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BW Businessworld

Living In Grandeur

The taste and preferences of today’s luxury homebuyers have metamorphosed into a judicious mix of customisation, elegant aesthetics, and world-class amenities

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For purists, the word luxury connotes only one thing — elusive price tag. If it’s not the costliest and most elusive man-made thing, it is not luxury — be it a car, a plane, the wardrobe, jewellery, perfume or a home. By that definition, a home that comes with a ridiculously high price tag is luxury. Thus, a bungalow in the heart of Lutyens’ Delhi, which costs more than Rs 300 crore, or a Rs 50-crore Portuguese style bungalow in North Goa will qualify as luxury. But buying and selling of such homes are few and far between. Moreover, such high-value transactions are often shrouded in secrecy so as to avoid any undue attention.

Anuj Puri, Chairman of real estate consultancy firm Anarock, distinguishes between the traditional rich and the nouveau riche. Traditionally, the rich acquire their wealth over generations and often own homes with eye-popping price tags. “It is the ‘nouveau riche’ category that is in fact driving the demand for luxury homes, luxury apartments and villas,” he says. Their wealth have come from entrepreneurial success, savvy investments, and sheer hard work or in some cases, financial windfalls. “They are on the lookout for housing which gives them a great lifestyle and also reflects their success in life,” Puri adds.

Agrees Ashwin Chadha, President, India Sotheby’s International Realty, a niche advisory firm that caters to ultra HNIs. “The Indian consumers are well informed, globally exposed, and want a home that reflects their financial and social standing. Builder reputation, secondary research, location and auspicious beliefs are key drivers that shape consumer decisions,” says Chadha. Sotheby’s in India are currently offering more than 80 luxury homes priced anywhere between Rs 5-10 crore to upwards of Rs 70 crore.

Overall, the luxury market is India is pegged at $25 billion, and the luxury homes segment is estimated to constitute more than 15 per cent of that. Puri of Anarock Property Consultants points out that in the Asia-Pacific region, India has the fourth-largest population of millionaires, who number around 2.36 lakh and fall in the high net worth category. In the Forbes World’s Billionaires list for 2017, India accounted for an impressive 101. Therefore, the demand for luxury homes is always alive and soaring.

Homes for the newly rich
In order to cater to the growing population of the nouveau riche, developers are re-defining the category of luxury homes. For Ashish R. Puravankara, Managing Director, Puravankara, one thing stands out. “The buyers of luxury homes today are well travelled. As a result, their senses are now accustomed to some of the world’s best architecture and services, and so their expectations have also risen when it comes to a luxury home.”

Agrees Vikas Oberoi, CMD, Oberoi Realty. “In the last few years the luxury home landscape in the country has evolved from stately bungalows to ultra-chic apartments,” he says. “That is why most reputed developers have partnered with internationally renowned hospitality brands to develop high-end properties, leading to the onset of the ‘branded residences’ concept,” he adds.

For Pavitra Shankar, Executive Director, Brigade Enterprises, luxury is not just a high-quality product, but also a ‘high quality experience’. “And delivering this ‘experience’ is the biggest trend in today’s premium housing market,” she says. That is why Brigade has also recently launched Managed Villas, a managed residences initiative of Brigade Atmosphere and Brigade Orchards, which aims to augment the homeowners’ lifestyle by taking care of all the logistics of managing a home, whether it is used fulltime or as a weekend home, Shankar adds.

Puravankara draws our attention to their uber luxury multi-award winning marquee project Purva Venezia. “It has given a new definition to luxury homes in the Garden City. Today’s it’s the one of the most desired address in that micro market. The entire landscaping of the project is inspired by the marvellous landscape of Venice. From the sparkling waterways, the arching bridges, and manicured gardens — the richness, colour, light and texture create a scene of beauty,” he says.

Oberoi cites the example of its own Three Sixty West in Worli and terms it as the epitome of ultra-luxury-living not just in Mumbai, but in the entire country (estimated price tag upwards of Rs 45 crore per flat). “Envisioned as an iconic identifier for Mumbai, Three Sixty West (currently under-construction) is an endeavour from Oberoi Realty to create the perfect home for a community of the most distinguished Indians.”.

The Oberoi project is the stunning vision of two towers creatively interlaced and rising in parallel to create a timeless masterpiece in the Mumbai landscape. It has the Ritz-Carlton Hotel offering luxury and their renowned service standards in one tower while the other tower boasts of bespoke private residences managed by the developer.

Another such under-construction project in the heart of Mumbai is Provenance’s Four Seasons Private Residences (price tag in the range of Rs 27-55 crore depending on the size etc.), a self-sufficient 64-storey tower. “Residents living here will enjoy their own private amenities such as impeccable art-filled, ground level lobby spaces connected to beautiful outdoor gardens that will provide the ideal ambience in which to greet guests,” says Adarsh Jatia, Managing Director of Provenance Land.

Refuge of the rich
In terms of preferred locations, Gurugram continues to hog the maximum share of what developers term as ‘affordable’ luxury units (priced above Rs 2 crore) in Delhi NCR, according to Pankaj Bansal, Director, M3M Group. He explains that it is so because most of the Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in Gurugram and their senior management prefer luxury homes in close vicinity.

M3M along with Tribeca is developing 250 super-luxury homes under a brand licence from The Trump Organization. As announced in January this year, these apartments, which will have three and four bedroom options, will come with price tags ranging from Rs 7 crore to Rs 10 crore and above. These flats will be in sizes of 3,500 sq. ft. to 6,000 sq. ft.

The Crest, the luxurious 3 and 4 BHK apartments and penthouses project, is the latest from DLF5 in Gurugram. In the market, the 3-4 BHK apartments are priced at more than Rs 6 crore while the penthouses are priced at more than Rs 12 crore. Already, 42 families are living there, says DLF.  

Down south, Bengaluru is one of the hottest destinations for NRIs and high networth Individuals seeking luxury in bungalows rather than luxurious apartments. SOBHA, which has built luxury homes across Dubai and Oman in the Middle East, has come up with SOBHA Lifestyle Legacy, an exclusive 55-acre villa project in north Bengaluru. It offers 42 presidential 4-bedroom villas with carefully planned infrastructure. The project comes with tree-lined avenues and broad walkways. These villas are available from Rs 7.5 crore onwards.

Says J.C. Sharma, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, SOBHA: “We have been catering to the high-end product demand since inception. Today, we are one of the top players in the luxury and super-luxury residential segment. Our uber-cool presidential villas targeted at the high-end buyers are priced anywhere between Rs 5 crore to Rs 10 crore with plush amenities.”

“Some of the markets that have a significant number of NRIs and HNIs include Delhi-NCR, Bengaluru, Kochi, Mumbai, Pune, among others,” says Sharma.

With every passing year, more and more Indians will be joining the ranks of the wealthy and will be entering the market seeking luxury homes that match their lifestyle and economic standing.

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Magazine 15 september 2018 luxury special 2018