis where they realised the importance of connecting with the customer and are laying more emphasis on achieving the same. This has also been a cost effective way of communicating.  

Different developers had different ways to connect with the end users. While some of them shifted focus on the third party endorsed PR (Public Relations), there were others who tried to connect directly through various CSR related programmes.

Some of them even had innovative ideas to rope in the buyers as the brand ambassadors. The get-together with the buyers, both purchased and prospective ones, has also emerged as the means of direct interface.

But the question still stands – how far the sector has succeeded in connecting and communicating with the buyers?

The neglected customer 

Consumer connect is deliberately neglected by the developers as they have constantly taken homebuyers for a ride

KYC-Know Your Customers is something that builders do not think is necessary in real estate

The nature of real estate business is so opaque that the developers wish to avoid direct interface with the buyers

The government policies do not help the homebuyers to compel developers for transparent flow of information

Real estate is the second largest advertiser after FMCG sector but it is a monologue and not dialogue with buyers 

Next: Customer is not the king for builders

Check your own conduct as homebuyer

Posted on by Track2Realty
Track2Realty Insights

Bottom Line: An ideal builder is a wishful thought that every homebuyer loves to fancy about. In a business that has a historical legacy of poor perception and projection, no one bothers to look at the other side of the table. Ravi Sinha takes a look at what makes you an ideal resident in an apartment.

Ideal apartment resident, Ideal homebuyer, Homebuyers as villains, Homebuyers as victims, Do's & Don'ts of housing societies, Rules & Regulations of housing societies, Ideal neighbour in housing societies, good neighbour in apartment, Housing societies neighbourhood issues, Common problems in housing societies, India real estate news, Indian realty news, Real estate news India, Indian property market news, Track2RealtySo, you have been blaming the builder for end-to-end problems that you have encountered before and after settling in your dream home. Cost of apartment, delay in delivery, mismatch in promises & performance, costly maintenance and poor facility management, the list goes endless. More often than not, the grievances are legitimate.

But beyond the builder bashing in WhatsApp groups, social media, inviting journalists, society meetings, even consumer courts and every other possible platforms, how would you feel if someone reminds you that you have also failed to be an ideal resident in apartment. Will you ever bother to check your own conduct as a resident of apartment?

“What? I have paid for everything and I am entitled to avail the house and the common facilities,” would be the most common reaction if one is reminded that he/she is not fit to live in the given society, more so in the high rises where the shared responsibilities are even greater.

Track2Realty notes down some of the most common habits and fallacies that define whether you are ideal apartment resident or mentally & socially still not fit to be living in a housing society. These are:

Balcony Dropping: “It is my balcony and no law on earth can deny me with its use as per my convenience,” argues Mr. Chaudhary. You are right sir! But then balconies are meant for having the comforts of an open air space within the house. You can have a cup of tea, read newspapers, have sunbath or just relax in the fresh air. It is definitely not your extended dustbin that you drop stuff, even combed hair, out in the open.

Some people think living higher ups in the multi-storied apartments make them closer to Sun and they offer water to please the planet from the comforts of balconies down the ground. Please be considerate that people are living down the floors and what is your presumed salvation is definitely a nuisance to them.

Flower Beds: We all love greenery and flowerpots. Isn’t it? But love for greenery and extending your balcony for creating flowerbeds are two different things. If you feel the green patches and gardens in the society are not enough to give you that personal touch, feel free to have them in your balcony. That is legitimate. But what is objectionable and a potential threat is to extend your balcony limits and hang flowerpots outside.

Your bragging of beautification in the balcony might give you appreciation of friends & family but could seriously hurt your neighbours if it accidentally falls from a height.  

Extended Hanger: Ms. Sunaina probably finds the cost of a cloth drier too high. For her it is pretty legitimate to hang the water dripping cloths in the balconies without bothering about those who live down the floor. In the process, the poor guy in the lower floor apartment is deprived of his legitimate right of enjoying the sunbath in his balcony. 

This practice is mostly banned in the upscale societies but in the affordable and mass housing the absence of dryers in many homes empowers the residents to use the balcony of the lower floor as their cloth dryer and hanger. A cloth drying stand won’t cost you the roof but would definitely make you appear more civilized resident of a housing society.

Door Littering: It is your door, alright! But if the other neighbours on the same floor start practicing this convenient way to clean the house, the lobby of the given floor would turn out to be an open dustbin. Ms. Verma doesn’t seem to think so. For her touching the dustbin after bath and morning pooja is a big ‘No’ and hence she finds it convenient to drop the garbage bag outside, well ahead of the society sweeper visiting the lobby.

Please understand even if your builder has not made the garbage chute on each floor, at least there is a society sweeper who collects it everyday. Your urgency to clean your house before taking bath might be a stinking punishment for neighbours.

Encroachment Mindset: No one would like to take a dirty shoe inside the house. Right Mr. Bhatt? But then no civilized person would like to encroach the staircase area and convert it into his personal space designed for shoe rack. In most of the affordable and mid segment housing societies with not-so-professional maintenance, people buying smaller housing units tend to have this tendency to grab whatever extra space they could.

