The realtors experience will be limited to their markets.
Location, location, location. Is it all that matters in realty? Ram Raheja, Director & Head-Architecture at S Raheja Realty, knows that every area and every project is different and calls for a customised strategy. In the so-called sluggish realty market, S Raheja Realty delivers projects on time, with a range that has something for everyone. Ram Raheja shares his enthusiasm about his projects and his positive outlook with ICR. Excerpts from the interview.
Tell us a bit about S Raheja Realty.
S Raheja Realty is a part of the same Raheja group. My grandfather and his three brothers launched Raheja Brothers in the 1950s. Eventually in the 1970s, the company first split; now there are about seven to eight Raheja companies in the market. Raheja Realty started with my grandfather Girdharidas Raheja, then it was handled by his son Shyam Raheja and now, I run it. We are a third generation real estate group.
We have four very distinct sectors in our group, one being redevelopment in different parts of Mumbai. We have recently launched two sites, while another one was launched at the beginning of the year.
Then we have the other sector, which is corporate development. In corporate development, one example is the Hinduja Health Care in Khar; that was done completely by us, including land procurement, liasoning for approvals, construction, f architecture, interiors, finishing, up to giving the clients the complete finished product in the stipulated time period. Another example is in Mahim, where we have a 22-storey tower under construction.
Our third sector is mid-income housing. We call it luxury mid- income housing as we are building it in the most prime locations of cities, for example Palghar, Varanasi, etc.
In Palghar, we have just finished the Raheja Pride, Phase-I, which we launched last year. We finished it in about one ûand- a- half years, again a completely luxurious standard compared to anything you can get in the city. For this project, we have from imported tiles, modular kitchens, landscaped gardens and more.
The fourth sector of our group is building second homes, luxury second homes outside Mumbai. For example, we have finished a project in the Pune region. We also have a project under construction right now, Raheja Cascades in Lonavala.
We hear realtors speaking about the slow down in the market. Do you feel that the demand for real estate is subsiding?
It totally differs from area to area, project to project. There are areas which have a good demand and good supply. For example in Mumbai itself, you cannot take Mumbai as an entire one single real estate market. Mumbai has different areas which actually run their own market and where it has its own real estate sector, its demands, its own supply dynamics, its own economics. Lower Parel is a market on its own and so is Lokhandwala or Kalina. So, every area is unique in its own context because of the segregation of our city and the experience of realtors will be limited to their markets. The price ranges vary widely from one area to the other,sometimes within a ten-minute drive between each area. I would say the market is slow in areas where the supply is in excess and the demand is limited.
So choosing a location becomes all the more important today.
Yes, we are very careful in choosing the location, making sure that there is a need for housing with limited supply.
Tell us about the new projects that you will be launching soon.
We have another other 400 units in Palghar, which we will be launching soon. We have a large- scale project coming up in Lonavala next to our Raheja Cascades. Raheja Cascades was launched about a month ago and now we are launching Natraj and Gurukripa both in Kalina. We have a few more redevelopment projects that we will be launching next year. Then again, we do not launch until all our approvals and everything else is in place.
In general, what are the challenges faced by the realty sector in India?
The input costs for everything has gone up. Also, the markets have become very uncertain now. There is uncertainty in the stock market, uncertainty about the political scenario. This increases the cost of our products. It is difficult for buyers to make a decision in such a volatile environment.
What are your expectations from the government?
Speed and clarity in the approval and regulatory process.
A lot of realtors are trying to attract buyers by launching green buildings. What are green buildings?
It can mean a lot of things, that is why today you have certifications. It can mean that the materials used in the construction are green. One has to choose and decide on what aspect of the building could be made sustainable. Internationally you get cycle parking locations in a green building. Now in projects like these in India, rarely do people ride a cycle. So you know it just depends on what is actually viable in terms of making it a green building. You can have modern sustainable bricks, to traditional methods of cross-ventilation which is the most traditional form of saving energy, or you can create an architecture with better natural lighting. I would go back to the original form of architecture like that seen in the Hawa Mahal which creates cross-ventilation.
In a city like Mumbai, you can go into things like sustainable material, rainwater harvesting, solar panel, etc.
Growth of sustainable architecture/ Green buildings
- The current penetration of green building in the country is 5% (1,909 buildings). However, it is gaining momentum and could account for 20% of all constructions by 2030. Today, Maharashtra tops the national figure with the highest number of green buildings, followed by the National Capital Region. Tamil Nadu holds third position.
- The cost implications involved in developing green building properties are higher by 10-15 per cent than regular construction costs. However, they involve major long- term benefits
The demand-supply scenario
- 16,053 houses have been put on draw to 11.25 lakh applicants. This only shows that the city is facing an acute shortage of affordable housing and it has become imperative for builders to explore ways to stock mid-cap houses. Builders are now looking at developing the Charkop, Kandivli, Malvani, Palghar areas.
Ram Raheja is responsible for architecture and design departments within the organisation. He has over eight years of comprehensive experience in all phases of architectural services and design in India and abroad.
S Raheja Realty is an integral part of Indias real estate landscape. The promoters are three generations into real estate with a focus on luxury residential and commercial development in Mumbai. In the recent decade, they have ventured into affordable housing in mini metros and second tier cities, delivering quality lifestyles at affordable prices. Today, S Raheja continues to revolutionise the real estate industry with an intuitive vision to incorporate evolved architectural practices and develop projects that are sustainable and secure.
Project highlights: Cascade- luxury villa project;
Palghar Prime- affordable housing project, S2 Mahim & Hinduja Healthcare; Khar- corporate development; several re-development projects in Khar, Kalina & Bandra, Tier- II projects in Pune and Varanasi.