Friday, October 24, 2014

Transparency & Real Estate!






A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity…Dalai Lama

No need to introduce the wise holy man from Tibet as hardly there will be any who don’t know Dalai Lama! To my surprise I am using first time his quote , though he hasn’t meant it for real estate & he himself don’t need any builder as he considers whole earth as his home, yet when I read a news about transparency in real estate, I found his this quote as most apt for the topic! The news was regarding State Govt amending rules for real estate & no need to tell that was about how to nab the builders for making their deals more transparent as well holding them more responsible for what been in agreement. It was about the famous under making or forming Housing Regulatory Authority where all the builders needs to register their projects & will be regulated through set of rules or at least are supposed to regulate. Well, why it’s always the builders who come under the axe of any Govt is a question which often bothers me. Though as usual many will say, isn’t the builder’s worth of it? With due respect the real estate industry is already enough burdened with all kinds of known NOC”s, may it be Govt or semi Govt department. Does this regulatory authority is going to make any real value addition or just one more NOC, this only time will tell but what caught my attention is it mentioned of making the real estate more transparent!

To me transparency is an act which unfortunately in our country has become just a mere popularity gaining word! Right from politicians to top corporate bosses regularly use the term transparency to assure their voters or clients which in nut shell are common men! But we all know what it means as why one needs to tell that any particular body is doing transparent business? As if they are transparent in their dealings then let the end user decide it!

Since long real estate has been tagged for its non transparent dealings & if you as anybody & not just the customer, i.e. may it be contractors or vendors or even the professionals like charted accountants about the specie builder or more popularly developer then they will vouch for this fact. Nobody trusts a builder! Here many of the real estate people will object or get offended with this bold statement but if we want to improve then we need to accept our lacunas first! Had it not been the case then every media as well govt body would not have hell bend upon bringing one more regulatory body for the real estate! We have hundreds of other industries from Information Technology to Automobile & they too have their turnover in millions of crores of rupees & yet never such demand for transparency about their dealings with their customers has been made! This doesn’t mean all is well in every other industry than real estate yet somewhere the developers are lacking on front of the dialogue with their customers; at least that was the scene in first generation of developers.
Coming to present era of real estate a lot has been changed & the real estate people should take cognizance about this change which mainly has happened on two fronts. First is this is age of information & people are getting used to getting information about any deal they are entering in it. And second is the age group of the real estate customer has changed a lot i.e. now the average age group of real estate buyer is twenty five to thirty five & this younger generation is information savvy as well it understands all the modern age means of information exchange!  

Gone are the days when an elderly couple was used to walk in the office of the developer & behaving sheepishly like he is being obliged by the developer by selling a home used to sign whatever comes in front of him & felt relieved whenever he gets the key of his dream home finally! Now a day a customer wants to have value for his money & sometimes they do behave irritatingly but then that’s what this generation has been taught right from the beginning that never trust your builder. And so they are offensive on demanding everything about the deal from their first step in the builders office & if the builder is refusing to be open in whatever deal he is offering then that’s negative mark on the deal!

This is what real estate needs to acknowledge i.e. the age of information is here & lets accept it! I have come across many builders saying in private off course, not to educate the customers more than what is required. Here I have a different opinion; once you are educating someone then it doesn’t stop at your wish & will but at the wish & will of the student! And what’s there to be afraid of & more than that what’s the use if your are losing the customer along with his trust in this process! Rather with electronic media at our services we should be as open as we can as it doesn’t cost much in sharing the information now. At one click you can upload every single drawing to specification to noc’s you have got regarding your projects & in one single click you can pass on to the customer all this! And let’s look at it from the eyes of the customer towards the deal, for him its onetime thing & for the developer it’s a routine. Rather I am of opinion that real estate should share right from specifications to construction details everything a customer demands & even provide whatever he don’t demands, as that’s the best way to be in business now. We can have virtual site visits also now & uploading site progress on web as once a customer has booked a flat all his interest is regarding the progress of his work. And we can educate him about the workmanship also as unless our customer doesn’t know what is good & bad how we are going to explain him that we are good!

Another weak link about non transparency with real estate is the documentation, especially the approvals required for a project. Thanks to the home loan companies as now most of the legal documentation has been provided by the developer yet a much awareness is required about many other documents like various noc’s from different departments, mseb meters as well revenue title i.e. ownership documents which are equally important. We can make all these details available right at the agreement itself & upload time to time all the relevant documents on a web site of the project. This is the era where everyone has everything except the time & if that time is required to spend for getting some information about our own home then its most frustrating for the customer & this real estate should understand. We can even arrange a periodical get together at site of the customers who have booked flat in the project along with the contractors as well suppliers & consultants too! Let the customer know who are building his home & what they think about their job. And it’s not necessary that all the time you are giving information about just the project, you can write to your customer about achievements of your company or any particular law amendment regarding real estate or even current market rates of properties which are getting published in the news papers & even a news cutting regarding real estate can be shared via email! 

So many way sharing can be done with the customer; all this sharing will make him confident that, yes my builder speaks with me or is in touch with me! Even in management they says where there is dialogue there is smoothness in work & same principal is applicable in any relation; may it be at home or with your client!

After all what is transparency but an open dialogue between the people involved in a deal! And this has to be understood by both sides as any information is a weapon & it’s up to us what we are going to use it for? A deal or transaction is fair when any information regarding the same is exchanged for making that deal win win for both sides. This factor even the customers also should bare in their mind. Ultimately if you are thinking the builder who is going to build your home as an enemy then it’s not going to work. Always remember, “we get back what we offer to the opposite person” & if we expect transparency then we should offer the same! So if the builder is open enough & transparent & keeping a dialogue with a customer then as the customer should also treat him with same respect & open mind as well use the knowledge & information for understanding the home better & not just to point out lacuna's in the work.

If this simple funda of transparency is followed by all the parties involved in real estate then there won’t be need of any regulatory body & even if it’s there then no one will be afraid or offended by the same & I think it will be in the best interest of the entire real estate only!

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

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