The mindset to encroach is not confined to staircases alone where shoe racks and parking other stuff is a convenient option. Rather, the look out for ‘more space’ is often the stepping stone to the overall poor standing of the society. For example, balconies are your personal space but not to the point of that absolute ownership where you feel like having an extended carpet area to get it covered, often extending the limits, and violating all the norms and fire safety guidelines.  

Pet Terrorism: Facility Management of the society often fails to convince Rachna Shah that her love for the pet dog is actually scary for the neighbours in general and children in particular. “But my doggy is so cute and harmless,” is her oft-repeated argument. “Madam! You maybe right but if your neighbour tomorrow adopts a harmless snake or leopard would you accept the same argument?” The pets are allowed in housing societies by the rule of law. But what is neither allowed nor acceptable is your pet terrorism with an innocent excuse that your pet is cute & harmless to deserve being allowed to roam around free, including in the lift.

Showering this love for pets should not be at the cost of being cruel to the fellow residents of the society. Love is eternal and it can’t be thrust upon your neighbours and force them to love your pet as well. Some of them might not be comfortable with or scared to see a Labrador or German Shepherd. Your freedom of letting loose your pets inside the open spaces might scare others and this pet terrorism definitely does not qualify you as a civilized apartment owner.

Neighbourhood Gossip: Who doesn’t love gossip? It is national time pass in this part of the world. But then, there are bigger national and regional issues to gossip about than keeping an eye over personal life of your neighbours and gossip it loosely with other fellow neighbours. Your gossip about the private life of a neighbour, his boy friend or girl friend, or whose son is roaming around with whose daughter definitely makes you an uncultured neighbourhood gossip times. 

And mind you! Mr. Sharma with whom you gossip about Mr. Verma’s wife being dropped from office by a colleague might be enjoying this gossip so long it is about someone else. But he would prefer to keep you at a distance from his close friends and relatives for this habit of poking nose into others’ lives and then spicing it up to broadcast like a newswire service.

WhatsApp Civility: If ever Mr. Mehra thought Society WhatsApp Group is his personal friend circle of like minded people, he was wrong. But before he could realize that, he got himself exposed to everyone in the society with his time pass mentality. It started with a tolerable ‘Good Morning’ wish everyday which by and large was not objected by anyone, even though for most of other residents it proved to be spamming. But soon, Mehra thought his political opinion is more profound than others in the society and started advocating who is the best politician and why.

What the gentleman forgot in the process is that the biggest trait of an opinion is that everybody has it. A couple of counter arguments later he was labeled as a person who has all the world’s time to spread his unsolicited political opinion in society WhatsApp Group. Worse even, the perception gained ground that the attention seeking gentleman lacked recognition in the right places to do so. Please understand that a society WhatsApp Group is meant to discuss the issues related with apartment and its upkeep, often housing market news for competitive outlook, and it is definitely not your drawing room.     

Imposing Belief : No one wanted to object it for her age but then everyone in the society was bugged up with the old mother of Mr. Agarwal for her super natural beliefs that she wished to impose on the collective wisdom of residents. Her astrologer’s advice for feeding bread to black dogs turned out to be apartment becoming haven for stray dogs. Her temptation to offer banana to monkeys was a security threat to not only the children playing in the park but even the security guards were at risk trying unsuccessfully to keep the stray monkeys away from the society.  

Everyone is conscious of the fact that as a society we produce more bawas & godmen than scientists and no law on earth can force us to be rational in our thoughts & beliefs. But to impose our beliefs & practices over the entire apartment and compromising the security of others definitely does not make any of us a civilized resident of given society.

Pesky Bonding: To meet with the new neighbours and knowing each other well is a civilized society behavior. But there is a limit of being sweet and the moment you cross that line you are a source of diabetes in the neighbourhood. Just because someone is friendly and gives you space, and access to his house, does not mean that you get into a pesky bonding and intrude his/her personal space anytime and uninvited. 

Mr. Saxena might be a nice gentleman who wishes to read newspaper along with others. But it does not mean his neighbour Mr. Khurana would like an uninvited guest every morning at his house. Please understand, while you may be having all the world’s time for neighbourhood bonding, the other person might be in a rush to reach office or seeking some rest or solitude.

Crusade Grouping: So, you thought all the slogan shouting and builder bashing is necessarily for the common cause of the residents at large? Well, if that be the case there is nothing wrong in grouping with the fellow residents for a society crusade. But wait! Like in any other sphere of life, pick your friends and society warriors wisely. You may have to repent tomorrow and worse even end up fighting with the same set of people you thought are God’s gift to the society.

All the holier-than-thou reform within the society might turn out to be a façade by some of the vested interests to arm-twist the builder, get paid for taking their heads out and then sit silent. In the long run you will not be seen as reformer or ideal resident but a vested interest even though you joined the group with all the noble intentions.  

