Tuesday 27 December 2016

The Real Estate Forecast for 2017

Deregulation will be the key to future success of the sector

The year 2016 brought in ground breaking changes and transformation in the real estate industry that had not been witnessed for the past two decades. The various policy initiatives taken by the government will boost transparency and credibility of the sector in the long run.

Deregulation will be the key to the success of various government initiatives such as Housing for All by 2022, AMRUT, Smart Cities. A major impediment to real estate development in India remains the approval process. While the government has done a lot to ease the functioning of the real estate sector and protect the consumers, it must get the statutory authorities responsible for clearing the projects within the purview of law. Administrative reforms should be made to facilitate quicker approval process which will help developers complete and handover projects on time. This will infuse confidence in home buyers and make it attractive to global institutional investors as well thereby providing a huge opportunity for the sector to grow and mature keeping customers as priority.

The Government has rightfully laid great emphasis on improving India's ranking in the World Bank global Ease of doing Business Index and continuously monitors the same looking at improvements in ranking as a success. The same World Bank released an Ease of obtaining Construction Permits Index. Here India ranks a shocking 183 out of 187 countries. We are in the same club as war torn countries where institutions have collapsed and literally offices which accord approval have been bombed to rubble. It would be welcome if the Government can look into this as well and take pride to improve our rank on this index also.

In terms of policy changes in 2016, Demonetization seems to have had the maximum impact on the economy. While it has led to short term disruption, a long term analysis indicates it will positively impact the economy. Minimizing cash transactions will bring down the unorganized players and formalize the banking system. Keeping a hawk-eyed watch on cash transactions, the Government is trying to get a grip over unfair trade practices, one step at a time. Demonetization along with deregulation will work in favor of the sector and produce the desired results.

What’s in store for the buyers in 2017

It will be an extremely favorable year for home buyers on back of strong reforms implemented in 2016. To begin with, borrowing rates are expected to taper off in 2017 given the huge influx of money in the banks post demonetization. This can set off a cycle, wherein lower rates of interest will direct borrowers to avail more loans at attractive interest rates. In future, owing to low returns it will not be feasible to park one's savings in bonds or fixed deposits, so consumers will prefer to buy property in the future. A simple back of the hand calculation shows that a 1% reduction in home loan rates will lead to almost 7.5% savings in EMI, thereby putting more money in the hands of the consumers. The official economy will see a positive growth in the following months, elevating the purchasing power of the consumer, encouraging the consumers to invest more.

Home buyers can get excellent deals in the market as the industry has just begun to adjust to the new rules. This holds true especially for the first quarter of the year as most developers will look to sell existing inventory, so consumers must make the most of this opportunity and purchase property at attractive prices. New launches will get impacted early on so the demand for available inventory and ready to move in homes will increase. The rise in demand will ensure that prices remain firm and start the ascent once again. So, it will only benefit those buyers who act swiftly and purchase the property in the interim period.

Developers stand to gain too

While the first three months may test the waters for the real estate sector, as the year progresses the tide will turn in favor of the developers as well. There will be a spurt in demand as buyers will return to the market owing to attractive rates and good deals. The coming year will also see the demand shift from secondary market to primary construction owing to erosion of cash-linked sales. This will lead to better inventory utilization and ensure launch of new projects in the second half of the year. We can also expect significant foreign investments in the sector and increased participation from financial institutions, owing to better transparency and credibility post the policy changes initiated last year.

Also, 2017 will see consolidation in the industry on the back of the changing economic scenario that is likely to weed out devious real estate developers. The focus will be on creating products for varied segments of buyers instead of only catering to the luxury market. Demonetization will not affect the established players as transactions take place only through the legal route. The commercial real estate sector will also not be hurt as they cater to office/industrial leasing where all transactions are done through banking channels.

The demographics of our country ensure that the real estate sector needs to grow to meet the demands of an ever growing economy. India is currently growing at 6% per annum, but could reach double digits by 2019 if deregulation is in place. The future of India and the future of real estate are intertwined with each other.

