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What’s your type? A look at the new kinds of buyers, brokers and developers
Hindustan Times  |  July 22, 2019

Team HT Estates

He builds homes in prime areas, offices in fringe suburbs and malls in up-and-coming towns. Sometimes, he’ll get a large tract of land in a place that’s somewhere in-between and build all three, as a mixed-use development, with perhaps a hotel thrown in too. Even within housing, there’s luxury in one area, college housing in another. It’s what you have to do to adapt to change and survive in challenging times, he’ll tell you proudly. Then he’ll offer you hearty discounts on office space if you buy a home, or vice-versa.

 

The hipster home-owner

 

Upcycled furniture, fridge full of vegan snacks, a plant in every room to clean the air. This is the home buyer looking for an alternative lifestyle. Home should come with sea view / open space / easy access to a farmer’s market. She won’t take the lift because of the carbon footprint (but probably holidays in Europe at least once a year). She started the housing society’s vermicomposting initiative, has got everyone to segregate their garbage. Next on her list: Rainwater harvesting. Truth be told, Mumbai could do with more of these.

 

The NRI tenant

 

She’s renting out her apartment in Hong Kong and looking for a 2BHK in Bandra. She’ll only use it six months a year, but she’ll pay the 11 months’ rent in advance. And can she install a tiny kennel for her dog in the second bedroom? Mitzy goes with her everywhere. As India’s economy continues to grow while most others shrink, the NRI / First World part-time tenant is a whole new kind of jetsetter. One who lives across countries and continents, and might complain about the air quality and brush her teeth in mineral water, but knows this is where the money can be made, and they always pay on time.

 

The long-distance commuter

 

Mumbai has always been a city of commuters, but as the metropolitan region expands, getting to and from work can take up to eight hours. First, there’s a rickshaw ride, then a two-hour train journey (with two switches, usually from Harbour line to Central and Central to Western), then another walk / rickshaw ride / bus journey. The long-distance commuter is obsessed with timetables and prepared for any eventuality. Come rain or rail strike, there’s a contingency plan in place. The one positive is that the long commute lets him finish a new book every few days, scroll through all of Twitter as it refreshes, and catch up on all the new Netflix shows—even if part of that is done while standing on just one leg.

 

The woman buyer

 

Housing society nameplates have always been a sort of dipstick measure of how Mumbai lives. The names tell of the mix of communities, or lack thereof the number of plates will tell you how many flats per floor, and that’s a hint as to whether these are upper-middle-class homes or middle-middle. One interesting change is the growing number of nameplates bearing women’s names. As more women work, continue their careers into their 30s and beyond, and manage their own finances and savings, real-estate investment has become a growing dream and the nameplates tell you just how many are reaching their manzil.

 

The house flipper

 

This is the buyer with a scorecard. He or she will buy, hold, trade, upgrade, sell, buy elsewhere. Always with an eye on the perfect bargain, right timing. He’s lived through GST and makes the most of RERA, will own homes simultaneously in Mira Road and Kharghar, can’t stop talking about the rates he bought at, and the ideal duration for which to hold a home (based on a complex self-created formula that takes into account loan duration, age of building, and possibly the owner’s star sign).

 

The long-distance homeowner

 

He lives oceans away, so his broker is his proxy. He’s only available on Skype, if absolutely necessary, and on US time. There are few things as closely guarded in the country as his cell number. But finally sit down for an e-chat and you find he’s not finicky about price, doesn’t have a lot of rules (‘I too like to party yaar’), but will by once a year and insist on rambling on about how he much he loves India, how much better life is in the US / Dubai / Netherlands, and how you just can’t get good pav bhaji overseas no matter how much you’re willing to pay. All in all, he’s not a bad landlord to have.

 

The lifelong guest

 

No, not that cousin who visits every year for ‘three or four days, max’ and doesn’t leave till the next Union Budget. This is the jet-setting, high-flying CEO type who doesn’t want to be bothered about things like bills, and cooking, and washers that don’t work, and so spends all year shuttling between tried-and-tested list of serviced apartments, hotel-run homes, and familiar hotels. These have to be places that can whip up an omelette at 4 am, get him a car at short notice and maybe even take care of ‘local’ requirements like paying the phone bill.

 

The fix-it guy

 

With all the jet-setting and long-distance everything, there has to be someone on the ground to actually coordinate with the plumber, take the deeds to the registration office, meet and greet the tenants. That’s where the fix-it guy comes in. He’s not just an agent or a broker or an errand man. He’s all three, and your go-to guy for everything. Which means he has at least three cellphones, at least as many minions, and never enough time, but bolo, baba, kya kaam hai?

 

The real-estate lottery winner

 

In certain parts of the city, the more time-worn your building, the happier the residents. Because that means everyone will finally agree too&hellip redevelop! This means an extra bedroom, a posh new building, maybe even a rooftop garden (Conditions apply). Of course, first, there will be years of negotiation, then the inevitable delays, even rent for the interim is taken care of, and the light at the end of the tunnel? A brand new home in exchange for the old, right where you used to live.

 

DIY housing society

 

This is typically a group of neighbours who are once bitten, twice shy. Something goes wrong with a contractor or builder and they decide never again, we’ll do it ourselves. Self-redevelopment is actually quite trendy in Mumbai, where the residents hire a builder to redevelop their structure, and pay him in either money or a little floor space. They will also typically manage their own rainwater harvesting system, inspect every faucet installed, handpick architects and inspect every invoice. All in all, a very resourceful bunch.

 

The green advocate

 

Climate change is real and this home is not guilty. This is the buyer that will only buy if the flat comes with a green building tag, a carbon-positive attitude, solar panels and greywater harvesting. This buyer may fly to Europe twice a year for holidays, but all her kitchen trash is vermicomposted and she’d rather adopt a snake than buy anything made of plastic. She fights for the rights of local trees and mangroves. Everything from her mobile phone to her toilet roll are recycled.

 

The Co-Inhabitant

 

He’s a millennial working in a multi-national company, wants a hammock on the terrace of his apartment, and yet does not want to bother himself with the maintenance of it. He gets all his food home-delivered, but would love to participate in a community gathering once a while.

 

The co-living space offers him all the amenities of a serviced apartment, at a fraction of the cost with rooms that still look Instagrammable, and it comes with roommates who live similar lifestyles and are from diverse work backgrounds.

 

The AirBnB host

 

His doors are always open (as long as you at in advance, bring no pets and hold absolutely no parties on the premises). He’s become multilingual and is full of stories about previous guests, at least some of which are true. He can’t stop talking about the magical app that’s turned his spare room into a money-spinner, and you can’t help envying him — even though you know he’s had to repaint twice and redo his bathroom and it’s only been one year. You envy him anyway, because it’s Mumbai and honestly, who has a spare room?