Realty Corner

An Endless Journey

Chitty BabuOver the years, Akshaya has grown by leaps and bounds, as it went about creating 149 landmarks that have dotted the skyline of Tamil Nadu. While maintaining an upbeat mood about its 150th project which has several firsts to its credit, T CHITTY BABU, Chairman & CEO of Akshaya Pvt Ltd, says, “The search for the better never ends at Akshaya”…

You had a commendable journey till now. How do you make dreams and aspirations of a perfect living come true?

The key to ‘make dreams and aspirations come true’ is to live the dream and to passionately go about giving it life; and when this is practiced day in and day out, you create a series of steps that will lead to making your dreams come true. Right from the beginning I was clear on my goals and how I would go about attaining them, passion for your work mixed with a clear principled approach has helped me build an ethical and transparent and uncompromising business practice.

How do you keep abreast of the latest technology?

This happens at two levels; one, at a personal level, I always believed that you never stop learning, which keeps me constantly looking up on the happenings in my sector, be it technology, design, architecture or new materials or green building developments; taking time out to keep oneself abreast of the latest in the construction and infrastructure industry ensures that I am constantly moving with the learning curve, especially while travelling to technologically developed nations. The second level learning happens to us at an organisational level; internal meetings, discussion, presentations, training initiatives across various departments ensures that we as an organisation stay updated on the latest happenings in our category.   

From among the 149 projects executed by you, which one do you consider your landmark project? Why?

Singling out any one project will do injustice to the other projects, because our each project has an element of uniqueness that has defined our journey since inception. We look at each project as a benchmark that needs to be exceeded by the next project, hence all our projects carry our unique trademark – Green Buildings, Star Ratings, Awards & Accolades, Smart Homes, Elder-Child Friendly homes and the list goes on. And as I always say, “the best is yet to come”


Vertical development is the best way to meet the growing demands

Aditya Deshpande, Vice President Business Development, City Corporation Ltd

Pune-based City Corporation Ltd has built a reputation for impeccable design detail and skilled construction practices, since its inception in 1996. We find the company’s plans for 2013 during a tête-à-tête with ADITYA DESHPANDE, Vice President Business Development, City Corporation Ltd.

What made you enter the real estate market? How has the realty sector evolved with the second generation joining it?

Real Estate has always been an area of my interest since childhood, as I have grown up in that atmosphere. Ever since I was a kid, my father Mr Aniruddha Deshpande, has been bouncing ideas to me, and we have had several animated discussions on the same. Hence, real estate was always the sector I wanted to work in and I pursued an education with the same goal.

Over the past five years, the real estate industry as a sector has evolved greatly. This can be attributed to most second generation joining the parent organisation and the sector on the whole adopting best practices from more developed markets. Additionally, today, the customer is very well educated and exposed to global practices and he knows that he has several options. This has made it necessary for organisations to evolve in order to be successful. It is imperative to have an in-depth research in place before launching new projects as the product is the king today.

When did you join City Corporation Ltd, and what are your key responsibilities here?

I was 23 when I joined the industry which was three years back. I completed my Bachelors in Business Administration (BBA) from Symbiosis before pursuing a Masters degree in Entrepreneurship from Cass Business School London.

At City Corporation Ltd, my responsibility includes handling marketing, sales and CRM. Additionally, I also look into all new ventures for the group.

Elaborate on the initiatives planned by the company for 2013 and also throw some light on the vision that you have envisaged for the company.

2013 will be a significant year for us. Our flagship project Amanora Park Town has matured greatly, and we will launch several new premium offerings including a hotel in its premises. We will also leverage the experience gained through Amanora to launch two new township projects in 2013. There are also plans to launch a wellness resort and a high-end villa project in 2013.


Infrastructure status needed for affordable housing sector

Boman IraniReal estate sector can make a big difference to the economy and it is important that it gets the required impetus to improve the economy. Some critical steps can give exponential benefits to the real estate industry and these are vital for long term sustainable development of the sector. BOMAN IRANI, CMD, Rustomjee, shares his expectations from the upcoming Union Budget 2013 -14.

The real estate sector has been one of the major drivers of the GDP contributing almost 11 per cent of the total GDP, but has suffered tremendously over the past few years due to higher costs, slow pace of growth, declining sales, difficulty in raising funds and stalled project approvals.

Currently, the sector is looking at certain key policy decisions which make home-buying a priority for everyone in the country. We hope that the government grants infrastructure status to affordable housing sector as it will help facilitate easy financing and address the housing problem to a large extent. Also, the one per cent interest subsidy on home loans should be extended up to Rs 35 lakh.

A reduction in the base rate is extremely important as it will enable banks to lower their lending rates thereby resulting in reduction of interest rates charged to developers and home-buyers. Government should also look at developing provisions for Special Residential Zones (SRZs) in order to incentivize housing stock.

Reduced taxation and simplified taxation by possibly introducing GST will be another welcome move. The Government can play a major role in incentivizing the real estate industry by bringing down the taxes which comprise over 35 per cent of the sale value. It will also significantly bring down prices benefitting the home buyer.

We are looking forward to a raise in the income tax exemption limit to Rs 3 lakh and a reduction in excise duty rates to put higher disposable income at the hands of the public.


Encashing Land

Santhosh Kumar

SANTHOSH KUMAR, CEO – Operations, Jones Lang LaSalle India, says that adopting a comprehensive, well-planned strategy would be the best way to go for maximising returns from sales of surplus lands.

