Smart homes are a major step on the evolutionary ladder for residential spaces, and their primary aim is to make living more comfortable, convenient, secure, entertaining, and sustainable. Powered by gadgets and computing technologies, smart homes were the prerogative of the very rich in the past — but no more.
Today, smart home technologies have become affordable and every other average household uses some form of smart home automation or the other. Smart home as an end product from developers are also drawing more buyers in urban India. In integrated townships, smart home features are an expected advantage and considered a desirable part of the overall product offering.
Thanks to constant technological advancements, smart homes are also becoming ‘smarter’ with every passing year. Just a few years ago, smart Indian homes were primarily marketed as homes with advanced security features like cameras, smart door locking systems and similar surveillance. Today, the implications have expanded to include electronically enabled lighting systems, fire detection systems, gas leakage detection, energy efficiency monitoring, entertainment systems, etc.
In India, the market for smart homes has been growing steadily. Every year, the uptake of smart homes in India is increasing by between 15-18 per cent in tier 1 cities and by between 5-10 per cent in tier 2 and tier 3 cities. This dynamic has especially been driven by the increase in the number of working couples with dual incomes in metro cities. With both spouses working, a family is financially capable of opting for a smart home, which do cost a bit more than homes without smart features.
In particular, home automation is regarded as a desirable solution to keep homes safe while they are not occupied — either during the day when the inhabitants are at work, or for extended periods when they are vacationing. Smart surveillance features also allow the safety of children and elderly people to be monitored remotely via smartphone apps. In integrated townships, the smart security features must be integrated with the larger security measures at the project level.
Thanks to deeper Internet penetration and the rising concerns about home security amid the ever-escalating crime rates in our cities, most potential home buyers today are aware of the smart home concept. While this awareness is slightly lower in non-metro cities, the overall predisposition to this product is quite positive. In upper segment homes, smart home features are the norm rather than an exception and, as already mentioned, homes in integrated townships are considered fashionable.
Popular features in an Indian smart home
l Security: Video door monitoring, motion sensors, gas leakage detection, intrusion sensors, curtain sensors, fire detection and control
l Lighting control: Remote on/off, presence detection
l Electrical: Smart air conditioning, smart refrigerators
l Entertainment: AV controls, gaming consoles
l Communication: GPS navigation connected to entry and exit, proximity door unlocking
For the average Indian buyer of a smart home, the unit home must above all include electronic security features. Energy efficiency is another aspect that is becoming increasingly popular among home buyers. People are willing to spend more for a smart AC, smart TV or a smart refrigerator. Advanced security, however, has been the main driver.
In India, the barriers to large-scale acceptance of smart homes are crumbling. There are, however, a few factors that hinder mass acceptance: Cost and the lack of awareness. Most Indian customers expect that smart technologies will add to the security of living in some way of the other; if it does not, the offering is close to unacceptable. Things like AC control or smart gadgets are considered desirable, but not an absolute necessity. The demand for technologies like video conferencing, communication across floors or even curtain control are largely limited to commercial spaces and are not yet a big factor in smart residential units in India.
While average Indian home buyers are positive to the idea of a smart home, they are willing to spend no more than 1-3 per cent extra for a home featuring smart solutions. The upper-income groups extend the premium acceptance to 5-8 per cent; which, it must be stated, is still low when seen in the light of the overall benefits available in smart homes.
Yet, things are definitely looking up in this space — awareness and acceptance levels are increasing, and in the near future, we will be getting closer to smart homes becoming the default choice for home buyers.
The writer is Aravind Jain Managing Director – Pride Group – Source The Hindu
GST relief for low-cost homes, 1st-time buyers
- The tax benefit will also be extended to an affordable housing project, which has been given infrastructure status.
Under the CLSS scheme, a first-house buyer with a household income of up to Rs 18 lakh per annum can avail a benefit of up to Rs 2.7 lakh while buying a house or apartment of up to 150 square metres (1,615 sq ft) carpet area.
Those who do not qualify for credit linked subsidy scheme (CLSS) will continue to pay GST at 12% for the same house. The tax benefit will also be extended to an affordable housing project, which has been given infrastructure status, in case the maximum unit size in the project is a carpet area of 646sq ft. The first-house condition on the buyer will not be applied in this case. Whether or not the buyer gets the CLSS benefit under PM Awas Yojna, GST will be levied at 8%.
“The decision will give a push to the real estatesector, particularly affordable housing, as prices will fall by up to 4%,” said Getamber Anand, chairman of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Association of India (Credai).
