The real estate sector is showing signs of recovery. Harshavardhan Neotia, Chairman, Ambuja Neotia Group, spoke to BE’s Saptarshi Deb regarding the emerging trends in the real estate market.
Q. A number of high-end housing projects are coming up in Kolkata. Do you think Kolkata presents a good market for this segment?
A. Kolkata is the only metropolis in eastern India and hence, it is witnessing traction from people across the region. The high-end properties in Kolkata are catering to individuals from other parts of the country and abroad.
The commercial office market has also somewhat improved in Kolkata and this has partly impacted the residential market.
Q. What are the emerging trends in the luxury segment?
A. The luxury segment has evolved over the years. Today's luxury buyer is well-travelled and exposed to the global features and standards. Buyers are seeking a lifestyle synonymous with luxury internationally. To differentiate projects, developers are focusing on niche USPs like public art, great design, and architecture, as well as comprehensive, well-provided for residents’ clubs and in some cases, high-end spas.
Q. How has the real estate sector in West Bengal performed in the last fiscal and how will it be in the current fiscal?
A. Business environment for real estate has seen rapid changes with a series of reforms in the form of demonetisation, implementation of the Real Estate (Regulation & Development) Act, 2016, the Goods and Services Tax (GST), Benami Properties (Prevention) Act, etc.
In West Bengal, this sector is seeing some green shoots of recovery though the stress is still evident. Many projects remain incomplete. The government’s policy push to affordable housing is helping the segment gain traction and developers are showing a keen interest in participating in this sector. All in all, with ongoing infrastructure development, the demand for affordable housing units will increase.
Q. It is often said that the demand for residential housing in Kolkata is plateauing. Do you think that housing demand in tier-two cities in the state – which are growing – will help the sector’s future growth prospect?
A. What works in favour of tier-II cities is the availability and ease of obtaining land at economical rates. As the infrastructure in the larger cities becomes saturated, the good infrastructure offered by tier-II cities makes them attractive. Tier-II cities are also establishing educational institutes, technical schools, healthcare facilities, business and entertainment centres at an unprecedented rate. These cities are slowly but surely getting many modern amenities and facilities.
Q. Ambuja Realty is known as much for housing projects as for building commercial spaces. Are there new projects in the pipeline?
A. In the commercial segment, the Peripheral Business
District including Salt Lake Sector-V and New Town is the most preferred location as it constitutes the IT hub of the city. Moreover, the availability of vacant spaces also acts as a pull factor. The central business district areas, including Park Street and Camac Street, are the next preferred locations for office occupiers, given their locational advantage and high-end tenant profile. Commercial office real estate sector in Kolkata has not seen much appreciation in value except in a very few prestigious projects. Ambuja Neotia Group has built three business towers namely Ecosuite, Ecocentre, Ecostation, and a business park, Ecospace.