Tag Archives: Investment in property

Honest journalism needs honest eco system

Posted on by Track2Realty
Diary of a real estate journalist

View Point: It is much easier to blame the lack of honest journalism in the space of Indian real estate, but honest journalist is a liability for the vast universe of the developers. Ravi Sinha finds that the cribbing of developers against media dishonesty apart, builders are the perpetrators of quid pro quo with self-glory defined as honest journalism. 

Ravi Sinha, Real estate journalist, Real estate blogger, Real estate analyst, Real estate brand rating, Diary of a real estate journalist, Property journalist diary, Open letter to builders, Buyer writes to builders, Journalist writes to builders, Property journalists credibility, Credibility of real estate journalists, Media and real estate, Media and property market, Journalists in the property market“Why should I take media seriously when the entire world knows that you can get anything published at a price?” questions a builder in the course of an informal discussion. Well, he was more or less echoing my sentiments only. I have always raised the issue of paid news and blatant violation of all journalistic ethics in the space of Indian real estate.

But wait! I had my own reasons to counter him and question his contribution to create an honest eco system. After all, I was also conscious of the fact that quest for media honesty has been mere overtones of a developer who wanted to take moral high ground in front of a journalist like me. My reputation always travels fast to make the other side conscious of the reality that he is meeting someone whom he would not be able to influence, forget buying out.

I am often told that I am playing with fire. Being so critical and upfront could be detrimental for my career and the media company that I represent. I am well aware of the fact that cribbing of the developers in their collective consciousness is not against dishonesty in media, but not being able to influence the journalists without a quid pro quo. In order to define and often dictate what should be the news point the real estate companies have to shell out money, and that is what is pinching them. 

It is hence no surprise that the so-called real estate magazines (I wonder if these are not marketing brochures) are full of developer’s glory, often as blatantly as glorifying one’s personal life or social life and elevating them as the God’s gift to the world of Indian business.

And why to blame these petty shops of real estate publications when the track record of mainline media is no better? Call it overt barter or covert quid pro quo but the fact of the matter is that every positive review and every coverage is earned with a price tag.

Even the builders’ version being quoted in industry specific stories are mostly plug ins. It doesn’t need a media expert to spot it out but even the common homebuyer can today assess what is a paid news. Some of these developers, especially in Delhi-NCR, are giving their pearls of wisdom to the real estate supplements of mainline dailies, repeatedly the same voices week after week, and carry home a feel good factor in peer groups.

I am still not sure to what extent it actually adds to sales velocity, forget any meaningful contribution to their respective brands. One of the English dailies recently ranked a relatively lesser known developer higher than other leading brands in the same Delhi-NCR market. The developer had apparently complained to the marketing team for not getting any tangible ROI or news coverage with this newspaper. It is a different matter that the said developer privately admitted to me that even he is not convinced with his higher ranking. It nevertheless proved to be good marketing tool for him to showcase it across the office premises.

And it is here that I was upfront in showing mirror to this developer who expected the honest journalism to be a one-sided journey. Howsoever I may hate this culture of give & take for a piece of news, it is not the fault of the journalists alone. After all, most of these poor scribes are freelancers, who are so meagerly paid that the exploitative mindset of large media houses goads them to survive on the MEA (Media Entertainment Allowance) of these publicity hungry builders

It definitely suits both the sides – builders as well as these journalists. Who cares for honest journalism? Why would they even bother to invest through legitimate means to a media that is balance enough to have critical overtones and points out what is not well within the sector.

Most of the awards in the sector are hence rigged and come with a price tag. When I see a real estate company with the tagline of ‘India’s most awarded real estate company’ I hang my head with shame rather than feeling confident about that developer. But the quid pro quo has definitely gone to the next level in Indian real estate today. I rather wonder isn’t it embarrassing when the industry body NAREDCO nowadays awards to those media groups and journalists who in return award the officiating developers in exchange.

I often question how will honest journalism survive in this eco system. It is not that I don’t face the challenges and resistance of not being a party to this cartel of corruption. Forget the builders, even a large section of builders’ ‘paid & pet’ journalists have issues with me. I am, after all, a game spoiler for them who is spreading the negativity with brutal honest and ruthless journalism.

I was once told by this Ghaziabad-based builder who was upset with reports of NGT violations in his micro market by one of the leading English dailies, “Why should I advertise with this newspaper which pins down our market?” “Excuse me!” Even though an informal chat, I took it as on offence. “You are not doing any charity gentleman. You are advertising with this newspaper because you are getting the ROI of sales enquiries with phone calls. Will you advertise with a newspaper (more credible but much lesser in circulation) for supporting high quality journalism?” The developer was now silent and deep within I knew I had earned one more frenemy.   

I believe in any given profession if you conduct with ethics and refuse to be a party to larger universe of corrupt coterie you will earn more enemies than friends. It is hence no wonder that whispers and rumours galore about me. The recent one that I heard is to be helping PR agencies and builders in exchange of my cut. I found it so funny that could not resist instantly sharing it with the world at large.

Through my social media post I also had a message for my critics: “Next time when you give me cut either give it by cheque or in case of cash grab it in your CCTV to expose me.”My not so dear critics! Grow up and get more creative. Such juvenile jibes only expose your insecurity against an honest journalist.

ROI (read sales enquiry) or WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) is what drives the developers in this part of the world. I can understand that it is business. But then don’t take a moral high ground that you are victim of dishonest journalists around you. You are rather perpetrators of dishonest media. You have never supported honest journalism in your business.

