Sunday, December 15, 2013

Building Walls Without Emotions!

There is something permanent, and something extremely profound, in owning a home…Kenny Guinn
Kenneth Carroll "Kenny" Guinn was an American businessman, educator and politician. The above quote about owning a home shows his class apart as educator & not just a businessman or politician! Truly it’s a pride for a person to own a home of his & the joy is worth experiencing, when you hand over the home to its pride owner! As an engineer I have build many homes & handed to the owners but each time its new home a new story behind it & new faces! But one thing is same every time & it’s the emotions, they are same. Actually later on seeing the way people come for taking the possession of their home, I fell we are not handing over four wall named home but it’s the emotions we are handing over to the flat holders. People come for handing over ceremony like they have come to attend some marriage or a family function; with new clothes, jewelry & friends along to click the snap when they are getting the keys on stage! That time you realize that you are handing over emotions & not just home! As most of the people in this country home buying is one time thing in their life span, so obviously it has got immense sentimental value. And as a developer/builder it’s very important to understand these sentiments of the customer about the home they are buying.
Unfortunately emotions is the thing real estate is losing & that’s main cause of the industry is getting looked with suspicious eyes in terms of the words like integrity, reliability, trust, morals, relations & so many similar meaning terms. After all where there is emotion all the terminology related to above words exists as what is a human being without emotions? But today real estate rides on terms like luxury, amenities, no neighbor home, privacy, tailor made home; all without emotions. Even the homes are being termed as “maal” i.e. stock by many developers & brokers. Someone will say nothing wrong as it’s also a commodity after all, why give it special status! Here I remember a dialogue from movie Munnabhai MBBS, in that the medical college professor tells to his student “the last thing they should do with their patient is to love them”! The logic was getting you getting attached emotionally with the patient may effect on the treatment you will be giving to him. I am not sure about medical profession but certainly it’s being adopted in real estate & we see lesser & lesser people in the profession do not love their product as well the customers & result is strained relations within the various segments of the real estate industry! All the people involved in process of home making just want to see is output & that too in terms of money.

Relation between the builder & the home buyer is lost or don’t exist at all. Many builders have never met the actual user & now there is no company sale staff also but the entire project is outsourced & the customer doesn’t have any interaction between the actual builder & the team associated with project. There are site visits by appointment & special escorting team is there just to show the site & give information. Right from advertising of the project to agreement entire customer relation is handled by a third party & many builders are happy with this arrangement as they feel getting rid of meeting the home buyer & face his silly questions about the home. I know many builders who take pride in saying that they have never talked with a single customer & yet they have completed & sold such & such numbers of projects! I have never understood whether to consider this as a business success or a failure at emotional front? Here I want to ask, does success for a builder means only how many square feet’s he has completed & how much turnover he has generated out of those square feet’s of area? Have we lost to feel the joy for the number of families we have helped to get their dream home & so many new relations we have created in the process of handing over these homes to them? In process of making the customer special or give him luxurious treatment or just to get rid of those responsibilities we are losing the human touch involved in entire home making & buying.

Earlier when there was a bungalow era many people’s builder used to be jack of all i.e. architect, contractor & engineer also. And a home was being built with joint efforts & with constant interaction, at the end there used to be a get together of all involved & workers were felicitated as per the capacity of the bungalow owner & years after that these relations were maintained & cherished. I know stories of many builders whose next genre also has benefited from good work of their ancestors; so where all these good traditions got lost from real estate?

On the other said even the customers are also at equal blame as whatever good a builder does they only see materialistic side of him & many a thinks what’s big deal, are they not paying as per market rate for their home, so isn’t it the builders duty to give them what they have paid for? They are not interested in knowing the hard work behind the planning & execution of their own home. Many of them who just go by superficial amenities are happy to boast about the luxuries amenities their home is having but never bother to think beyond that, not to appreciate the good work their developer is doing in society & things like that. One thing I have observed now a day’s customers are quick enough to respond about any in convenience they cause from the home or the process, may it be some maintenance or any legal issue but rarely they appreciate or speak good things about the developer or his team. Though this is now habit of our entire society on all fronts that speaking good about someone is a taboo thing! On other hand to criticize someone is our most favorite job.  We don’t inquire about who our neighbor is & don’t want to get introduced with him before we come to reside, leave apart about interest in knowing the contractors or suppliers of the project where we will be spending our life! In my entire carrier I have met hardly two or three customers who have shown interest in having a look at the site labor’s accommodation arrangement at ongoing project where they have booked their home! Trying to forward some help by any means as simple like giving site workers sweets during Diwali is out of imagination, after all its their hands & sweat what makes four walls of your home, can’t we make their some moments  better? We don’t even have a simple courtesy to write few good words to the architect or contractor of the project that yes we are happy & have liked our home & are thankful to them for making our dream home! 

And the same attitude continues even after possession & outcome is strained relations between the residents of today’s buildings. There are heated arguments amongst members & smallest matters like parking takes violent or legal route, which or else can be solved very much amicably! But for that again the human attitude & terms like relations are required. And all these have to be incorporated right from the beginning; if builder isn’t keen or aware then the customer should demand as after all this is era of purchaser. It means if there are wrong practices then some where the client himself is responsible for that!

Sadly in all these process a very important thing is being vanished from the real estate industry & it’s the dialogue between the two ends i.e. between the builder & the customer! When I say builder it’s the entire team which in some way working for home making; may it be site people, marketing back office staff & outer agencies. A lot can be done here in very simple ways, for e.g. arranging occasional get together at site or at office & making the two ends meet. Regular updating of our activities to the customer via web site of mails, not necessarily it should be something extra ordinary thing. You can share news about real estate to them as what’s happening in the industry. News like sand excavation is banned for while, & how it’s going to impact on the industry & how your team is facing the problem, can be shared by a small letter from the desk of the developer. All these things eventually are a dialogue & it’s this dialogue which develops emotions between client & the builder. Agreed at the end it’s a business for both ends but then let’s not forget that the cause of the business is not just any product but a home & what is a home without sentiments & emotions!

It’s up to all of us to retain the emotional culture of real estate, as any good culture is like a tree; it has to be planted & needs to be cultivated in the society by our own acts only!

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

MSEDCL (Power) Committee, Credai, Pune

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