Wednesday 30 November 2016

Why Getting Home Insurance Could Be One Of The Most Important Decisions You'll Ever Make

Returning to the comfort of our home is probably one of the most relatable sentiments we can all share and appreciate. Your home is the most expensive and precious asset of all, not only because of the financial aspect but also because so many of your emotions are invested in that one home. This is why understanding home insurance is so important and evaluating the pros and cons of home insurance before making your decision is a real necessity.

Understanding home insurance:

On a very basic level, you avail of home insurance to safeguard your property against physical and financial liabilities. Nowadays home insurance packages are tailored to cater to the specific requirement of the home owners. Here are a few pointers to help you understand these requirements:

1.    Insurance can be for only the building (structure) of your home, or only the contents (belongings) or both.

2.    You will receive a complete coverage against financial liabilities arising from the damage/loss of your home and/or its contents due to natural or man-made reasons.

3.    Additional covers like Burglary and Theft Cover for the contents in your property are also available.

4.    Another feature is additional expenses of rent for alternative accommodation. If you are forced to shift into an alternative accommodation because your home is destroyed or damaged by any insured peril, the insurance will cover your rent.

5.    Besides this, financial institutes also provide home loan protection plans. The insurance company settles any outstanding amount on the home loan with the bank/lender in the event of death of the borrower. The policy term is usually the same as the loan tenure. This way, a borrower can ensure that his/her family will not have to vacate the house due to non-repayment of home loan after demise of the borrower.

As per a survey by Bajaj Allianz, 64 per cent of homeowners felt earthquakes and other natural calamities were the biggest risks their homes were exposed to, followed by fire (28 per cent) and thefts and burglaries (8 per cent).Yet, according to Business Standard, home insurance penetration in the country is a mere 0.07%, this means that 99.93% of the population is willing to leave an important asset unprotected.

What most homeowners need to understand is that in the event of a calamity that could leave you financially crippled, insurance will become your precious backup.

Most people in India won’t commit to insurance because it is not considered a necessity. The Tribune also pointed out that willing Indians are intimidated by the vague nature of home insurance. The fact that the penetration of general insurance industry in India was 0.78 per cent of GDP in 2014 and has barely increased since then does not help either.

It is important to realize that you cannot leave your home at the mercy of fate, because it could potentially be an act of god that wrecks your home. Home insurance will also safeguard your family from financial trouble and displacement. Face the legal aspects of home insurance head on, do your research, consider your options and take one of the most important decisions of your life. Get your home insured.

Monday 28 November 2016

The Evolution of Indian Home design

The 21st century has seen a major shift in the Indian architectural landscape. Each succeeding year has seen the emergence of newer and more innovative design trends. Whether it’s adapting ideas from the West or reverting back to the age-old Eastern systems, home designing has become a very important aspect of the developer’s plan for their next township or gated community.

Today, more and more homeowners are placing a premium on the way their homes are designed and planned. While different buyers choose different aesthetics when styling their homes, every buyer agrees on their desire for a well-designed space. This is one of the most important reasons for the constant evolution of Indian home designs. History is the best way to gain an insight into this evolution.

Centuries of Tradition

 Although traditionally designed homes faced stagnation post liberalization in the 1900s, we cannot ignore the fact that traditional Indian homes are an amazing tribute to a passive form of architecture that optimizes the environment around them. They have spacious verandahs and rooms that ensure air circulation throughout the house and keep the temperature inside cool and breezy.

Whether we talk about the red oxidized floors of Kolkata, Naalukettu homes in Kerala, Chang houses in the north-east or the Havelis of Punjab, traditional homes are almost reminiscent of an India from a different time. For some of us these homes are a reminder of our native place or childhood days. These homes are a reflection of a different era of home design and the incorporation of our rich culture. These homes were also beautiful tributes to the art, culture and tradition of the region that they belonged to.