Ownership Bragging: Of course, you are a proud owner of an apartment. So what? Had you never been a tenant? Did your neighbours or landlord always reminded you that they are superior property owners and you are just an inferior tenant? Apartment ownership is neither about bragging nor it would make you more than equal in the neighbourhood. And, of course, the law of the land will treat you the same as with any tenant, if tomorrow you are caught on the wrong side of the law.

Doesn’t it look not-so-graceful when you brag it in front of the neighbours who are tenants in the society. Mind you! Some of them might be having better financial standing than you and would be living in the apartment as tenant for their own reasons, ranging from short stay in the town or locality to a bigger apartment yet to be delivered. Your bragging doesn’t make them a lesser resident of the society than you but it definitely shows your class, or rather lack of it.

Facilities Abuse: Common facilities are by definition common and meant to be shared. But it seems Ms. Gayatri thought it otherwise when every morning she plucked all the flowers from the society garden for her personal pooja. Mr. Chawla even had a better idea when he insisted for the club to be allowed for his personal office meetings. Similarly, Mr. Gupta wanted to invite his friends & family for a joint swimming pool weekend and insisted that after having made payment for the apartment as well as the facilities it is well within his legal rights. 

Unfortunately, neither the law nor the civilized society norms would approve abuse of shared facilities in an apartment. Your apartment is yours but the building and its facilities are shared. Trying to be first among the equals definitely doesn’t make you a civilized resident of a housing society. Mind you! Even if you contest the RWA elections to extract more out of the shared facilities, you would eventually end up getting ostracized in the society.

An open letter to NEFOWA

Posted on by Track2Realty
Track2Realty Investigation Part-IV

Bottom Line: There are many question marks over NEFOWA as a legitimate association of homebuyers and it is time they answer it to come out clean before stakeholders. Ravi Sinha writes an open letter.

Team NEFOWA

NEFOWA, New Era Flat Owners' Welfare Association, Noida Extension Flat Owners' Welfare Association, NEFOWA fraud, NEFOWA cheating, NEFOWA complaints, Builder buyer conflict, fight for apartment delays, RWA, Residents' Welfare Association, NEFOMA, NERA, Noida Extension Residents' Association, Home buyer association legal limit, Track2Realty, Noida Extension property, Noida Extension projects, India real estate news, Indian property market newsI am, hereby, resisting the customary greetings with writing ‘Dear NEFOWA’ as I am not sure whether such respectable address should decorate you. However, I am writing this letter both as a real estate journalist as well as a stakeholder of Noida Extension where I have also invested as a homebuyer.

I feel it is my professional and social obligation to raise some issues and point to the grey zones to help other gullible homebuyers who might be having trust left with this association. Many others have already lost trust after finding hidden motives and bullying tactics of the core team after their clarion call to fight for the rights of homebuyers. Many of them even allege this buyer association to be proxy of the builders and taking brief from them.

However, there are good number of gullible homebuyers who even today think it is a voluntary organization and would fight for their rights. You often pick up the fight by taking the lead, often uninvited and obtrusive. The demand for money follows thereafter and then the war is lost even before the battle is on. The builder laughs his way all through.

Let me admit here that in the beginning I also made the mistake of assuming that it is a voluntary association of the homebuyers to fight out the erring builders collectively. But, of late, I have reasons to believe that there is more than what meets the eyes as far as the shady functioning of NEFOWA is concerned. 

A number of buyers publicly blame NEFOWA for hobnobbing with Supertech and sabotaging their fight. The complaints are serious since these buyers at Supertech Eco Village allege the association pocketed the money to fight with the builder and then manipulated these buyers to sign the dotted lines of the builder.

In the compromise deal brokered by your association the builder was allowed to add extra FAR with the written consent of the buyers. But the buyers in return did not get the possession as promised.

My apprehensions are hence not without valid reasons. In the last few months I am closely monitoring the method into the madness of this alleged homebuyers’ association. You guys have also done well to manage the media, even though I turned out to be an exception. It is indeed interesting to note that whenever I hit out through my stories to certain select builders in this market the admins of NEFOWA Group on Facebook remove me from the Group without any rhyme or reason.

This suspicious removal of a real estate journalist who has the credentials of exposing the wrong doings of the builders is also in contravention to NEFOWA’s stated policy doctrine on the website that says, “NEFOWA is made for the betterment of Flat Buyers …..not for Real Estate Agents and Builder Agents… All members are on same platform. There is no discrimination among the members. Every member are being treated as friend and as future neighbours. We are here not just for our common goal i.e. our Home, but also for the sake of better relationship among the neighbours.”

On first occasion, I thought my removal to be inadvertent and joined the Group second time where I was asked to give my full introduction and contact details for some strange reasons. The demand has been unusual for a Facebook Group where I personally know a number of members who have absolutely nothing to do with Noida Extension but they are there only for gossips. Needless to add, many such members in the Facebook Group have never been asked to provide their contact details.