It is not that honest journalism and its objective assessment of your projects won’t give you ROI. I have a few case studies in Indian real estate where some of the cleaner players dealing only with objective and honest journalists have healthier balance sheets, consumer confidence and overall brand goodwill. But to translate those case studies as an industry reality, most of these developers have to raise their professional standards and think differently. The mindset, however, is: why to take so much of pain when the quid pro quo is the tried, tested & trusted short cut methodology?

In this eco system survival as an honest media company and ethical journalist has its own challenges. Being into the objective brand rating of Indian real estate, I am now used to face ignorant rant, cuss words and half-baked perspective of the developers who fail to get higher ranked with our reports. After all, every developer is somehow ‘Number One’ for having delivered (in many cases promising to deliver) iconic superstructures.

However, what I am not used to, and something that makes me pretty uncomfortable, is the Triple C (Convince, Confuse or Corrupt) mindset of the developers to get higher ranked. And what better way to force it down my neck than through marketing channels. The marketing team is often reminded by these developers that they don’t advertise with us because they are not being offered ROI. In this case ROI is nothing but rating of their choice that they could display.

Meeting with an honest and open mind to understand SWOT analysis of their brand’s market standing and ways & means to improve their perception is something that only a handful of developers have tried with me.

Then there is another challenge for honest journalism which even the builders are mostly unaware of – a cut for advertising to the corporate communication.  Right from the creative agency to printer and each and every vendor is expected to share the part of inflated bills to the communication, marketing or sales team that facilitates the work. In some of the cases it is worse than the government offices. 

For example, a Noida-based real estate company has hired a Mumbai-based creative agency at a monthly retainership of INR 3.5 lakh. The said agency is not worth more than INR 1 lakh even in its home turf, forget about the pathetic cut & paste in the name of creativity. Most of these corporate communications professionals wish to maintain a safe distance with an honest but problematic media company like us.

What is most appalling is the fact that even in cases where the developer is aware about what is going on at his office, it is business as usual. I remember I once pointed out to one Noida-based developer as to what kind of bad (read corrupt) reputation his corporate communications have in the market. But to my utter shock the developer tells me, “I know it! But what to do? I can only control it to some extent. From where do I get clean professionals. In this sector this petty pocketing is in the DNA of most of the professionals.”

Needless to add, the developer himself has given enough leeway to his corrupt team. Flexible amount is earmarked for MEA to somehow manage the negative media coverage of his delays & denials to the buyers and investors.

Honest journalism has always been a liability for the Indian real estate. Forget investing into the right kind of media, the sector has rather tried best to crush the voices of dissent. Industry body CREDAI went on to the extent of asking members to not advertise with a few newspapers which were also reporting negative news (as per their definition) about the sector.  

It is a different matter that this arm-twisting to control the media with self-defined version of negative news failed. After all, those who had to launch projects were not ready to take mandate by a voluntary group which serves the purpose of no one, other than select few lobbying more for self than sector. The prevailing mindset nevertheless is that if you don’t fit into our convenience you have no right to live in this space.

The space that I love – honest & high quality journalism in Indian real estate – is quite costly. After having spent now a decade as a real estate journalist, it would be an under-statement to say that I still feel uncomfortable with the ground realities of this sector. Yes! I have made a handful of good friends too, who understand and value honest and high quality journalism. That is where I have survived and made honest journalism sustainable despite of dishonest eco system around me.

Bouquets and brickbats are part of any challenging job but a recent mail by a Singapore-based investor made my day. He writes, “I don’t think across the world anyone does this kind of brand rating like Track2Realty BrandXReport. It is not easy and definitely won’t earn you friends among the larger universe of stakeholders. Everyone has better opinion of self than actual market perception. Isn’t it? It is not just good brain that can produce such high quality journalism but one has to be ruthless and single point focus…..” Yes sir! It is indeed my ruthlessness and single point focus that gives me strength and conviction in a market where I have less friends and more enemies, and even more in number are Frenemies.

Despite some encouragements, more often than not this eco system continues to disappoint me.  At times I wonder for how long will I manage to maintain my integrity and be seen as someone who is a challenger to swim against the tide. At personal level as a journalist, I feel there is so much to do in this sector; there is so much to explore; help all stakeholders with honest, objective ad informed choices. But I am also conscious of the fact that the large universe of players is not ready to support honest journalism, despite of otherwise cribbing against media dishonesty.

The day I quit real estate journalism it will definitely be a loss to me. But what about the sector? Well, the show of quid pro quo will go on and façade is always cleaner than mirror for the large share of vested interests. My quest for honest journalism is nevertheless stronger than the builders’ resistance to define what is honest & positive news.

Honest journalism & demands of quid pro quo 

Asking for an honest media is easy, supporting that honesty is not

Indian real estate wants to define honest journalism as per their convenience

Paying to undue demands of dishonest journalists pinches but an honest journalist is a far greater threat

Corrupt practices to buy out journalists are encouraged when the developer has so much to conceal 

 

 

CSR strategy not critically linked to brand image

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Track2Realty Exclusive

Bottom Line: There are very few smart developers to understand the benefits of CSR as a means to leverage the band reputation. For most of them it is a mandatory compliance and hence budget is exhausted towards what pleases the self, finds Ravi Sinha.  

Tata Wallbook, CSR, 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, Track2RealtyA real estate company organizes painting competition and media is bombarded with press release as if this earth shattering news would change the world 

Another realty company takes a moral high ground with clean the city kind of sweeping drive for a day; media is invited to showcase the mega event of giving back to the society

More money is spent on the photo shoot and event management than the blood donation camp in the name of CSR

School for the children of construction workers is organized due to the compelling need to make the labours stick to it, and media is made to believe the realty company is a benchmark of socially conscious corporate entity 

Food is distributed to the construction workers and media is forced to believe that this massive selfie session is best CSR on the earth   

Welcome to the world of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the Indian real estate. The ground reality is that the real estate companies today get into CSR for fulfilling mandatory provisions and/or tax adjustments than any real concern for the society.

