India’s Property Market Rides Election Wave | Gulf News

The triumphant win of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister of the Indian subcontinent for a second term, in the world’s largest election, has lent maximal credence to the country’s realty business in a manner most exceptional. The ruling government’s first term, contentiously driven by infrastructural development and financial realignments like Demonetization, RERA (Real Estate Regulation and Development Act) and GST (Goods & Service Tax) hit the cash-rich realty business particularly hard. Predictably, it was met with uproarious dissent. But, luxury realty seems to have taken a real turn since the legalized reorientations in the business, with antagonism giving way to smarts.

The luxe life is an addiction like no other. As long as there is human desire to live like royalty and be an in-your-face show-off, luxury real estate in India is headed forward. It stands at a profitable vantage point today, espousing all three acts, advantageous to both, builders and buyers. Indian realty expects investments to double to $10 billion in 2019. The paper trail and financial transparency accorded to the business is dominant, making it a streamlined, and somewhat trustworthy experience today. But there’s no denying that the business is devoid of the robustness and speed it once basked in, languishing ever so often in protracted sales.
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RERA seems to have had the most impact so far, not so much on newer developers as it has on the bigger players with large, unsold inventories, given it is now mandatory for 70 percent of the money to be deposited in bank accounts through cheques, restricting unaccounted money being flushed into the realty business. Aside from its financial transparency, a RERA requisite that’s very conducive to prospective buyers, is that builders are obliged to quote prices based on carpet area (inclusive of usable spaces like the kitchen and bathrooms) and not super built-up area. Having said that, RERA needs to hasten the pace, and frequency, in providing aggrieved buyers who need long overdue compensations from unscrupulous developers across India. The clean-up in the business has only just begun. It is anything but cleaned up, as far as realty racketeers are concerned, despite the new regulations and progressive revamps of archaic Indian property laws like Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code and the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act being in place. For the business to regain the implicit trust of consumers and hit immediate sale highs, compensating buyers for their losses is vital, and it should become a regular occurrence as compared to the rarity it is today.

Luxury residences and serviced luxury residences make for accelerated buys and sells in India, and rightly so, as time is a luxury the wealthy can’t afford to indulge in. Newer developers in Mumbai like Aditya Kilachand, Partner at Innovation Estates LLP, seem to be on the right beach of luxury realty, building villas by the sea in Alibag, a mere three-hour drive from Mumbai. Tapping into Alibag’s infrastructure, the improved connectivity and proximity to Mumbai, its existing community and fairly undervalued land prices is just realty forethought and judiciousness. Seven luxury serviced villas called L’Hermitage, custom-designed by Sussanne Khan of The Charcoal Project, will be ready for some serious selling upwards of 10CR by Sotheby’s International Realty India, come July 2019.
villWith all the luxury constructions and developments, there is a new shift in the market of late, that of “aspirational luxury” residences that aren’t remotely luxurious, barring their price points. Priced at 7CR upwards for a 3BHK in the business suburb of the Bandra Kurla Complex in Mumbai, these residences allude to a luxurious lifestyle with cleverly scripted and assertive marketing hype. The insides of these residential towers are at most basic, with a garden path, a swimming pool and some semblance of a gym thrown in, with views of the city’s under-construction skyline off a balcony, masquerading as luxury amenities. Needless to add, it’s a “white elephant” investment for owners as resale inventory is at its lowest and unrealistic rentals dictated by the builder’s team, with few takers, stand testimony to the “mimic luxe” gimmick it’s established on. These kind of constructions need to be reined in, as these will lead to a catastrophically high, over-priced, unsold inventory in the country that will affect consumers far more than the builders.