And here you have someone who is a stakeholder, both from media standpoint as well as the homebuyer in the given market. Still, I gave the association a benefit of doubt. However, within a couple of weeks I was again removed from the Group after my expose against certain builders of Noida Extension. It seems there are vested interests within NEFOWA who get their orders from these builders’ offices about the urgency to keep problematic journalist like me at a safe distance.

I am conscious of the fact that some of the shady builders in Noida Extension are pretty disturbed with my expose every now and then. But why are the core team members of NEFOWA so perturbed? Are they working on behalf of these builders to infiltrate among the homebuyers with holier-than-thou gesture to convince & confuse them?

I have a few questions to ask the team NEFOWA: 

Q. What is the registered legal position of NEFOWA?

Q. If it is an association where elections are due mandatory process then how is the association into the pockets of a few members only?

Q. What is the source of earning for major faces of NEFOWA?

Q. Is NEFOWA the source of livelihood for its core members?

Q. What is your legal locus standi to ask for money to fight on behalf of homebuyers?

Q. Is it ethical on your part to broker deals with builders and convince the buyers to sign the dotted lines of builder?

Q. After collecting money with homebuyers for so many years now, how many cases have you won where the contributing homebuyers have got the possession?

Q. If the accounts of NEFOWA are clean then why is an audited financial statement not uploaded online for every contributor to see?

Q. A number of victims of NEFOWA have published their grievances online in various forums. Why is NEFOWA silent on that? 

These questions are just tip of the iceberg. The malaise appears to be deep rooted in this alleged homebuyers’ association. A perception has gained ground in Noida Extension that if one seeks the help of NEFOWA in a society, the apartment owners lose out collectively after the initial protests and media show offs.

Easing the frustration of buyers and then not channelizing it to its logical end makes the association look suspicious. Pocketing money and then not fighting the battle to its logical conclusion is definitely not the purpose of a buyer association. Nor is it fair to not be transparent with expenses where the real victims are the contributing homebuyers.

An association that represents the case of harassed homebuyers and collects money with them without any accountability or transparency is definitely not a voluntary association or social cause. It is pure business of crooked minds that understands the ground reality of the market where a large number of homebuyers are physically not present after having invested into one or the other projects.

Will NEFOWA please explain now as to why it should be taken seriously as a legitimate homebuyers’ association? Will they respond to the above questions being raised? Will they justify why it is a pocket association of few vested interests? You better explain it now or be ready for more future expose.

 Yours

A critic journalist 

Is media fuelling homebuyers’ associations?

Posted on by Track2Realty
Track2Realty Investigation Part-III

Bottom Line: Even when the law of the land does not grant any constitutional teeth to homebuyers’ associations, Ravi Sinha finds that they thrive with their clout due to cozy relationship with the media.

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But the question is why do the builders entertain them? Is there something more than what meets the eyes? Are these associations proxies of the builders to bail them out? The developers maintain that by and large they too have their own compulsions to entertain what could be called as necessary evil. The more the number of members with the given association, the more they command the clout in their areas of operations.

Requesting anonymity, a builder in Greater Noida West admits that whenever there is any issue with the buyers, he gets the unsolicited message by one or the other associations. A formal meeting is asked for which is not meant for understanding the buyers’ concerns or mediating for the common meeting ground but for negotiating on behalf of the association.

“If their demands are met, they withdraw themselves from the issue. They even offer to convince it to the buyers that the demands are not legitimate and would not sustain the legal scrutiny. But if the demands are not met, a protest and media trial is what we have to face. So, we are left with no choice but to entertain them,” says the builder.

All for media limelight? 

Financial modeling and people behind the associations indicate genuineness

Beware of associations that hijack the core agenda & grievances for their media limelight

Builders too have their proxies in buyers’ associations 

The builder’s version is just one part of the story. The experience of the homebuyers suggests some of these associations are definitely the veiled proxies of the builders to shield them and divert attention. The smart builders more often than not use these associations to infiltrate among the protesting buyers and break the unity.

The harassed working class homebuyers looking for someone to represent their grievances, mostly due to lack of time, end up playing into the hands of one or the other associations. The collective consciousness of the homebuyers, more often than not, fails to differentiate legitimate consumer activism of harassed homebuyers and consumer blackmailing of buyers’ associations.

“I was approached by some of these activists and since I didn’t have time and resources to settle with the builder, I thought as if it is a divine intervention that has come through my way. But soon I started realizing that the actual game plan was not to take up my legitimate cause but to get legitimacy before the builder and media for having harassed buyers as complainants before them. I regret my decision to have thought that someone else would fight for my rights,” says Raman Parashar, a dejected homebuyer in Noida.

There definitely is a method into the madness of the buyers’ associations across the major property markets of India. Track2Realty got into the financial modeling of some of the most pro-active and vocal consumer associations operating in the housing market to understand how such constant activism is sustained in terms of financials and other logistics.

The research suggests most of the leading torchbearers of these associations have no other known source of income and this supposedly free voluntary service is often their full time occupation. Some of them are even nursing the local level political ambitions through this channel.