The Advent Of The Modern

Jumping ahead to the 21st century, the home design scenario has changed and more importantly, people’s needs and tastes have also changed.
It is quite interesting to observe how an increase in land values and the demand for floor space has pushed architecture on the fast track of change Skyscrapers began to emerge mid- 1990s and an estimated 3000 high rises have emerged in Mumbai alone. Under the pressure of urbanisation and the influence of globalisation, it seems that cities have become the centrepieces of modern design thinking in just the span of a decade. 

Unlike traditional homes with extensive availability of space, our modern homes have begun to kiss the city skylines and embrace heights like never before. These homes are built to provide comfort and luxury to nuclear families. These homes are equipped with automations and planning that ensures that every space has a purpose and the entire home is optimised to the best of its abilities.  This is why, not only are we now used to the idea of more compact homes, we’ve began to appreciate the ease of managing them as well. Contrary to what you’d expect, apartments do not hinder us from making social connections with our neighbours. Just like traditional homes were once part of larger communities, high rises and apartments today have also become strongly bonded communities.

Though modern homes may lack grand verandahs and large social spaces, they have been planned to include clubs and gardens that work just as well in facilitating social connections.
Because of them, living in apartments has started to become preferable to the inconveniences that come with managing a bungalow or row house.

The Contemporary Touch

As modern homes began to dominate the real estate market, our homes began to reflect the modern design and aesthetics as well. As our needs evolved, we’ve learned to adapt. While the current generation gave certain precedence to the functional value of a house, they also crave a cultural touch to these modern structures. The modern homes need to look unique, a reflection of its inhabitants. Herein lies the beauty of the contemporary Indian home design with its ability to retain our traditional touch while allowing for modern needs. Between energy efficient lighting, matte finish paint and hardwood floors, we will still have stylish timber doors, baithaks and ornate walls and as a result, contemporary home design that is still evolving and ever-changing.

The old perception of architecture design as creating spaces of rest, containment, comfort and protection are changing swiftly. Architecture designs are influenced by real life conditions and built on an assumption that any desired change is effective only if it alleviates one’s present living situation. It is safe to say that home design evolution in India is yet to reach its absolute zenith. 

Tuesday 4 October 2016

Local vs. Out of State- Where should you invest?

Investing in property is not simple. We need to decide the where, why, when and how before we risk our money. The ‘where’ factor in particular bears great importance especially if you want good returns from your investments. You can either invest locally or explore investment options outside your state.

Here are some factors you need to consider before you invest:
Advantages of investing locally:
     The local real estate market is a familiar territory. Also, even if you are not familiar, you can still trust a person to guide you in your venture.
     You are aware of the culture and trends of your local area. This will help you predict the direction in which real estate development is headed in your area.
     The media and advertisements cannot necessarily fool you into making a bad decision because you regularly monitor the property you intend to invest in.
While you can rely on familiarity as an important factor, there are certain risks you cannot ignore. Here are some drawbacks of investing locally:
     You may not get the optimal value for money that you hoped for; the market you live in might be very expensive (especially in cities like Mumbai).
      Only looking at your immediate area narrows down your options considerably.

These disadvantages could drive you to look at property out of state. While investing in property out of state can be daunting - because it is an unchartered territory - it also has certain benefits.
     No market is out of bounds once you decide to pursue land out of state. Your investment option increases manifold.
     You can choose a thriving real estate market without compromising your budget. In fact, you might even get better returns than you might expect.
However, investment made out of state come with certain risks; here are some of the disadvantages of investing out of state:
     Investing out of state is literally entering unchartered territory. You can make an informed decision and do all the research you need to, but you will still not have the intimate day-to-day knowledge that you would have of the local market.
     There will always be a fear that you might get cheated or that the real value of your investment is less than its face value. Trust will always be a serious concern in an out of state property investment.
     You will also need to start from scratch in finding quality professionals such as real estate agents, property managers and workers. These people are instrumental in zeroing in on a good investment; your choice will dictate the failure or success of your investment.

