Thursday, February 19, 2015

Career in Real Estate!

“Real estate is the best investment on earth, however, when the music stops playing, which happens occasionally, don't be the one left without a chair.”….Steven Ivy, Attorney Entrepreneur.

Well the New York based attorney entrepreneur have hit the nail on head as in so few words he has described the real estate industry; if we call it as an industry! For me New Year’s seminars & lectures trend continued all along January & outcome is this sharing! I had been associated with Diploma Civil Engineering syllabus drafting & have suggested that with new opportunities in real estate the students must have flair of the industry. So a subject has been introduced in final year diploma of civil & the Govt Poly College called me to share my views about real estate at their place. I haven’t prepared anything special as I thought it’s sharing with a small group but when at the venue they took me to the Sir Vishvesarayya Auditorium, I was dizzy with nearly three hundred students welcoming me clapping! The last thing I want is to face college students without any preparation as to keep them engaged even for fifteen minutes is a big thing, here I was supposed to explain them real estate for over an hour! In the first place I had been called on various platforms as wild lifer, environmental person or as construction management guy but very rarely as a real estater which in common man’s words is builder! But then there was no escape route as before I could protest to the college team, my introduction has beguine & the students were looking at me with fascinated eyes as for the first time most of them have eyes on a real builder in actual!

I started with the same thread of fascination in their eyes as most of the common people when they think about real estate & builders they think money! That’s the irony of this industry as no one looks at end product but all are interested in the glamor which obviously is there for the money factor of it! It’s really difficult to explain real estate & the way it runs even to grown up people in business leave apart to students aspiring to have a decent degree & adopt this as their career. What I was supposed to tell them? You don’t need any degree, hell, even education also to become a builder! Rather I have heard many of the stalwarts in this industry jokingly saying the more you have educated the more are the chances of your failure in real estate! As on one hand it’s true that education makes you to think & the more you think in real estate the more you get aware about the uncertainties in it & then you delay the decision & delay is worst enemy in real estate! At the same time when I run in mind what are the responsibilities of a developer, there comes none! All you need to have some money in your pocket & you hire every available talent in the field & complete the building putting all the responsibility on someone or others shoulder; may it be architect or structural consultant or engineer you appoint at site!

Or am I supposed to tell them that in ever changing rules by numbers of governing bodies from PMC to Urban Development Department nothing is permanent here! The land you have acquired by checking all the known documents can be of faulty title because some of the heirs of the land owner have already entered in to unregistered document with some other builder & it comes to your knowledge only after you have paid all the amount to the land lord! And worst such non registered claim is accepted by the law & your deal goes to drain, shall I tell them this? Even if you buy the clear land then also road adjoining to your land can get shifted inside your plot or there can be probable Metro track going at some distance from you & as its FSI norms in the periphery within which your land comes, hasn’t yet finalized do your plans won’t get sanctioned! Shall I share such things to these young faces? Or when you have planned a building by setting all rules known to you yet as there is printing mistake in drafting the new rules by local governing body & now it’s not sure that when this printing mistake will be corrected & till then your FSI has been reduced if you want to get the sanction & this is going to hamper entire economics of the project, such things also happens in the industry, this I am going to share with the eager listeners? If you are lucky enough to get through all the legal claws & govt norms & able to start your project by complying all technical norms with Bar Charts, CPM & PERT like techniques; and then some stone & crusher manufactures organization goes on strike as rates of the materials has to be doubled because RTO has changed the norms of carrying materials like crush sand & khadi, so either pay them increased rates or they goes on strike, delaying every construction activity at your site. And no Govt department is intervening in this strike or rate hike demand! And then you get news that somewhere as the river sand digging auctions have not being done by the local Govt so there is no sand in the market & your contractors’ labors are sitting idle because of no sand at site! And with all these hurdles when you still continuing with your project you have to face accusing from media as well everyone around that you are making money & it’s you who is the sole cause of taking the homes out of budged from the common man!

