Thursday, July 18, 2013

Power of Infromation & Real Estate!

Information is the oxygen of the modern age. It seeps through the walls topped by barbed wire, it wafts across the electrified borders....Ronald Reagan

The Ex American president couldn’t have been more precise in describing the new age's mantra i.e. Information! Yet when it comes to real estate we are still in ice age is what I think & the information seems to be restricted to individual possession & can’t penetrate the walls of certain offices, may it be developers or Govt agencies! As still so many things a buyer don’t about product & need to be dependent on whatever has been feed by the developer or the agents about the product. When we call the term transparency what it means actually? In simple words it’s all information about the product & the way it’s been delivered as well the entire dealing process, so again we are refereeing information here. Always the builders or the people associated with real estate have been looked with suspicious mind by the customers or common man. That’s understandable because we fear about the things of which we don’t have knowledge. And as there isn’t any data or information available people tend to fear or be doubtful about the entire industry & that's one of the main reason this industry despite all its better side has repeatedly failed to gain confidence of its own customers!

Earlier days were different as I still remember efforts required to send the basic info like site progress to the customers who has booked flat with us as to photograph the site  progress periodically & then to develop the print & then send the same to individual customer by post we a tedious procedure. But look at now with mobile camera & 3G net work you can send the onsite photographs to every customer within a minute! Same is with many things right from the plans to changes you can offer to specifications as well your completed projects photographs & more recently Google images of site giving clear idea of surroundings information is unending thing & the more you give the more it will make your customer comfortable. Imagine a person sitting in USA can actually see his ongoing site works if proper links are made available to him! Web sites have also gone a sea change & now you can have interactive web sites & online booking type things for flat also. Though like other commodities a home will never be booked & should not be without having an actual site visit, yet at least 90% of ground work can be done if proper information is made available to the customer. Problem is despite all these means of information sending yet the builders are not keen on sharing the information with their customers nor the customers seems to demand it. As any information about the project is basic right of the customer but unfortunately in real estate many a people forget about their right & then keep blaming to the system for the foul play.  

And joke is no one has the very basic information like how much legitimate developers are in Pune & compiled data of their completed / ongoing projects. Not even Govt agencies who are supposed to sanction the plans of these developers have such data system & posses details of the promoters of the companies developing the projects!

When it comes to developers side of table scene isn’t any different, with the help of various search engines as well on line trading sites we can get the best price for a latest gadget like Nikon Camera in a minute but if asked which shop in the city has lowest price for a 43 Grade cement of a particular company, then there is no such data available. Why cement the industry lack on most of its front when data base or information sharing is the subject. There isn’t even list of all the suppliers with their inventory of material stock available & often when the quantity in bulk is required such as floor tiles then the purchase managers of various construction houses has to run all around the market in search of the same. There isn’t any portal giving information of various material suppliers or production houses & making on line booking possible for the developers nor any such effort is being done by the apex bodies of the developers. Imagine the manual hours wasted by each construction house in search of material procurement & then you will realize how backward the industry is!

Well needless to say when such is the scene on material front what will it be when it comes to labor front or manual work force information available in the industry! Ninety percent of the labor contractors are not listed at all & to my knowledge there are no fixed or a standard rate list for any of the agencies working in various segments of the industry. No one knows what or how a mason or a fitter or a carpenter should be paid & its standard work out put in a day! No where any documentation is there about work output by an individual labor or a skilled worker by virtue of which his daily wages can be decided. The whole industry runs on thumb rules & which varies from not only just city to city but company to company! Neither there is any data available for identifying the various labor contractors’ establishments & their labor strengths; anybody with few labors under his belt can become a “thekedar” (labor contractor) of anything here & can get the work!

If this is the scene for basic ingredients for the industry then on demand supply front also the scene isn’t different. No one but only the God can know the exact demand of the houses in this country & the type of the them i.e. what kind of houses we need & where? We don’t have even a collective record city/ town wise how many homes are being build each year & if we have no one knows where it is? If we don’t know the very basic thing like exact demand of homes city wise then how we are going to fulfill the same & how we are going to make policies for the same is a big question? And obviously our infrastructure planning goes haywire only because of not knowing answers to these questions. Here concerned Govt departments are at equal fault as they don’t have centralized data collection system as even in PMC the tax department is unknown that how much buildings have been given occupation certificate by the building department. Or water supply department don’t know how many users have been increased in a year or how many new users will be there in next year so as to be ready for the same! This is the scenario about information at Municipal Corporations of big cities, what must be happening to Zillah Parishads & Nagar Parishads of towns & districts one can’t even think of!

After looking at all the overall situation about information in real estate no wonder we have been failure on controlling the prices of homes as we don’t know what to control! As for solving any problem one must know the spread as well volume of the same & here we are missing that basic link. As very primary ting like land use & policies regarding the same we won’t be able to decide unless we don’t the how much exact homes we need & where & in how much time? It makes all projections right from how much material like cement or steel we will need countrywide in a year & then how we are going to decide their rate policy or anything related to that?

It’s high time like Automobile Manufacturers Association has got a high level & to the point of data base for all its members nationwide of every necessary thing for the production houses, the construction industry should also start working on this aspect. As we keep on reading in news papers about sale figures of every segment of automobiles all around the country month wise & the industry bosses monitors these figures very closely, as it’s these figures which decides the employment index in that particular industry & the trends for future. And it’s this information or data helps individual business house to plan their policy may it be marketing or production. And now when we have every modern gadget as well technology available; the need is of our willpower & attitude to understand the importance of information or else we only will be the losers at end for our own negligence regarding the power of information!

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

MSEDCL (Power) Committee, Credai, Pune

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