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Vinod Behl
Exposed
Property Pre-launches


The unethical and illegal practice of property pre-launches resorted to by rogue developers is assuming alarming proportions with builder-investor-broker nexus out to allure unscrupulous consumers with rosy dreams of making fast buck. Our cover story unravels the modus operandi behind illegal transactions of property pre-launches that tarnishes the image of the real estate sector and exposes the end users to the risk of losing their money.

A well-known builder that is known more for its interests in non-realty business faces an FIR by Haryana Town & Country Planning Department for allegedly doing illegal pre-launch bookings in Rewari Township falling under NCR.

District Town Planning Department of Gurgaon approaches district administration for lodging an FIR against a Delhi builder for indulging in illegal pre-launching of plots through brokers for a colony carved out in the controlled areas of Manesar. Another Delhi-based builder is under the scanner of District Town Planner, Gurgaon, for collecting money for pre-launch of a Golf Homes project.

A little known developer under the pretext of pre-launching a residential project in Indirapuram collects about Rs 3 crore and vanishes overnight leaving seven dozen retail investors high and dry.

A leading Delhi-based real estate developer that claims to have pan-India operations is rapped by Haryana government’s Town & Country Planning Department for making a false claim through an advertisement about setting up a housing project near Chandigarh. Following this, a broker through newspaper ads solicited pre-launch bookings in this project for which no permission or license was reportedly granted to the company by the authorities.

Few months back, Jaipur Development Authority issued a caution notice in city’s newspapers warning people against investing in few residential projects of well-known Delhi developers in the city who were allegedly engaged in bookings for these projects.

These are just some of the representative cases of pitfalls of pre-launch properties – a mere tip of the iceberg of such illegal transactions that could well ruin the rosy dreams of retail investors lured by the builder- investor- broker nexus to make fast buck. Now look at the other side of the story where many property buyers have burnt their fingers in their greed to book huge profits on their investments in a short period. Rajesh Chopra (name changed), a corporate executive, bought 5000 sq ft of retail space in a mall in Indirapuram developed by a relatively new developer in pre-launch scheme in June-July 2005. He invested close to Rs 50 lakhs on the builder’s promise that the project would be launched in two months’ time and he would then be able to book good profit on his investment. But the developer ran into financial problem and the project was shelved. Having failed to get his money back, Chopra has taken recourse to litigation.

Sumit Khanna (name changed) invested Rs 17 lakhs (more than 25 per cent of the cost of a flat) in a pre-launch scheme floated by a builder in Gurgaon on the understanding that he would be able to earn a handsome profit after the launch in 2-3 months. Now even after a year, the project launch is nowhere in sight.

Another retail investor Raj Singh (name changed) invested Rs 8 lakhs under the pre-launch scheme for a residential project in Faridabad but it is already a year and the promised launch has not been made with the result that his investment is stuck. There could be many more such cases of gullible and greedy retail investors who have been short-changed by developers in various pre-launch schemes.

Interestingly, this phenomenon of pre-launch is mostly prevalent in Delhi NCR and north India in Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. This is clearly evident from the rush of newspaper ads of pre-launch projects from the north. “This is largely because of the fact that north Indians are more adventurous in risk-taking and they have seen the benefits of financial jugglery by north Indian developers,” says an eminent broker engaged in pre-launch business. Following the pre-launch rush, states like Haryana and Rajasthan have particularly become alert. Says S P Gupta, Administrator, HUDA, Haryana, “Pre-launches without proper license is a serious violation of Haryana Urban Area Development Act and we’re initiating action against the erring developers.”

Though pre-launch sale of properties has been going on for over two years, it has now become much more pronounced with builders going overboard in their zeal to scale up their operations and emerge as pan–India players. And in the process this game of property pre-launch has assumed dangerous proportions. Unlike in the past when mostly investors and brokers were involved in pre-launch business, now more and more small retail investors and end-users are being roped in so much so that small time investors from places like Bhatinda or Jharkhand are being lured to invest in such schemes.

The extent to which this pre-launch business is flourishing can be gauged from the large number of ads from the brokers which appear in newspapers. While some ads carry the names of developers and projects, others are simply about pre-launch opportunities in specific cities.

