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Top realtors rush to hills to tap holiday home demand

Luxury holiday homes in the hills are once again becoming an object of desire and India’s top real estate companies are ready to meet this demand, especially as the slowdown has eroded sales in urban markets. Entrepreneurs, retired industrialists and top executives are all looking to pick up a second home to get away from the hassles of city life.

While small local developers have been offering homes in the hills in places such as Shimla, Kasauli, Nainital and elsewhere, it’s the entry of larger national players such as DLF and Tata Housing, besides others such as Fire Capital and Woodside Developments that has energised the market.

Tata Housing has launched a gated project in Kasauli in Himachal Pradesh which will have 70 villas spread across 24 acres. The Myst villas are priced at Rs 3.5-8 crore. Woodside Developments is close to completing a project in Kasauli with 35 villas of 2,800-5,000 sq ft area and a clubhouse.

Buyers include Dabur Group chairman emeritus Vivek Burman, Ambuja Cements chairman emeritus Suresh Neotia, Rajya Sabha MP and lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Arun Bharat Ram of SRF Group, Deepak Jain of Lumax Industries and Ram Sarvepalli, partner at EY. DLF has launched one project each in Kasauli and Shimla, where it is selling plots as well as homes.

“Luxury developments in the hills are the most sought after today as ideal holiday home destinations,” said Jaiwant Daulat Singh, director, Woodside Developments. The market has grown in the last few years as people have moved beyond beach destina tions for holiday homes.

Gated communities in the hills are a new concept, said Rajeeb K Dash, head of marketing at Tata Housing. “People are looking for a contemporary lifestyle even in their holiday destinations.”

Tata Housing has sold close to 20% of inventory in the first destinaphase of its Kasauli project, marketed as a mix of lifestyle and nature. “Ours is a biophilic design,” he said, which implies harmony with nature.

Until recently, there weren’t too many options for buyers except for projects built by local developers where quality was an issue, said Mudassir Zaidi, national director, residential, Knight Frank India. “Now with some credible developers in the fray, people know what to expect.”

Private equity fund Fire Capital has entered the segment with a luxury apartment project called Clouds’ End in Kufri, also in Himachal Pradesh, where apartment sizes have been deliberately kept small to bring down the ticket size —Rs 60 lakh to Rs 1.5 crore.

Change in law helps buyers

In states such as Himachal Pradesh buying property isn’t easy for people from outside the state. They can, however, buy land from an agriculturist if they get approval under Section 118 of the Land Reform Act of 1972.

The new Town and Country Planning Act that was put in place in September to replace the erstwhile Himuda Act of 2005 has brought more clarity to the transfer/conveyance of land and buildings for projects approved under Section 118. This means apartments in projects by developers which have approval under Section 118 can be bought by outsiders.


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DDA’s land-pooling policy: Will it dampen property prices in NCR


Can runaway property prices in Gurgaon and Noida be reined in? That could happen with about 40,000 acres of land expected to come into the market because of Delhi’s new land-pooling policy. This could mean some 1.5 million apartments will be launched over the next three-four years in the city, possibly having an impact on the appreciation in the value of property in the wider National Capital Region, which includes Gurgaon and Noida.

The policy announced by the Delhi Development Authority recently is aimed at freeing up land and ensuring infrastructure is in place before construction of homes begins in newer areas of the city that are residential zones under the city’s master plan.

Landowners can pool their land for development by the city’s land-owning agency. But instead of being compensated when the government takes over the land, the owners will get 48-60% of it back after the authority has set up the infrastructure.

The owners will be allowed to build on this land themselves or give it to real estate developers in Delhi Ncr. The Master Plan of Delhi 2021 envisages development of several hundred acres of land for accommodating an additional population of 48 lakh by 2021, up from the current 1.6 crore. “More homes and planned development would mean prices will come down,” said a senior DDA official who did not wish to be named.

Importantly for the authority, this will be an alternative to the compulsory land acquisition and disposal process, he said. The new land acquisition bill that has been recently passed by the Parliament will make it difficult to acquire land, he added.

The new policy will arrest the sharp rise in property prices in NCR areas such as Gurgaon, Noida and Ghaziabad, said Gaurav Jain, a town planner and managing director of land consultancy Samyak Properties & Infrastructure. Prices of residential property on the Dwarka Expressway in Gurgaon, for instance, have seen a 150% increase in prices in the last five years, according to property consultancy DTZ.

Source: The Economic Times, Delhi/NCR


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Noida to become luxury private residence hub in North India


Noida real estate market touched a new high after worldwide luxury hospitality giant Four Seasons launched its private residences by Four Seasons at mix land-use property in Delhi One with a cost of Rs 3,500 crore.