This feature first appeared in Gulf News on June 9, 2019

©Rubina A Khan 2019

Indian Realty Adjusts To New Realities | Gulf News

Luxury realty is the obsessive reality of the moneyed order. Spending money is the only currency that fortifies the social standing of the affluent – both on the Forbes list and off it. Real estate buys and sells make for a fiscal haven in these propitious months of the Indian calendar, but this time around, there are no buyers. The Indian realty index is stable, but it doesn’t compare to what it was prior to demonetization. The immediacy in the market is non-existent but it remains a lucrative market for investors, expats in particular, after the sharp depreciation of the rupee. But time is the key component at play here. Buying property today equals buying time too as a vital appendage.
GULF NEWS COLUMNA luxury apartment in Mumbai valued at Rs70 million will sell, eventually, but time will play a starring role in the sale today. Slashed to Rs55 million at a sizeable paper loss to the owner, it’ll sell within six months to a year. Cutting losses on luxury property investments was unthinkable, the crash of 2008 notwithstanding. I wouldn’t call this a seller’s market – it’s the buyers that decide the when and the where, with no ready money in the market. Realty purchases are entirely need-based and not investment-based, barring corporates who have the money and readily-available loans to enable their investments. Individual investors shirk buying as that entails endless tax probes and exhausting paperwork.

Realty projects are akin to a big Bollywood production that’s high on the collaborative trend today, making for sound business strategy, sharing profits and losses in the entertainment business. This seems to have found favour with realty developers too. But developers don’t really have a choice unlike Bollywood producers who can swing an independent film with Salman Khan playing the lead at whim. They’re compelled to co-build, sitting on overpriced plots that aren’t feasible to build on one’s own financial steam with the continued deceleration of money in the market. Few independent developers build in the luxury segment today. Co-building is a profitable proposition for developers but it makes it a larger liability for buyers to commit to new constructions.

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Under construction development in Mumbai | Photo: Rubina A Khan

India’s leaning more towards luxury rentals than luxury buys. Selling seems impossible. The return of investments on purchased property through leasing is abysmal, and not even marginally close to purchase costs. Reselling isn’t easy either. Future-forward individuals are now choosing to rent luxury homes with all the trappings versus buying. Fiscally, it’s more conducive to live the luxe life without a home owner’s liabilities. The freedom to shift in and out of cities, upsize and upgrade to glamorous homes and neighbourhoods when the mood strikes far outweighs setting up immoveable roots in one place – and all of it with clean bank transfers that comply with realty regulations.

Green is the new luxe word and agricultural neighborhoods is the trend du jour. India being an agrarian economy can take to agri-hoods swiftly, integrating agriculture into residential neighborhoods with working farms and green space. Agri-hoods suit the natural Indian landscape and will appeal to environment-conscious, rich millennials who are always seeking the “next level” in their lives. Living concepts of clean eating, organic produce, solar energy, climate change, rainwater harvesting and the great outdoors with fresh air are selling successfully through smart adverts worldwide. Under-construction properties advertise zealously with a definitive emphasis on green cover and integrating sustainable and organic food produce everyday – a miniscule attempt, but important nevertheless. Full-scale agri-hoods is the future of luxury realty and building agri-hoods will unify Indian community living.

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Under construction development in Mumbai | Photo: Rubina A Khan

Art that no longer hangs on a wall or is vulgarly placed in the middle of a room nor discussed in hushed tones, but tactile art is taking over luxury realty. Established and emerging artists are designing not just pieces of art, but entire residences, harmonizing their artistic voices with the distinct individualism of home owners. Fashion couturiers Rohit Bal and Tarun Tahiliani are both engaged in residential design, adding their genius to concrete. Fashion and art create a historical archive of the times we live in.

Architecture is almost incongruent to individualism with high-rises taking over Indian metros, cities and towns. But the highest honor in the architectural world – the Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate – went to an Indian for the first time this year. Professor Balkrishna Doshi won the honor for his deeply personal and poetic architecture that touches lives of every socio-economic class across a broad spectrum of genres. If only the Indian realty business could turn a page as poetic as his works in its design ethos.

