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Buying a high-end apartment? Read this
Nanditta Chibber in New Delhi | August 26, 2006
But before we list the basics that slot an apartment as a high-end one, seek your luxury nest only if you are a high net-worth and a well travelled individual, or else developers won't even allow you a sneak peep.
Usually, in developer terms, a high-end apartment is a three-BHK (bedroom/hall/ kitchen) of 3,000 sq ft with a servant's quarter, centrally air-conditioned, with a three-tier security system, separate guest and service elevators - often of glass, like the ones at Omaxe's property, The Forest on the Noida Expressway.
A high-end apartment would typically be a three-sided open apartment with a good view, offering a picture-perfect city skyline, or a golf course and greenery, parking space for at least two cars, roof gardens if possible, and proximity to the city centre but far enough for a tranquil environment.
The interiors of a luxury apartment would also sport Italian marble/wooden/imported tile flooring, acrylic emulsions, the best modular kitchens - sometimes fitted with a chimney, fridge, cooking range; basically, the works. Bathrooms will sport the best sanitary fittings with master bathrooms having delightful add-ons like sauna, steam, jacuzzi and snazzy shower cubicles.
"A high-end luxury apartment is usually like walking into a five-star hotel," says Kunal Banerjee, VP, marketing, Ansal Properties. To classify them in the luxury category, apartment sizes can range from a 3-7 BHK complete with add-ons and with a starting price tag of Rs 1.5 crore (Rs 15 million).
Adds Pradeep Jain, chairman, Parsvnath Developers, "In a high-end unit, the size automatically increases." He says, "If a three-BHK of 1,500 sq ft is increased to 3,000 sq ft with add-ons, one can term it as a high-end apartment, in consideration with its location".
But won't the cost of these high-end apartments reduce, especially if one chose to buy them minus the frills, deciding to spruce up the interiors personally? What if the client refuses the tempting add-ons like split ACs, Jaguar fittings, Pergo flooring, Italian lighting and what have you?
After all, developers have the edge as they buy material and manpower in bulk, thereby benefiting from economies of scale. Most developers admit that apartments then would be cheaper - marginally or considerably is a matter of debate.
Getamber Anand, managing director, ATS Greens, feels, "There is a big misconception about high-end apartments." He adds, "Our apartments, like the ATS Greens Village in Noida, boast of quality with the best possible luxury add-ons, but they are still affordable. In fact, 3,000-4,000 sq ft apartments are available for Rs 3,500 per sq ft."
So does the price tag of an apartment put it into the high-end bracket? Is it used as a marketing tool by developers? A spokesperson from Omaxe Developers says, "The exclusivity of a luxury apartment or a penthouse boosts the individual ego as a class apart segment."
Anand differs and feels that sometimes buyers wrapped up in the high-end notion suffer by paying extra. He feels that any apartment pegged at around Rs 5,000 per sq ft is put into the luxury bracket nowadays, even if other developers provide the same facilities for a lower-priced apartment.
He estimates that a regular apartment can turn into a high-end one with an additional cost of Rs 500 per sq ft approximately, or Rs 10 lakh.
The high-end tag argument doesn't end just here, especially because clients pay not just for the interiors but also for the overall ambience and infrastructure in a majority of these complexes where these apartments are housed. This is also a dominating parameter that usually attracts customers into spending those extra bucks.
Even if renovating your apartment to make it a high-end one is far more reasonable than the price developers quote, some like Banerjee argue: "We free interested clients from all the time and hassle and move them immediately into a readymade luxury apartment."
Time usually is a deterrent, especially as most luxury apartments take anywhere between two to three years to complete, while the EMIs for customers start almost immediately.
Sveta Jain, regional manager, residential services, Cushman & Wakefield, a real estate services firm, reiterates that location, facilities (some even have plans to create a helipad) and opulent interiors, besides stringent security, are enough reason to decide the cost of high-end apartments.
The firm estimates that most high-end properties fetch high resale values too. For example, properties in Gurgaon in June-July 2006 were selling between Rs 3,000-7,000 per sq ft and have seen an escalation in price by nearly 40 per cent in the last three months.
And most properties, including the high-end ones, saw a price appreciation of 95 per cent in the last year. Luxury properties developed by DLF, like Magnolia in Gurgaon, offer apartment spaces of 5,500 sq ft plus at Rs 9,000 per sq ft, estimates Cushman & Wakefield.
If complex facilities/ neighbours/location and paucity of time dominate your list of concerns, then a high-end apartment may be just the right choice for you.
But keep in mind that what today is "high-end" will soon fall under the "medium high-end" tag. Developers in India are constantly innovating and what is exclusive today may just be a regular fixture in most properties tomorrow.