At a cost between Rs 10 crore and around Rs 25 crore, service apartment owners would be able to enjoy hotel-like facilities such as valet service, temperature controlled swimming pools, concierge, personnel laundry, transport services, in-residence dining, housekeeping and others.

While launching branded residences of Noida project, Chris Hart, president, hotel operation, Asia-Pacific, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts said that “out of 92 Four Seasons hotels across 38 counties, 27 have residential components”.

When asked why chose Noida as a destination to enter in the North India market, Hart said, “Noida has a great potential. It is rich in greenery and natural beauty and also loaded with world class infrastructure. Delhi One is the result of a winning combination.”

The 3C’s Delhi One project spread on 12.5 acres next to Delhi-Noida-Delhi (DND) toll Plaza in Noida, features Four Seasons Hotel, three adjoining towers of Four Seasons private residences connected to the Hotel via a sky bridge, five commercial office towers as well as luxury retail, high end restaurants and cafes.

180 Four Seasons private residences having size of 7, 500 sqrft to offer in Delhi One project, a mixed-land use iconic Noida address which is R 3,500 crore project as claimed by the 3C realtor. These branded residences’ interior is inspired from London Decor, California and Manhattan.

“The definition of quality living has been transformed. Elites in Delhi-NCR and other parts of the country too ready to spend to enjoy quality living. In last five years, India has witnessed 10-15% growth in luxury segment of housing, and Noida is an ideal market for it because of the vision this city holds,” said Vidur Bharadwaj, director, the 3C Company. “Depending on the theme, the cost of each private residence will cost ranges from Rs 22000 and Rs 26000 per sq. feet,” Bhardwaj said.

From being an affordable housing destination, Noida has slowly transforming into a hub of luxury and high-end projects to give a stiff competition to the neighbouring city of Gurgaon in Haryana.

The chairman of the three authorities of Noida, Greater Noida and Yamuna Expressway, Rama Raman, said, “Now, Gurgaon will have only one USP, which is close proximity to the airport. As builders are coming up with projects developed by world class agencies, in the next five years, Noida will beat Gurgaon in all respects.”

Even developers are upbeat about the new tag being given to the region. The CREDAI (western UP) vice-president and CMD of Supertech, RK Arora, said that this change was imminent as time demands it.

“World renowned Italian couturier Giorgio Armani is designing an exclusive flat in the Supernova project. The cost of one designer flat with an area of 4,000-5,000 sq feet will be around Rs 10 crore. For starters, Raj Kundra has decided to purchase a flat for his wife, Shilpa Shetty, in Supernova,” Arora added.

Another project, Curio City, will be using extensive art styles in design with an amalgamation of several schools of art – Middle East, European and Contemporary. The township will have a mix of plotted development, villas, group housing, commercial establishments, club, institutions, hi-street and luxury retail, 5-star hotel, business hotel, etc.

“Investors, especially NRIs believe that investment in luxury serviced apartments is a wise decision as it offers solid returns in a short duration of time,” said Amit Gupta, member Assocham and MD of Orris group.

With Rs one thousand crore investment Bhasin group is building Mist Avenue IT Park in sector 143 along Noida Expressway. The group under its Mist project is offering bungalows ranging between Rs six crore and Rs 10 crore.

Source: The Times of India, Delhi/NCR

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Gurgaon makes CCTVs mandatory for housing societies


The Gurgaon administration on 7th November made it mandatory for housing societies in the district to install CCTV cameras.

The order issued by district commissioner Shekhar Vidyarthi also covers pubs and bars. It says cameras must be installed at the entry and exit gates, be of good quality and store footage for at least 30 days. “These orders have been issued in view of some incidents of crime which occurred in the recent past in the district,” the notification said. The order, officials said, comes into force with immediate effect and violators will be punished under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code.

Barring high-end condominiums, a large number of group housing societies do not have CCTV coverage. There are over 100 group-housing societies in different Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) sectors.

The order was hailed by residents. A Residents’ Welfare Association functionary of Karamyogi society, Vishal Bharat, said, “The RWA is aware of the order and will be installing CCTVs at the entry and exit gates of society premises. The money will have to be pooled because the management committee has recently been formed after elections.” Installation of CCTV cameras will cost each society around Rs 30,000.

“At least four CCTV have to be installed,” said Bharat. The CCTV cover, he said, will definitely bolster the condominiums’ safety.

The police have been complaining about the absence of CCTVs in colonies. The latest order will be of great help in investigations of thefts and burglaries. “CCTVs should not just be installed at entry or exit gates but also inside the colony, covering corridors and other places,” Amit Arora, a Sector 4 resident.