This clearly indicates that there is an urgent need for homebuyers’ education in India. They must be conscious of the fact that all the associations thriving in the name of protecting their interests are not that trustworthy. Unless the buyers are convinced with the association, its funding & functioning and people behind it, they should better stay away from these holier-than-thou high profile groups.

It is better to fight along with the fellow buyers who have the same set of grievances with the builder. Of course, that won’t be the easy way out; not someone will come forward to offer the free advice and legal help. The builder could even win over or buy out some of the fellow homebuyers. But then at least the buyers will be safe than sorry and fight their own battle without the vested interests infiltrating, hijacking the agenda and then compromising it.

Relationship management lacking in Indian realty

Posted on by Track2Realty
Track2Realty Exclusive

Bottom Line: Relationship management on the lines of service industry can give much-needed facelift to Indian real estate.

Best practices, Best practices in Indian real estate, Professional practices in Indian real estate, Cheating in real estate, Builders cheating buyers, Consumer complaints in Indian real estate, India real estate news, Indian realty news, Real estate news India, Indian property market news, Track2Realty, Track2Media Research“When I entered the office of this developer I was surprised to note there were no bodyguards and security guards surrounding the office. It was just a pale security guard at the gate which looked quite contrary to the way most of the developers operate nowadays. It has been all the more surprising since this developer operates in slum redevelopment where the use of muscle power is a common reality. And yet the developer operates like any other corporate sector and not a builder. On being probed I found out that the trick lies in his relationship managers who manage the clients in such a professional manner that there is no major confrontation between the builder and the buyer,” Pranay Vakil, Chairman of Praron Consultancy shares his experience.

Investing in relationship management to earn the trust & goodwill of the homebuyers is something that the Indian real estate has not adopted as an industry practice. CRM or Customer Relationship Management is something that every developer today boasts of, but this relationship hardly goes beyond attending phone calls of aggrieved buyers and online registration of grievances.

Whereas the kind of relationship experience that Vakil is sharing is more on the lines of KYC (Know Your Customers) where the relationship managers have all the info about the homebuyers, his grievances, if any, and they are constantly met to update them on the developments with the housing project. This builds a level of trust and good will.

Divya Gehlot, a homebuyer agrees that relationship management of the developer not only breaks the ice but also goes a long way to understand each others’ point of view, thereby less acrimony. She had a similar experience where after booking the apartment the relationship manager did not forget even wishing her on the birthdays and anniversaries in addition to keep updating on the developments of the project. The dedicated manager was always there when she wished to visit the site.

“I was even invited by the relationship manager to show me many options for the tiles of the floor that they are going to use. I had the liberty of choice and since everything was done in a transparent manner I am not complaining now even though the delivery of the project is some eight months delayed. They have explained me the reasons of delay and I feel the reasons are beyond their control,” says Divya.

The question is how many developers are maintaining that kind of relationship management with the homebuyers. Are they even bothered to talk to the customers once the booking is done? As an industry practice today, the only interaction from the developers’ side is when they send the demand note for further payment. In some cases they keep updating over emails but one-on-one relationship management is a critical missing link in Indian real estate.

This raises a fundamental question as to unlike other matured industries why Indian real estate has failed to focus on relationship management with buyers and prospective buyers.

Rattan Hawelia, Chairman of Hawelia Group tries to explain method in the madness when he says that other matured industries which are focusing on relationship management are usually more service oriented whereas real estate has always been addressed as a product based industry. As per the traditional mindset, most of the developers consider that a homebuyer is a one-time consumer because of which they have always failed to explore the benefit of relationship management. Consumer connect is by and large a missing link with direct interface with homebuyers.

“I must admit here that the real estate sector has gone overboard on brand campaigns and publicity rather than identifying the gains by connecting with the customer. Exploring this medium by gaining trust and satisfaction of one customer for lifetime will surely open threshold for many satisfied referred clientele and direct boost in sales can be accounted. So far marketing communication has been majorly based on the perception and exposure at the basic level of the first generation business families in Indian realty sector despite the fact that relationship management is a key and effective component to connect with the customers,” says Hawelia.

How far is the perception that the nature of business does not support to have dedicated relationship managers a deterrent? Analysts maintain that due to the demand and supply gap the developers did not took a conscious call to defeat this perception and make efforts for word of mouth publicity through dedicated relationship management with the customers.

Of late, with the advent of second generation and overall changes in the ecosystem there has been sharp contrast in the nature of business. Now some of the developers have started understanding the benefits of relationship managers, and since the first visit of a prospective buyer a single point contact is being appointed who is responsible for all the needs of the buyer from readily sharing the required information & timely responding to their queries to arranging technical support from sales/administration/loan/construction/other department(s).

Such services helps in boosting the confidence of the customer manifolds and also supplements the mindset of Indian consumer who is investing his lifetime savings and hence wants to be treated as a preferred client.