Knowing the pros and cons is important when such heavy investments are involved. This is why one must diligently monitor the real estate trends of the chosen location.
It is important to realise that real estate investment is all about having options, especially about where you want to watch your wealth grow and expand, whether it is local or out of state.

Wednesday 3 August 2016

The Evolution Of Indian Architecture Over The Past Two Decades

A lot has changed over the past 20 years. Bombay became Mumbai and globalization has taken over the country by storm. There has been a noticeable shift in the lifestyle, food habits, clothing etc. of the Indian populace.These changes have spelled a seismic shift in architectural practices as well.

Over the past 20 years, architecture has been about accommodating people and creating good functional living spaces. It breaks away from traditional aesthetics and strives to create home designs that go beyond “standard” ideas and tries to pursue projects inspired by location, and function.The main objective of architecture in 2016 is creating clutter free homes from the limited space available due to the immense population crunch.
While builders adhered to this concept practically, they also implemented their own tweaks because architecture in India is all about harmony between the old and the new. A very good example of this is Mumbai city. The city has Gothic, Victorian, Art Deco and neo classical styles, most of which were left behind by the British. Even as architectural aesthetics evolved over the past two decades, these traditional styles were incorporated into contemporary architecture.
History also plays an important role in deciding the architecture of a city. Take Delhi for example, it was a combination of 8 cities, which each one built in a different era by a different ruler. Today, even with the rise of modern architecture, the legacy left behind by these rulers is one of the defining aspects of architecture in Delhi.
In more recent years, architecture is not just about the form and style of a structure, it is more responsible now. Architects make conscious efforts to incorporate designs which promote sustainability, vertical gardens and reduce harmful impact on the environment. Not just this, over the past few years, buildings are about promoting a quality lifestyle as well. Clubs, parks, landscapes etc. become serious aspects when designing a structure. 
This evolution of architecture can easily be witnessed through various properties throughout India. Bungalows are making way for spacious apartments and people are opting for more efficient and practical homes.

The continuing evolution of architecture will shape (and reflect) the evolution of India as the country steadily moves towards becoming the best it can be.

Friday 15 July 2016

The Vertical Garden: Made For Modern Urban Life

Modern cities are some of the most innovative areas on the planet. However, all cities are forced to deal with unique issues brought on by the concentration of large populations in limited spaces. One of these issues is definitely the lack of greenery within the city. In classic concrete jungles, the city becomes stifling for its residents and there is no respite whatsoever. The continuing expansion and growth of the city just adds to the mess.

The French botanist Patrick Blanc says, “Living in a city doesn’t have to mean abandoning the natural world”. He backs up his argument with an amazing solution that he promotes very enthusiastically, i.e., the vertical garden, a fresh and innovative idea meant to improve life in the city. The term ‘vertical garden’ refers to any kind of construction and support structure for growing plants in an upwards-directed, vertical way, efficiently and productively making use of the existing space for other purposes.

Growing a vertical garden is very simple, all you need is a good, solid structure which can be hung onto the wall, a plastic sheet to stop water from leaking, a tube running through the soil to irrigate the garden and the plants of your choice.

Vertical gardens can act as great greenery boosters. According to Patrick Blanc, “Any human being standing in front of one [vertical garden] will feel the breath of the wilderness in the midst of the city." Not only are they simple to create, they also have many advantages, such as:

Maximization of small spaces: A vertical garden can be grown on a wall or a kitchen window, owing to the fact that it can grow on loose soil; a small layer of soil is more than enough to develop a beautiful and fragrant vertical garden.

Excellent Aesthetics: A vertical garden wall can change the entire look of your balcony or terrace. These kinds of gardens add a certain charm to your house as well, lending your home a feeling of lush abundance and a connection to nature.

Reduce Pollution, Noise and improve air quality: Due to its very versatile nature, vertical gardens can be used to tackle pollution very effectively. Thomas Pugh, a ‘biogeochemist’ at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany, observed that a green wall absorbed large amounts of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter—both pollutants harmful to people. These fragrant life walls also cool the surroundings and reduce noise pollution, both of which are the need of the day in modern cities.

