DELHI: Domestic property developers tying up with international designers for residential projects seems to be a trend the country's luxury real estate sector is hooked on. On offer are products ranging from homes based on the Disney theme to Spanish-style living and interiors designed by the likes of Italy's Tonino Lamborghini, Casa and Armani.
Even smaller developers are going for the designer edge - perhaps, to beat the slowdown in the market. The price tags on such products vary on the basis of location and apartment size - starting at Rs 60-70 lakh, it could go up to as much as Rs 100 crore or more.
Supertech, a North India-based developer, has just announced its third such tie-up; this one with UK-based firm Yoo Worldwide for interior designing of two of its luxury projects in Gurgaon. Yoo is founded by international property entrepreneur John Hitchcox and designer Philippe Starck.
Last year, Supertech had tied up with Italian fashion brand Armani Group (for interior designing of 100 super-luxury residences at a mixed-use project in Noida) and the US-based Disney Group (for providing Disney-theme homes in Greater Noida). The same developer also launched a project with a Roman-style architecture in Noida, claiming it to be an amalgamation of ancient glory and contemporary luxury.
And, there also is the Lodhas' World Towers project in Mumbai, for which it has tied up with Armani. A mansion there is to cost about Rs 100 crore.
Others like Brys, Prestige, Ajnara, BPTP and Tata Housing are also partnering with international designers/brands or selling "international-style living".
According to experts, even as the definition of luxury is changing, branded homes are fast becoming an emerging concept in super-luxury housing segment. Besides, this segment is relatively cushioned from the impact of a slowdown because it appeals to the lifestyle and adds to the aspirational value of buyers.
Such projects are mostly restricted to the National Capital Region (NCR), Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore.
Anshuman Magazine, managing director, CBRE South Asia, says such branded homes currently have a small but promising market, which is likely to grow. "As Indian market evolves, the demand for these products will only increase. That's because of the quality, facilities associated with it and the brand image. With increasing competition and consumers becoming discerning, developers have to differentiate in a crowded market." At present, all such projects are under construction; once a project is delivered, in two-three years, it will give more confidence to people and the demand will rise, Magazine adds.
A senior official at a real estate firm says such homes are "recession-proof"; so, developers are now shifting their focus to luxury and ultra-luxury segments. Also, such projects give the developers higher returns than homes in the medium or affordable segments.
Realistic Realtors' Harinder Singh also echoes this view. He says such homes have a niche market and a lot of scope for growth. "There is a realisation among developers that profit margins are high in such projects. Besides, from an execution and logistics point of view, there are many incentives for developers going for such luxury projects."
Tata Housing Managing director Brotin Banerjee adds, the company's strategy to venture into branded housing helps it cater to a niche audience that is no longer impressed by facilities like clubhouses, swimming pools or health clubs.
"The demand for branded homes has been increasing in cities such as Bangalore, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai. Besides, there is also an increasing demand from the urban elite aspiring to own branded homes in emergent and Tier-II and -III cities," he adds.
But, he cautions that location is very important for such projects. There will be uptake for such homes in the future, but only if the designs/plans are executed well, he says.
However, the segment is not without challenges. Anuj Puri, chairman & country head, Jones Lang LaSalle India, had recently said the concept of branded luxury homes was only two-three years old and the segment was growing at five-six per cent a year, given that it was a very exclusive niche category and a restricted number of buyers. "The challenges will include a limited buyer segment, finding the right land parcels within high-prestige locations, providing the required infrastructure to adequately supplement the overall luxury experience - and, of course, the right brands to come on board."
Sanjay Sharma, managing director of Qubrex, a real estate research and brokerage firm, says all these are marketing gimmicks to attract buyers in a crowded market. The market for such homes is minuscule and meant only for the high-networth individuals.
5-6%: Annual rate of growth for ultra-luxury/ high-end market
Demand for niche category: Coming mainly from metros and major cities like Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai and Kolkata
Pricing: Depending on location of a project and size of apartments/villas, could be Rs 60-70 lakh, Rs 10-25 crore or Rs 100 crore