MUMBAI: Property ads urge us to “indulge in opulence” and promise to “pamper you in comfort”. While the glossy brochures and virtual tours may impress you, you often find that the features offered don’t justify the exorbitant price tag of a luxury home.
“Luxury is by far the most abused word by residential project developers,” says Om Ahuja, CEO - Residential Services, Jones Lang LaSalle India.
As the term is freely used, it becomes important to know the six essential features that define luxury in the Indian context.
Generous living space is a primary requirement of any well-designed home. Luxury homes must offer spacious living rooms and three or more bedrooms with an open floor plan.
And of course, comfort features such as full air-conditioning, premium branded fittings, unique designer flooring are essential, adds Pankaj Sharma of Rudrabhishek Enterprises, an Urban Planning and Real Estate Consultancy firm developing a luxury project in Lucknow. Forget the lift tucked away in a dark passage.
A grand foyer with a well-designed lobby is a must.
The ceiling is also equally important, as height adds to the overall spaciousness.
Ahuja notes that the luxury feel is severely compromised if the floor-to-ceiling height is less than 12 feet. Also, homes with a low ceiling do not lend themselves optimally for interior design choices.
Attention to detail in every aspect — from the door knobs, the electric switches, the paint or the kind of lighting — is key, notes JC Sharma of Sobha Developers.
Amenities available in the complex are important too. Limitations in the number of parking spaces, a narrow road outside the home, heavy traffic congestion when heading home everyday, don’t add up to ‘luxury’. Ahuja notes that the number of bedrooms in a project should equal the number of available car parks.
Reception and waiting lounge, a clubhouse, large swimming pool, elevated jogging track, business meeting rooms, yoga and meditation centre, facilities for indoor and outdoor games, state-of-the-art gymnasium, temperature-controlled swimming pool with body jets, are a few add-ons.
Don’t forget to check for rest rooms for the security staff, drivers and residential space for house staff.
While these amenities may be widely available, one key must-have in a luxury home is exclusivity; it must be shared by a small number of people.
Luxury projects typically have a limited inventory so that the elitist factor is maintained.
Ananata Raghuvashi, Director, Sales & Marketing, DLF Universal notes that some projects such as DLF’s SamaTara in Simla offer only 24 villas and are sold by invitation only. You may also find that some projects have a novel theme, special amenities or elite service. For instance, Omkar’s Worli 1973 project features spa facilities from ESPA, UK and pet care facilities by Barkley, US.
More utilitarian home owners may see technology as a value-add. High-speed internet connectivity with optical fibers, home automation systems and smart homes are on the menu. This includes wi-fi-enabled homes with one-touch control of ambient light, climate control and security with video phones. A luxury home remains pristine if well maintained.
You require good service staff for maintaining landscaped gardens and regular upkeep. You may want to check if the builder has tie-ups with lifestyle brands and hospitality brands for concierge and house-keeping. “A genuine luxury project has uncompromising human security as well as electronic surveillance and safety measures firmly in place,” notes Sharma. Availability of an in-house facility management team is also a plus for NRI buyers.
All said, you should see if what you are getting is ‘your’ style. After all, it may turn out that the designer features do not match your personality and definition of lifestyle. So you may want to check on the customisation that can be done to suit your lifestyles. For example, the builder may be able to offer full Vastu compliance or a kennel, pet care facility or a wine cellar, notes Ravindra Pai, of Century Real Estates.
Price is luxury: Does a home with a Rs 1 crore tag automatically become a luxury home? Certainly not in Mumbai. But you may be able to buy a luxury home in Lucknow for a price between ?1 and ?2.5 crore. There is no magic price that is a threshold for luxury homes.
Prime location: Would a home in Kausali, 40 km from Chandigarh, be a luxury home? It could be. Unlike in the past luxury is now extending to suburbs and weekend homes away from the city. Holiday homes by the beach or a river, with views of back-water or hills are popular choices for luxury property.
Only bungalows: Apartment complexes are increasingly viewed as luxury too. They offer open space, living space and the privacy of an independent home with a host of other amenities.
Custom-built: Ideally you may wish to have every aspect — floor plan, materials, features, amenities — designed exclusively for you. But often, luxury homes follow certain common design features that are appreciated by the buyers in the segment and customised to suit your unique tastes and needs.