In terms of the cost & benefit analysis of having a dedicated relationship manger for a group of customers, the operating methodology of most of the developers suggest there would not be major cost implications because the business model will remain more or less the same; though certain functional differences would be there in terms of promotion, lead generation and connection with the prospective customers. Such move will create a better understanding between the developer and the prospective customers which will surely help in building goodwill of the company.

The real deterrent is probably the developers’ inability to change with the changing market dynamics where the homebuyers are increasingly getting aware and demanding with their rights.

A dedicated relationship manger for the homebuyers can close doors to the market perception but what makes the developers uncomfortable is the fact that it also closes doors for deliberate delays and cutting corners in construction, as the homebuyers will more or less ask questions on a regular basis. Are the developers open to this customers’ scrutiny? The answer in today’s context is a clear No.

By: Ravi Sinha

Should you trust homebuyers’ associations?

Posted on by Track2Realty
Track2Realty Investigation Part-I

The homebuyers’ associations meant to serve the purpose of consumer grievances are increasingly exceeding their legal & ethical limits to turn into de facto consumer courts. Ravi Sinha finds that the primitive instinct of recognition & reward goads many of these associations to take up the cudgels on behalf of the buyers and ends up in connivance with the builders.

Noida Sector 137 Protest, Protest by Noida Sector 137 residents, Dump yard in Noida Sector 137, NGT, National Green Tribunal, Homebuyers' protest in Noida Sector 137, Dump yard in Noida Sector 137, India real estate news, Indian property market news, Real estate news India, Track2Media Research, Track2RealtyNoida is definitely not the most happening real estate market in the country by any stretch of imagination. Yet, in terms of the consumer activism & its by-product consumer blackmailing it is by far the most happening market. There are no less than half a dozen homebuyers’ associations who are constantly at war with one another for being the frontrunner in championing the cause of the homebuyers.

It has been an ugly spat in front of the Corporate Office of Noida-based Amrapali Group one fine morning that has failed to deliver the apartments to thousands of homebuyers. At least three buyers’ associations were jostling against each other to claim they are the official homebuyers’ voice to protest.

While the harassed homebuyers were looking clueless, the core agenda of ‘Justice for Amrapali Homebuyers’ was lost in the dogfight of these associations. Each buyer associations with their handful of slogan shouting supporters were name calling others, terming them outsiders, and glorifying their association as the only representative for the buyers of Amrapali.

Needless to add, in this cacophony the core issue was relegated to the dustbin and each association blamed the other for this lack of cohesiveness and defeat of the cause.

Reality check of homebuyers’ associations 

All homebuyers’ associations are not trustworthy; often self-serving or custodians of the interests of builders

Multiple homebuyers’ associations in the same market often jostle and fight to claim their only authority

Homebuyers’ causes are often compromised when buyers’ associations hijack the core agenda

Check the credentials of buyers’ association before approaching them with grievances 

As a matter of fact, some of the buyers’ associations in the city are nowadays openly advertising on the social media to inform which project they are reaching next with date and time mentioned and invite the aggrieved homebuyers to come forward to share their grievances. The fact remains that none of these associations have the locus standi or legal teeth to invite the grievances of the consumers.

This is not just a Noida reality. The real estate markets across the major cities is today witness to a new spate of consumer activism which is more political in its functioning than consumer centric. Worse even, many of them even operate as the de facto consumer courts in advising others in how they should take on the builders.

For example, post the Competition Commission of India (CCI) slapping a fine of INR 630 crore on the realty major DLF in the case of abuse of dominant position in its project The Belaire, the RWA of the project suddenly had its hands full in advising other RWAs and buyers’ associations in confronting the builders.

Next: Legal limits & liability of homebuyers’ associations 

Vicious circle & challenges of best practices

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Track2Realty Exclusive

Bottom Line: It is a known fact that the projects get sanctioned easily due to the bonhomie between developers and the authorities. And the quality of construction and other grey areas go unquestioned.

Best practices, Best practices in Indian real estate, Professional practices in Indian real estate, Builder buyer conflict, Builders cheating buyers, Builders harassing buyers, Homebuyers protest against builders, Consumer grievances in real estate, Consumer complaints in real estate, Indian real estate news, Real estate news India, Indian realty news, Indian property market news, Track2RealtyCompletion Certificate and the Occupation Certificate also have a price tag attached where the violations and flouting norms are conveniently ignored. Therefore, to the scores of financially and emotionally bleeding homebuyers the developers continue to bully with a gesture of “take it or leave it”.

Most of the builder-buyer agreements are heavily loaded in favour of builders and the buyer does not get to see the agreement draft till one has paid the booking amount. 
Their disillusionment is reflected with the rise in the number of complaints that has challenged the growth of the sector.

Delivery delays, mismatch in area, changes in structure or designs in a project and developers going back on other promises have been quite common. These issues have given rise to consumer activism, in courts and outside. The Competition Commission of India (CCI) slapping a fine of INR 630 crore on DLF gave some hope to the buyers.

Supertech also bore the brunt of buyers’ wrath when the Allahabad High Court, on a petition by its residents’ association, ordered demolition of two towers in its Noida project, Emerald Court. Builders like Unitech, Jaypee Group, Parsvnath etc are repeatedly being reprimanded by various courts for non-delivery of projects.