CSR definitely means different things to different realty companies and hence Indian realty fails to link CSR strategy with their overall brand image.

The corporate social responsibility in the Indian corporate sector has thus far failed to made inroads as a strategy. The leading brands have thus far failed to shift their focus to broader and deeper issues surrounding sustainability, accountability and governance concerns.

A number of developers argue that with real estate being a localized business, realty brands can afford to have a selective and partial approach in the formulation of CSR strategy. This is in contrast to the matured industries where a global brand strategy is defined from a multi-dimensional and multi-stakeholder perspective.

This brand strategy, however, fails in the Indian real estate that is predominantly a local business but is increasingly striving to be seen in global markets. The realty companies have yet failed to formulate CSR strategy that enhances brand image either from a local perspective or glocal (global & local) objective.

What probably deters the realty companies from CSR, even though they agree that ‘doing good’ is good for business, is that the exact return on investment (ROI) for CSR programmes remains hard to measure. 

The prevailing mindset of the business is such that everything is calculated in terms of ROI and ROI alone. This is the reason why the sector is so sales centric and nit brand centric in terms of its communication and outreach to the society.

However, experience from other industries suggest that companies that make CSR a core pillar of their operations directly enhance their employee morale, agent tenure, the health of the communities where they work, and importantly, their bottom line.

Another deterrent is that the nature of the business of real estate is very individualistic, whereas one of the first things to do when considering a CSR program is to think about your CSR partners. Working with local organizations can lend credibility to your efforts while increasing local exposure and overall community goodwill.

“It is generally believed in the sector that CSR can not be a brand driver the way other branding efforts are being evaluated in terms of ROI. However, this is one business where the investment of buyers is highest and hence word of mouth publicity plays a critical role. If CSR is adopted and practiced in the right spirit, it could give a facelift to the overall brand reputation of the brand,” says Vijay Menon, a CSR professional.

CSR brings a company to limelight as a socially responsible company. It also goes to say that a company understands the need of the day towards the entire society, may it be towards green revolution or towards special ability children or even patients with terminal illness who cannot afford treatment.

This forms a very different kind of branding for a company and has a rub off effect on the company rather than direct branding impact. CSR is, therefore, seen more as a responsibility towards the society rather than a business promotion activity.

“The broader understanding of the CSR clearly indicate that it must be linked to brand positioning in the overall scheme of things. To say that brands must operate responsibly in the communities they serve. is particularly true of real estate brands, as the category has historically been mired with perception issues,” says Vibha Uniyal, an advertising professional.   

CSR activities are a credible brand building tool and must be leveraged. While there have been very few case studies in effective CSR strategy by the Indian real estate, some of the much-hyped endeavours seem to have not moved ahead of project level.

On the contrary, certain low key but meaningful CSR programmes are increasingly being noticed and also giving a much-needed corporate outlook to the companies in a sector where developers strive to be seen as corporate.

While the value of a comprehensive CSR program can not be understated, the Indian real estate has by and large been slow to adopt. It seems the developers are unaware of the implications and costs of such a program, and its critical linkage to ROI and brand enhancement.

Some more matured property markets globally have successfully defined the CSR programmes for the right reasons. Their Indian counterparts are scaling up gradually but in order to remain authentic, it is critical that all levels of management are committed to a comprehensive CSR program for the right reasons — and not simply for financial gains, selfie sessions and some media visibility. 

 

 

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

Generation change in Noida real estate

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Track2Realty Exclusive

Bottom Line: There are many second generation developers in Noida real estate market but most of them are living in the shadow of fathers. Track2Realty speaks to a cross section of people who defend the privileged lot as being more process driven.  

Two generations, Clash of generations, Second generation builder, Second generation property developer, Young property developer, India real estate news, Indian realty news, Real estate news India, Indian property market news, Invest in property, Realty Plus, Track2Realty, Realty Fact, Realty NXT, Realty Myths, Housing.com, Construction World, Housing news, Makaan.com, PropEquity, Liases Foras, Prop TigerWhether it is the clash of two generations or natural progression where the generation next has taken the business forward to the next level, the tale of two generations has always been a subject of interest in the business community.

The dynamics of the two generations get all the more curious in the business of real estate since the nature of the business is such that often the grounded wisdom of the first generation is juxtaposed to the fancy ideas of the second generation.

In Noida market many second generation developers have overtaken the business and hence it is worth a look to evaluate the performance of the respective generations. This can also show the way forward as far as the growth and future of the city property market is concerned.

The fundamental question here is what has been the difference between the first generation and second generation in terms of functioning. In Noida market there are a number of second generation real estate developers and what makes the curious case of generation gap newsworthy is the fact that they are living in the shadow of their illustrious fathers.

Market watchers also point out that Noida is a case study in the Indian real estate where the generation change has been symbolic and not substantive. It is a market lacking innovations where the second generation has not been noticed on their own.

Analysts point out that it is not just about being two different generations, but two different thought process and work culture in many of the cases. This difference of operations can therefore confuse any market tracker.

While the first generation real estate entrepreneurs secured their positions in this most competitive field adopting conventional methods of construction technology and business practices; the second generation is more dependent on  technology, branding and latest construction practices prevalent in developed countries banking upon on the reputation they inherited from their predecessors.