This feature first appeared in Gulf News on September 29, 2018

©Rubina A Khan 2018

New Indian Kidswear Line, Sam & Friends, Is Making Some Cool New Friends Around The World

The fashion playing field in India is rather adult with an emphatic intensity on bridal lines masquerading as couture. In India, the word fashion in itself conjures up blush visuals of shimmering Tarun Tahiliani couture, Anita Dongre’s prêt-à-porter lines and reigning Bollywood stars in designer threads. Fashion for kids is not of any relevance really in the massive Indian design scape, despite it bringing in some serious money to international brands that carry kidswear lines. In an evolving fashion landscape, pre-teens and teens are walking and talking fashion louder than adults globally, something that international fashion house, Zara, understood a long time ago.

Rishi and Neetu Kapoor’s first born, Riddhima Kapoor-Sahni, a jewellery designer and her businessman husband, Bharat Sahni, launched their indigenous new clothing line for kids, Sam & Friends, in December 2017 in a bid to change the fashion stakes, and styles, of kidswear in India. And

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Riddhima Kapoor-Sahni with daughter, Samara in Sam & Friends apparel

Rubina A Khan spoke to Riddhima Kapoor-Sahni in New Delhi:

Why did you think of doing a kid’s fashion line and not one for adults, given your inherent style and persona?
My husband, Bharat, has been in the kids’ clothing business for over fifteen years now and he is very passionate about it and I trust his business sense implicitly. This is why we chose to do a fashion line for kids only. Sam & Friends is for children between the ages of 0-16.

Why is the line called Sam & Friends?
We have named it after our adorable daughter Samara. Sam stands for Samara.

How much is Samara involved in the design and style aesthetic of the line?
Samara is too young to be involved at the moment. Yet she still gives her likes, dislikes and preferences on the collection.

Who has she taken after in the fashion stakes in the Kapoor / Sahni family?
Me! (laughs)

Sam & Friends is not frilly and flouncy, nor is it inspired by what Bollywood stars are wearing. Was it an intentional move to steer away from flamboyant fashion for kids?
Kidswear is one of the fastest moving segments in India and today’s kids are well informed and aware of fashion due to social media. As I mentioned earlier, Bharat has been in the business of fashion for kids for a while now and he truly understands kids fashion, so technically we have stepped into the arena a level ahead of the others. With our unbeatable price points and an uncompromising quality for the fabric, finish, style and design in the garments, Sam & Friends is being loved by both kids, and their parents. All our garments are made with international quality and safety standards which I reckon a majority of Indian customers are not aware of.

What are the pieces you wish you could wear today?
I wish I could wear the bomber jackets with flashy sequins, party skirts and sequinned dresses!

What is Samara’s favourite piece from the collection?
A pink jacquard dress with a beautiful corsage.

Who is Samara’s style icon?
Her Nani (Neetu Kapoor) 

What is the future of Sam & Friends?
As of now, we are trying to make Sam & Friends reach the maximum number of  Indians and the response so far has been overwhelming. Furthermore, we will be launching our own website in January 2018 to reach all our online shoppers and retail through online portals.

PS. I’m a new friend of Sam too. Interestingly and not quite by design, I wore my Sam & Friends tee to a screening of the Hollywood film, The Greatest Showman, a title associated with the late Indian legend, Raj Kapoor, for his achievements in the cinematic world – leaving me in a total Bollywood state of mind. If you’ve seen the Zac Efron/Hugh Jackman/Zendaya circus theatrics, you’ll know what I’m talking about! 