Given the relative ease of setting one up and the innumerable benefits that accrue from integrating a vertical garden into your space, one could argue that every home and planned urban space should invest in this facility.  

Thursday 30 June 2016

The Space Crunch That’s Driving The Vertical Growth Of Cities

An aerial view of Mumbai is enough to provide us a glimpse of the unconventional growth of the city.  Mumbai is the third densest city in the world trailing just behind Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka and the Pakistani city of Hyderabad. There are approximately 32,400 people in every square kilometre of its land area. The city has, technically, run out of space and yet, it is more than accommodating at the same time. How is that possible? The answer is vertical growth.

What is Vertical Growth?
Vertical growth is the emergence of high rises and skyscrapers that outline the horizon of the city. These structures support the population of the city, providing additional living space to the thousands who migrate here every day. It is the modern world’s solution to the space constraint faced by cities.
Another important reason why the city is witnessing vertical growth is because Mumbai has the largest number of ultra-high net worth individuals (UHNWIs) in India, at 1,094, followed by Delhi with 545, according to property services firm Knight Frank’s Wealth Report 2016.
 HNIs most preferred investment opportunity tends to be property. The average number of residential properties owned by wealthy Indians stands at four, which is the highest in the world, while the global average stands at 3.7. 
When not only immigrants, but also HNIs occupy the city, the need for vertical growth has become necessary. Vertical growth helps in population management; high rises provide sufficient living space even with the limited land space.

Luxurious living
High rises integrate various facilities like gyms, clubs and departmental stores within their building space instead of occupying more land surrounding the high-rise. This is indicative of the fact that vertical growth inspires sustainable ideas.
Vertical growth also frees up more land space: While the whole intention of high rises was to cope with the limited land space, vertical growth is ensuring that we are actually conserving precious land space which can be turned into green spaces or public recreation zones.

 Redevelopment in the city
One of the best examples of vertical growth in the city is redevelopment.
Housing redevelopment refers to the process of reconstruction of a residential premise by demolition of the existing structure and construction of a new one as per approvals from the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM). Redevelopment is a concept that uses vertical growth as a driving force to provide good living spaces for people in a crowded city like Mumbai.
Of course, redevelopment is dependent on FSI or Floor Space Index. In India, FSI restrictions tend to hinder the optimization of a concept like vertical growth.  Compared to international cities, India is far behind. Shanghai has an FSI of 13.1, while New York and Manhattan have an FSI of 15. Mumbai, on the other hand, is still grappling with an FSI of 3.0. Higher FSI is a need of the day because taller buildings are necessary to combat city- congestion.

 A versatile concept that can incorporate sustainable development, vertical growth helps us to make the best of the very real space-crunch situation we find ourselves in. 

Monday 20 June 2016

Life In The Modern City: A Search For Experiences.

 The accelerated pace of our lives makes us forget about the less pressing, but infinitely more important things in life. In the grand scheme of things, isn’t it imperative that we not miss out on experiences that enrich and mould us into better people? Experiences are important for those of us who are forced to cope with the monotony of city life. These experiences are necessary to reconnect with ourselves and alleviate the stress that dominates our lives.

Living Life Vs. Experiencing Life.
In recent times, the modern Indian city has seen many changes, including the greater availability of new experiences. Cities are now growing beyond places to simply live and work, gradually developing into hubs that promote and provide diverse experiences for any and all types of tastes and preferences. Do you like outdoor activities like hiking, mountain biking or rock climbing? Want to meet like-minded people who share your passion for art, photography or even wine tasting? Chances are all of these experiences are available to you not very far from where you live.

It’s universally agreed upon that life in the city can be stressful. To alleviate this stress people themselves are actively seeking out new experiences. Photography, adventure sports, exotic spa treatments and many other experiences are now accessible to us within the realm of the city itself.