The cap on the size of housing unit to avail of the benefit under CLSS has been kept at 1,615sqft carpet area, which is equivalent to around 2,200sq ft built-up area. This would cover most three-bedroom apartments and houses in the country and particularly in metro cities, said Anand. The Rs 18 lakh cap on household income is also sufficiently large to cover most first-time house buyers. But those buying their second house, or more, would not be able to avail this benefit. NAREDCO vicechairman Parveen Jain said the decision would prove a boon for the masses and fuel rapid growth and development of the real estate sector, furthering the cause of ‘housing for all by 2022’. Developers pay GST on inputs used for the construction of a project. Under GST, taxes paid on the inputs are taken back as credit from the GST paid by the buyer. Input taxes on construction amount to around Rs 400 to Rs 500 per sq ft.
One of the older localities of Chennai, with a glorious past, Egmore is seeing many new projects across categories.
Who doesn’t want to a buy home of their own especially when you are a first time home buyer?
Vijayaragavan Shantharam from Chennai approached the Magicbricks real estate Forum asking, “I have been living in Dubai from the past three years and now I intend to come back to my mother land. Being born and brought up in Egmore, Chennai, I would definitely like to invest here preferably in a 3BHK apartment. Though my father has a 2BHK apartment in the same locality and I have no plans to shift to Chennai anytime soon, I would want to buy a home of my own. Please suggest if Egmore is a worth-investing locality? Help me understand more about the locality in terms of returns on investment and advantages of investing here.”
Why is it profitable to invest in Egmore?
There are a host of reasons to invest in the locality. Some of them are: Egmore, in Chennai, is not only a fully developed residential area but a commercial and retail hub too The Egmore Railway Station connects the locality to other parts of the city.
Several residential and commercial areas such as Chintadripet, Nungambakkam, Purasawalkam, Anna Salai and Chetput surround the locality. The National Highway 114 passes through the locality and ensures its connectivity to other areas. The state-run Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) buses frequently pass through the locality and connect it within and with other parts of the city via road.
The locality also has a suburban train station on the Chennai Beach Tambaram railway line The Chennai International Airport is situated within 20 km distance and can be reached via the Trichy-Chennai High way and the Chennai-Nagapattinam Highway Trichy-Chennai Highway.
Mahant Rajan, an existing resident of the locality says, “Egmore is centrally located and has proximity to all commercial and retail establishments. The other advantage of the locality is its social infrastructure such as schools, banks, restaurants, markets, vegetable shops, grocery stores and other day-to-day requirements.”
According to Magicbricks, the locality has been rated as 4.7 out of 5 on the basis of buyer’s feedback for offering good environment to live, decent commuting facilities and the social and physical infrastructure.
The locality offers varied types of residential housing such as flats, plots, villas, builder floors and residential houses.
According to Magicbricks data, there are over 60 housing options to choose from. This does not include the upcoming projects. Let’s find the details of residences present in the locality.
Considering factors like availability of varied housing types, proximity to commercial and retail establishments and the affordable budget range, it is safe to say that Egmore is worth investing in.
Pushpa Rawat, Times Property, Magicbricks Bureau/Chennai
Home decor is not just plain old furniture and drab old wall. There is so much that can be done, if only there is a change in perspective.
Customization is no longer the prerogative of a select few. It has become the mantra young adults live by. And this seems to have permeated into every aspect of life. Customisation dictates their taste in everything from what they wear to where they go, even where they live and the interiors of that space.
Adding a quirky touch to things makes it easy to bring out one’s personal style while allowing one to experiment with a variety of materials and styles; be it with wall hangings, cushions or even rugs. It breaks the monotony from the usual and plain patterns, adds spice, fun and life to the entire space. “A lot of clients come looking for interesting items with a twist to add a fun element to their homes. Quirky has almost become a fashion statement today and for most curios and décor items, the hype seems to be more around how high the quirk factor is, rather than understand the concept of the piece,” says Darsha, owner, Glamorama Furnishing Studio, a Chennai based design firm that specializes in customised designer soft furnishing solutions.
What makes this concept even more exciting and easy to adapt is the fact that, when it comes to quirky designs, there is no formula or guideline that needs to be followed, nor does it have a set module like classic design concepts. Being almost a reflection of one’s personal self, quirky interiors can call for all sorts of experimentations.
“We recently did an entire space with a fascinating colour scheme of emerald and mustard with a bit of fuchsia and some interesting decor pieces with Ikat and Bandhni prints. As unorthodox as it may sound, the space looked extremely vibrant with an unexpected twist”, she adds.
With this trend becoming popular by the day, a lot of designers have emerged in this segment to cater to the needs of the masses. While designers incorporate their personal style into their work, they also take inspiration from everyday things that the customers can also relate to.
“I’m inspired by India and her quirks, our culture, and simple elements that could go unnoticed. I also love to mix and match things and bring starkly different elements together seamlessly. From a cup of chai to street typography to nouveau art can be my muse”, says designer Nida Mahmood, who is often called the queen of Indian kitsch.