Economics of pre-launch

What is this pre-launch business all about? Pre-launch is being resorted to by developers in order to raise funds and to sell a major part of the project in advance and also to create a hype in the market. This creates curiosity among buyers and as they go on a property-buying spree, the developers sell it on a premium price. And all this without taking the pain of developers getting bank loan for which the builder has to make certain disclosure about his project and finances. Through pre-launch, the promoter can manage to raise 25-30 per cent of his total project cost which is sufficient to purchase land and pay for the necessary approvals as total project cost includes development cost, administrative and promotional expenses including profit margins.

By just paying the booking amount one can claim his or her right to residential and commercial property offered on pre-launch basis. The understanding is that the builder or developer will do the actual launching of the project at a higher price so that investor at the pre-launch stage can book a profit and exit the project. The company keeps on increasing the price of original booking to create resale market. The rates of return can be quite high as investors make only partial payment to the company at the pre-launch stage.

But then there is a risk involved here as pre-launches are normally done for projects which have yet not been approved by the authorities. In many cases, the developer doesn’t even have the land for his project. There are several instances where developers announce 50-100 acre township project but they tie up only for 10-15 acres of land by giving advance money. Recently, a leading Delhi-based real estate developer, which has a number of group companies engaged in pre-launch bookings, was exposed by the town planning authorities in Sonepat.

Developer-investor-broker nexus

The entire business of pre-launch sale of property revolves around the chain formed by developer, big investors and brokers. The investor comes first in the chain of command who is approached by the developer. He invests in the project, normally on the promise of about 40 per cent appreciation in property price at the time of the launch. Some big- time brokers are also involved in underwriting the project. Keeping in view the dimension of the entire business, some big-time investors have even formed joint ventures with developers on revenue-sharing basis for pre-launch projects.

The broker or estate agent is the most important link in the pre-launch business. “Since pre-launch is not a legally accepted practice, the developer does not come directly into the picture. Moreover, most of the investors cannot approach secondary market to find buyer for their booked property. Therefore, the real estate agent plays a key role while interacting on behalf of the developer with investor and on behalf of the investor to sell the property again in the market,” says real estate expert Rakesh Purohit. And the broker gets good rewards as well since he gets as much as 4-8 per cent commission (double the normal) for high risk pre-launch projects. It is this lure of big money which has drawn shopkeepers, business men and retired people into property brokering business. With such fat incentives, brokers have become bolder and pro-active in the attempt to hook common people to invest in such properties. “It is not just gullible, ill-informed retail investor but even well-educated and well-informed senior corporate executives with heavy pay packets and ESOPs who are involved in this gamble of striking it rich in short time. These people have lot of surplus funds to invest. An entry-level executive couple in an MNC takes home about Rs 16 lakh annually. So besides investing in their first home, they are putting in lot of money in pre-launch properties,” informs a leading broker of Delhi.

Most of these corporate executives do not mind putting their money at risk. Says Ramesh Menon, working for a leading real estate consultancy in Gurgaon, “We deal with lot of corporate executives and 15 per cent of my clients are women. These Gen X executives are investing in pre-launch business with due diligence and with proper risk spread. There’s this financial analyst lady working for a Fortune 500 company who has invested Rs 80 lakh in three different (residential, retail and office) projects. And her target is to grow her money to Rs 2 crore in two years’ time.”

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Cover stories of last issues
Property At Pause

The legal land disputes have jeopardised hundreds of crores of investment by home-buyers and real estate developers in Noida Extension. However, all is not lost as the entire Noida property market holds long-term promise

Property At Pause

The legal land disputes have jeopardised hundreds of crores of investment by home-buyers and real estate developers in Noida Extension. However, all is not lost as the entire Noida property market holds long-term promise

Property At Pause

The legal land disputes have jeopardised hundreds of crores of investment by home-buyers and real estate developers in Noida Extension. However, all is not lost as the entire Noida property market holds long-term promise

Property At Pause

The legal land disputes have jeopardised hundreds of crores of investment by home-buyers and real estate developers in Noida Extension. However, all is not lost as the entire Noida property market holds long-term promise

