Arvind Jain, Managing Director - Pride Group
Less than ten years ago, the concept of luxury homes was firmly tied to a city's most expensive inner locations. ‘Pin code value' was the watchword, and developers focused on the luxury segment operated within those boundaries. The prices of homes in such locations were and continue to be exorbitantly high, but HNI buyers were willing to pay them for the privilege of an impressive address.
However, inner city areas do not have limitless capacity to accommodate such luxury offerings. Eventually, the most sought-after addresses became available only when an old building came up for redevelopment, or on the resale market. But the value proposition of resale properties in high-value locations has been eroded by the fact that they are invariably in projects that lack the bells and whistles of what spells luxury in today's context. This includes luxury-grade spaciousness, contemporary common amenities, modern security, clubhouses and swimming pools and smart home features.
This dynamic has made it necessary for the luxury homes domain to expand beyond its traditional boundaries, and into new locations. Left with no alternative, developers have begun exploring alternate precincts that can support modern ultra-luxury housing projects. Market pundits prophesied that this can never work - luxury which is not joined at the hip with a snob address is doomed to failure. They were wrong for two reasons:
1. They underestimated the degree to which the requirements and tastes of luxury home buyers have evolved
2. They underestimated the ability of luxury homes developers to deliver an entirely new luxury proposition.
More and more of India's affluent home buyers are actively patronizing the new category of 'luxury without boundaries'. They no longer find a snob value address enough justification to put up with escalating inner city chaos. Apart from the sky-high property rates involved, traditional snob value addresses in central areas have increasingly become associated with chronic traffic snarls and pollution rather than a luxurious lifestyle. Luxury home buyers have, in fact, been ready for a new deal for quite a long time - but their options were limited.
Developers of luxury homes in new locations therefore focused on putting homes that provided spaciousness and modern amenities on the market. These projects target luxury home buyers who are now thinking beyond the confines of luxury based solely on address value. They are indeed a massive evolutionary step forward, since they provide a vastly superior degree of luxurious lifestyle. Open spaces, landscaped green zones, seamless security and the community experience that hyper-expensive properties in traditional luxury locations lacked are now available.
The connectivity factor is not ignored. Developers of this new line of luxury homes ensure that their locations are accessible to the city's business hubs via new road networks. High end townships offer the highest level of convenience within their own perimeters, negating the need to travel to other areas for shopping, healthcare and entertainment. Lack of infrastructure was previously the hidden price that HNI buyers paid along with the inflated cost of properties in traditional luxury areas. Today, modern social and civic infrastructure is very much part of the deal.
Not surprisingly, the arrival of these New Age luxury projects is giving birth to new addresses that spell 'arrival'. The cramped, dusty, ageing flavour associated with traditional luxury locations in the inner city has given way to the freshness, spaciousness and with-it ethos associated with new high-value addresses. The confines of homes without charm or view within crumbling buildings with no distinguishing features have given way to large, tastefully appointed, ultra-modern flats surrounded by greenery.
Nor is it just the nouveau riche who are buying such homes. So marked is the contrast and so superior is the experience that these new luxury projects offer that even die-hard HNI aficionados of traditional pin code value are now beginning to be wooed by the New Deal. As a result, we will definitely witness the steady erosion of the monopoly of the luxury locations of yesteryear.
(Arvind Jain is the managing director of Pride Group)