"The continued sustainability of the real estate industry is expected to act as an impetus to growth. The higher impact of migration of HNI’s into Bangalore either under change of residence or as an investment are seen as growth drivers. Post the commencement of BIAL, the real estate activity in North Bangalore has increased tremendously. Bangalore has proven to be one of the most promising markets for Villa projects in India. Sales and growth wise, Bangalore, apart from other major cities such as Mumbai & New Delhi has shown a steady growth pattern and will continue to show good sales in the coming years."
Sathish Koshy, Managing Director, Hebron Properties Pvt Ltd is part of the real estate sector for more than two decades apart from being in the realm of Education and Healthcare sector. Having such a vast experience, he shares his views with Sandeep Sharma about his company, core competencies, emerging trends in the realty space. Bangalore market, Hebron Enclave project, attractiveness of real estate as an asset class, growth expected in the residential segment, Government booster required for real estate growth and his recommendations to solve India’s growing housing deficit. Edited Excerpts...
Could you brief us about your company and core competencies?
We are the real estate vertical of a Group which has carved a niche for itself in the fields of Education and Healthcare. A closely held private limited company, we take pride in positioning ourselves as a uniquely diverse multi-domain portfolio that covers villas, residential, and commercial Property development. Apart from property development, we are also into architectural services, interior designing and various other services related to residential and commercial units.
As promoters of Hebron we carry with us around two decades of expertise and experience in the realm of property development. With a vision to hold ourselves out as a leader in the high-end luxury segment of the realty sector we have two ongoing projects, our flagship project, Hebron Enclave, a premium ultra-luxury villa project in K R Puram, Bangalore and Hebron Towers, a unique combination of 74 luxury apartments with an upcoming modern commercial space on Old Madras Road, Bangalore.
With more projects on the anvil, we aim to create a sustainable brand in the market.
How long you have been in real estate space and your achievements till date?
I have been associated with real estate for over 2 decades, apart from being in the realm of Education and Healthcare I have been an Advisor to many real estate ventures. Believing in the money-value of time it has always been my mantra that “a stitch in time saves nine”. A time bound approach to project management will realize the projected returns. All the projects that I have been associated with have met the timelines and the promoters were happy. For instance, my current project, Hebron Enclave, a high-end project which is a 71 ultra-luxury Villa project in Bangalore is 70% complete in just two years.
Another factor which I consider relevant in my evolution into a prime property developer is the seamless transition from offering affordable mid-segment housing to premium ultraluxury villas/apartments for the connoisseurs of good living.
What are the emerging trends in Indian real estate sector?
There are various trends that will define the Indian real estate sector in the coming years. The main ones are: The paradigm shift noticed in buyers is that they seem to be in love with anything premium. The burgeoning middle class who were earlier investing in affordable homes are now looking at luxury homes, even if it is an apartment and not a villa. Luxury housing is becoming a fad mostly because of the awareness created on standard of living and also the role of banks in being liberal in providing housing loans. This segment has been a huge catalyst in the real estate sector. This is expected to be the future mindset of the investor.
There appears to be thrust on quality rather than on cosmetics alone. Clients have become knowledgeable given the internet revolution and the access to large number of properties at very competitive prices. Competition amongst equals has created the price in the market. The emergence of tier II & III cities as an investment destination with good support infrastructure is expected to be a boost to this realty sector.
How is the market scenario shaping up in Bangalore vis-a-vis the other cities?
In the background of the buoyant realty market, Bangalore is being viewed as one of fastest developing markets in the country. The launch of some beautiful projects coupled with key infrastructure initiatives, is the testimony of this buoyancy. The present boom though sustained by the IT & BT investors is driven to a large extent by the non IT & BT population, which is encouraging. There was a perception at the beginning of the year 2013 that the current year would be one that could sustain the growth momentum, but despite the optimistic outlook, the market did not measure up to expectations. The year at a macro level was sluggish. Yet somehow the sluggish ripple did not seem to hit Bangalore. This could be due primarily to the fact that NRI & PIO are looking at Bangalore as an investment destination. This perception of Bangalore being a safe heaven for investment is reinforced by the strong bracket of HNI from North India. Price wise, Bangalore is still very conservative, pegging at the levels. In terms of expectations, despite certain challenges, Bangalore is maintaining an extremely healthy and sustainable growth rate and is only expected to get better in the coming years.
Could you provide us an insight about Hebron Enclave project?
Hebron Enclave is our flagship project. A high-end luxury residential project comprising of 71 ultra-luxury Villas with abundant greenery and vast open spaces, its concept and design is its unique selling proposition. Inspired by the concept of "Great Australian Living", our project seamlessly fuses the indoors with the outdoors. We have endeavored to bring back Bangalore's old world charm with sprawling bungalows in the lap of luxury, to the modern Bengaluru.
