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The New Innings

After stellar years in international cricket, Australian cricketer Steve Waugh has donned the hat of a visionary entrepreneur with the launch of Waugh Global. In conversation with Sapna Srivastav, he along with Dean Honan, Managing Director of the company, spoke about the role the company will play in shaping the Indian realty growth story.

Waugh Global is an online real estate portal designed specifically t o service the growing NRI market. It aims to sell premium off-the-plan properties to NRIs around the globe via an association with the top 10-15 property developers in India. The portal will provide various services tailored to the unique demands of the Non-resident Indian investor such as, property management & rental, land advisory and NRI qualification & activation.

Waugh, the Founder & Chairman of the company elaborating on his vision said, “During my interactions with HNIs and NRIs of all demographics, the talks were never of price but emotional attachment, processes not being transparent and lack of international standard service. This was the catalyst for introducing a transparent and committed service platform offering complete accountability during the buying process.”

Honan added, “There are about 22 million NRIs globally and the numbers are growing steadily. Our global research on NRI investment pattern and sentiments brought to light three factors. Firstly, there is a huge demand to buy Indian real-estate in a transparent way. Secondly, NRI segment is looking for better level of service and finally, the current Indian reforms and new government focus on making investing in India easier are encouraging. So, we want to be part of the Indian growth story and provide international standard services to the global clients.”

I am a keen observer and throughout my long cricketing years in India, I have witnessed the property development in the country and the massive changes happening here in terms of real estate.

– Waugh

A distinctive property platform

Waugh global.com currently has about 90 properties listed from 10 developers across seven cities — Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai and Kolkata. The company has partnered with leading developers like Lodha Group, Godrej, Shapoorji, K Raheja, Kalpataru, Kolte Patil and Sobha Developers, among others. The selection of developers is based on the feedback collected from NRIs and therefore the pre-requisites for the properties include – they should be tangible, confirm to development regulations and bye-laws and have bank approvals and occupational certificates etc. in place. The quality of projects is important and the ticket size for listings on the site ranges from $50,000 to $50million.

Honan explains, “Globally luxury property market has been propped by NRIs. Tendency is to go for luxury properties but with my investment banking background, I suggest diversified and structured investment across smaller and more economical properties instead of investing in one big expensive luxury property. This is the reason we have economical to luxury property investment options for the clients.” Another important aspect that Waugh emphasized upon was that their total focus has been on Indian real estate and on emerging NRI markets like China, North & South Africa, New Zealand and Australia as NRI segments, anywhere they be, were underserviced and still emerging. The point they both underlined was that the platform has been designed not only to facilitate clients but also the developers. The clients have login access to save their favourite properties, share the same or access any information pertaining to their investment or transaction anytime. Likewise, developers have access to the online portal and they can keep their listing updated by uploading information or latest images of the projects daily if need be.

Culture, leadership and integrity is what Steve Waugh brings to the company. Apart from his assistance in decision making and providing direction, he has acclimatized the team to working with Indian system.

– Honan

Value Additions

This international platform is a pure NRI deployment and Waugh Global can be engaged to activate the NRI status or take them through processes of Indian property transaction in a most transparent manner. The team has invested in world-class technology and research to ensure that the clients have timely access to a suite of properties and they don’t experience the sense of insecurity, complication and worry which is often associated with purchasing property in India.

Waugh said, “We are meeting a lot of Indian developers and they are also keen to be part of something new. Along with our partners, we are challenging the status quo. At the same time, it is a learning curve for us as we steadily work towards improving the processes and raising the bar. We update our preferred list of partners from time to time, to ensure our developers continue to meet the Waugh Global standards, based on project delivery record, customer service feedback and quality of workmanship

Dean concurred, “While, we do not claim to provide solutions to all issues pertaining to property transactions, what we do promise is the service, bringing transparency & information and support to go through the process. We have an in-house team sourcing not only developers but also partners like property management companies and facility management firms who should meet the service benchmark set out by Waugh Global. Right now the focus is on building a strong foundation and then looking at expanding the services and geography. In the near future, we plan to hold an NRI summit that will be a platform or a think tank for developers & NRIs to come together.”

The company is also in the process of engaging 150 brokers in the next six months from around the world. The applicant will go through Waugh global education program to be eligible to be part of Waugh Global. As Waugh explained, the self-paced online course to start from January 2016 would comprise two modules. The first one is based on Indian property specifics like laws, regulations, property trends, project lifecycle etc. and the second part is NRI focused consisting data from their market research like buying habits emotional aspect, conflict resolution, NRI demographics & trends etc.

We know there will be hurdles, issue and frustrations on the way but I compare this to a cricket test match. You face each ball as it comes, loose some matches but the idea is not to be bogged down and let yourself lose two sessions in a row.

– Waugh

Philanthropy

An extension of Steve Waugh association with India is the company’s philanthropy initiative wherein a percentage of all revenue will be donated to community groups throughout India. “The turning point for me was meeting Mother Teresa, providing the inspiration to be associated with lot of charities, notable among them the Udayan Children’s Home in Kolkata, India and the Steve Waugh Foundation in Australia,” said Waugh.

Waugh Global encourages the community groups to approach them and be associated with their portal. The clients investing in properties can choose the local community group to support, thus they can be part of the neighbourhood development of the project which generally takes 4-5 years for completion.

From Cricket to Property

Talking about bringing his cricketing experience to the corporate field, Steve Waugh was emphatic that the venture was not just about making headlines but was backed with actions. The team had put in a lot of research, feedback through one on one interactions and worked round the clock to develop the portal. Now, as he puts it, they are ready to go out in the field and deliver. Ending the conversation on a lighter note he added, “As a team captain I always tried to do things differently but in a better way. My philosophy is to work hard and work smart. I know India, its culture and people very well. Patience is the number one thing one needs if you want to operate in India.”



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