Experienced with the transition of the business to his next generation, RK Arora, CMD of Supertech maintains that it won’t be right to say second generation lacks the understanding of ground realities of business. According to him, the second generation is privileged with strong business foundation, established brand reputation, protected opportunities and lower risks.  They are exposed to the real estate atmosphere from their childhood making them capable to face any challenge once the business is handed over to them.

“Transformation is taking place in Noida real estate as well.  Once the real estate in Noida was all about construction of flats and housing complexes but the situation is fast changing.  With the transformation of the city into an international hub, the real estate needs are also changing.  Malls, multiplexes, sports complexes, infrastructure, educational institutions, IT & ITeS parks and much more come under the umbrella of real estate,” says Arora.

A second generation developer Nikhil Hawelia, Managing Director of Hawelia Group saysthe core of the business remains the same but functional difference can be said in terms of use of technology. According to him, living in an era where new technology is coming or changing very fast, the second generation keeps pace with the developments. They try to bring in innovation, technology and international aspirations into the world of property that has been rather old-school so far. 

“I do not agree that second generation lacks the understanding of ground realities of real estate business. To some extent it also depends on the natural instinct of understanding the nuances of real estate business. If the person has right understanding of the business and organizational skills, he or she can be seen as a right person to take bigger responsible role for the company,” says Hawelia.

In contrast, a first generation developer in Noida real estate, Abhay Kumar, CMD of Grih Pravesh Buildteck says the second generation developers get most of the things in plate by their fathers and forefathers.

The first generation developers have provided deep pockets to their successors where they have ample margin to commit errors and keep trying till they get success; at the same time they get huge experience of their predecessors easily available. Combination of funds and experience of their father creates ground for success.

“Second generation developers are usually not nurtured from the scratch level whereas the first generation developers are extremely hard working and also they enjoy good relations in the society which is an added advantage. Second generation developers are usually too professional, lacking the in-depth knowledge of the creation per say. They are in general well educated but not well trained. It has been observed that the human values are less in the second generation developers compared to the first generation ones. First generation developers try their best to nurture their children to become the best suited for the succession but mostly they are not able to hone overall skills,” says Abhay. 

What can be vouchsafed is that the transition has not given any case study of success to the Noida market. In some cases the baton has been passed to the next generation pretty successfully, while in most of the cases the first generation is busy in grooming the generation next.

Some of the second generation developers have actually been credited with the skyline of Noida getting changed drastically in recent times. The city has witnessed some exceptional launches & construction of projects. But overall the large share of second generation developers are yet to arrive and are mostly living in the shadow of their fathers.

 

RICS appoints Nimish Gupta as Managing Director for South Asia

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News Point: RICS, the world’s leading professional body for qualifications and standards in land, property, infrastructure and construction, has appointed Nimish Gupta as Managing Director – South Asia, with effect from 1 August, 2018.

Nimish Gupta RICS, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, RICS South Asia, India real estate news, Real estate news India, Indian property market news, Indian realty news,  Realty Plus, Realty Fact, Realty Nxt, Realty Myths, Track2Realty The role will continue building on RICS’ current footprint in promoting the adoption of RICS’ professional standards and assurance regime in India’s growing real estate, valuation and construction sectors. Recent changes in the regulatory landscape for real estate and valuation in India provide a more progressive operating environment for professionalism.

RICS will continue to offer thought leadership, engaging with policymakers, end-users, service providers, employers and practitioners to foster trust in the built environment through enforced standards, transparency and accountability.

Commenting on the appointment, Will Myles, Regional Managing Director, Asia Pacific, RICS stated, “I am pleased to announce the appointment of Nimish Gupta as our new Managing Director who will be carrying forward the vision, planning and implementation of the RICS South Asia team. Nimish has the depth of knowledge as well as the drive, to accelerate the great work already underway in a key priority market for the Asia Pacific region.” 

With over 22 years of experience in real estate, construction, education training and technology adoption, Nimish built up a career within the built environment sector after graduating as an engineer from the National Institute of Technology.

He has previously held key senior positions within the real estate & construction industry including at Vipul Modern (a leading construction services provider), Laing o’ Rourke and Bovis Lend Lease, after starting his career with Larsen & Toubro, the largest construction company in India.

Commenting on the beginning of his new role, Nimish Gupta said, “I am honoured and excited to be part of the RICS Asia Pacific Leadership Team as part of a wider organization shaping the future through professional standards, innovation and thought leadership. I look forward to driving new ideas, products and services to raise the bar on our strategy, performance and industry recognition in this region.” 

Nimish, a Chartered Surveyor himself, has been closely associated with RICS since 2005 and was an integral part in the formation of the vision, planning and implementation of RICS South Asia, besides being amongst the first to qualify for the FRICS qualification in India.

For the last five years, Nimish is involved in educating, training and mentoring the next generation of Built Environment professionals at the School of the Built Environment. He joins RICS from Qonqests Technical Solutions, a fast-growing organisation in the project management, cost management and quantity surveying space.

Can affordablity drive luxury of weekend home?

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Track2Realty Exclusive

Bottom Line: Whether a weekend home should be luxury or affordable is an old debate. Ravi Sinha evaluates the two sides of the argument. 

Second homes, Holiday homes, Weekend homes, Investment homes, Leisure homes, Investment for weekend, India real estate news, Indian realty news, Real estate news India, Indian property market, Track2Media Research, Track2Realty

Weekend Home

Rakesh Gupta, a property agent operating out of Goa was surprised when Nikita Chaudhary, an NRI from Britain, told him that she is looking for a weekend home near the mountains. And her final choice would be subject to the price point as she is looking for an affordable option.