Property At Pause

The legal land disputes have jeopardised hundreds of crores of investment by home-buyers and real estate developers in Noida Extension. However, all is not lost as the entire Noida property market holds long-term promise

Property At Pause

The legal land disputes have jeopardised hundreds of crores of investment by home-buyers and real estate developers in Noida Extension. However, all is not lost as the entire Noida property market holds long-term promise

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As home loan rates follow a downward trend amidst reforms push and improving economy, hope floats for home buyers

Property At Pause

The legal land disputes have jeopardised hundreds of crores of investment by home-buyers and real estate developers in Noida Extension. However, all is not lost as the entire Noida property market holds long-term promise

Property At Pause

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Reeling Realty

As the year 2011 draws to a close, the festive season this year has failed to rev up home sales to lift the sagging real estate market. In this lean season, there was not much on offer for the home buyers who were looking for more bang for buck. Facing liquidity crunch and shrinking margins due to high cost of raw materials, most of the big ticket developers did not join the festive freebies bandwagon, forcing many home buyers to take a back seat.

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Homes In The Sky

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Are Home Prices Headed For Correction?

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Rewarding Excellence

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Shopping For Home

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Challenging Prospects

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Haute Homes

The recent upturn in the residential real estate market has given a push to the luxury housing with both big ticket and medium size developers taking to this niche segment — promising a growing clientele, the chance to live life king size. These chic hot homes not only make a profound lifestyle statement but also make for excellent investment proposition.

Festive Realty

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RISING STARS OF REAL ESTATE

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DREAM LIFESTYLE FOR ALL

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NOIDA: HOT DESTINATION FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING

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SENIOR LIVINGHOT NICHE HOUSING TREND

The niche concept of senior living or post-retirement living has really evolvedover the last few years. And today more and more real estate companies are engaged in developing retirement communities and increasing number of senior citizens are opting for such residential developments that promise independent, secure, dignified and productive lifestyle. By Vinod Behl

CELEBRATING EXCELLENCE

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The festive freebies and discounts offered by cash-strapped developers have failed to enthuse the property buyers who prefer to wait for better deals.

Luck In Land!

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Residential Investment Destinations 2009

Given the economic slowdown, the dream run for the Indian builders in the residential space is over but for the end-users, it is a time of opportunity. Properties that would forever have stayed out of the reach of the middle-class are about to be put on the table.

10 Most Competitive cities

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Best Bargain

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Bonanza For Small Investors

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Partnering For Profit- Maximise your gains by redeveloping your old property in partnership with a developer.

Most urban properties comprising old buildings, occupied by its owners or by tenants, wholly or partially, can be turned around to make them revenue-yielding investment propositions. To that end, the structures can be developed for the construction of residential/offices or retail buildings with the help of professional builders. This is a better option than finding a way out through outright sale.

MALL A MALL : Is Investment In A Mall Space A Hot Option?

Investing in a mall space has proved to be the best bet with double-digit returns. But with emerging mall models and failing malls, investment in modern retail formats has become a rather risky proposition. Do malls still hold out promise for the retail investors?

WHERE TO INVEST – REAL ESTATE OR STOCK MARKET

As developers make use of the carpet area-super area confusion to charge arbitrarily for the real estate space, property buyers feel cheated in the absence of any regulatory mechanism.

WHERE TO INVEST – REAL ESTATE OR STOCK MARKET

After a long bull run as stock market experiences worst battering and property market is depressed, small investors find themselves at the crossroads. What’s the way forward for them in their treasure hunt? Should they make fresh investments in stocks, property, mutual funds, gold or debt instruments? And should they stay invested or quit?

City Of Joy

Spurred by the huge residential and commercial demand on the strength of economic resurgence and IT growth, and aided by favourable government policies, Kolkata real estate offers great opportunity for affordable and safe investment with steady growth.

Hottest Emerging Locations of 2008 Realty Plus: Cushman and Wakefield report

Fast-paced economic growth, improved infrastructure, rapid urbanisation and scarcity of land in tier-I and tier-II cities have triggered the creation of new corridors, which will be the focus areas of 2008.