Previously, when people wanted adventure, they needed to plan well in advance and locate places that could offer these experiences. The whole process was tedious and time consuming, and the feeling of satisfaction from the experience was also delayed.

This has now changed. A couple of examples: adventure groups who plan events for a day or a weekend now utilize small hiking trails near the city. People can sign up with these groups and have the adventures that they crave.

Short term photography courses, art appreciation seminars, city walks and sports activities are available to people within the city itself.

These days, developers are addressing these experiential needs exhibited by their customers. The demand of the ambitious Indian looking for rewarding life experiences is being catered to in his/her own vicinity. Today, developers don’t just build houses; they serve lifestyle demands. Examples of modern townships with world class tennis courts, expansive golf courses, riverside views, luxury brand outlets, self-contained markets, high-end spas, etc. emerging in the city are testaments to this. 

The Experiential Generation:

A generation that is unaffected by class and status, but instead places immense value on living life to the fullest, the people of the 21st century are constantly searching for newer and fuller experiences. Emerging urban acronyms such as DINKS (Double Income No Kids) and YUPPIES (Young Urban Professionals) are testimony to emergence of a subset of people with great spending power and an unquenchable thirst for new experiences.

They are the upholders of the YOLO (You Only Live Once) ideology and exert a growing influence on the development of urban life. These professionals believe in working hard and playing harder, hence they turn to experiences within the city itself to balance their stress levels and enjoy life.

The DINKS and YUPPIES provide us with an insight into the future of the city. The city will soon be an avenue for activities that will provide great experiences. 

Experiences Are Changing Our Lives

One does not have to wait for a vacation to relax or have fun. Experiences of every type, shape and form are now available relatively close to home. The availability of these experiences has made experiential culture the new trend. People are excited to immerse themselves in different experiences and try new activities. 

Even our homes have progressed beyond just places to return to after a long day at work. They’ve now become our connection to local communities and activities. People are starting to look for homes that reflect the experiential culture they want to be a part of.

All in all, it would seem that people have started to appreciate the fulfillment that comes with filling our lives with experiences. It is therefore, incumbent on progressive developers to aid the customer in this search.

Wednesday 18 May 2016

The Art And Science Of Landscaping

Land is one of the most important assets you can own today. As with all assets, improvements and enhancements add value to your investment. One way of enhancing your property is landscaping. A customised patio deck or well-manicured garden can be a crucial tipping point in a prospective buyer's decision. These days, the utility of landscaping goes far beyond aesthetics. There are financial, environmental, health and social reasons that make landscaping an important factor when planning a project.

Landscaping in the city

A little greenery in a concrete jungle goes a long way. Green spaces in a city aren’t just desirable, they’re also essential. Well-planned green areas raise the value of the area while serving as highly prized ‘green lungs’, enhancing the quality of the air we breathe. This is becoming more and more urgent today with burgeoning populations and high levels of pollution.

The best way to incorporate these much-needed green spaces is through landscaping. Landscape architects, designers and horticulturists are available to incorporate landscaping into the city environment as well. ‘Hardscaping’ is another creative method of landscaping in the city. Hard materials such as concrete and stones are already available in plenty; therefore incorporating trees, shrubs and grass in tiny pockets through the city is not very difficult.

Sustainable Landscaping

In Sustainable Landscaping one can design rooftop gardens as part of a building’s overall design. Alternatively, one can grow plants and create a pollution free environment without incurring heavy expenses. Maintenance of such landscapes is less expensive than one might expect. In fact, in cities, this form of landscaping works even better because of the limitations of space and limited funds. A little water (especially considering the current scarcity) and regular weeding is enough to keep these landscapes looking beautiful and well maintained. With changing times, landscaping options have grown very versatile and affordable, so keeping this in mind while investing in property is very important.   
Financial Benefits

Landscaping is an investment with high returns. It increases the value of one’s property because not only does the property become more beautiful, it also becomes environmentally friendly and promotes sustainable development. As a homeowner, one will realize the value of landscaping as part of community development and as a positive influence on residents. Landscaping also promotes a better standard of living and a healthier lifestyle. This in turn becomes a USP of the property, eventually adding to its financial value. Whether one is a seller or an investor, the financial benefits of landscaping cannot be dismissed.