The broker who deals with high-end luxury properties of Goa & Mmbai-Pune region was asked to scout for property in places like Shimla, Manali, Kullu and Haridwar. He was nevertheles not sure what this NRI lady meant by affordable. He rather wondered about the seriousness of the deal.

“Isn’t a second home meant to be luxury property? Why would one go for an affordable option as a weekend home? Can an affordable budget buyer spend for a holiday home.” These were some of the questions that came to the thought of this property agent.

Gupta is not alone to have this dilemma when it comes to look for a second home with affordable options. As a matter of fact, the debate of whether a holiday home is necessarily a luxury property or affordable homes can also make their way to this elite league is quite old.

The proponents of weekend home as affordable peoperty believe it is the location that is a demand driver of holiday home and not the price point. This school of thought believes that a second home can also be bought with future appreciation in mind. Many of such weekend homes become the first home destination within a few years when the infrastructure is upgraded.   

Others believe it is the buyers’ profile that idetermines whether a second home would be affordable property or the luxury property. Of course, the rich and affluent buyers go for a weekend home for sheer luxury & pleasure of holidaying. The demand in this segment of buyers is more about the luxury amenities than pricing.

The mid segment of buyers, on the other hand, have budget in mind but are not ecessarily looking for low-cost houses. They want to enjoy the house as a weekend home and also look for the appreciation potential in future. So, it is investment as well as luxury with their given budget and tourist locations serves the dual purpose.

There is also a third set of buyers who buy properties in the second home locations as their first home. They are the buyers who look for locations that would be first home location in the next few years. Of course, the budget constraints force them to look for low-cost housing. Analysts believe this third set of buyers can not be classified as the second home buyers.

Luxury or affordable dilemma?

Equally lucrative market for high end and mid segment buyers

Amenities & luxury more important for high end buyers

Affordability a key concern for mid segment buyers

Location equally critical for all second home buyers

Over and above these three set of buyers, the developers believe it is the location that also determines what are the aspirations vis-à-vis the holiday homes. Nikhil Hawelia, Managing Director of Hawelia Group says it is all about the geographical presence of the buyers. For example, a location where one can buy his first home as a decent property within a budget of Rs. 1 crore will never go for a second home above Rs. 50 lakhs. But in places where a decent first home attracts a price of Rs. 3 crore the buyer will look for a second home around one to two crore rupees.

“This probably is the reason why there is so much of debate over the luxury and affordable options in the weekend homes. Of course, one living in Mumbai and going for a second home in Goa has a different outlook of property and pricing. Such buyer can not be compared with those who are living in Noida and going for a weekend home in Manali where the price point at both these locations are on the lower side,” says Hawelia. 

Santosh Naik, CEO & Managing Director of Disha Direct maintains that the options are individual-specific but every Indian now desires second home close to nature, from hills to the coast to get a refreshing break from the hectic lifestyle and spend quality time with their family. Being a real estate asset, second home is becoming a good investment option for savvy buyers.

“Looking at this opportunity many developers are coming up with new projects at various destinations. It is not surprising that second home sector is emerging as one of the fastest growing sector, growing at 70 per cent year on year for last few years,” says Naik.

In a nutshell, the second home is at a nascent stage in the Indian property market. It is hence debatable as to who are the major demand drivers – whether luxury buyers or the cost conscious & aspirational upward middle class. But what can be vouchsafed is the fact that the second home has demand drivers across the financial standings and one size fits all answer is not there for the developers also. They need to evaluate the location and the buyer profile to offer the right kind of second homes in the given market.

Desirable best practices in Indian real estate

Posted on by Track2Realty
Track2Realty Exclusive

Bottom Line: The urgent need of desirable best practices in the Indian real estate is indicative of harsh reality of the absence of regulation. Ravi Sinha writes that even beyond the RERA ambit, developers must adopt some of the best practices voluntarily to make sure they stay ahead of the competition.  

Best Practices, Indian real estate news, Indian property market news, Track2Realty, Transparency in Indian real estateDesirable practices in real estate are all about paradigm shift in the mindset that cannot be enforced. It comes with the higher awareness of how best practices rewards the developers in the current times.

The Indian real estate market has always been notorious for its lack of transparency, and the changes in recent times has been less than desirable. As India aspires to get clean money into the sector, the foreign funds too have high standards in terms of service quality and clarity.

The unethical practices in real estate are the product of a short-term, mercenary approach to the business. This phenomenon is most evident in smaller brokerages, which often have no more than a single dealing with many of their customers. The much-touted ‘Code of Conduct’ by industry body CREDAI just proved to be the lip service.

The fact remains that less than desirable practices are not only followed by the small-time operators but even some of the largest developers are biggest defaulters today.

In Mumbai an FIR was registered a couple of years back with the Malad Police Station, against a real estate developer and his sales manager for allegedly denying a Goregaon resident to buy a flat in a ‘veg-only’ under-construction residential building. 

This is not one of the incidents but in many cases the builders in their quest to attract a particular caste, community, religion or people having similar food habits cross the line that could easily be termed as not just arbitrary clause but also housing apartheid.

Missing best practices

A business that is way short of implementing mandatory compliances does not seem to care about desirable best practices

Desirable best practices nevertheless helps the company to step ahead of competition

Desirable best practices need paradigm shift in the mindset; this cannot be enforced by legislation alone

A section of developers maintains arbitrary policies to the extent of having housing apartheid to some caste, communities or food habits

Realty rating can be a differentiating factor in the market for both lenders and homebuyers to make an informed choice 

Cash deal is a market reality of real estate that no one would like to accept 

Realty rating needed

Realty ratings have not grown in India and the issue of objectivity also makes it prone to criticism. However, there is no second opinion that if a standardised mechanism of real estate rating is evolved, it can differentiate between the men and the boys in the business.

