The nation should rally together to build a Smart Country

Varun Manian, MD – Radiance Realty

A Business Graduate from New York University, Varun is the quintessential “Ideas Man.” A Chennai native, he chose to work and live in Chennai over a career at an International Investment Firm.

As a Truly Cosmopolitan native of the city, Varun understands the Global yet Traditional psyche of Chennai’s Residents and what they look for when they invest in living spaces. His perception coupled with his dedication and focus are at the heart of Radiance. His passion and drive for excellence ensure that no stone is left unturned in Radiance’s pursuit of New Heights.

At the helm of affairs at Radiance Realty, he focusses on consolidating the Company’s position as one of the most prominent Real Estate Developers in Tamil Nadu.  He shares some of his thoughts with team ABT.

Q: How do you sum up the state of the Real Estate Industry in India?

Varun: I would first like to make it clear to everyone that it is a myth that “developers are making a lot of money”. According to me, money is being made by land owners whose ancestors bought the property and by bankers who charge real estate companies a high rate of interest.  To my mind there are five players in the industry — The Land owner, the BANK or PE, The Approving authorities, The Developer and most important — the Buyers who influence the industry, to a great extent equally.

There is a lot of talk of apartment prices being high and of the need for a correction. This can only happen when the land owner is more reasonable in his expectation for land prices; when the banks reduce lending rates both to developers and to end users and approvals are granted within sixty days. As everyone knows real estate prices have been stagnant for some time and in fact there has even been negative growth in Capital areas & NCR.

I am confident that prices will go up in the immediate future.  History will prove me right in stating that real estate is the best investment. It is not something that should be valued year on year. Instead if you look at the last twenty years you will find that real estate has outperformed both gold and stocks.

Q: What are some of the challenges that you had to face? How did you overcome those?

Varun: It is always difficult for a new player to enter an established market and the fact that I was very young did not help. What did help was the family’s fifty year old track record in NAPC. And then of course I went ahead and built good buildings of high quality and delivered on time.

Q: What are your views on the buzz on around smart cities in India today? Are you working on any of these?

I personally do not like the term ‘smart city’. I think we as a nation should rally together and build a ‘smart country’. What are the highlights of a smart city? Assured power and water supply, efficient sewage and waste management, good roads, good public transportation, WiFi and e-governance are some of the things that come to mind.  Is this not every Indian’s birth right? I believe that it is and that we as a nation should work on a smart country concept.

We at Radiance have some exciting ideas on this but would like to play this close to our chest for now.

Q: Tell us what is unique about your projects? What kind of benchmarks are you looking to set in the next three years?

Varun: We simply stick to our core values, which are

  • We care for our customer and we believe that we are building homes for our people and not just houses.
  • Our quality of construction is extremely good; partially due to our sixty year construction legacy. We aim to become a household word for ‘Quality’.
  • Delays in delivery is something that customers are always worried about. Our strive to deliver on time, every time.

Q: How do you see the National Agenda of Affordable Housing becoming a reality?

Varun:  Affordable housing will definitely become a reality because it is an absolute necessity.

We at Radiance are still studying this sector. Currently we are looking at it more as a way of being of service than of making sizeable profits. Governments have large parcels which they could consider gifting to builders who are in turn willing to build affordable homes at a low profit.  Having said the above one always has to remember that the word ‘affordability’ is very relative.

Q: How does the Real Estate Regulatory bill by the Indian government effect business? Are there any areas unaddressed according to you?

Varun: We are already following most of the provisions of the Real Estate Bill as I have understood it.  However, it appears that each state is going to have its own say and so we need to wait and watch as to what is finally decided. I am concerned that different states will have different ideas thus leading to complications for pan India developers

I have a couple of other concerns. One is that this law should not add to the approval time which in turn will increase interest costs and push up the end price.

I am also personally upset with the way the Bill is worded. It looks as though most developers are currently trying to take advantage of customers and that the government is setting this right. We cannot generalize this thinking.  Let me categorically tell you that this is not the case.  Most of us take a lot of pride in our product and hold our heads high when talking about our companies.