Green abode

Written by Garima Pant | Updated: May 9 2010, 21:51pm hrs
Golf, with its premium connotation, is proving to be a definitive pull for real estate projects in India. Townships dedicated to the game or golfing facilities within projects are growing rapidly. Golf enhances brand value of the township significantly, especially in locations that are in growth corridors. Industry experts feel presence of golf courses helps position a project better than others in the same league.

The game has enjoyed tremendous popularity in the past five years, says Brijesh Bhanote, senior VP, sales and marketing, The 3C Company, adding that corporate executives have been a major contributor to the growing popularity of the game. However, not all real estate projects offering golf as a prime feature have actual golf courses. A decent 18-hole golf course would require a minimum of 200 acres, which is not possible within a city, says Bhanote. So, a number of companies, such as The 3C in their project Lotus Panache in Noida, offer facilities such as opti-golf, which is a system that allows you to play virtual golf on golf courses from around the world in a comfortable air-conditioned indoor environment. But be it optical or the real thing, Bhanote agrees that golf definitely is a good pull to draw in the buyers.

Golfers are accepted as epitomes of style and discerning taste and so are residents of such facilities. Well-manicured golf courses within residential projects depict opulence and golf courses have now become an integral part of prime residential properties, says Vikram O Datta, vice-president, sales & marketing, Unitech.

The sport is fast becoming a status symbol and lifestyle statement of the Indian super-rich. Owing to the growing Indian economy and the heavy inflow of wealth, Indian consumers are following global trends, says Prakash Gurbaxani, CEO of Bangalore-based QVC Realty, about the influx of golf-based realty projects. Gurbaxani plans to launch his golf home project in Chikmagalur, a four-hour drive from Bangalore, by the end of the year. Spread over 40 acres, the project has a nine-hole golf course and aims to provide the affluent a holiday home close to the city. Golf courses add premium value to a residential project. A golf course naturally attracts the interest of wealthy NRIs, HNIs and the corporate top management echelon, says Raminder Grover, CEO, Homebay Residential, Jones Lang LaSalle Meghraj. The value addition is in the terms of faster sales, luxury positioning and development skew towards more mid to high-end units, says Ashish Jindal, regional director north, Knight Frank India.

Expenses related to golf courses are not limited to development costs alone, as maintaining such projects also involves significant costs. Hence, a consumer bears not only the premium he pays for buying into such projects, but also higher maintenance and membership costs that are linked with such projects, says Rajiv Sahni, partner, real estate practice, Ernst & Young. Golf courses are an indubitable luxury feature, and their presence can raise the cost to the buyer by 15-20%, says Grover. Jaypee Groups golf course project in Greater Noida is the most expensive under-construction project in the region and has apartments in the range of Rs 5,400-9,000/sq ft.

But industry experts feel this is too less a price to pay for the enhanced social status. Consumers are paying for a facility that is at their doorsteps. Its too little a price to pay for such a big luxury, says Gurbaxani. Lodha Group, which will soon be launching its Golflinks project in Dombivali, Mumbai, hopes to target the avid golfer. Priced upward of Rs 30 crore, the project will have 27 villas sprawling around 30 acres of golf course. Its an expensive development where the cost of construction can go up by almost 50%, says R Karthik, senior VP, marketing, Lodha Group. It is not a steep cost escalation for a customer buying a golf-centric property, feels the industry. With just 25-30% increase in the price of property, a customer buys splendid views, natural beauty, low density community and ever-lasting green cover, says a Jaypee Greens spokesperson. Jaypee Greens has a golf course is spread over 190 acres in Greater Noida. And, with the money flowing in, steep pricing of these projects is not a deterrent to the success stories of the golf-centric projects.