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'Invitation Only' Residences

Monday, October 05, 2015
By Ashwinder Raj Singh

The other side of 'Reality...

There is real estate and there is ultra-luxurious real estate. Then there property that is out of bounds for even for the well-heeled, and the information about it is available only to a handful of privileged 'insiders'. Such properties come under the category of ‘by invitation only’ residences, and one has to belong to a particular stratum of society to be even considered as a potential buyer. This is a category of luxury real estate where aspiring buyers must prove their worth to the developer in ways that transcend the ability to pay unheard-of sums of money. This is the other side of 'Reality'

What Are 'By Invitation’ Residences? To put things in perspective, these special projects are designed after a lot of research about people who can afford the best and rub shoulders with the Who’s Who of the world, and the statement they want to make. That statement is about the person, what kind of life he or she lives and what his or her achievements are. To help such a person make the desired statement, these exorbitantly-priced projects are conceived so as to include features and facilities which most of mortals can only dream of. Some of the 'by invitation only' projects coming up in cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore are in locations which few others can afford to live in, private elevators, indoor swimming pools and spas, and interiors provided by the world's top-notch designers. The projects themselves are designed by world’s best architects, and units are available either as villas or duplexes.

The Defining Selection Criteria
The prices of such properties easily cross the Rs. 40-50 crore mark, sometimes a lot more, and their prices tend grow rapidly as this market segment is still evolving. However, money is not the only criteria for ownership of such properties. Developers look for buyers who fall in a very high social bracket and pursue a lifestyle consummate with that bracket. They build such projects for owners of billion-dollar organisations, CEO’s and other such movers and shakers of society, and they seek to create neighbourhoods to be exclusively inhabited by such individuals.
Benefits To Owners
Owners of such homes need to do little more to proclaim their status. They move into homes with world-class facilities and a level of privacy and a quality of life otherwise unheard-of in the urban context. Also, such a neighbourhood gives them limitless opportunities to further their business interests, and to grow their repertoire of elite social contacts.

Benefits To The Developer
One might argue that this is a very rare customer breed, and that the small size of this market segment is not worth the effort and time it takes to cater to it. However, such developers are looking long-term benefits far beyond the immediate business potential. Obviously, the profits from these exclusive projects are phenomenal, but the brand value for a developer who creates such exclusive dream homes is limitless. A builder who caters only to the mass market and churns out more or less similar projects cannot appear on the radar of High Net Individuals.

Growth Prospects Of Such Offerings
Indian HNIs are a fast-growing tribe - more and more people originating from modest backgrounds are building businesses from scratch and becoming millionaires. For the most successful of these individuals, the ultimate aim is to join the ranks of the most respected, powerful and privileged few.

In other words, the market for ultra-exclusive, 'by invitation only' homes may be small, but it is growing - and to cater to this market, a far-sighted developer definitely will invest effort, time and massive amounts of money. In fact, the best strategy for any Indian developer today is to be present at both ends of the spectrum of the real estate market: the affordable housing segments as well the ultra-premium one catering only to a handful of buyers.
This market segment may not be poised to grow in double digits, but the potential for earnings as well as creating a world-class brand is enormous. It is only a matter of time before many more of such projects line up in and around our cities.

(The Author is CEO, Residential Services, JLL India)

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