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High-end homes spell new trend

Realty has not rebounded from a slump, did you say?

india Updated: Dec 17, 2010 23:44 IST

Realty has not rebounded from a slump, did you say? Thing again. While affordable housing may be the theme of the year with cut-rate apartments for large volumes of flats, in the upper end of the market, a party is in progress. With elite urban professionals thinking of apartments that cost well above R1 crore, there is a new category called “super luxury” homes.

While Mukesh Ambani is in the news for his blockbuster skyscraper home, “Antilla,” high net-worth individuals, not as rich but with plenty of cash to spend, are seeking homes in style, say industry executives. Buyers such as Gautam Adani, chairman of Adani Group; Harsh Mariwala, chairman of Marico; Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Bollywood director behind movies such as Rang De Basanti; and Nimesh Kampani, chairman of JM Financial are among those building homes that cost several crores, industry sources told Hindustan Times.

Bangalore-based Nitesh Estates recently launched villas in Goa that promise a river in your backyard and a beach less than a mile away. The price: R8 crore to R10 crore.

“We launched the project only last week and we already have 100 potential buyers. Many of them wish to see the location and then pay the token of R25 lakh,” said Ashwini Kumar, Chief Operating Officer at Nitesh Estates. Tata Housing may have pioneered affordable housing in Mumbai, but the real estate arm of the Tata group is equally happy at the top end of the spectrum.

The company is developing 73 villas in Lonavala, with some costing as much as R7 crore. A month after launch, 60 villas have been sold, a person in the know said.

“We call them Forbes billionaire buyers. Their decision is driven more by their tastes and aspirations than anything else. Few developers could cater to them, but the returns in these projects for investors is enormous,” said a top real estate consultant who caters to high-profile customers.

Such homes are not necessarily outside city limits.

Right in the heart of Mumbai at Bandra, Piramal-Sunteck, a joint venture between Sunteck Realty and Piramal Group, has launched super luxury apartments that realty consultants say commands a price of R40,000 per square foot. That means the apartments would cost between R25 crore and R40 crore each.

Such homes are a bold gambit for developers.

“A project with a target revenue of R300 to 500 crore can be started with a mere investment of R10 crore,” said one developer. “And once you start getting the booking amount, development work can progress," he said.

Most of the developers in the segment now enter a revenue- sharing agreement with the landowner to avoid land purchase costs. “Often, projects commence after the booking starts, but once the token amount is taken, the property has to be registered,” said an industry expert who did not want to be identified.

Developers are tightlipped about their buyers. However, Hindustan Times managed to get names of some buyers from registrar’s office and sources close to the development. Some buyers are forthcoming. Movie director Rakyesh Omprakash Mehra confirmed he had bought a villa in Lonavala. “The apartment is bought in the name of a family member,” he said.

Gautam Adani was not reachable and calls and messages to his company’s official spokesperson did not elicit any response. JM Financial said the “concerned person” for comment was not available. Marico did not response to an e-mail and its officials said concerned executives were busy in a meeting.

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