The Future Of Landscaping

The first sign of a quality, well-planned development is the beauty of it’s landscaping. More and more developers are investing resources to enhance the aesthetic presentations of their projects. For buyers looking to purchase and invest in property, this added feature is now an important and relevant consideration. Looking forward, one can expect a significant uptick in well-landscaped, high quality developments across the country. 

Wednesday 4 May 2016

A country will boom if its high streets bloom

Localities since time immemorial have been defined by the people that live in it or the type of landmarks that are around it. Sometimes localities are synonymous to the high streets that surround it. Highstreets define the culture, the flavour and to an extent the psychography of the cohort residing there. A place becomes special because of local food, the local chocolates or art. These creative entrepreneurs have their own niche and create distinct character of the city. They would never be found in malls because the big conglomerates tend to crowd out small players. Some of the examples that would provide testimony for the same would be Oxford Street (London), Hill road (Mumbai), Tsim Sha Tsui (Hong Kong), Ginza (Tokyo) & Champs-Élysées (Paris). A lot of retail therapy has shifted to malls. However many malls have had to even shut shop, but it’s the high streets that have stood the test of time and have been successful.

It’s the high streets that will contribute in a great way to the governments ‘Make in India’ initiative. Owing to the evident footfalls, retailers will be forced to setup their businesses here. Moreover, these lanes which display art, craft and other retail products hailing from the very grass roots of India will attract tourists from all corners of the globe. It will provide an enormous push towards the entrepreneurial culture that is being promoted in the country

Commercial activity of shopping, retail cafes allows small entrepreneurs to come up with innovative offers, pioneering ideas and also gives the life to the street to make the whole walk more interesting and more interactive. High streets are the finest examples of how the entire community lives together. From a tiny newspaper vendor to a big brand all survive in harmony on these streets. There are families that make memories on these streets, who share moments of joy and togetherness sitting and eating-out at the flourishing eateries, as against going astray in the mad rush of malls.

I would like to end this blog post by talking about Hiranandani, Powai. With Central Avenue we have created a pedestrian high street. In 1990 we actually went to a newspaper vendor and gave him a hole in the wall to help in distributing the newspaper and magazine. With the aim of encouraging local entrepreneurs we welcomed mom and pop shops as well.

Thursday 14 April 2016

How engineering and construction technologies have facilitated real estate industry

The most important aspect of the industry is the tools that are used to build it. Like any other sector the tools of the trade in the real estate industry have evolved. These advancements have been leveraged to build new business in a professional, efficient & effective manner.

Companies like JCB, CAT etc have been investing heavily in research and development to produce world’s toughest, fastest, smallest and fuel efficient construction equipment. Latest backhoe loaders, tracked excavators, wheeled loaders, compactors, drills etc reduce the time and improve the efficiency of construction work which was not possible otherwise.

High rises usually have long gestation period which escalate the cost. Today exciting new technologies have emerged like Jump from ie climbing form. With this the core walls can be completed ahead of the rest of the building structure. The monotonous and engineered nature of form work, allows fine tuning of construction operations which in turn leads to minimal concrete wastage.

Low rise and value homes have been blessed with pre cast technology. In this case various sections of the structure are cast in factories and then assembled on site. This technology thrives on economies of scale and similarity of layouts.  It can achieve almost zero wastage and reduction in the number of highly skilled engineers leading to reduction of cost.

Aluminum formwork technology has helped in constructing huge number of houses in short period of time. It involves using room sized forms to construct wall and slab in one continuous pour of concrete. On removal of bolted forms a high quality concrete semi-finished product is produced which requires no plastering. Such technology requires less labor, provides uniform quality and reduces chances of leakage.

With rapidly increasing GDP of India we can expect engineering & construction technology companies investing more in research and development wing in order to come up with superior products.

