Please meet Mr. Puneet Jain, Owner of Jain Properties South Delhi. Puneet, who founded his business in 1997, is trading houses and commercial space on rent and outright sale basis in the prime areas of South Delhi, Gurgaon and Noida.
ANDRA: Puneet, thank you for agreeing to this interview. The reason I got in touch with you is that I am actually greatly confused when it comes to property prices in Delhi. My cousin keeps on telling me that—talking about rent—Khan Market in Delhi is one of the most expensive places in the world. I couldn’t believe it until I recently stumbled upon an article in The Times of India where it is said that “[t]oday, the monthly rent for a 450-sq ft shop is around Rs 7–8 lakh”. Did I do the math right? That would be like 10,000 Euros plus? For what kind of space?!
Puneet Jain: Thanks for this opportunity, Andra. The monthly rent in Khan Market for a 450 sq ft shop on ground floor is approx. Rs 800,000 i.e. 11,000 Euros, which translates into approx. Rs 1,800 per sq ft per month, or 25 Euros per sq ft per month, or even 250 Euros per sq mtr per month. If one looks at the rates 20 years back I would say the prices were between roughly Rs 300 to 400 per sq ft per month which was approx. one fifth of the current rate. And about 10 years ago we would have been talking about Rs 800 to 900 per sq ft per month which would be about half the current price. The top reason for Khan Market being expensive is a little embarrassing to disclose–but it is a bitter fact. Most of money in India and especially Delhi is in the hands of the politician or the bureaucrat or the government servant, as they have multiple sources of income. And most politicians, bureaucrats and top government officials and their relatives or close friends live within 10 km radius of Khan Market. On top of that many big corporate honchos of India have houses nearby. Other reasons being that Khan Market is located in the heart of New Delhi, Metro Connectivity, very lowly populated surrounding areas and that too inhabiting most diplomats and executives of MNC’s, Non Resident Indians, low traffic area, high security zone, virtually zero power or water cuts, top priority by municipal bodies regarding street lighting, garbage collection, sewer lines, CCTV-cameras, fire ambulances etc.
ANDRA: So, what about apartment prices in Delhi and in the satellite-cities Noida and Gurgaon? The above figures really scare me!
Puneet Jain: A 2 BHK (Andra: BHK stands for Bedroom, Hall, Kitchen) apartment price in South Delhi ranges between Rs 50,000 (700 Euros) per month to Rs 150,000 (2,150 Euros) per month depending upon the location and the condition of the apartment. Similarly in Gurgaon approx. half the price and Noida, one third respectively. Apartments smaller than 2 BHK, for expats, are very difficult to find. Few reasons for property being expensive in India is due to large population and low annual property taxes–if one compares both factors with foreign countries.
ANDRA: Suppose I—as an expat together with a spouse and two children—need to relocate to Delhi for some three or four years? What are the most important criteria when looking for an apartment or a house? What kind of budget would we be talking about?
Puneet Jain: For most expats with children the top priority is safety, access to international schools, presence of other expats from of the same part of the world–as they are from–in the vicinity and proximity to their workplaces. The budget would range between Rs 100,000 (1,400 Euros) to Rs 1,000,000 (14,000 Euros) per month depending upon the seniority of the expat, location chosen, condition of the house, amenities inside the plot etc.
ANDRA: Would that be your target market? Respectively what kind of business are you specializing in?
Puneet Jain: Yes that is my target market–renting houses to diplomats/expats and offices to MNC’s. My target market is also selling homes or investment properties to NRI’s. To be exact, we do residential renting only in South Delhi. Commercial Renting we do in Gurgaon, Central and South Delhi. For outright sale deals priority is on under-construction-properties; all three areas Gurgaon, Noida and South Delhi are covered by us. Sometimes ready possession real estate is also considered in the case of outright sale deals. I did renting in the years 1997 till 2001 and thereafter shifted to sales deals only. But now since the last six months I have restarted my rental business and plan to operate on both fronts at the same time from now on. I have provided residences to two diplomats from Germany in 1998 in Vasant Vihar, nine Apartments for the teachers and the principal in American Embassy School, three diplomats from the Swedish Embassy, Office space to TÜV Rheinland in Gurgaon, Office Space to Epson and many more diplomats or MNC’s between the years 1997 till 2011.
