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Perceptions need to change

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Bharat Dhuppar, CEO, Sheth Creators spoke from the heart when he said that developers were perceived as the bad guys of the industry which was not the case, as there would always be a few rotten apples and that remains true of any industry. In an informal tête-à-tête with Sapna Srivastava he narrated his experiences in the real estate industry.

A seasoned marketer, Dhuppar after his stint with the hospitality giants like Taj Group and Oberoi for the major part of his career, about 10 years back started a new innings with the real estate industry. Having worked with wellknown developers like the Chatterjee Group, Lodha, Mantri (Bangalore) and Omkar before joining Sheth creators in Mumbai, he feels both the industries are almost the same. “In hotels you sell rooms and hotel properties and here too we sell properties. Basically both are service industries comprising customer centric interactions. The difference would be that while in hospitality the properties to be sold are finished and furnished products, in real estate industry the properties are mostly under construction buildings. That too is true of commercial buildings which was bit of a culture shock when I started selling commercial properties. But in residential segment, again it is the finished product which is the showcase apartment, for the clients to see and get an idea of the property.”

The Transition

Many of us still look at real estate industry as an unorganized sector but according to Dhuppar, the transition happened quite a while back. “The industry started changing with the coming in of FDI which will come in any sector only if it is an organized industry. Similarly, professionals from other service sector are now attracted to be part of the realty industry. Transparency too is increasing due to factors ranging from increasing rules & regulations, compliances, consumer awareness to coming in of foreign investments and consumer bank loans that require elaborate official procedure. All these developments have brought corporate work culture to the sector along with more customer oriented services. There might still be a few unorganized players in the industry but by and large the realty segment is much more structured. The appointment of a regulator and the proposed regulatory bill are further going to enhance the stature of the industry.”

He emphasized that perceptions are hard to change more so because of the past bad experiences that the customers had to face.  But he also stressed that in most cases, these unfortunate experiences were the result of combination of reasons. “A developer has more at stake in every project than any other party and completing a project on time would benefit him the most, but many a time the marketing strategies on part of a builder go wrong that negatively impact certain projects though the intent was not that.  For example, diverting funds from one project to another project or for buying land maybe, was part of his overall business plan, which unluckily did not work out. Here the provisions of the Regulatory Bill can help avoid such situations. This will also build confidence among the buyers.”

However, Dhuppar also cautioned that there are still a lot of dependencies on government agencies which have not been questioned in the current Bill and will ultimately impact the developers project timelines. The provision of an Escrow account too will increase financial cost of a builder which finally will get passed on to the buyer. “This is somewhat similar to the DCR rules which when introduced, gave additional FSI but also led to developers increasing the loading factor because of which apartment efficiencies went down. Hopefully, these concerns will be addressed in the revised version of the Bill.”

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