Monday 4 April 2016

Employee Engagement more than just a ‘buzz word’

Who is an engaged employee? Author Tim Rutledge explains that an engaged employee is the one who is inspired by his work.  Engaged employees are willing to invest discretionary effort and exceed working hours to make sure that the organisation succeeds. But does the onus of working with commitment towards the greater goal rests only with the employee or does the organisation and the leadership have a role to play? It is the responsibility of the organisation to create an environment which is conducive to learning via training, mentoring etc as it is noticed that these things are directly proportional to the commitment or engagement quotient of the employees.

To ensure that employees work with the same rigour and robustness through the year,organisations can take the following steps-

Encourage Higher Education –
Most employees want to do new things with their jobs. Some even want to pursue higher education in top universities, but often hesitate because of financial challenges or work pressure. However, if the organisation encourages the employees to take up a course it sets an example that the organisation cares for them.

Conduct Training Sessions –
Case study led training modules with experts across the organisation  inspires the employees to strive for more. These sessions should be interactive, where the employee gets an opportunity to collaborate with the senior management. These sessions should be in collaboration with other functions of the organisation, which will help the employees to know their colleagues from other departments and will help them understand group goals beyond personal targets.

Have an open door policy –
To create leaders out of employees it’s important that they interact with the leaders without any hesitation. When empowered with the opportunity of being part of the decision making process of the organisation, employees take ownership of the problems. Having an open-door policy or style creates room for employees to drive innovative ideas.

Provide constructive feedback –

Employee engagement is not a onetime activity; it is in fact an activity that the leader should undertake on a regular basis. Most of the organisations have quarterly reviews and appraisals as a standard procedure to share feedback with the employee, if the leader provides positive and constructive feedback to them at regular intervals it provides great encouragement to the employees.

In conclusion, employee engagement ensures that the roadblocks towards the growth of the company and the employees are cleared and the true talent of the employees is unleashed.

Friday 5 February 2016

Why do malls symbolise a failed city

The hustle and bustle of a city life, its streets, the shopping arenas and the food is what defines the soul of the city. These are at the core of any city that you visit across the globe. You will often hear people visiting cities to explore its street life and not to explore the malls.

While there is an increase in the number of malls in the city there is also a growing phenomenon of malls shutting shop. Wonder why is this happening? The mall culture has its perks but has led to entrapping people in an enclosure. The soul of the city is lost,-shopping and entertainment should be more social in nature and play a vital role in weaving the fabric of the city.

What a city needs is a high-street shopping experience and not a shopping mall. A place they can call their own, a place that defines the story of the city, a place where people can just hang out and unwind, this needs to happen on the streets where it enlivens city life.. A visit to any vibrant and successful city is a testimony to the fact that high streets are an integral part of their lives and that it adds characterto the city.

Monday 25 January 2016

How has marketing technology facilitated real estate sector

 In the past decade marketing technologies have changed the way people are viewing  content.  It has given greater access to  information on your fingertips thereby helping in better decision making  and bridging the gap between buyer and the seller.

Owing to higher returns, developers are aggressively sharing project information to potential buyers through the digital medium. It has now become a key aspect of the marketing media plan of all companies. Simulating an actual property in the form of a virtual tour or 360 degree tour is the best thing that can happen to the real estate industry. This technology gives a clear picture of the product to the potential buyer staying far away from the destination of purchase. Such simulation expedites his decision making process, which wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

As real estate is an extremely high involvement purchase, customers thrive on the opinion of existing customers or other potential buyers. Today, there are various forums, blogs and social networking sites dedicated to real estate that provide in depth information and help them understand the nuances of the project.

Virtual appointments is another game changer in today’s world which enables sales personnel connect with customers smoothly. Talking to the sales personnel online who actually share their screen and explain the entire project with help of floor plan, unit plan, payment schedules etc has completely transformed the sales process today.  Further usage of graphical images on i-pad and other mobile devices help relationship managers communicate effectively.