Analyst even point out that the real estate rating has to evolve beyond the mere financial rating of the account books. There has to be comprehensive rating, including the brand equity, buyers’ trust, past track record and his overall standing in the market. 

This will definitely differentiate between the serious developers and the fly-by-night operators. Objective and comprehensive real estate rating can also help the buyers in making an informed choice in a business where authentic research is a critical missing link.

Today, in any given micro market across the country the projects of various developers in the same segment of housing have more or less the same specifications. The claims are the same; offers are the same; and most of the time the marketing brochure of one company from the other is no different than just using different artistic elevations.

It really confuses the prospective buyers who have no scientific tool to cross check the developers’ past track record.

Many within the built environment of the Indian real estate admit that the sector is characterised by the presence of a large number of unorganised players, low level of institutional funding, labour and raw material shortages, and lack of adequate and timely operational information.

These inherent characteristics expose all the stakeholders to a very high degree of risk of delivery on account of the track record and ability of the promoter, legal clearances to the project, financial backing of the project and quality of construction. A rating therefore has the potential to be the differentiator.

Ratings are in fact objective assessment of various project related parameters. A robust due diligence process, strong methodology and rating/grading expertise of rating agencies are key enablers to the rating exercise. With the product being evolved recently and the sample size being small in comparison to numerous projects that are under construction pan-India, it is a long journey. With more projects being rated across cities, comparisons will be meaningful across projects.

A committee set-up by the Finance Ministry a few years back had more or less the same outlook when they had recommended rating based mechanism for lending. The committee had gone to the extent of suggesting that a developer who has a certain level of rating can afford capital at a lower rate of interest as against those who do not have higher rating.

Many of the developers had then objected these recommendations saying that it should not be made mandatory. That nevertheless does not undermine the fact that those who get themselves rated should be benefitted and then only it will encourage others also to adopt it.

Once the highly rated developers start getting the capital at a lesser rate and there is advantage of doing the right things, more and more developers will do it voluntarily and that may be the beginning of change.

No cash deals?

An advertisement by a real estate company proudly proclaims that ‘only cheque payments accepted’. Prima facie what it says is that no cash payment and no black money in buying the project. It, however, raises more questions in the minds of the buyers than answering the doubts about the acceptance of cash component by the developer.

Parking of black money is very much a reality of Indian real estate; though on face value everyone denies it. Despite of sitting over record inventory, liquidity crunch at company level and general macro-economic problems affecting the buyers’ affordability, if the real estate is still constantly appreciating in its capital values it is just due to the fact that ‘cash is king’ in the business.

As per a rough assessment of cash transactions in the real estate there are no less than 40 per cent of the money in the business as black. Many of the developers privately admit that they cannot do away with it as it starts from the entry point itself. The absence of financial modeling of the business and the lack of transparency and well-defined regulatory practices are fuelling this cartel.  

Since the banks do not finance the basic raw material, that is land, the developers have no choice but to look for money from sources which is often illegitimate. In this high risk transaction the major component is often unaccounted in the books. From there starts a vicious cycle of cash recycle as many of the initial investors in the project also play with black money only. They invest in the project for speculative reasons with cash in hands and are more often not backed by any bank finance.

Political money deep in system

When several Cabinet Ministers, Chief Ministers and Members of Parliament showed up at a wedding reception hosted by a developer, it fuelled media speculation of the developers’ proximity with them and supposedly their investment in his company. However, the insiders do not see anything unusual in it.

Requesting anonymity, a broker who claims to specialise in making high-profile real estate deals in the Delhi-NCR market says it is the best investment vehicle for politicians to park funds, as it is a safe avenue and fetches the highest return with the guarantee of a physical asset in case deal goes sour at any point of time. 

It is a symbiotic relation and if politicians need developers to park funds and convert black to white, realtors are too keen on linkages with politicians, both for funds and power. Such connections often help speed projects and in some cases get what is illegal converted into legal for clearances.

Many of the developers privately admit that it is very tough to do business without political backing in a system where even beyond the finance all the approvals and land holding is with the politicians.

Pranab Mukherjee as the then Finance Minister had presented a White Paper in the Parliament which suggested many initiatives to curb black money. The White Paper had even pitched for reforms in the cash vulnerable sector like real estate. Nothing seems to have moved in that direction and business goes on without bothering much about the colour, source or legitimacy of the currency.

Not all are still ready to admit the existence of black money in the sector. However, most of the real estate companies are not listed ones and account books do not get even the entry of unaccounted money collected in cash. As a matter of fact, it made headlines for weeks when the Income Tax raid found over Rs. 100 crore in the basement of a Delhi-NCR based developers’ mall.

 

Housing.com launches ‘Housing Partner Assistant’ app

Posted on by Track2Realty

News Point: It aims to enable the sellers to receive instant alerts and manage home seekers effectively with a single click.

Housing.com, Indian real estate news, India real estate magazine, Indian property market, NRIs, Online Real Estate Transactions, Track2Media Research, Track2RealtyHousing.com, part of Elara Technologies which also owns PropTiger.com and Makaan.com, has launched “Housing Partner Assist” app to help the sellers manage listings, home seekers and much more with a single tap on their phones.

This new intuitive app will enable sellers to list properties at their convenience and receive instant alerts on home seekers for the property and contact the buyers immediately with a single click on the mobile screen.

Moreover, the expert filter options of the app will enable sellers focus on priority home seekers and close deals faster.