ANDRA: What would be your advice for a MNCs looking for office space in (and around) Delhi?
Puneet Jain: They should first of all select a space in a building built and maintained by a large developer of repute. Now this could be a subjective topic as in someone’s eyes a particular builder maybe large and of repute but another person might look at things in a different way and might not find worth considering that same builder. This is all about perception and how much one trusts his broker or agent, as local agents have experience in the domestic market. Location is also an important factor to consider in any property, always. Finally prices, overheads and terms of lease agreement also play a role in the final selection.
ANDRA: I did screen some ads for apartments before the interview. What does a Servant Room look like and what is it used for? Why would I need a Water Tank, and what does Vaastu Compliant mean?
Puneet Jain: Unfortunately that–the issue of Servant Room–is one of the worst factor one encounters while looking at apartments in Delhi. Typically servant rooms are only 8 ft X 7 ft (Andra: approx. 5 square metres) in size in apartment buildings and are hardly comfortable for any servant, considering the fact that there is no kitchen along with–only a very small toilet. But that is something we as agents cannot change even if we would like to, because that’s all that’s available normally. However, in independent bungalows, servant rooms are bigger and better. A Water Tank is required because in summers water supply can be scarce on few days of the month, so the water is automatically first stored in the overhead tank and then used by the occupants inside their bathrooms or kitchens. Vastu Complaint is an Indian term for architectural design. If the architectural design of a property is good i.e. if it has ample sunlight, air ventilation, magnetic vibes–or whatever you call it–then it is generally considered vastu complaint. However vastu being a traditional outdated religious science, it has various nonsensical requirements like the plot should be exact rectangle or square i.e. if a plot is irregular in shape then it is considered non vastu complaint. Quite a few requirements in vastu are stated keeping health issues in mind but the ones which have religious angle are irrelevant according to me. But again it all depends upon the customer and how much importance he or she gives to a particular requirement.
ANDRA: Why does Delhi have that concept of colonies, which basically can be described as gated communities, right? Like there is Defence Colony, Sunder Nagar, New Friends Colony? Is there some history behind that? 2001/02 I was staying at GK1—just curious: Any story about that place?
Puneet Jain: In Delhi there are only one or two proper gated communities if one looks literally. And the most prominent is the Commonwealth Games Village. There are a few more apartment buildings which were built decades ago but they are gated communities just for name sake. As far as a proper gated community is concerned, they are available in Gurgaon and Noida primarily. Colonies like Defence Colony, Sunder Nagar, GK1 etc are just semi gated colonies and, even despite having security at entrances, are hardly close to how a gated community should be like. As far as history is concerned, some colonies like Greater Kailash (GK) etc. were originally plotted by the famous promoter DLF. They only demarcated the plots and sold long ago in the 1960’s and 1970’s. In general GK1 is a nice colony, though a bit crowded if one compares with top areas like Vasant Vihar or Golf Links and few more. But if one compares GK with other South Delhi colonies, like Lajpat Nagar or Malviya Nagar etc., then of course it stands out as a far better place to live in.
ANDRA: Puneet, one last question: What is your favourite spot in Delhi, and why is that so?
Puneet Jain: HaHaHaHa. That’s a secret. Anyway jokes apart–it’s difficult for me to pin point any favourite spot as such but Saket Mall or Vasant Kunj Mall are nice places to visit for everyone. The malls have nice ambience, restaurants, coffee shops, pubs, shops and entertainment areas for kids.
ANDRA: Thank you Puneet, for your time, and for helping me better understand the topic. Hopefully we’ll see each other next time I’m in Delhi.
Puneet Jain: THANKS ANDRA. I look forward to meeting you too and thank you so much for publishing this interview.
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