Facility Management Adding Value To Property

Effective facility management is the new mantra of the country’s rapidly growing real estate sector, with a slew of domestic developers across the metros and even tier-II and III cities setting up their own facility management companies or outsourcing their work to specialised private agencies from India and abroad. With a current market size estimated to be around Rs 10,000 crores, this sector presents a win-win situation for the developers as well as consumers. While developers are ensured of better brand equity and attractive pricing for their upcoming projects, end users and investors stand to gain with a hassle-free lifestyle and premium ROIs on their investment.

Changing Face Of Office Real Estate

The corporate real estate or the commercial office real estate is on a new high in India, characterized by rising demand and high absorption. Notwithstanding the current mismatch in demand and supply resulting in skyrocketing prices, the market with coming supply boom is headed towards greater stability in the future.

BoomTowns

The development in the housing sector is mirroring the rapid economic growth. The residential segment is leading the growth trajectory of the real estate sector with 75-80% of the total demand from this segment. None other than metros reflect this trend better. This cover story, based on Knight Frank India Residential Market Review, takes a look at seven important urban centres of Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai for an overview that demonstrates great promise for residential real estate. Over the next three years, close to 530.5 million sq. ft. of residential space would be developed in Grade A and B+ category in these seven major locations translating to a supply of 200,000 units per year in the MIG and HIG sections. As such these metros, which are currently experiencing the boom, symbolize the shape of things to come in the residential real estate.

Golf homes- Teeing a New Lifestyle

Golf Homes or upmarket residential developments built around a golf course are the latest buzzword in the super-premium housing segment. Big-ticket developers like Unitech, DLF, Ansal API, Prestige Estates, Mantri Developers and the Jaypee Group have already taken the plunge with an array of golf-centric projects that promise a growing clientele the chance to live life king-size amidst the greens.

Small is Big
Reaping Rich Rewards With Small Investments

Real estate has traditionally been an avenue for high investment. But as the sector evolves, it offers various 0ptions and opportunities for small investors to strike it rich.

Enter The NewAge Broker

Until recently, the role of a property broker did not go much beyond the arranging of that all-important meeting between the property seller and the anxious buyer, closing the sale and pocketing his commission for 'services rendered'. However, the entry of global real estate consultancies, proliferation of online property portals, changing buyer profiles and the emergence of a new breed of educated, tech-savvy, well-networked ‘property agents' offering a slew of value-added services in a real estate market is now slowly forcing conventional brokers to get their act together.

How to invest wisely in an overheated property market

Notwithstanding the much hyped boom, the overheated real estate market is already witnessing a slowdown. As the galloping realty run comes to an end and spiralling prices undergo correction, property buyers and investors find themselves at the crossroads. It is time to play safe and invest wisely in a cooling market. Realty Plus presents a handy guide for the real estate investors to make most of the turbulent times.

Real Estate Slowdown

After a free bull run for two years, the booming real estate market seems to have lost some of its steam. Property prices, which were in ever escalating mode, have begun to slide if not crash. This correctional or cooling off phase is the overheated property market has led to the fears of property meltdown.

Realty Growth On Holy High

Religious destinations like Vrindavan, Ajmer, Amritsar, Rishikesh, Tirupati, Nasik, Hardwar and Mathura are fast becoming the preferred destinations for real estate buyers and investors wanting to escape the increasing stress of modern living in urban metros. They are now investing in property at these religious havens that have long since attracted pilgrims and people from India and abroad with their promise of inner tranquillity and spiritual bliss.

Rental Rewards
Hot Investment Opportunities in Retail Real Estate

In the wake of the ongoing mall boom investment in commercial retail property has turned out be a secure investment, paying rich dividends in terms of capital appreciation and promising big rental gains.

10 Hot Emerging Destinations Of 2007
Places to go, money to make

With the real estate boom of 2006 surging strongly into the New Year, small cities riding high on the strength of real estate cost advantage, improving infrastructure and business environment, coupled with the growing income and aspirational levels of their residents, are the hot spots for the builders engaged in frenetic development. We present 10 such hot destinations across India which are the best bets for profitable property deals in 2007.

