Friday, March 8, 2013

Enhance Your Awareness Before You Buy Flashy Homes and Flats from Indian Real Estate Developers !

Cities grow in population due to higher job opportunities which causes movement of people from the rural and other areas of lower opportunities. Heavy influx of population further improves business opportunities which in turn propels job opportunities. If the infrastructure also grows rapid urbanization of the the city takes place.

In India such a thing has been happening. India has been witnessing massive urbanization in the recent times.

Personally, I am not in favour of massive urbanization. No doubt, massive urbanization might bring quick money and opportunities to a few for some time. But on the overall, it causes unequal development and inequality. The rural areas are likely to become more and more neglected and vulnerable with regard to law and order and security aspects.

The neglect in the rural areas with regard to law and order and infrastructure has been the sole factor for those affluent class from the villages shift their residences to the cities. More and more rich villagers of India are now are selling off their village properties and buying homes in the cities.

The available space in and around cities are diminishing due to growth of residential and commercial properties in the cities. Peripheral development and suburban growth is slow due to slow pace of growth in suburban infrastructure.

Private developers and colonizers are better placed to acquire land in the towns and cities because they know the process of identifying and buying the land better than the common people. This in turn causes all land to be in the indirect control of such people and their agents. The land prices in India has sky rocketed due to this and it is an all India phenomena now. The state governments of India help them in this process by keeping the land records and transaction processes cumbersome and unaffordable to the common people.

So it is indeed a difficult thing for any one to buy a piece of land and construct a home in any city or its suburbs in India, unless he has abundant patience and time.

The builder and developer come to the rescue of the common man in such a scenario.

They have indeed made the property acquisition process very simple for the common people. Just sign a few papers and documents here and there as advised by the property developer and agree to pay the money, the common man can now own a house or a property in the cities of India. But for this simplicity of process, he has to pay a price through his nose and face some good musics later on !

The property price keep rising geometrically. At least that is the inference you get if you watch and observe the property market. A residential flat that is offered for sale in a multi storied apartment complex at a price of say Rs.3000/- per square feet during its launch would become double or treble in just two three years time by the time the property becomes fully sold out. Whether such a thing actually happens or not, that is the general public impression.

So on the overall population influx to the cities of India is going to continue and there will always be people who want to own a property in the cities by adopting the easy route of acquisitions.

But living in a row house or a flat is different from living in an independent self contained house. Both have its own advantages and disadvantages.

The sole big advantage is the simplicity of becoming the owner of the house with a decent look and finish without taking much physical trouble and efforts. The second advantage is the satisfaction that your property value is rising day after day, regardless of the fact that  you ever encash it or not !

But in this process many people initially forget the hard realities of living in a colony.

If you are deciding to purchase a home from a colonizer or property developer, it is better for you to keep the following things also in mind:

1. Remember that the residential colony or a multi storied building that a developer develops requires constant and efficient maintenance and administration on a long term basis. The colonizer's responsibility expires when all his units are sold out. As per the existing laws, the colonizer cannot maintain the complex for ever. He has to hand over the administration of the complex to an association of the owners and hence forth it will be the sole responsibility of the owners' association to efficiently manage the affairs of the maintenance of the complex as built by the developers. So, it is essential that the owners know in depth about their own responsibilities in this. If they do not have good people who know about managing these affairs voluntarily and efficiently, they are going to face many kinds of problems in the future.

2. The most important functions of management of the property complex are :

a. Managing the security of the complex by appointing reliable and efficient security personnel either appointing their own personnel or hiring from reliable security agencies. Either of these functions are not so easy. It requires good man-management and negotiation skills from the part of the representatives of the owners' association. It is not always necessary that the owners themselves possess these skills or have time to devote for this. 

b. The complex need personnel for cleaning the general areas on a regular basis. There should be some one to check and supervise their activities.

c. The individual residential units generate solid wastes of all kinds and these need to be regularly collected and disposed. One of the biggest issues not addressed by the colony developers is this. It is normally assumed that the ultimate refuse disposal is the responsibility of the municipal authorities. The city governments normally charges hefty development fee from the developers before they give the permission for building their complex. However, it so happens that the system of refuse collection and disposal normally does not come into reliable operation so easily. It is advisable that the owners know about this before they decide to buy the property. They should also discuss this aspect with the colonizer in detail and satisfy themselves.

