In an exclusive interview to Holiday Home Times, Suresh Rangarajan, CEO of Artha Property, a premier developer of holiday homes in India speaks about his company’s projects, India’s holiday home market and on why buyers can expect more from their award-winning developments.
Please tell our readers something about your company?
Artha is one of the fastest growing real estate companies in India and synonymous with building homes and thereby creating wealth for its customers. Artha has quickly changed the face of the realty market in south India and has become a household name in Bangalore and Chennai. As a member of CREDAI Bangalore, Artha has entrenched itself deeply as a company that provides innovative concepts and value for money homes across locations and price segments.
The numerous accolades won by Artha is a testimony to its excellence and exemplary growth. Artha was conferred the Power Brand status by Brand Finance Institute, UK. It has also won ‘Emerging Business India Award’ by IES, ‘Brand Excellence Award in Real Estate’ by CMO Asia and ‘Most Innovative Marketing Concept’ at National Real Estate Awards.
Give us some details of your portfolio – your completed projects, ongoing developments and those in the pipeline.
With over 45 projects under its belt, all in a span of 3 years, Artha is one of the fastest growing real estate companies in the industry. Our projects are in the residential space and across key metros like Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and holiday home destinations like Ooty, Hosur and Karjat. We have also recently forayed into overseas properties across UK, Europe and US. Our completed projects include Dhakshin City & Royal Gardenia in Chennai and Brickfield Shelters and Royal Garden in Bangalore. We currently have over 10 million square feet of area under construction and most of our projects are underway.
You have projects in Karjat, Ooty and Hosur – How would you compare and contrast each of these destinations as places to live and reside, invest in real estate?
The locations like Karjat, Ooty and Hosur are on the outskirts of metros like Mumbai and Bangalore and about 3 hours by road. All these locations are scenic and work well for those wanting to get away from the din of the city and own a vacation home. Our project at Karjat, Villa Montana, comprises of Bali style villas that come with a private swimming pool and overlook the surrounding Bhimashankar hills. Similarly our project at Hosur, Mountain View overlooks the picturesque Jawalgiri mountains and comprises of eco style cottages.
These places are more suitable for weekend getaways and thus work well as vacation or holiday homes for investors. Given that they are distant from the city and Given that these projects are distant from work place these locations are not meant for end-users looking for residential use in the city.
What are the challenges you have faced in large scale development in these areas – what are some of the learning you would share with individual buyers?
One of the biggest challenges is getting approvals from local village panchayats, entering into agreement with farmers and in getting permissions from relevant authorities for converting agricultural land to non agriculture. Moreover the complexity of getting roads built, mobilizing electricity and water for the catchment and/or complex. Individual buyers should be careful with respect to legality and clear title of the underlying land and it helps to deal with professional builders as opposed to brokers and small, unknown builders.
According to you what is the current status of the holiday home market in India?
Holiday home market is definitely on the rise as it is common for affluent investors to own more than 2-3 properties. After having bought flats for own consumption, investors look out for vacation homes which are far away from the chaos of the city and yet close enough to reach in a short drive. There has been a burst of developers offering second homes or farm houses with scenic views, by the lake side or hill facing.
Which geographical region or cities have more demand for holiday homes?
The key metros have shown great promise for holiday homes in and around the outskirts. Owning farm houses on the outskirts of Delhi is extremely common, followed by Mumbai (at Lonavala, Karjat), Bangalore (Ooty, Hosur, Coorg) and Chennai (OMR, Pondicherry).
What is the buyer profile you are catering to with your holiday homes?
The buyer profile is typically males in the age group of 30 – 45 years of age, affluent, mostly from business backgrounds and looks at second homes from an investment perspective or as a social status symbol to entertain their guests.
What according to you are the factors that are driving these age group people to buy holiday homes? Do you see them using it regularly or is it primarily for post- retirement?
Factors like social status, frequent traveling, the urge to get away from the city on weekends and the strong proposition of capital investment. There is a mix use of investors using the vacation home regularly and those who only look at it for rental returns or capital appreciation.
What are the services Artha Property holiday homes give its buyers/ owners post purchase? How are these gated communities going to be managed post handover to owners?
Artha has arrangements with facility management companies to manage the maintenance and upkeep of the properties including the villas. The maintenance covers electricity, cabling, water, sewage, security, swimming pool maintenance, health club and even a shuttle service and a small departmental store within the complex. The projects are gated communities and come with a host of amenities including pool, gym, clubhouse, etc.
Do you see NRIs as a significant subset of your buyers – What are you doing to reach out to them? What international fairs or roadshows can buyers in Singapore / Middle East, United States, United Kingdom look forward to?
Yes. We see a significant number of NRI buyers for our projects. We have engaged channel partners in the Gulf and US who serve as our local point of contact and generate referrals that feed into the India sales team. We are also every aggressive with participation in overseas exhibitions and mailer and banner campaigns on the internet targeting the NRIs. There are a host of exhibitions that happen including Times Realty expos, Exotic Property, Investment Abroad expo, etc
On the international side, which are the countries/ region/ locations you have identified for your projects? Why? How has the appetite been for the Indian buyer in these locations? Give us a sense of the amount of property you have transacted in this segment.
We shortlist our international projects after a lot of scrutiny and research assessing them on the repute of the builder, locational advantage and the potential for capital appreciation. Our projects include Mar Menor, a 5star golf course and spa resort located in Spain which is currently at its lowest price point given the economic scenario and makes for an attractive buy. In less than 5 years, Murcia will see a lot of development around the forthcoming Paramount Theme Park, and upcoming airport and rail link which will further enhance the underlying property rates and employment generation. Our project in US, Amrit Spa, Florida, is centered around the very niche EB5 scheme and targeted at Indians looking to send their children abroad to study or those desirous of attaining permanent residency in the US.
Whilst there is a demand of Indians looking to buy property overseas, the segment is niche by nature and typically the process is slower given the legality, process of acquiring home finance for these properties and constraint of international site visits. We have recently forayed into this space and sold under 10 properties.
What do you see the scope for other kinds of ownership – fractional, timeshare, etc. in the Indian market?
Players like Club Mahindra are very active in timeshare space. However, Artha is not operating in this category.
What’s next for Artha? Where would you like to see the company in the future?
We see ourselves consolidating our space as a builder of repute as we launch 2-3 extremely ambitious projects in Chennai & Bangalore. Over the next few years, the focus shall be on delivering most of the projects already under construction.
For a prospective buyer who wants to buy a Artha Property, who should he contact? What are the projects that you are actively selling at the moment?
Customers can get in touch with our centralized call centre 080-46 000 000 or 044 46 000 000. Or they can logonto www.arthaproperty.com and browse through our current live projects and enquire online. Our relationship managers shall get in touch with them shortly.
Our active projects include Reviera, Grihasta, Citrine in Bangalore; Artha Meadows, Dhakshin City in Chennai, Villa Montana in Mumbai and overseas properties like Mar Menor.