So many scenes flashed in my mind which I myself have faced as a builder & I too am an engineer! But then I reminded myself that I was there not to shoo them off from being a builder but to encourage them to be part of real estate! It is fact that to become a real estate developer you don’t need to be a qualified engineer but things are changing fast & this was true for first genre of the developers. Now most of the second generation of real estate people is qualified & that too fields related to real estate such as civil engineering or management. This is because the clientele has changed, no more the buyer is a couple at retirement but it’s a lot matured young blood that is face of real estate customer & they are mostly either technocrat or educated by themselves. And no educated person will like to have his builder as uneducated especially when the product is home, which is one time buy for most! So this is a good news to all engineers, is what I told them. At the same time if an uneducated person can build a building then surely as a civil engineer it’s your responsibility to build better than him & to show the society that you can build better because you have better knowledge. So being an engineer & in the real estate gives you an edge over the non engineer or non educated competitors! Indeed to make this possible is a tough challenge but then what fun in working without any challenge is! Education is a weapon & it’s up to us how to use it; don’t let it become a shackle in your capacities but apply it to find new ways in doing your job. 

Things have changed a lot in the recent past & clients does expect better product & they do appreciate it too. Our knowledge has been given to us to find new avenues of doing the age old things in new ways, which in the end will be in benefit of the customer only. And best part is present real estate buyer understand this.
At the same time being in real estate doesn’t mean just become a builder, that’s one of the roles in the industry. The industry needs good contractors, construction management consultants, structural designers, services like plumbing & waterproofing providers & much more. As the more educated people will come in this industry the more refined it will become. Agreed presently its most non professional profession but then that’s not fault of real estate but the people it has. As any business or industry is gets reputation not by the money it generates but by the quality of people it’s associated with! Real estate’s policies & non professional face is because of the people it has & which were always bothered about end product which for them was money & not a good home! The country’s over one hundred crore population is in a way boon for real estate; as that mean so many homes are needed. A home is one of the basic need of a human being & we have become self sufficient on food & clothing i.e.  “Roti, kapda” but the “makan” i.e. home is still far less on supply side than demand. Presently the current Central Govt has taken housing as a serious aspect & the Honorable Prime Minister has said to set a target of nearly two crore homes in coming three years, so imagine to money as well opportunities involved in the segment! That makes real setae as best industry for making your carrier & with a degree in civil engineering you have far more chances of surviving here than any non technical person, is a fact.

Another aspect is creativity in real estate which a non technical person may not ever realize as what fun it’s there in imagining a structure on an empty land & then making it reality! Presently what this industry lacks is ideas which will change the age old practices, right from design too construction techniques too marketing the product! Fronts like Green Buildings & Affordable Housing are very much unexplored; as R & D is the weakest link here! With your technical knowhow you can fill in the gap which the industry is facing. Look at automobile of any other industry where there are thousands of option made available to the customer as per his needs & capacity to buy & at the same time look at real estate & the options it gives to the customers; we lack too much here also! I have full regards for every branch of education & yet real estate chiefly deals with civil engineering & obviously the one with education of the field held upper hand here is a fact. Also it doesn’t mean that someone couldn’t get education so he is unfit for the business but then mostly its inaccessibility to the education makes someone not getting it; no one remains uneducated by choice is a truth! You should be considered yourself luckier than those who couldn’t have their education & it’s this luck of your which is your responsibility to deliver the product in better way; then you may be a structural designer or contractor if not a builder!

Home is probably costliest product in our country & a once in life purchase for most of the buyers. And while you become successful person in real estate by selling your product to the client don’t forget your social responsibility i.e. your duty towards the society which has made you an able engineer. By me, being a successful real estater doesn’t mean how much is your bank balance or size your car fleet but what you have given back to the industry & the society! Neither success is how many sq ft of area you have built or the numbers of flats you have made but will count the success in how many numbers of families you have made happy by giving them their own home in the way they have dreamt for the same, as this is what makes real success! It’s that later part of success’s definition is what going to make your teachers real proud & to your own self too or else the real estate has enough builders who are successful. And lastly always keep in mind that you should be an engineer first & then the builder & not vice versa, that’s what real estate expects from you!

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

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