With the help of this new cutting-edge app, the sellers can list the properties in simple steps and click on the property to get a detailed view. Additionally, sellers can edit, add more details and photos of the promoted properties to improve the quality score and boost the rankings in the search results page.

Using the app, the sellers can refer to the potential customer’s requirement summary to shortlist relevant properties before scheduling a meeting.

Commenting on the development, Ravi Bhushan, Group CPTO, Housing.comPropTiger.com and Makaan.com said, “Within the real estate classifieds industry, Housing.com has always differentiated itself on the basis of superior product usability and consumer experience. With our new app “Housing Partner Assist’ app, sellers can avoid the conventional and cumbersome lead generation process and get off to a speedier start in this fiercely competitive industry. We are confident that the new app will create additional value for the sellers in improving business revenue and provide more control to build trust with buyers.” 

As the app will enable sellers to be more engaged, buyers will receive timely response from sellers and will be able to find the best-suited homes in a shorter period. For instance, the expert filter option of the app makes it possible to manage one’s property portfolio on a single screen and with its help one can navigate through the properties and find the right one for home seekers very quickly.

The app provides the option of real-time promotion of properties to sellers that can help them better manage day-to-day business activities with less investment of time to ensure improved productivity, better customer service and more satisfied clients.

The new app is available on both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store for iOS and Android users respectively.

Supertech disowns firefighting at Eco Village I; intimidates buyers

Posted on by Track2Realty
Track2Realty Exclusive

News Point: Supertech disowns firefighting responsibility at project Eco Village I, Greater Noida West, and intimidates the suffering homebuyers. Ravi Sinha reports on the classic case of callousness and high handedness on part of the builder.  

Supertech Eco Village 1, Greater Noida West, Supertech Limited, Fraud by Supertech, Cheating by Supertech, Worst builder of Delhi NCR, Supertech threatens buyers, Buyers protest against Supertech, Worst property market of India, Firefighting failure by Supertech, Indias real estate news, Indian realty news, Real estate news India, Indian property market news, Investment in property, Investment in Greater Noida West, Track2Realty, Realty Facts, Realty PlusIt may sound to be a naïve query to ask whose responsibility is it to ensure the firefighting readiness in a housing apartment. However, the query has raised since the developers in Greater Noida West have been given such a free rein by the regulatory agencies that it seems the developer can even question the homebuyers for its own failure of firefighting.

The memories of Uphaar Tragedy on the fateful day of 13thJune, 1997, that claimed the lives of 59 and injured over 100 people, have not faded from the public memory. But it seems the developers in this part of the world are not ready to learn any lessons. For them firefighting is a mandatory provision that just needs to be installed, irrespective of its functionality.

The latest incident is at Supertech Eco Village I, Greater Noida West, which is one of the largest societies of the micro market and hence poses greater threat to the human lives. There are altogether 7,500 apartments in Supertech Eco Village 1 and in the partly delivered project around 2,000 families have already taken possession. Furthermore, in a market where density is higher than Noida and Greater Noida, such failures indicate large-scale violations of mandatory norms for the safety of the residents.

It has been only earlier this month that a fire broke out in the chimney of the kitchen in one of the apartments of the project. However, neither the fire alarm worked during the accident nor the maintenance staff were found to be pro-active or professionally trained to deal with such an eventuality.

Thereafter, on the homebuyers’ insistence the maintenance team agreed to check their own firefighting readiness in each of the towers. It could nevertheless prove to be a comedy of errors and the developer was exposed in front of the residents of the society that the housing complex is not ready to handle any future incident of fire.

In one such trial & error with the firefighting, it was more of an error than trial, leading to fire sprinklers getting burst in one of the apartments. The corrosion in the automatic fire sprinkler system had blocked it to the extent that it could only explode with the increasing water pressure.

It completely damaged the said apartment, paint of the wall and the buyer’s LED TV, Laptop and bed mattresses were all damaged. In a housing apartment where the quality of construction is pretty pathetic the incident only disfigured the walls.

What happened thereafter could be termed as not only callous response on part of the builder’s team but also high handedness and intimidating. The poor homebuyer was blamed for poor upkeep and maintenance of the fire sprinklers.

This nevertheless raises more questions than it could settle the issue of firefighting failure. Track2Realty asked these questions to Supertech through an email but the developer did not respond.

The questions that Supertech need to answer are: 

Q. How is a homebuyer responsible for the firefighting & sprinkler system failure?

Q. Whose responsibility is it to maintain the firefighting system?

Q. How is buyer responsible for firefighting sprinkler failure? Can someone play football with it?

Q. Why has Supertech kept the firefighting pipes open & scattered inside the apartments where the only option for a homebuyer is to get it covered with a false ceiling or façade? 

Q. Who will be responsible for any future mishap in the housing society that lacks the mandatory firefighting system in place?

Q. Doesn’t the law of natural justice demand that Supertech compensate the homebuyer’s damage to the property?

These questions are now in the public domain since an arrogant builder, Supertech has, as usual, dared to not respond to the media queries.

However, the residents of the society are getting restless. As more and more homebuyers gathered together to put pressure on the builder and asking for compensation to a fellow neighbour of the housing society, the officials of Supertech invited them for a meeting.

The meeting was more of intimidation to the homebuyers than any honest intent to settle the issue. Track2Realty has a sting audio recording of the meeting between the homebuyers and Supertech officials where the management did not take the onus of fault upon them. They first tried to intimidate the residents, even calling themselves too senior and powerful to grant time for the meeting, and then put the blame on the contractor of the project.

The contractor was then pressurized to commit to compensate the damage to the homebuyer. Under duress, the contractor agreed to compensate over there but then refused to honour his commitments immediately after the meeting.