Information on how much surplus land the Government of India holds is not readily available in the public domain. These lands, whether belonging to the Centre or each respective State, are spread across urban areas (where the values are likely to be quite high), peri-urban and suburban areas (where land prices are relatively moderate) and rural areas (where land prices are lowest).

Consequently, putting a number on the total area (and its value) of the Government's land belonging is a challenge. The country's Port Authorities certain hold a substantial chunk of it, with the actual size of their holdings in the ballpark of 258,000 acres, out of which approximately 20 per cent is not in use. The Airports Authority owns around 20,000 hectares and defense services have approximately 1,700,000 acre (Source: Business Standard).

The Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA) is the single-largest owners of lands in this country. In fact, it has approximately 43,000 hectares of vacant land under its purview - most of it in locations where there is a shortage of housing. There are great opportunities to develop mass housing projects with private sector participation. Certainly, these land holdings represent a great opportunities to develop mass housing projects with private sector participation.


Branding the Blocks

Darshana ParmarIshwar Parmar Group, which has been in real estate for 40 years, believes that the last decade has witnessed a paradigm shift in the way business is promoted and in the buyer profile. DARSHANA PARMAR, Deputy Managing Director, iParmar Group, talks about the brand makeover that the company has opted for and how technology is an essential component for them.


Are young developers joining the family business or venturing on their own, playing a role in making the real estate segment dynamic today?

Real estate is a developing story today and most of the second generation has joined the family business, daughters and sons alike, with fresh new ideas. Global educational exposure has brought about some corporatisation.

Cite differences between developers of the older generation and the newer generation. Are there differences to be seen in terms of educational exposure, the global outlook and the new age business best practices?

The older generation has brought in a strong foundation and companies are a reflection of its people and policies. I see a lot of processes and standardisation coming in with the newer generation. HR policies are playing an important role in retaining talent within the company. The younger entrepreneurs have accepted and promoted online media and social networking as part of marketing and reaching out to customers. The newer generation is building on a solid foundation provided by our parents in their companies.


Flair and Passion

Rishabh SiroyaRISHABH SIROYA considers the Development Control Rules his Bible. At 28, he is Director of Siroya Group, and belongs to the flock of young leaders who dream big for their companies and strive for their fulfillment. With big plans for the company on his mind, the dynamic and suave Siroya is all set with a hands-on approach and a slew of initiatives to achieve them.

Instead of taking the already trodden path, Rishabh Siroya, Partner, Legend Siroya Developers believes in focussing more on developing his team of young and passionate professionals.

After completing his Bachelors in Marketing from Dubai, Siroya took business courses at Wharton and Harvard. But he soon realised that was not his true calling and then the family business beckoned. The first year with the family’s jewellery business was more like a roller coaster ride gaining a plethora of experiences and understanding the nuances of the industry. But he was yet to find his footing. In 2008, Rishabh joined the family’s real estate business in Mumbai. By then Siroya Developers had built a name for itself in the sector. Nonetheless, the struggle was hardly easy for him. Being a family member, if anything, only meant things were even more challenging. Siroya’s first project as a partner was all about seizing the opportunity and proving his mettle. Excerpts of an interview with him…


Master of the Game

Nitesh ShettyWith an investment of Rs 12,000, NITESH SHETTY, Founder and Managing Director of Nitesh Group of Companies, started the business of outdoor advertising. Today, Nitesh Group is a well known name in the Real Estate sector with various upcoming projects across the country. Excerpts of an interview with him...

Elaborate on your journey so far - from starting a venture in outdoor billboards to foraying in the real estate segment?

Through the business of outdoor billboards, we got in touch with land and property owners, as we had to deal with them for leasing spaces for putting up the billboards. This gave us some insight into the real estate industry. Being passionate about architecture and landscaping and a frequent traveler across the globe, I developed a keen interest in the way cities are made. I was confident that we could provide a whole new experience through real estate development in the Indian markets.

To attract customers, we had to build a great brand that could create its own pull; and to create this brand we would have to be different and the best in the world. Thus we had to partner with the best firms in the world – be it investors, architects or consultants. We attracted global investors like Och Ziff, a US-based hedge fund and Citi Property Investors. This was followed by HDFC AMC investing in the company. Within six years of incorporation, we took the company public.

We also tied up with Ritz Carlton for their first hotel venture in India. We partnered with the best of firms in the world to design our projects such as WATG, Super Potato, Callison, HOK and Belt Collins. With the same intent of partnering with the best, we aggressively bid for and won the corporate housing project of ITC Ltd.

Another important milestone was taking our IPO to success with major fund houses like Nomura, Halbis, HDFC MF, LIC MF, Blackrock and SBI MF investing in the company. The IPO was successful even though the stock market sentiment was very low and the appetite for real estate was particularly poor.



Fantastic Flight

HARI CHALLA  MD  Aliens Group

A pilot by profession, with a keen sense of direction and hands-on business acumen, HARI CHALLA, Managing Director, Aliens Group, emphasises on application of technological advancements and sophistications to urban living.


What was the factor that attracted you towards the business of real estate development, since you also have the professional tag of a pilot?

The real estate boom of 2004 in Hyderabad was the trigger that got us into this business. Combined with the data in the Tenth Five Year Plan which showed that there was a shortage of 22.4 million dwelling units in the country, we were presented with a big opportunity. Right from the beginning we aimed to do something different, something that had never been offered to Indian customers. Our focus was not just to provide living spaces but to offer a lifestyle solution to our key audience. We are proud to be an unconventional real estate developer and our concept of intelligent living has been so well received that other real estate companies are also trying to develop similar concepts. The adrenalin rush that I get from flying has now been replaced by the passion I feel for my company.