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Ahmedabad is one of the fastest-developing cities in the country and has been growing rapidly on all fronts in the last 25 years.
However, with growth comes a number of problems in every city and Ahmedabad is no exception. With a population of 65 lakh, it is today plagued by many problems, yet the city is considered one of the most liveable cities in India. The city has excellent infrastructure system with BRTS, AMTS fleet and Metro expected to be commissioned in two to three years. The roads are wide in most of the new areas. The ring roads have cooked up new avenues for development to the business houses as well as townships.
In keeping with its growth, the builders have not lost sight, promoting buildings to suit all pockets.
During 2001, when the devastating earthquake struck Gujarat, many builders lost customers for tall buildings. The fear of staying in tall structures, however, soon withered away. Many builders were crying that time, selling flats at throw-away rates. Today, the rates have shot up five to seven times since. Many new tall buildings have come up on SG Highway, 132 feet Ring Road, 200 feet Ring Road, Bopal, Guma, Ghatlodia, Ranip, Satellite and also eastern peripheries like Naroda, Maninagar, to name a few. The old buildings have given way to tall structures today.
The IT market fetched a lot of well-paid employees going for buying or renting costly flats and houses. However, of late, the market has shown a sluggish trend, owing to many business houses facing stiff competition in their products. The impact has been felt by the builders as well, who are again finding the market showing a downtrend, owing to a large number of constructions and change in taste of the buyers. A large number of buyers, today, are opting for smaller apartments as the nuclear families find large houses no more a need.
The builders have found a way to profit, but making houses with more rooms in smaller sizes and also ceiling heights. Thus, they need not compromise on the customer quality. Thus, a building built in olden days, towering 50 meters, say of 10 stories, can accommodate 12 stories today. The material cost is a little more, but profits are high.
According to an expert, the reason for people going for smaller flats is high interest rate in loan provided by banks. Once the interest rate is lowered, we can see more people buying homes, but that’s not happening now.
The malls too, have suffered in the retail real estate front. The overall vacancy rate in malls today stands high at about 20 percent in retail malls.
What makes the apartments more attractive?
How can builders stay on? The answer is smaller houses, better affordability, better interiors and attractive facilities like schools, child care centres, a small hospital, etc. Large townships are now happening with two, three and four bedrooms, with other facilities like tennis court, basketball court, a temple, garden, etc. Shopping centres are built so that residents need not run to Gandhi Road, Relief Road, etc., for every purchase.
A significant impact on interiors comes with painting the walls and designing soft tiles on flooring. The toilets are built with glazed tiles on sides also. This gives the house a better aesthetic look. The latest concept is promoting houses with loans arranged by builders. Most of these loans have a backup insurance package and the risks are born by the insurance company. This gives additional leverage for builders in attracting the population that goes for rental houses.
Thus, a house bought by a buyer for 20 lakh today, can fetch him say 30 lakh five years later, if he plans to vacate and shift to another city. There is also additional saving in income tax. The buyer also gets an option to rent the house and repay the installments, while still keeping the house in his name. However, the cost factor has to be within the range of the buyers. This is where the builders’ skill and experience can count. This is also where Ahmedabad is benefitting today as the city real estate is very competitive and houses in suburban areas with good roads are most affordable, compared to Hyderabad, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai, etc.
Another factor is that Ahmedabad has concealed electrical wiring, sewage system and broad roads, which even cities like Chennai, do not have in suburbs. The availability of power 24 hours, helps builders operate lifts almost day and night, increasing the confidence of builders in tall flats.
Jyotsna Rao, Times Property, The Times of India, Ahmedabad