“The presence of CCTVs will help in monitoring all the movement of visitors in and out of the colony. At present, security guards have to maintain a register on visitors,” said Chetan Aggarwal, a resident of Park View (II).

Source: The Times of India, Delhi/NCR

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DDA to hold auction of commercial properties


Thousands of prime commercial properties are up for sale in Delhi. After a gap of about one year, Delhi Development Authority is about to start selling  properties in the capital. Over 50 commercial plots, six multilevel car parkings and two banquet halls have been opened up for auctions.

As an extra sop, the authority will sell all the properties on freehold basis. The huge supply of commercial space in Delhi’s real estate market is expected to bring overall prices of property down in the coming weeks.

Some of the big offerings, for which DDA will start receiving tenders on October 8, will be a 20,040 sq mt community center area in Rohini Phase-III with a base price of Rs 333 crore. Two other similar spaces in east Delhi’s Mayur Vihar Phase-I, having an area of 8773 sq mt and 9451 sq mt, and base prices of 263 and 267 crore respectively. A district centre property in Dwarka sector-11, with an area of 18,260 sq mt, is also going under the hammer with a base price of Rs 393 crore.

Tenders for 54 commercial plots in all, one shopping complex-cum-nursing home, one two-storyed parking plots, six multi-level parkings and two banquet halls will also go under hammer from October 8.

DDA, which used to auction commercial properties every two to three months, has not held a single auction in the past one year. Sources say the reason for this is the frequent changing of top level officers, including those at the vice-chairperson level, and the appointment of a new Lieutenant Governor of Delhi as well.

More commercial properties are expected to be auctioned by DDA, in batches, in coming months. Such a move is expected to bring down property rates in the city further.

Source: The Times of India, Delhi/NCR

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Commercial property yields high returns


Indian developers  are using the latest technological advancements to ensure that their projects are green and secure, with ambience and facilities that match international standards. Nowadays, developers are providing world-class features in the new commercial office space that is coming across the country, like automatic valet parking, water harvesting, zero disposal with sewage treatment plants, access control, intelligent building management systems, under-body car scanners, and intelligent elevator technologies.

Good tenants: The occupiers of these buildings are a veritable who’s who. Typically, banks are considered to be the best tenants but large conglomerates are coveted clients too. Why? First, they pay the rent on time as they are cash-rich and second, these companies bring with them superior standards of corporate governance and compliance, thus, ensuring process driven smooth payment flows.

Good location: The locations of these buildings are in prime business districts of major metros. Many locations attract investment from the government. With the government working to provide superior infrastructure in these locations, a virtuous growth cycle has been initiated. This is because the government itself can occupy large buildings with multiple departments and ministries. Additionally, a large number of government-owned companies and public sector undertakings may be directed by the government to occupy in these locations.

Stable, predictable income: Another good aspect of a commercial property lease is the long tenure, typically three years, and in multiples of three years, with monthly or quarterly payments and deposits ranging from 6-12 months. The tenant invests alongside the investor in the property and, at times, spends good money in the upkeep of the building amenities and landscaping to meet global standards. The tenant invests in the property by doing the fit-outs, which could cost anywhere between Rs 1,500-4,000 per sq ft based on corporate guidelines. This makes the tenant ‘sticky’, as he has a financial disincentive to terminate the agreement, apart from the lease contract termination clauses.
High yield: According to a recent study, India has the highest yield (rent, capital value) second only to Manila, which are almost 50% higher yield than Europe or the US. This can be better appreciated as the quality of the tenants and quality of buildings (energy-efficient, glass, and aluminium) is the same. Contrast this
to residential yields which are around a quarter of that of commercial yields in India. The case for commercial property becomes stronger as you can earn up to four times more with the same initial investment. Another benefit of locking in high yield is that as interest rates fall, investors can earn a ‘spread’ between the yield and the interest rate charged to the investors, should they take a loan to finance the acquisition.

Tax-efficient structures: There are multiple tax-efficient structures available to hold commercial property investments, ranging from trusts to private limited companies.

These structures can impact taxation levels, quantum, incidence, and estate planning; investors should take help from experts to arrive at the optimum structure for their objectives.

Source: Times Property, The Times of India, Delhi/NCR

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What’s in a name?

Naming a real estate project is an integral ingredient of a marketing strategy. After completing the layout, one thing that keeps tickling the developers’ mind is naming the project. In order to lure buyers, it is very important to break out the real estate naming rut and come up with exclusive names. And by any means this is not a simple task.