Our property offers aristocratic class villas and business class villas which are a blend of Australian architecture and Indian aesthetics. Aristocratic Villas come in 7000 square feet super built up area while business class offers 5100 square feet of luxury. This property is BOA-approved and has been pre-certificated on an IGBC platinum rated project.
Our villas host intricately designed high-end interiors such as plush Italian style kitchens, engineered parquet flooring, heavy duty bath fittings, stone-cladded walls and much more. A dedicated master bedroom with a kitchenette, an in-house elevator, a swimming pool, a 240 degree balcony, barbeque deck, a magnificent entertainment room, a sun deck and jacuzzi which are amongst the few modern amenities offered. In addition the aristocratic villa gives a new dimension, courtesy a dedicated swimming pool and a Cabana.
The 20,000 square foot, fully-loaded Club House comes with a wide range of amenities, replete with a jogging track, a multi gym, a swimming pool with a kiddy pool, a basketball court, an indoor badminton court, a central laundry, a mini-mart and much more. The project as of now is substantially complete and is expected to beat the deadline set by us at the commen cement thereof.
The stock market is throwing mixed signals and investors are looking forward for safe investment. In the current scenario, do you think real estate as an asset class can be attractive proposition?
Personally, I am of the opinion that real estate is not a risky sector to invest in. There are knowledgeable and willing buyers in today's market. As mentioned the sector is buoyant and risk is negligible if a good and reputed builder is chosen. Most projects are being delivered on time and the risk of buyers being cheated is minimum.
There has always been a belief, albeit misconceived, that the realty sector is high risk. To be honest I believe that the business risk associated with this sector is not very high or relevant. But what exposes this sector to probable failure is the financial risk that is the probability of failure of the developers in meeting their financial obligations in time. A well-managed realty sector is never a risk. It is well known that risk and reward are two sides of the same coin. Low risk investment generally offers low returns and vice versa. This is an accepted axion. I believe in that. Realty sector is a good investment avenue.
What kind of growth is expected in the residential real estate segment in the next one year?
The continued sustainability of the real estate industry is expected to act as an impetus to growth. The higher impact of migration of HNI's into Bangalore either under change of residence or as an investment are seen as growth drivers. Post the commencement of BIAL, the real estate activity in North Bangalore has increased tremendously. Bangalore has proven to be one of the most promising markets for Villa projects in India. Sales and growth wise, Bangalore, apart from other major cities such as Mumbai & New Delhi has shown a steady growth pattern and will continue to show good sales in the coming years.
Experts suggest that in the coming years, there will be a positive shift in the growth of the sector which will bring in much more stability and security for home buyers. Going forward, with the eased FDI policies and other important framework in place, the outlook for the future look upbeat. With the introduction of Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), a regulated investment mechanism funds are expected to be channelized into the real estate sector significantly. Going forward, once the REIT’s are comprehensively planned and formulated, it will bring in a ray of positivity for the investment channels in the sector. This in turn will support the developer and responsibly add to the further growth of the real estate industry on the whole.
On the announcement of new projects in the last six months, can you share project details and statistics?
We have not launched any projects in the last six months. However we do have projects on the anvil which will be launched in the coming months.
What kind of Government initiatives can go a long way in boosting the real estate sector growth?
Government initiatives can really go a long way in boosting the real estate sector. Hence it needs to focus on the sector acknowledging that it is the second largest employer after agriculture. The Government support is expected in the following areas:
• Steps to liberalize FDI policy in realty
• Set up real estate regulator and encourage builder to be more transparent, towards protecting consumer interest
• Allow tax concession to builders so that they can sell off their unsold stock at reasonable prices without incurring losses. The consumer stands to gain if such concession are passed on to them
• Be sensitive to market shocks in the realty sector
What is the solution to India’s growing housing deficit?
The gap between need for housing and availability of housing is a perennial problem that plagues developing or recently developed countries. Good infrastructure or the lack of it is a major bottleneck. It is only good infrastructure like drinking water, electricity, motor-able roads that are made available as part of the social strategy, will reduce housing deficit. Probably we look at PPP initiatives in developing infrastructure, we are open to that. By making affordable housing a viable business model, builders in the private sector get motivated and actively participate in this segment. Allowing them access to cheaper land is another avenue. They can also award higher FSI and reduce the time for approvals. Another impetus could be ensuring home loans at reasonable interest rates. Providing incentives to builders towards reducing the construction costs thereby making available to customers, quality accommodation at affordable prices should be another thrust area.