Creating wealth for the global Indian

For the multitude of Indians now well-settled across the globe, the booming real estate sector back home has just given them a new reason to reaffirm not just their emotional ties with India but also a lucrative investment destination that promises the proverbial pot of gold. And riding the crest of this sky-rocketing demand from global Indians for premium real estate are a slew of metro and non-metro cities that include Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore, Kochi, Chennai and Hyderabad to name a few.

Real Deal, Bill to rein in Realtors, protect property buyers

The government is ready to introduce a bill in the parliament to set up a regulatory authority for the real estate sector that will discipline builders and safeguard the interests of the consumers. As a first step to regulate the real estate sector, the proposed law christened as the Real estate Management (Regulation & Control) Act prescribes compulsory licensing and registration of promoters, real estate agents and contractors on renewal basis with penal provisions for violating the Act.

Service Apartments

The New Buzzword

Driven by an increasing demand from the booming corporate sector, particularly the IT and ITES segment, business and leisure travellers and investors lured by attractive rentals, service apartments – that combine all the comforts of home with the frills of a luxury hotel at a fraction of the cost – is the new buzzword that’s taking the real estate industry by storm. With an array of projects across cities like Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Kochi and Kolkata by leading realty and hospitality industry majors, service apartments are now increasingly becoming the preferred choice for those looking for a ‘home away from home’.

Smart Homes Key To Futuristic Lifestyle

Move over “non-intelligent” homes and make room for the “smart” ones. The age of automation is taking over heralding the advent of e-homes that make use of technology to provide a heady combination of convenience, security and lifestyle.

Property Meltdown – Myth or Realty?

Despite all-round boom in real estate, soaring property prices have created a growing fear for realty bubble and a risk of property meltdown. How real is this apprehension?

Gen X Gets Realty Savvy

An increasing number of young professionals with fat salaries and high net worth individuals are now making a beeline for their piece of the booming real estate investment pie, buoyed by the ample supply of cheap home loans, its high safety ratings, attractive returns and more importantly, to savour the privilege of having bought their first major tangible asset, at an age when their parents were still climbing the many rungs of the corporate ladder.

Home Loan Groan
Rising Property & Home Loan Rates Souring Home Dream

This is not exactly a fine time for homebuyers. Rising property prices and home loan rates are posing as big hurdles. Construction materials like cement and steel have become costlier. Further, as per RBI norms, builders will get loans only after their projects are cleared. The CBDT is meanwhile questioning the continuance of tax concessions to loan seekers. Is the party then over? This is no panic situation as yet but the road is not certainly smooth.

RISE OF THE SUBURBS

With the demand for residential, commercial and retail space zooming north against a rapidly diminishing land mass, it’s the suburbs of most Indian metros and Tier II cities like Mumbai, Delhi, NCR, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata that are currently witnessing a bulk of the frenzied development, as developers scramble to cater to the booming demand lured by the easier availability of prime real estate at affordable rates, improved connectivity, better infrastructure facilities and the promise of a rewarding future.

Realty 2006: time Ripe for Property Investment?

With inherent strong economy and favorable demographics and regulatory regime, the echoing real estate boom of 2005 is here to gain further momentum. And with IT, retail and housing boom fuelling the real estate market like never before, it’s time for homebuyers and investors to reap the gains.

SECOND HOMES

Ravi Kumar, a businessman bought farmhouse in Khandala 4 years back mainly as a weekend getaway from the busy city life. But with Mumbai-Pune expressway, his weekend home has turned out to be a sound investment that has more than doubled during this period. Subsequently many of his friends have invested for a second home there.

Integrated Townships
New Mantra For Modern Living

Self-contained townships wherein residential, commercial and retail zones are all within the same development area seem to have caught the imagination of buyers and developers alike.
Traffic bottlenecks, need for better lifestyle, coupled with an investor-friendly government policy on FDI which aid the inflow of huge sums of money required to construct such facilities, are the major factors that have led to the emergence of integrated townships all across the country.

Property protection
Safety From Natural Disasters

Following the unprecedented damage caused to life and property by the recent earthquake in Kashmir and floods in Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai, the real estate developers, professionals, government agencies and above all property buyers need to take preventive measures to minimize damage by working towards safer habitat. There is greater onus on consumers to ensure that they are buying or building a resilient and safe structure.