JC Sharma, VC & MD, Sobha Limited agrees that home buyers expect developers to be transparent in their dealings, deliver their units on time and with the best quality of construction. The general perception in the market is not very positive and that is why the government has introduced the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act. According to him, some of the best practices that the developers should adopt are improved quality, customer-centricity and transparency. It is imperative that the focus should be on corporate governance, accountability and timely delivery of projects.

“In order to win the trust, full-disclosure policies should be adopted, making all information regarding project approvals, registration and process easily accessible. Another practice that is still evolving and has gained the attention of leading real estate companies is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). There is also an increasing level of consciousness among the developers to construct green buildings in order to protect environment. These practices will not only strengthen bonding with various stakeholders but will also win their immense trust,” says Sharma.

Nikhil Hawelia, Managing Director of Hawelia Group suggests the existing perception can only be changed if the developer fraternity adopts practice of transparency and streamline their professional intent. Foremost the developer should draw a limit to the quantum of work that is under their control for a certain business cycle. The major concerns like delay in possession, quality issues etc directly or indirectly occur because of over-limit & uncontrollable growth, especially in the North region of the country. Involvement of higher management at all verticals is crucial to meet up the commitments and promises.

“The other aspect which causes huge gap between the developer and consumer is “insufficiency in being answerable to the customer”. Consumer connect is by and large a missing link in direct interface with home buyers. The developer should take extra care to face and answer all types of queries of the customer as well as third parties to gain the confidence of the market. Indian real estate has to go a long way vis-à-vis other global emerging markets as majority of the Indian developers are still not practicing the best,” says Hawelia.

An eco system that empowers the buyer with equal terms and conditions as those enjoyed by the builder will definitely change the outlook of buyers about the sector and its practices. Today, the reality is that despite liberal payment plans and discounted deals in the market, people are yet not ready to trust the developers. They have burnt their finger in the past due to various hidden clauses and arm-twisting after making the first payment.

By: Ravi Sinha 

Next: Indian homebuyers struggling for basic consumer rights

Miles to go for best practices in Indian real estate

Posted on by Track2Realty
Track2Realty Exclusive

Bottom Line: The understanding of best practices is very archaic in the Indian real estate. The intent is even more conservative and hence Track2Realty observes that the sector has miles to go before they can look forward to adopt some of the globally accepted best practices.

Best practices, Best practices in Indian real estate, Professional practices in Indian real estate, Cheating in real estate, Builders cheating buyers, Consumer complaints in Indian real estate, India real estate news, Indian realty news, Real estate news India, Indian property market news, Track2Realty, Track2Media Research“Once the customers become captive, the builders start fleecing them. I have already held in the case of DLF that this conduct is called ‘after market abuse’. This is a fit case of abuse of dominance by the opposite parties,” said CCI member R R Prasad in a dissenting order 

FIR against Vatika Group MD, three others on fraud, cheating charges 

Orbit Corp MD Pujit Aggarwal arrested by EOW in Rs 52 crore cheating case 

Manesar land scam blew lid off government nexus with private builders 

Mumbai’s ‘One Avighna Park’ builder Nish Developers booked in INR 2,000-crore fraud case 

ATS, Unitech, Amrapali among the biggest land defaulters to Noida Authority 

Supreme Court snubs Supertech asking the builder to “sink or die but pay back the buyers” 

Unitech mired in litigation in at least five forums—Company Law Board, NCDRC, Supreme Court, High Court and also state consumer forums 

CCI orders probe against Jaypee Group through majority orders in two separate cases involving real estate projects in the national capital region for alleged abuse of dominant market position and imposition of “unfair” conditions on buyers 

Noida builders flout norms, ‘use ground water for construction’ 

What would you make out of a business where the above headlines continue to haunt the home buyers on a routine basis? While the overt consumer activism, social media outcry, media trial and judicial intervention forced the sector to change its tune to Best Practices on the face value, there is a chasm between the lip service and the practices on ground. It seems the developers’ comfort zone lies in to operating in the dark age.

The developers are by and large living in denial. The deep rooted psyche is that once the market conditions improve the buyers have no choice but to run for an asset class that is not only need-based but also a business where the demand far exceeds the supply. This medieval thought process is in fact the biggest roadblock in the way of best practices gaining ground in the Indian real estate.

Best practice is something that the sector never bothered to adopt. But the slowdown and nose diving sales graph are clearly indicating that the developers have no choice but to stop sulking and blaming market conditions for poor sales and start accepting the hard truth.

The buyer today has lost all confidence in developers. The only way this can change is by simple changes the developers make in their business practices that will bring that confidence back. Before they expect market conditions to change, they have to change their own outlook first.

Privately some of the developers admit there is neither any incentive for developers to adopt best practices nor are there penalties for those who do not follow such practices.

