Srijan Realty has emerged as one of the most reliable brands in Kolkata’s property market, with the company ranking second in the eastern region, as per Track2Realty’s Brand Perception Audit Report. The company has sold nearly 4.5 lakh sq ft of space and launched approximately 3.5 lakh sq ft of residential space in FY2015-16. In an exclusive interview, Rakesh Gupta, the CEO of Srijan Realty, speaks to Housing News on brand value and best practices in the business.
Q: How is the market evolving in this region?
A: When something is appreciated, (for example, in terms of technology adoption or fund mobilisation), then, people start copying it. That is how this industry is evolving. The market dynamics also force us to evolve. Now, design aspects are being taken seriously. Earlier, when the market conditions were good, no one focused on it because whatever was designed, was being sold.
Q: Do you find any improvement on consumer focus?
A: Earlier, it was a developer-driven market but today, buyers have a stronger voice and we have no choice but to listen to them. So, when you start understanding what the consumers are looking for, then, you start shifting to best practices. Things are moving in the right direction. The downturn has made us more conscious and we are adopting whatever best practices are available in the market.
Q: The real estate market in Kolkata has huge unsold inventory. Have developers failed in defining the demand and creating need-based housing?
A: We started off with Sherwood Estate at Narendrapur, Kolkata. It became a sought-after destination, within few years of its completion and now, many other developers and local promoters are following our path and exploring the zone with housing/ residential complexes. Srijan Realty’s residential properties focus on affordable housing across income groups. Our upcoming property developments, including one in conjunction with the state government, focus on low-cost, affordable housing targeted at the lower income group.
Q: Is the sector ready for a ‘build and sell model’, as against the prevailing ‘sale and build model’?
A: Not yet! The ‘build and sell model’, will require deep amount of funding and as an industry, we do not have that much depth. Whether the sector is regulated or not regulated and whether the customer is asking for it or not, a developer with good intentions will be transparent. Customers tend to be very accommodating of delays, if you give them valid reasons and cater to their needs.
Q: How can builders bridge the gap between promises and performance?
A: In terms of construction, the gap between the customers’ expectations and the delivery is so big that today, if you improve by even 10%-15%, the customer can recognise this difference in your construction, timeline or transparency. So, the prevailing gap, is also an opportunity for the serious developers.
Q: Why is the market still investor-driven?
A: Land is the major input for real estate. A lot of developers were just land aggregators, as there was no entry barrier. So, if I have aggregated land, my immediate investors will be people around me. That is how it starts. It is a legacy and since prices have steadily increased over the last 30-40 years, everyone cashed-in, when the investors and speculators were driving the market.
Q: How can the sector improve its image?
A: The moment developers have better cash flows, they focus on buying new land. Vendors and even the employees are not the priority. This is also because of the mindset that whatever quality you give, it will be accepted in the market. This is where the industry’s image has taken a hit. I feel that the market forces will play a bigger role, in disciplining the sector. This itself, will force everyone to fall in line, as the consumers are becoming more aware and intelligent.
Q: While market forces are compelling developers make corrective changes, don’t you think that some internal changes are required, as well?
A: If you do not align yourself to market forces, then, you will perish. This realisation is also adding to transparency in the sector, which was not there around five years back. Earlier, ratings were all about the developer’s financial standing. Now, the focus is shifting towards the trust quotient and public perception and the overall brand value of the developer is being monitored and recognised.
(The writer is CEO, Track2Realty)