d. Electricity is an important aspect. It is better that the owner knows about the scheme of electric supply in the complex. It is also important that all the drawings and schemes of the electrical system should be taken over by the owners association from the builder while the builder hands over his responsibility to the owners association. It is better for the association to check the details of all these by some competent professional engineer. Other wise, they might face problems of later day maintenance if some trouble develops. The builders normally declares power back ups through generators. It is better to know how the generators are connected and their safe connection schemes to the main power supply. It is also important to identify the fuel supplies, storage, etc and their location safety and security.

e. Water supply is very important. It is important to know from where the water is sourced for the complex. In the beginning, the water to the complex might be from temporary municipal connections or from bore wells. While the complex is not occupied fully, such water supply may not create any problems to the initial residents. However, when the complex becomes fully occupied, the water supply becomes a big problem if the sources are not properly planned and executed. It is better to know whether the builder has approvals from the municipal authorities for full water supply and how the same would be implemented. It is also better to know the water supply scheme of the complex and get it checked by a competent engineer. In multistory buildings it is necessary to know the number of pumps, tanks, their capacities and the scheme of water supply to the individual units. Remember, if the water supply fails, no one can live in a multi storied apartment !

f. Waste water disposal is equally important. How is the sanitation of the building planned and executed ? What happens if the sanitary pipes get chocked or clogged ? Who will attend the problem ? Are there competent plumbers who know about the scheme and systems available in the vicinity whose services could be sought in case of a problem ? What is the capacity and life of the septic tanks ? Where is the waste waters from the complex connected to for ultimate disposal? What are the sewerage systems for rain water disposal and harvesting ?

g. In multi storied complexes lifts are the life lines. Remember that the lifts are also complex electro-mechanical devices which needs expert supervision and maintenance on a regular basis. While the lifts are taken over from the builder, all their relevant information and safety certification also must be obtained. It is always advisable that the lifts are operated only under the supervision of a lift operator. Automatic lifts are prone to life threatening accidents due to ignorance of the users. It is always better to entrust the lifts to be entrusted with some lift company on annual maintenance contract (AMC) basis.

h. While you live in your own independent house, its maintenance is perhaps fully in your control. But when it is a residential complex, you have to collectively ensure it and incur costs towards it. It is your collective responsibility to earmark a regular monthly sum for the said purpose and pay it to your association.

i. The better and efficient upkeep of your complex ultimately depends on the effectiveness of your representatives of your association who are entrusted with the voluntary task of managing the show. If it goes in to wrong hands, it will be managed wrongly and ineffectively and perhaps it will also costs you more. But this function is a democratic process and it is quite likely that you get bad representatives now and then who could make your life miserable. But that is inevitable. The more you become disassociated from your association, the more such problems you are likely to face.

j. Another thing in the privately developed residential complexes are the movement and parking space constraints. While some of the developers provide ample space, others are not so. Initially when the complexes are not occupied fully, the space appears sufficient. But as the occupancy gets to its full, the parking and movement really become a problem. It is better to check the details of these initially itself.

k. High rise buildings need to be checked with respect to their fire safety and exit arrangements. Some buildings have complex layouts which are difficult for the residents to understand. The free movement areas in the building, common to all, should be carefully studied before taking a decision to buy a unit in it.

l. There should be common facilities like meeting halls, office rooms and staff convenience facilities in the complex, in addition to other welfare and recreation facilities.

m. If recreation facilities like swimming pool etc are provided, it should be known how those will be maintained and the recurring costs for maintaining those.

n. It should be better to know the total recurring costs on a monthly basis for your unit and the likely and the maximum escalation in these. It is also advisable to insist to know the total maintenance costs for the complex as worked out by the developer and the average impact of that for every flat or house owner. Such information could be useful to benchmark the costs of running the complex by the owners association at a later day.

It is better that you are aware of all these before hand and be prepared for such problems.

It is quite possible that in the future our governments may evolve better statutes that would help to resolve these issues.

Governments may amend the present laws for allowing either the builders or other expert professional companies who could be entrusted to carry out the maintenance of the complexes on behalf of the residents and the owners on a long term basis.

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