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There is real estate and then there is something called ultra-luxurious real estate. It’s that property which is out-of-bounds to the well-heeled and information about it is available only to a handful of privileged ‘insiders’. Such properties come under the category of ‘by invitation only’ residences. One has to belong to a particular segment of society in order to even be 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.
What are ‘by invitation’ residences?
These special projects are designed after a lot of research about potential buyers who can afford the best and rub shoulders with the who’s who of the world. Thus, these exorbitantly-priced projects include features and facilities which most mortals can only dream of. Some of the ‘by invitation only’ projects coming up in cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Bengaluru, are in prime locations with private elevators, indoor swimming pools and spas, and interiors provided by the world’s top-notch designers. These projects are designed by renowned architects, and the units are available either as villas or duplexes.
The selection criteria
The prices of such properties easily crosses the Rs 40-50 crore mark, sometimes a lot more. In fact, the prices are growing rapidly as this market segment is still evolving. However, money is not the only criteria. Developers look for buyers who fall in a very elite social bracket and pursue a lifestyle that complement this bracket. They build such projects for owners of billion-dollar organisations, CEOs and influential clients. They seek to create neighbourhoods to be exclusively inhabited by such individuals.
Benefits to owners
Owners of such homes need to do little else 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 small size of the market segment, and is not worth the effort and time it takes to cater to it. However, such developers are looking at 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 (HNI).
Indian HNIs are a fast-growing tribe. The ultimate goal for these buyers 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. Additionally, to cater to this need, 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: affordable housing as well the ultra-premium that caters to a handful of buyers.
(The author is CEO – residential services, JLL India)