The following is the report by Ashwinder Raj Singh, CEO – Residential Services, JLL India
Exhibitions are a time-tested medium for bringing target audiences together with products. To draw attention to such events and to differentiate them from the regular market-place, schemes and offers are often employed. Real estate is a sector which sees a massive number of exhibitions each year, and the reason is not hard to arrive at. This is an extremely competitive sector, and developers are constantly challenged to find ways to talk to their intended clientele.
During real estate exhibitions, developers get an opportunity to showcase their properties via various different audio-visual media. Also, their sales teams can engage with large numbers of potential clients.
At a local level, property exhibitions allow developers to pull away from the immense online real estate marketing clutter and to strike up direct sales conversations with people who are looking for immediate solutions to their housing needs. With the growing popularity of Indian property exhibitions abroad, this platform has now extended its local reach to include the NRI community, as well.
The NRI Conundrum
On the whole, NRIs face peculiar challenges. Apart from getting caught up in the intricacies of work that often has no Indian elements at all, they must also assimilate into new social networks. Even when they put in concerted efforts to maintain them, their connection to India tends to erode for the duration of their stints abroad.
· For those who are working on establishing new lives on foreign soil, this may not be a very serious issue. Thanks to the technology available today, they manage to stay in touch with their families and friends in India, thereby maintaining the emotional connections and moral support that they need to pursue their outward-looking plans for the future. Nevertheless, many of these individuals are interesting in investing in property in India for ongoing financial security and growth.
· For the significant multitude of NRIs who have every intention of returning to India at some point, buying a property in India has much more personal connotations. The growing housing needs of their families need to be addressed, and they themselves need to lay a strong foundation for their eventual return to India. Buying a home in their parent cities and towns is a very real and present priority for them.
One common factor that applies to both the above categories of potential NRI property buyers is that they are separated from the on-ground real estate milieu in India. Naturally, this can lead to considerable confusion. Though they have online access to real estate options in their cities and towns of interest, the internet has in fact been massively contaminated by marketing campaigns aimed specifically at attracting the attention of NRI property seekers.
Not to put too fine a point to it, many developers have joined hands with real estate aggregator sites and specialist marketing agencies to gain focused access to the NRI community. The properties being marketed to this audience are often over-priced, and the impressions being created of the project itself may have very in common with its on-ground reality.
The end result is that NRIs invariably have a much distorted picture of the Indian real estate market-place. For those who are seriously interested in investing in properties back home, exhibitions of properties in India organized in their foreign cities of residence can provide a means to educate themselves on the options available to them and ask the right kinds of questions.
At The Property Exhibition
NRIs often attend such exhibitions in groups, and this allows them to apply a more consultative approach to their decision-making. By connecting with friends and colleagues back home, they are able to obtain information that may not be available at the exhibition. Likewise, online searches during and after the exhibition can provide needed granularity.
Because of these channels available to them, it is a mistake to assume that all NRIs tend to make snap real estate purchase decisions at property exhibitions. As a rule, that does not happen – though they are certainly exceptions. Of course, the overall objective and business model of property exhibitions is to catalyse and encourage impulse buying, and developers showcasing their projects at such events bank significantly on this factor.
However, even NRIs who take a more calculated approach to their buying decisions will be influenced by the psychological hooks that are thrown out at such events. The final effect can often be that a property is examined and finally identified for investment.
Therefore, it can certainly be said that NRI-specific property exhibitions in foreign countries manage to meet their objectives in one way or the other. At the very least, they provide fuel for the thought process that always precludes a real estate investment.
Advice To NRIs At Property Exhibitions
· Look at all the options before making a purchase. Do not make a purchase decision solely on the basis of what you see at property exhibitions, which usually represent only a fraction of what is available.
· Do not over-commit on your home loan – analyse your current financial situation and make realistic projections about your future earning potential. It is better to buy a home that is comfortably within your means now and sell it later to upgrade to a bigger home.
· Ignore all marketing pitches geared specifically towards NRIs. For instance, educate yourself about how terms such as ‘luxury’ are actually interpreted in India.
· Demand to see vital documentation such as commencement and occupation certificates, environmental clearance certificates, etc. If these are not immediately available at the exhibition, ask for them to be mailed to you.
· Do not make a final purchase decision without consulting with an independent and reputed real estate consultant.
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