The issue, however, is much larger. It is not just one case of a victim homebuyer asking for his due compensation that is being denied by the builder. It is a question of safety and security of human lives. The homebuyers of Supertech Eco Village 1 are still not convinced with the proper functioning of firefighting alarm and sprinkler. The builder as usual is trying the level best to silence the homebuyers.

The Greater Noida Authority and Fire Department is as usual least bothered about this potential threat to human lives. The question is whether they are waiting for another Uphaar Tragedy to wake up and take cognizance and, more importantly, act against the erring builder Supertech?

Sowparnika promises Studio Apartment in Bangalore at INR 10 lakh

Posted on by Track2Realty

Bottom Line: The developer promises amodel that will revolutionise the real estate segment with high-quality first homes optimized to meet the needs of new-age customers at price of a Hatchback.

Sowparnika Projects and Infrastructure, Studio apartment in Bangalore, Bengaluru studio apartments, Affordable housing in Bangalore, New project launches in Bengaluru, India real estate news, Indian realty news, Real estate news India, Indian property market news, Investment in property, Track2Realty, Realty Plus, Realty FactSowparnika Projects & Infrastructure introduces ‘Positive Homes’ a unique proposition designed and developed based on new age customers demand. Positive Homes comes with uncompromising features and fixtures and price that is unheard of, all-inclusive price of around INR 10 lakhs for a Studio. 

The over 3 Lakhs sq ft of 1stPositive Homes series is expected to be completed in record time of two years. The developer claims it to be a result of Sowparnika’s innovative model developed through experience gained over 15 years from projects across Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. This is being perfected and put into practice in Bangalore, through its ‘Positive Homes’ series.

The stringent standards it follows, 360-degree in-house process, Vertical Integration and efficient construction methods have helped Sowparnika optimize its resources to meet the demands of the new-age customers at an enviable price point.

The city experiences influx of around 8 lakh people every year and most of them are the 1stjob seekers, first time entrepreneurs and even job shifters crowd. A study suggests that buying home is the first in the wish list of 80% of the 1stjob seekers, entrepreneurs and even the floating population and that is a huge opportunity.

Sowparnika wants to capitalise this opportunity in building luxury homes which suits their aspirational lifestyle at an enviable pricing which they will not feel the pain to pay without compromising their lifestyle.

Sowparnika is geared to crack the conundrum of this tough market, and has been working to make luxury housing within reach of everyone.

“Our mission is to create homes for all, homes which are in best locations, accessible easily and that to homes with minimal cost of ownership (Less repairs and maintenance). Homes that are sturdy, equipped with best fixtures and with efficient space design. With positive locations, Positive Designs, Positive Vastu, Positive Specifications and above all Positive Pricing, we are introducing our ‘Positive Homes’in Bengaluru which are the perfect homes keeping in mind the aspirations of the new-age customers. The starting price of our flat is Rs 10 lakhs for which the EMI will be same as the rent of a Studio,” saidRamji Subramaniam, Managing Director, Sowparnika Projects & Infrastructure, while speaking about Positive Homes entry into the city. 

Keeping the aspirations and needs of the new-age customers in mind, the ‘Positive Homes’project claims to be a perfect choice in terms of location, pricing, ambience, specifications and design.

This model is destined to ensure high absorption rates. Sowparnika’s ‘Positive Homes’ is all set to debut in Bengaluru as Sowparnika Indraprastha– Soukya Road, off Whitefield and Sowparnika Unnathi, Attibele Junction on May 26th, 2018. The model has been successfully tested and proven in Thiruvananthapuram and is now being replicated in Bengaluru after the successful stint.

“This model is a success because of the way Sowparnika functions. Our architects optimise space. Using 360-degree construction helps in cutting overheads. The model has worked well for us and the benefit of the same has been passed on to our customer in terms of cost. We also believe in the traditional method of mass-construction which cuts the wastage of raw materials. We are also able to full proof this model with Resource optimisation and volume buy. In this age of cut-throat competition, one needs to come up with innovative, out-of-the-box solutions to sustain in the competitive market,” adds Ramji Subramaniam.

The innovative business model of Sowparnika has helped us complete our projects within the stipulated time frame, thus cutting the cost of servicing the loans.

“Because of our track record of on-time delivery, most of our past customers have come forward and have shown interest in booking our new project ‘Positive Homes’. We have achieved the punctuality tag because of our relationship with vendors and partners. Our vendors have confidence in us which is why we face no issues in procuring raw materials. Therefore, there is no room for project delays,” said Raja Mukherjee, CMO, Sowparnika Projects and Infrastructure.

The salient features of ‘Positive Homes’ include Vaastu compliance and has seen the use of brands like Asian Paints, American Standard Bathroom Fittings, Polycab Wires, Schneider Electrical Fittings, Somany Tiles, Johnson Lifts, Futura Kitchen Sinks partnering us to provide quality lifestyle that resonate a positive vibe.

TheCompany’s vision is to be one of the top 10 preferred brands in the Housing & Infrastructure arena, by Delivering Happiness and Value for a Lifetime. Their mission is to become one among the top ten housing & infrastructure companies of South India, to achieve INR 1,000 crore turnover and a successful IPO by 2022, provide high-quality value homes through continuous innovations, improvements and timely delivery, create a culture of consistent growth and offer a transparent work environment that enhances employee excellence.

Some of the projects of Sowparnika in Bengaluru include Flamenco (Sarjapur), Columns (Whitefield), Tharangini (Sarjapur), Purple Rose (Hoskote), Sanvi Phase 2 (Whitefield), Swastika 2 (Sarjapur) and Pranathi (Kumbalgodu).

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