“There are a few trends to look out for at the moment a quirky printed wall covering can go well with simple under stated furniture. And if one loves to mix and match then mix different prints together. It’s fun to work with geometrics mixed with florals, like using a chevron bold wall paper that can be offset with beautiful botanical printed chairs”, she adds.
Another unique object that can be added to a room is a pouf a movable cushion that can act as a stool or a single seater. This piece could act as an accent piece in any room or can also be converted to a fun element, by covering them in bright colors, patch work upholstery or in different kinds of prints.
The trick with quirks is to fill the room with something simple and changeable, with pieces that can be easily moved around to work together as well as separates. It gives you multiple elements to play around with and gives the space a new and fresh look every day. All it takes is a new perspective and the right combination.
Veena Balakrishnan, Times Property, The Times of India, Chennai
The Victorian theme lends a grand look to the interiors of your home. For a sophisticated and classic look, opt for the Victorian theme for your home decor. This theme can be infused in several doses to impart opulence in layers in the various areas of the home.
The Victorian look can, at times, appear heavy because of a profusion of trimmings and fuss, but a contemporary twist can also make it suitable for modern living.
You can begin with designing a stunning Victorian living room with arched windows and doorways, and double height French windows with heavy teak wood panelling. Keep the walls uncluttered. Instead of having a number of paintings, opt for a single one along with an antique wall clock, accentuating the look of the polished wood.
Use rich, jewel-toned colours to accessorise, such as strong blues, deep reds and rich greens. Opt for floral prints for your wallpaper and for sofa upholstery.
In the Victorian theme, furniture should be of mahogany or teak, with ornate carving and tables with marble tops. Use round or oval backs for your chairs.
Even standard decorations are done in excess here, be it the fabrics reflecting elaborate patterns, walls covered with intricate and vibrant textures, large flowers in dark colours, or curtains the décor exudes extravagance that typified the era rich, heavy, and opulent.
Some of the characteristic features of this style are marble faux fireplaces, large chandeliers, heavy mirrors, stained glass and chinaware. These can be easily adapted to feature in a modern home.
Victorian picture frames are a great way to make the walls of your room look elegant. They can magically transform any corner. Victorian pictures frames are mostly of brass with varying finishes. Antique finish, copper finish and silver finish are some of the popular finishes for a frame.
Lampshades are elaborate, with brass and etched glass fittings. Glass featured elsewhere too in the form of decorative stained glass used as panels on front doors as well as for windows. Collections of antique dolls impart are very Victorian.
Light up with Tiffany-style lamps, wrought iron or brass chandeliers and even heavy candelabra.
The living areas can have large vases with floral arrangements and plant stands with potted palms. Grecian busts and statues also go well with this theme.
For your bedroom, furnish it with huge pieces of furniture and beds with elaborate canopies or huge head and footboards. Opting for chests and almirahs that are large and ornately carved will complete the look.
Source: Times Property, The Times of India, Chennai
This fourth quarter, however, saw a massive slowdown in real estate sales in Chennai with a 55% drop in housing units sold year-over-year.
In Q4 of 2016, only 757 units were sold compared to 1,673 units in the same period the previous year. Number of project launches in the city fell to 58 from 93 in the year ago period.
“Demonetisation has definitely impacted sales in Chennai. The cash crunch along with cyclone Vardah were a downer when it came to people taking decisions on property,” said Sridhar Srinivasan, managing director, Chennai, Cushman & Wakefield.
However, this is part of an overall trend in Chennai real estate market, which got exacerbated with the cash ban. For instance, the fourth quarter of 2013 saw a high of 2,554 units being sold. After which there has been a decline to 1,629 units in 2014 to 1,673 in 2015.
However, Cushman & Wakefield expects the phenomena to be temporary and won’t last beyond the new two quarters.
As to the “cash” or “black money” component of real estate sales, Srinivasan said this has not impacted mid-segment sales. “Middle-level housing units have seen a high impact. The high-end and luxury segment, which use a higher component of cheque vs cash, saw lesser impact. We are expecting this trend to continue for the next two-three quarter,” he said.
Mid-level housing units saw a 21% dip to 662 units in the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to 840 sold units in the comparable quarter last year. High-end units, however, saw sales nearly double to 91 in Q4, from 49 in the year-ago.
Another reason as to why transactions are being hit is because of stamp duty and registration fee that need to be paid at offices. Given the role of the “cash” component in property deed clearances, demonetisation has definitely thrown a wrench in the works.
For the full-year, the number of projects in 2016 dipped 24% to 57 from 75 last year. The number of housing units also dipped 21% to 6,419 from 8,174.
Smaller homes need not necessarily be devoid of the many roles a home plays. Intelligent planning can incorporate different utilities in the same space.
When it comes to real estate, everybody wants a little more space. Especially those of us who live in houses that are at the beginner’s level equivalent of the real estate industry.
