Ashok Naidu, Director, Kumari Builders and Developers is a young dynamic entrepreneur from Bangalore with a great sense of responsibility, and humour. He has been building castles in his dream since he was young, his dream is now a reality. Technically, Ashok is a B.E. in Civil Engineering with a passion for real estate. Five years ago he joined Kumari Developers to build affordable luxury homes aimed at the younger demographic. Ashok is a believer and a doer with a young team of professionals setting a new benchmark in the Bangalore real estate market. Team Realtymyths had an insightful session with Ashok, here are the excerpts:
Our audience would love to know your journey. Please share! How are you planning the way forward with Kumari Developers?
Kumari Builders and Developers was founded in 2012 with the foremost objective of fulfilling the housing needs of working professionals in Bengaluru. The company was started by my father T. Narsimhulu Naidu as he saw the need for high-quality, affordable homes in the city. I joined the company as one of the directors in its first year of operations soon after completing B.E. in Civil Engineering. Headquartered in Bengaluru, the company primarily focuses on residential projects. All our projects are located within 15-25 minutes of drive time from key business hubs such as International Tech Park Bengaluru (ITPB), Electronic City, Manyata Tech Park and Sarjapur Road, with a single-minded focus on working professionals.
Our initial success lies in the fact that we found our niche. We see an emerging market for affordable luxury homes aimed at a younger demographic. Bengaluru attracts a lot of young talent and we aim to make it easier for first-time buyers to take their first step into independent living. Our focus continues to be the younger demographic. From flexible payment schemes to guidance with property loans, we take care of all the needs of young working professionals.We are now entering the villa segment for future growth. Our next project in Bengaluru is focused on villas.
Well! Which markets are you currently operating in? What’s cooking for future?
Most of our projects are targeted at the Bengaluru market. We have completed eight projects till date and have ongoing projects adding up to an area of 5,75,000 square feet. Among our four ongoing projects, two are in Andhra Pradesh. Please find below details of all four projects.
Post-Demonetisation, RERA and GST, do you think the real estate market is back on the game?
With a decrease in sales volumes, the Indian real estate sector was already facing many challenges prior to demonetisation. Demonetisation only added to their woes. It led to a lot of rumour mongering, slowing down economic activities in general. Realty sales took a big hit post demonetisation. According to data by Knight Frank, sales volumes dropped by 44% in the fourth quarter of 2016.
While RERA successfully addresses issues such as delayed possession which plagues the real estate sector, it added to the confusion that already prevailed. Many projects were put on hold due to lack of clarity. The introduction of GST dealt a further blow. Customers and investors have been on a ‘wait and watch’ mode because of GST. Investors were waiting for GST roll-out to enjoy its benefits while customers waited because they did not have much clarity. All these factors have created a slump in the market. It will take a few months for it to recover. By the second quarter of 2018, we can see some recovery.
Any real estate brand you look up to? Why?
Not brands really. But I have been highly inspired by the Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town concept in Japan. It is a joint venture between the private and public sectors that aims to build a smart town with 1,000 households that is underpinned not just by advanced technology-based infrastructure, but an actual lifestyle. Residents sharing the objectives of the town will interact and exchange ideas for achieving a better lifestyle. Actual lifestyle-based systems will add value to people’s lives in terms of energy, security, mobility, wellness, community, and others. The objective is to build a sustainable town that enables residents to have an eco-friendly and comfortable lifestyle incorporating the blessings of nature while ensuring safety and security. My dream is to create a similar project in India.
If not at the office, where should people catch up with you?
I think it’s important for everyone to have some ‘me’ time. My go-to place when I need to shut down completely is ITC Gardenia in Bengaluru. In fact, there is a corner table that just helps me unwind instantly. I enjoy food and cultural travel. I have travelled with my friends to unknown destinations in search of local specialties. We clocked almost 600km recently to try the local fare at a restaurant in Andhra Pradesh.
Is it a difficult time for new entrants? Any advice for them?
Yes, it is a difficult time for new entrants. Post RERA, developers need almost 25-30 per cent more working capital to start a project. It was not uncommon for developers to divert some of the fund flows from prime location projects to non-prime ones until sales picked up. This would not be possible now due to the restriction of fund flows (up to 70%) through maintenance of separate accounts, as per RERA. Also, the cost of construction has gone up post-GST.
My advice to new entrants is to start a project only if they have sufficient funds and to create projects that benefit people in the long run. Only then will they grow.
What makes Kumari developers different from the competition?
These are some of our differentiators:
a. Commitment to the environment: Be it solar power, waste water treatment, or rainwater harvesting, environmental protection is a key priority for Kumari Builders and Developers.
b. Flexibility in payments: Kumari Builders and Developers offers numerous customized payment options to suit the requirements of young working professionals.
c. No pre-launch offers: In general pre-launches have no legal validity as the approval processes are not initiated or are still in progress. As a commitment to reduce risks for its buyers, Kumari Builders and Developers has made a conscious decision to not offer any pre-launch offers.
d. 100% refund: If customers are faced with genuine problems, Kumari Builders and Developers offers a 100 per cent reimbursement of the payment that has been made. This is a ‘Kumari Promise’.
e. On-time delivery: The key to delivering projects on time depends on the ability of the developer to acquire the property within the required time frame and possessing sufficient funds to complete the project.
Do you think affordable housing is the next big thing?
It is a welcome move by the government. But the government needs to take on the onus of creating awareness for it to succeed in a big way. With government’s concessions and the help of the latest construction technologies, it is possible to build affordable housing projects. However, developers will not be in a position to allocate marketing spend for these projects as they are doing it within limited budgets. If the government can take up the responsibility of marketing these projects, affordable housing will take off in a big way in India. This will make it possible for the economically weaker sections to fulfill their dream of owning a home.
Rate your brand out of 10. Reason!
We would rather let our customers rate us.
Why do you think giving back to nature is important now? What efforts are you taking!
I think it is high time we realised that the environment has to be conserved before all our natural resources are depleted because of our abusive ways. There is an increased focus on the part of the government to implement green policies. I think it’s our turn now to initiate the change by creating more green developments.
Kumari Amaranthine is an effort in this direction. The project’s green features include roof gardens, solar panels, and grey water recycling systems for effective energy, water, and waste management. The affordable luxury housing community will save about 50,000 liters of water approximately a day by recycling and re-using its own water. The project also boasts an in-house solar plant with a capacity of 40kw which takes care of all the lighting needs, ensuring that it is clean and green energy used. To home owners, this would translate into direct savings on utility bills. Our estimates show that each home owner can save almost Rs3,000 a month from these green measures.
Similarly, all our future projects will also have some green focus. This is our way of giving back to nature.