As Sushant Muttreja, MD of Cosmic Group explains, “Naming a project is an exhaustive process. First step is to understand the project as the name should justify the kind of project we are building. Hence it requires a lot of understanding and comprehensive research. Second parameter is that the name should be easy to speak and remember. Third, it should be innovative and different from everyone.”

“Based on these parameters, a primary research is conducted where the whole team comes up with multiple options and the best one is chosen,” Muttreja adds.

Overall the process needs a comprehensive look on the location of the project, features and the segment of the population that the project is catering to.

A few examples of how developers decided the names of their projects will help us delve further into understanding the naming procedure-

Manoj Gaur, MD of Gaursons says, “Naming of a project is a tricky process, which depends on several factors such as location and audience. But to carve out a niche for one’s project, there has to be something extraordinary. Since, Hindi is our mother tongue; we give importance to vernacular names. One of our best selling projects was ‘Saundaryam’. We feel somewhere it touches the chord with the Indian buyers.”

Talking of their way of nomenclature, Dhiraj Jain, Director of Mahagun Group says, “The name of a project should ideally reflect the character of the project and relate to its target audience seamlessly. With the consideration of the above, Mahagun also prefer names that begin with the alphabet ‘M’.”

M Arun Kumar, MD of Casa Grande is of the opinion that the project name should entirely be decided on the basis of the concept. The essence is that there has to be a synergy between the project and the concept.

Source:, September 2013
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Secondary market feels the heat

Exit route for investors becomes tough due to less demand.

Correction is stark in the case of projects where the composition of investors is higher than end-users. It is because of this reason that there are more ‘sweet’ deals in areas such as Gurgaon, than in primarily end use-driven markets such as Ghaziabad or Noida.

Pankaj Kapoor, founder and managing director of Liases Foras, says that the secondary market has also felt the impact of the slow moving economy. The exit route for investors has become tough and they are being forced to sell at a lesser price.

While Delhi NCR, Ghaziabad and Noida have seen prices correct by 2% to 6%, Gurgaon prices have declined by 15% and Faridabad by at least 20%.

According to a research by Cushman & Wakefield, Delhi NCR continued to witness a s l owd ow n i n launches during the second quarter of 2013 exhibiting a quarterly decline of 11% in the number of units launched.

Shveta Jain, director, residential services, Cushman & Wakefield, says that the residential sector is in a phase where quite a few projects are nearing completion, prompting investors to exit from the market. “This has made units available in the secondary market at a lower rate than the new launches in the primary market. This has also made developers cautious of infusing more inventory in the market,” she says.

Deals in the secondary market have also come down. Dhruv Khanna of LJ Hooker, says that there were 20 deals in this category last year but there have been only ten this year.

Source: Hindustan Times (Estates), September 2013
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New Age Wardrobes for Men

From lavish dress-up rooms to high-tech chill-out zones, walk-in wardrobes for men are redefining luxury.

A new class of businessmen well-travelled, gadget-savvy, and not squeamish over splurging for their comfort is emerging in India.

This has not only brought new dimensions of luxury to the forefront but has also introduced new phenomena like walk-in wardrobes, which promise to redefine the concept of luxury. Contrary to popular notion, men, to invest a lot of time and effort in their appearance, a fact which has today evolved into a luxury statement.

In India, although women’s fashion gets all the attention, the men’s wardrobe style has also undergone the same transformation over the years. Men have become more stylish, following the trends of time. “Men today are equally style conscious and love being pampered. This is especially true about accessories like belts, shoes, watches, fragrances, cuffs, ties and even eyewear,” architect and designer Prashant Chauhan says. Once a privilege reserved only for women, walk-in wardrobes have now become an essential component in a home’s design for men too. The idea of dressing up in style includes pampering sessions combined with utmost luxury. The humble storage space, as it was perceived earlier, is now taking centre stage.

Nowadays, men’s walk-in wardrobes can be equipped with features like breakfast areas, sound systems, library-style stacking shelves for shoe and bag collections, secret jewellery safes camouflaged by mirrors, LED-illuminated cases to house suits and couture clothing, elegantly-designed silk or velvet-lined drawers for accessories like sunglasses, climate-controlled coat cabinets-all accompanied by lavish decor with crystal chandeliers and marble vanities, wine refrigerators, television areas, and cigar humidors, among others.

Some international luxury goods companies have even gone to the extent of incorporating private entertainment rooms. “The idea of a closet has changed from being a space just to stack clothes, to a fully-loaded styling room. It can host a mini-spa, a dressing zone with a full-length mirror, well stacked options of fragrances, bags and belts. Watches demand special care and attention. The idea of ‘less is more’ is a thing of the past. These days, it’s the concept of ‘the more the merrier’ which rules,” Chauhan says.