Of late, smaller apartments in the city have been getting a lot of attention from builders as well as buyers. Whether it is the increasing floating population that Chennai is playing host to, or the space crunch that is the bane of every big city; whether you picked a small house because it is your first real estate investment or simply because a small apartment fits your requirements, the bottom line is that a little more space is always welcome.
According to Navin, director, Navin’s Housing, even the smallest of houses can be more spacious than they look, if planned intelligently. “For any residential unit, every inch needs to be efficiently planned. But when it comes to small houses, functionality of space is paramount and so special attention needs to be given to various aspects of building to ensure this,” he says. Even when the overall area is not as much as one would like, there are quite a few ways the space crunch can be addressed at the time of construction itself. “For small houses, one needs to ensure that the flow of the house is compact and efficient. There can be absolutely no unutilised spaces in the house. One way to do this is to give functionality to all the odd spaces in the house. Also, thinner walls inside the house can add a precious few inches to the overall area,” he adds. The basic layout, the design, the reusability of space, use of lighter colours and maximising natural light, are some of the basic things to keep in mind, he feels.
Although the best way to go about increasing space efficiency is to work with the idea right from the planning stage, it is not always possible. Today, the real estate sector is giving abundant thought to space efficiency. However, residential units constructed in the past continue to struggle with the minimal space they started out with. “In most existing homes, renovating can increase usable space to a great extent. Simple things like breaking down half the wall between the kitchen and dining area not only increases the open area but also brings into play an extra platform that can provide functional usage to both the segments,” says Nikita Bharat, a senior architect, Framework Solutions. For a long time, the idea of renovating consisted mostly of covering up the balcony space so that it became part of the room, thereby increasing internal space. Although this does make sense, there are better ways to do it.”When you decide to cover up a balcony or verandah, you are reducing the outdoor space of the house which in turn actually reduces the feeling of space rather than increasing it. What one could do instead, is to take in the balcony but instead of covering it up completely, install wall-to-wall windows. This ensures enough natural light and exposure to the outdoors in such a way that you don’t feel boxed in,” she adds.
Use of multi-purpose furniture is also a sure shot way to make your home accommodate more than it could. “Dual usage is a great idea for smaller homes since any space can be tweaked according to personal needs and requirements. There is a lot of variety in terms of space-saving furniture that is available these days. Intelligent use of such furniture can help the hall double up as a second bedroom and the bedroom could be used as a study or office during the day, thereby increasing usable space,” says Rithika S, a senior designer.
Source Divya Menon, Times Property, The Times of India, Chennai
Nature can be your best friend, even when it comes to living spaces.
Home decor is incomplete without a touch of greenery.
Gardening and landscaping is only possible when you have large spaces and the ever shrinking living spaces leave little option for greenery inside homes. But in recent times, interior decorators have helped bring greenery inside homes through a variety of elements. Apartments, small houses or villas, people now are seen having small gardens or an artificial tree in the living room.
The enthusiastic ones are utilising every possible space to place potted plants. Home decorators are leaving no stone unturned while incorporating classy and unique styles to bring an air of freshness in the ambience.
“Plants change the way you look at a space. I am a nature lover and was thrilled when my interior decorator suggested placing pots outside my window. Later, I decorated my balcony wall with hanging plants. For the kitchen area, I have small pots with mint and chilies growing in them. Although I live in an apartment, the greenery in and around is refreshing,” says Madhavi S, a home maker. “People are becoming aware of the environment and want to be eco-friendly. There are a lot of accessories like swings, bird houses, lanterns, trolley pot stand, etc, that people have started using in their gardens and balconies. Plants and flowers are good for homes and bring a balance in the overall home environment,” says freelance interior decorator, Chaaru Patel. Various garden shops have now opened up that sell plants and unique show pieces. Plants have also become popular gifting items.
Traditional nurseries have opened online stores for people to purchase plants and flowers of their choice with accessories and basic gardening necessities. Another style in vogue is the use of native plants that attract birds, bees and other insects. This helps bring a beautiful atmosphere in the house. Native plants like cactus, bamboo shoots, hibiscus, lily, purslane and many more are planted in terrace gardens, the courtyard or open balconies. Artificial flowers are a minimalist’s dream when it comes to lasting beauty and low maintenance.
Quality is the most important factor when you chose artificial flowers. “Designed to look just like their real counterparts, these flowers never need to be watered, put in sun or replanted. People use large pots and arrange beautiful artificial flowers in them. They are usually placed in the corners of a room, along the staircases or on tables. Also, we are seeing front gardens and containers that include a combination of edibles. More and more people are turning into gardeners and are adding fruit trees and bushes into their home gardens,” informs interior designer Vishesh Mehta.
Source: Times Property, The Times of India, Chennai
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