Empowering Real Estate Consumers

Real estate consumers may well hope for a better deal in the near future as the union government is readying a legislation to empower and protect them by regulating property transactions.

Legal & Taxation Issues That Impact Property Purchase

Buying a property is a lifetime investment that has to be made judiciously. After all your life long earnings are at risk. There are vital legal and taxation issues which you just can’t afford to overlook more so if you wish to make money from your investment.

Should Developers Offer Warranty On Properties?

In spite of a real estate warranty being the norm in realty market worldwide, the burgeoning Indian real estate industry has the dubious distinction of having practically no safeguards in place to protect the interests of end users. However, on the bright side, a few developers, industry associations and the government seem to have finally woken up to the gravity of the situation and initiated the long process towards implementing warranties that could well change the face of the Indian real estate scenario.

Boom Cities
The hottest real estate destinations

Though the current real estate boom is spreading fast to the tier-II towns, it is the metros and the tier –I cities which are the hottest destinations with sustained buoyancy, offering double digit returns on real estate investment.

Home Loans: The Party Goes On!

Notwithstanding the likely marginal upward revision of home loan rates, the attractive rates coupled with tax incentives and the high returns on residential property present a strong case for the home buyers to make most of the home loan bonanza.

Where are property prices heading

With strong fundamentals like resurgent economy, increased purchasing power, greater credit flow, favorable interest rates, retail and BPO boom, it’s been a boom time for Indian realty. But then with property prices shooting through the roof in some select markets overheated by speculative investment, fears have been expressed about the emergence of property bubble. And the big question is – will the property prices crash.

Is Your Developer Worth Your Money?

10 Point Realty plus ICRA Checklist to ensure Safe Investment

Notwithstanding the increasing professionalism in the real estate sector, this largely unorganised industry still lacks proper transparency and fair practices, often resulting in property buyers getting a raw deal at the hands of unscrupulous developers.

Real Estate Financing The Big Leap Forward

The present boom in residential, retail and commercial real estate coupled with the growing professionalism in Indian realty has opened up avenues for newer financing instruments like REMFs and REITs. And with the government favourable considering the opening up of FDI in retail and real estate, real estate financing may soon come of age in India.

Premium Homes Heralding a New Real Estate Revolution

Glitzy glass and metal facades, electronic access control elevators, video door phones, French windows, terrace pool, spa, club house, shopping mall, landscaped gardens…Living life king size is the buzzword among the rich and elite. And realtors are scrambling to cash in on this new trend of high-end apartments, plush villas and princely penthouses, to meet the growing demand for elegant living.

10 Trends Driving Corporate Occupancy

The real estate sector is riding high on the strong economy and the commercial real estate is being driven like never before by the booming IT/BPO/Call Centre sector. Almost 80 percent of demand for commercial space today is generated by this sector. To make most of the opportunity, developers have geared up to provide more efficient and high class developments. These offerings are of global standards, matching the requirements of corporates. Not just that, developers are using new age techniques in order to act delivery times

Retail Malls GOLDMINES OR LANDMINES?

Amidst high growth of organized retail and an ever-increasing urban population with high disposable income becoming brand and quality conscious, India is ushering in the ‘great mall boom’. But is it only an initial euphoria that may not last long or will the organized retail, which is still at a nascent stage, turn into a goldmine in the years to come?

Home Truths : What the Home Buyers Want
Realty Plus – TNS Survey

Of the three necessities, ‘roti, kapda aur makan,’ the first two are evident in the day-to-day struggle of the average Indian. The last mentioned, however, exerts an equal if not greater hold just under the surface. Sooner or later, the need to ‘possess’ a space, to earmark a territory exclusive to the self, to own a piece of turf under the wide blue sky, manifests itself in every human being. And today with housing boom sweeping across the country, there is greater yearning among the Gen X to own a house of their own.

The Great Housing Boom

Ek Bangla Bane Nyara – this golden song of yesteryears seems to be echoing across the country as millions of middle class urbanites now find it within their reach to realize their life’s dream to own a home of their own.And with luxury housing pitching in too, India is truly witnessing a residential real estate boom.

 
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