A section of analysts also point to developers’ facing challenges in adopting the best practice in the sector. Issues like multi-partner projects; inability of the developer to execute large projects because of their organizational limitations; leverage on finance – personal equity versus project cost; delivering large projects without competent team of vendors; and huge finance cost are some of the issues that force the developers to compromise the professional integrity. 

Devina Ghildial, former MD, South Asia – RICS points out that the success or failure of any real estate and construction project can largely be attributed to money, material, manpower, machinery and management. The collaboration of these factors along with effective project management that encapsulates planning, scheduling and budgeting are critical to project delivery. However, the real estate and construction sector in India for long has been fraught with several long-standing issues such as adequate reforms, coupled with changing market dynamics that pose as bottlenecks in project execution. Liquidity concerns, rising costs and lack of specialized manpower are just some of the challenges that developers have continued to grapple with.

“With the evolution of a global marketplace, international property markets have become intrinsically linked and there are international consequences to consider. Then there are also local factors that affect the performance of the sector. The future success of the Indian real estate and construction sector lies in its ability to regulate its operations and professionals. It is also widely felt that awareness and introduction of internationally recognised and locally relevant best practices such as common area measurement and valuation standards can contribute towards uniform practices and lend quality assurance and credibility to the sector,” says Ghildial. 

By: Ravi Sinha

Next: Baggage of trust deficit & best practices

Indian homebuyers struggling for basic consumer rights

Posted on by Track2Realty
Track2Realty Exclusive

Bottom Line: While the matured property markets are adopting evolving best practices, the Indian market is not offering even the basic consumer rights to the homebuyers. 

Homebuyer Confusion, Confused homebuyer, Homebuyers grievances, Homebuyers' legal options, India real estate news, Indian property market news, Track2RealtySome discussions about best practices in the Indian real estate has started because today the investors also do not want their money to be locked in an asset that is neither growing nor is likely to get delivered. Worse even, there is no authority or court in India that has been successful in getting a stalled project restarted or in forcing a bankrupt builder into selling his assets to compensate his allottees.

AS Sivaramakrishnan, Head – Residential Services, CBRE South Asia maintains that product quality and product delivery, along with pace of construction, are becoming the current key words in customer satisfaction for home purchases. Especially with the implementation of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, these practices will become even more important for development firms to keep in mind.

“A key area of differentiation between mature global markets and the housing market in India lies in the fact that all aspects of developing and maintaining a residential project are handled by professional firms, unlike the case in India. Developers should increasingly focus on their product rather than on marketing paraphernalia, which will help in controlling market perceptions,” says Sivaramakrishnan.

Vineet Relia, Managing Director, SARE Homes feels transparency, fair norms and delivering on promises made either verbally or in the builder-buyer agreements are imperative to change negative perceptions. Moreover, instead of a commodity-selling approach, developers should adopt a value-based, professional approach that keeps customers fully informed about all the benefits of investing in a particular project. A professional approach can ensure all unique project propositions – location, amenities, pricing, after-sales service and other salient points – are made crystal clear to customers. Transparency in all dealings and practices is required to transform perceptions about the Indian real estate industry.

“Best practices in Indian real estate were majorly non-existent, until recently. Moreover, each market has its own drivers and challenges, which differ from other markets. Comparisons can therefore be odious and misplaced. But the best practices used by a few professional developers compare favourably with the best globally, including that in emerging markets. But consistent performance, proper pricing of products and excellent service at all times – before, during and after sales – can play a pivotal role in the success of any developer and such practices are bound to gain ground in the days ahead,” says Relia.

The need of the hour is to take lessons from streamlined markets abroad and introduce comprehensive disclosure norms. For instance, US home buyers are entitled to receive a number of disclosures during the course of the house purchase.

These disclosures give a homebuyer a somewhat transparent and fair picture of what he is getting into. On the other hand, Indian home buyers sign agreements that are one sided. They even get unpleasant surprises in terms of hidden costs.

Analysts believe bulk of the challenges or the evils can be addressed if the RERA is implemented sincerely and effectively. The judiciary is getting more and more conscious and discharging consumer related cases quickly and in most cases with a consumer protection mindset.

While the homebuyers in mature markets may be having a level playing field, the Indian buyers are struggling for the most basic consumer rights. The demands of the buyers in this part of the world are not very unrealistic.

Some of the common issues are: 

Title assurance and right to see all approvals in place

Rates based on carpet area

Right to a full refund within 30 days of booking

Equal penalty for delay in completion

No change in area bought

No hidden charges or escalation charges

Separate escrow account mechanism

Free first transfer

Fair agreements with indemnities for delays, poor workmanship etc.

Open and transparent communication throughout the project period

These are not very unreasonable expectations and can be achieved without any extra burden, if only the developer is committed to adopt best practices. However, that is easier said than done and Indian real estate has a long way to go before we claim to be at par with the developed countries.

There is a lot that needs to be done at government level as well to instill confidence in homebuyers. Land titling, title insurance, quick judicial remedies, standardisation of numerous norms etc are areas yet to be addressed.

By: Ravi Sinha

 

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