Elegance with functionality:
Although the aim is to create dressing rooms with a lavish elegance, functionality is paramount too. For men, walk-in wardrobes are evolving into high-tech chill-out zones that merge style with functionality. These walkin wardrobes mark a generational shift from custom-built dressing rooms.

“Introduction of technology and automation has been the current trend, which works well for today’s suave gadget enthusiast. Take for instance, a mirror which has an inbuilt television screen. You can get dressed while you get your sports update; that’s what excites men these days,” designer Poonam S says.

LED lighting is the latest innovation that has been added to walk-in wardrobes. In order to identify the colours of business suits, designers insert streams of LED lights below hanging areas and overhanging shelves, so that clothes are illuminated from above and below. “Motion-controlled lighting is in demand, with special task lighting to highlight apparels, making it easier to choose suits for different occasions,” Chauhan says.

Storage Solutions:
Library-style coding is another inclusion in the luxurious walk-in wardrobes segment, with encyclopaedic wardrobes becoming popular. For such wardrobes, designers install a specially-designed app in the homeowner’s phone and iPad, which takes photographs of his favourite clothes and matches them with shoes, belts, watches, wallets, etc. It then stores them with the help of codes and hanger numbers, in such a way that the client can search for a complete look or browse through individual clothing items and accessories.

“Organized automated shelving systems for ties, jackets and suits are smart solutions. You need not dig into the depths of your closet to find a favourite belt or jacket. With system fittings available nowadays, those belts and ties can be easily organized or stacked,” Chauhan says.

Quick Bites:
Contrary to popular notion, men, to invest a lot of time and effort in their appearance, a fact which has today evolved into a luxury statement.

Source: Times of India (Property), September 2013
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Rent Agreement of Co-owners

Some terms that must be clear when co-owners rent out their property.

A property may be bought by two or more people jointly. More than one person may pool in funds to purchase a property. Such owners are known as co-owners.

If a property is owned by more than one person, it is called joint ownership. Under the Transfer of Property Act, a co-owner has a proprietary right to the entire property. So, any transaction needs to be with the consent of all the co-owners, unless specifically mentioned to the contrary in the agreement.

Joint ownership is a mode of ownership of a property where it is held by more than one person. All the owners have title to the property and have the right to use it without prejudicing the corresponding rights of the other co-owners.

The shares or rights of one co-owner over the property can be sold individually and separately, subject to mutual agreement.

A property owned by co-owners may be kept for their own use, meant to be disposed off later, or bought for renting out.

In case the property is rented out, the co-owners will be able to use the rental income.

All the co-owners enter into an agreement among themselves. It specifies their respective ownership shares. It specifies how much each of the co-owners is entitled to-from the regular income of the property as well as in case of its sale. This is also required from a tax perspective-in order to claim a deduction on interest.

There are certain peculiar issues that need to be taken care of while renting out such a property.

These are in addition to the usual clauses required for a lease agreement.

Some factors to be specified:
Authorized representative: First and foremost, who will be representing the co-owners has to be specified. The tenant cannot deal with all the co-owners individually. Normally, co-owners give a power of attorney to one among themselves, and he undertakes all the transactions related to the lease. He may be authorized to negotiate the terms, finalize the deal, and sign the lease agreement.

Payment of Rent:

  • In whose favour the rent is to be paid should be specified. It may be paid in the name of one of the co-owners or in case of a partnership firm, in the name of the firm. Again, it would not be practicable for the tenant to pay separately to all the co-owners individually.
  • Maintenance of building: Similarly, who will maintain the premises should be clear. There may be a need for repairs and maintenance of the premises regularly. Municipal tax also needs to be paid.

Power of Attorney:

  • Normally, the co-owners may give a general power of attorney to one among themselves and authorize him to rent out the property. He may be further authorized to receive all the payments. Further, he may also be authorized to meet expenditures related to maintenance and repairs of the property.
  • At regular intervals the co-owners can evaluate the net amount received as rent from the property.
  • The rent is shared by them, usually in the ratio of the amount of capital contributed by each of the co-owner.
  • Clarity for tenant: From the perspective of the tenant, it is important to know who exactly he has to deal with. He cannot run around contacting the numerous co-owners of the property. He needs to deal with only one or two people.

In addition, in case there is any change in the co-ownership or their inter se agreement, which has an impact on the tenant’s rights, it should be immediately informed to the tenant. Any acts by the tenant, without knowledge of change in agreement among the co-owners, may not be legally binding on him at a later date.

Source: Times of India (Property), September 2013
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