Real Estate

Real Trends: The boom continues

Real estate has always been about location. But over the years, it’s becoming more about reputation. Driven by positive growth in the economy, real estate in India is booming.

Real estate has always been about location . But over the years, it’s becoming more about reputation . Driven by positive growth in the economy, real estate in India is booming. Year 2006 started on a promising note when the Government of India provided fresh impetus to the construction and development sector by allowing 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) under the ‘automatic route’ in order to spur investment in the vital infrastructure sector.

The relaxation of the FDI ceiling saw big names like Dubai-based Emaar Properties — the largest listed real estate developer in the world — joining hands with the Delhi-based MGF Developments to announce India’s largest FDI in the realty sector , amounting to over $500 million in projects with a capital outlay of $4 billion. Groups showing interest in India include insurance company American International Group (AIG), High Point Rendel of the UK, Edaw-US , Japan’s Kikken Sekkel, Lee Kim Tah Holdings and Cesma International from Singapore.

Real estate development in India focusses on two primary areas: retail and residential . The global real-estate consulting group Knight Frank has ranked India 5th in the list of 30 emerging retail markets and predicted an impressive 20% growth rate for the organised retail segment by 2010. The organised segment is expected to grow from a mere 2% to 20% by the end of the decade, it said.

The boom is also attracting interest from foreign players. Vancouver-based Royal Indian Raj International Corporation (RIRIC) will invest a staggering $2.9 billion in a single real-estate project named Royal Garden City in Bangalore over a period of 10 years. The retail value of the project is estimated at $8.9 billion. Morgan Stanley Real Estate announced that it has invested around $68 million in Mantri Developers Private Ltd, a private Bangalore-based real estate developer.

Key trends of the real estate boom: A report on real estate trends by Merrill Lynch said that the number of malls in Mumbai, Bangalore , New Delhi, Hyderabad and Pune was expected to grow to about 250 by 2010 as against 40 now. In terms of total area, there was 12.40 million square feet of mall space available in these cities, the report said quoting a survey by Knight Frank India.

As the competition in the market is intense, builders are going out of their way to be different. Specialised malls have become the order of the day. Gurgaon, on the suburbs of New Delhi will soon have an auto mall, while Bangalore is about to get an exclusive furniture mall. DLF Universal is developing the biggest mall of the world in Gurgaon with an area of four million sq ft. It will be known as the Mall of India.

Similarly in the home segment , which is driven by the availability of easy home finance , most builders are trying to woo investors with interesting features, each more tempting than the other.

Closed-circuit television and earthquake proofing are expected as standard features in most upmarket blocks. Evershine Builders, for instance , is providing a range of facilities from modular kitchens to piped gas and Internet connections. Some of its flats are even fully furnished.

Taking its cue from hotels, the commercial real-estate industry is getting more focused on branding. The marketing of buildings as products that can provide experiences and maintain customer loyalty is becoming increasingly important. Besides lifting a building’s reputation , good branding also can increase its owner’s ability to charge higher rents.

On the investment side, the once-fragmented and clubby industry that was once open strictly to professionals has become more open to all. Reams of information on real-estate companies , funds, property markets and investment opportunities are readily available. The realestate industry is also beginning to join the high-tech crowd in ways that affect not only how building owners run their properties , but also how tenants interact with landlords. Two big tech trends in the industry are the concepts of automated transactions and “smart” buildings . Automated rent payments have been catching on the most in the apartment sector, and some owners are experimenting with technology that allows an apartment hunter to find a place and sign a lease for it all online. Office-building owners and mall owners also are exploring automated payments and leasing.

Smart buildings are plugged into the Internet so that every aspect of facilities management is online. Some building owners have Web portals that allow tenants to place work-order requests . As a result, high-speed Internet access is becoming a must, whether in offices, apartments or hotels. Nowadays there’s almost every information at your fingertips about the industry than ever before.

Rising real estate

Relaxation of FDI ceiling rate has made international real estate developers come to India Real-estate consulting group Knight Frank predicts 20% growth rate for the organised retail in India Mumbai, Bangalore, New Delhi, Hyderabad and Pune would have 250 malls by 2010 as against the 40 now

Source: Credai — Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Associations of India.