Yogesh Mehra, CEO & Co-founder – YOLO Homes
Today, Urban India is largely driven by up-and-coming single professionals and young, dual-income nuclear families. According to a recent study, over 10% of Indian families still had nine members or more in 2001, while only slightly above 6% of families had that many members by 2011. More and more Indian families have splintered off from their erstwhile joint families and are defined by five or less members – the quintessential nuclear family is rapidly becoming the norm.
The buffer that the joint family system afforded in previous times has been more or less phased out. Within the joint family system, a number of functions such as care for children and elders were taken care of. Family finances were also less challenging, as a number of income streams merged with elders’ retirement funds and long-standing family wealth.
The Modern Nuclear Family
What factors are driving this trend? Quite a few. In the first place, young people today want to make lifestyle choices in line with contemporary options, and this requires financial autonomy. Secondly, they want to be able to choose their life partners without these choices being polled and voted upon from a traditionalist perspective. Thirdly, they want to be able to raise their children according to their own values and facilitate their integration into the Global Village of which India is rapidly becoming a part. Caring for the needs of elders is still very much a part of their values, but the immediate ties to the previous generations are nevertheless loosened.
Naturally, a nuclear family must maintain a sharp focus in order to succeed. The operative concepts are earning, career growth, raising a family and investing in the family. Investing in the family includes sending the kids to good schools and colleges, the upkeep of elders, and eventual retirement). This is a complex program, but it works very well for those who can maintain their focus.
One aspect – the quest for comfort – has not changed; what has changed is how comfort is defined. In today’s technology-driven environment, comfortable homes are no longer defined by their size but by how much they contribute to the family’s ability to enjoy a modern, secure and even trendy lifestyle. At the same time, keeping in mind that a small family unit depends on financial discipline to remain viable and diversified investments to grow, such a home should not cost an arm and a leg.
Smart Homes – One Flaw In A Perfect Concept
This is where, in the past, most developers of ‘smart’ homes miscalculated the demand for technologically enabled properties. People who consider such homes are not looking for to buy into a social stratum of luxury defined by massively expensive homes – they are looking to buy into a lifestyle. If their lifestyle is compromised by the purchase of a home which leaves little or nothing for other investment or lifestyle choices, the offering will fall flat.
Central Vs. Well-connected
For this reason, the previous yen for ‘central’ locations has also given way to ‘well-connected’ locations, while the focus on ‘size’ has yielded to a focus on ‘lifestyle quotient’. The cost of a residential property is defined by the rupee value that the market assigns to its location, and the magnitude of space it occupies within that location. For today’s nuclear family, access workplace, schools, shopping and healthcare is as important as ever, but they expect good connectivity rather than a central location to deliver on this.
Likewise, they do not look for massive apartments but for homes which support their aspiration for comfort and convenience within the living space and within the project. They want in-house services which reduce the demands that day-to-day maintenance puts on their time and energy, and lifestyle-enhancing facilities to be available on site. A distant or expensive dream? No longer.
Managed Facilities – A Necessity, Not A Luxury
In previous years, the onus of meeting home buyer expectations fell solely on real estate developers. However, developers are essentially building specialists – delivering on lifestyle factors beyond the scope of the built environment is not part of their core competence. This has brought modern facilities management into the picture, but such services involve a higher cost which developers must pass on to their customers. The challenge lies in providing a well-rounded residential property package along with all the required lifestyle features within a reasonable budget range.
Specialist agencies are now partnering with developers to provide just that. Unlike most facilities management firms, these agencies have a full understanding of real estate fundamentals that affect pricing. Because standardization is essential to reduce costs without compromising on quality, they give developers a model that provides high lifestyle performance in smaller spaces at well-connected locations. Because the size parameters are inflexible, this model cannot be juxtaposed on existing buildings with varying apartment dimensions. Therefore, such agencies partner with developers right from the project design stage.
The result is an entirely new breed of homes which provide their owners with lifestyle possibilities that were previously impossible within range-bound ticket sizes. The response from nuclear families, working individuals and even buyers nearing retirement is understandably unprecedented. This is ultimate value in every sense. Because of their relative newness on the market, such lifestyle-oriented residential offerings are still few in number, but the demand for them indicates that rapid growth in this segment is assured.