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@Rubina A Khan 2017

 

 

CNBC: Secret Escapes Gets $60M Backing Led By Google

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Sunset on Velaa Private Island, Maldives by Rubina A Khan / Getty Images

©Rubina A Khan 2015

I’m Not Here To Push Myself, But The Causes I Have, Says Industrialist Ness Wadia

Industrialist Ness Wadia, scion of India’s most illustrious business company, the Wadia Group, has never been one to court fame or celebrity, but somehow, headlines chase him relentlessly, turning him into India’s most recognized and “selfied-with” face in the corporate world. But behind the suit and corporate armor, is a man with a zealous philanthropic drive. Not one to talk about it though, Ness is an active force in the Wadia Group’s charitable ventures, one of them being the Little Hearts Marathon that took place on Sunday. “What a glorious way to wake up on a beautiful Sunday morning, with the pure and unparalleled energy of 12,000 kids running the marathon!” exclaims Wadia as he flags off the marathon with the Health Minister of Maharashtra, Dr Deepak Sawant, Dr Minnie Bodhanwala, CEO, Wadia Hospitals and Aditya Thackeray of the Yuva Sena.

Rubina A Khan in conversation with industrialist Ness Wadia for DNA:

How did the idea of the Little Hearts Marathon come about?
The concept was that we wanted to help kids with cardiac ailments and to promote awareness on that front as a lot of kids suffer from cardiac problems. We found out that a lot of hospitals were not looking into children’s cardiac care so the Bai Jerbai Wadia Hospital for Children (BJWHC) tied up with the Siddhivinayak Ganpati Temple Trust and formed a Cardiac Unit to help kids with cardiac afflictions. Last year, Salman Khan flagged off the first edition of the Little Hearts Marathon, with 10,000 kids participating and this year, our second marathon, we had 12,000 kids! We are planning to take it across India and other parts of Maharashtra as well to raise funds for setting up a cardiac center at BJWHC to reduce the costs and waiting time for cardiac surgeries in our community.

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Ness Wadia at the second edition of the Little Hearts Marathon 2015

Lots of marching bands, cadet corps, quite a spectacular show first thing in the morning… how do you involve these schools and their kids?
This is all voluntary work on behalf of the schools and the children, as this is a charitable organization and everything is pro bono – it’s children helping other children. Isn’t that amazing? All the staff working here are all from the Wadia Hospital, Lions Club, Rotary Club, Schools. It’s all Corporate Social Responsibility. We treat thousands of kids a year and last year was special as we treated a set of conjoined twins Riddhi and Siddhi Pawar who are now well and doing so well. This is one of the most important joys in my life. I was here most part of Diwali last year and spent it with all the kids. Spending time with them brings you to reality and makes you realise what life is about and makes you appreciate what you have and more importantly, what we, as a whole, need to give to help develop our society.

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Dr Minnie Bodhanwala and Ness Wadia with conjoined twins, Riddhi and Siddhi Pawar

From my perspective, the Wadia hospitals have been around for 86 years and we are looking to renovate and take on various expansions. We don’t publicise the Wadia Hospitals, we never have, now we are beginning to. Apart from anything, it helps with CSR and but I simply love doing it and I want to spread the awareness. Our goal is to have possibly, charitable hospitals across India, as opposed to hospitals that earn money; we have enough businesses that earn money. We do change lives here. My plea to anyone who reads this and anyone who hears about this, even if it is one rupee, please, just donate. There are lot of people are more interested in the glamour and the sensational lifestyle aspect or what one’s doing in their lives, but the work which one does in the Wadia Group has always been very low key, the family has always been low key, we are not here to blow our own trumpet and tell people what we have done and how we’ve done it and how much money we have. We are simple people. The perception is not, unfortunately. We have been involved in the building of India and we will continue to be involved in the building of India. And honestly, I am not here to push myself, but the causes I have.

Do these children feel like yours at some point given you spend time, follow their progress charts and are so involved in their lives?
I don’t know if they feel like mine, but they inspire me more to do more. It keeps me going. There’s so much to do. We have the hospital website – http://wadiahospitals.org where you can donate and help. In fact we had an argument about the amount as I firmly believe you cannot put a minimum on a donation! A man wants to put one rupee into a box, let him put it. Let him choose.

Are you looking forward to the eighth season of the IPL this year?
Sure! We (Kings XI Punjab) want to win this year. We have a great bunch of players and it feels like a good season.

This feature first appeared in DNA on 08 February, 2015

©Rubina A Khan 2015