Apartment complexes offer pools, gyms, clubhouses and more. But do residents make good use of them?
A long, lazy swim just a lift-ride away. Children frolicking in a play area. A state-of-the-art-gym and a comfortable club house.
The attractions of many high-rise apartment buildings in the city are manifold, packed as they are with amenities of all kinds. But how many of those who live in such complexes actually put these facilities to good use?
Buyers say there are two main reasons they invest in such apartments. While for some they are indicative of social status, several others want them for the amenities their children can use. But despite that being a driving force to investing, many residents admit they do not really use the facilities provided.
A. Raghavachari, 35, has been living in such an apartment for a year now, but has barely checked out any of the facilities owing to lack of time. “With our hectic work schedules, my wife and I don’t have the time to swim or hit the gym. During the weekends, household work keeps us occupied. We bought this house because when our two-year-old son grows up, he may be able to use it,” he said.
Whether or not they use any or all of the facilities, all residents pay a maintenance fee for everything the building has. This ranges from anywhere between Rs. 2 and Rs. 3.50 per sq.ft. depending on the builder and the amenities provided, said an independent property valuer. “Also, at the time of buying, the owners pay a lifetime club membership fee, which is around Rs. 150 per sq.ft.,” he said
Malini Guruprasad, who bought an 875 sq.ft. apartment recently near Shollinganallur, on Old Mahabalipuram Road, said it was considered prestigious to reside in an apartment that had such amenities. “Most of my friends and those of my husband’s own such apartments, so it serves as a status symbol for us. Moreover, our daughters aged eight and six spend time in the evenings and on weekends in the play area. So we don’t mind paying the maintenance for the other services as well,” she said.
The amenities in some buildings go so far as tennis courts and indoor sports arenas, in addition to play areas and pools. But brokers too, said that many of these remain unused. For instance, not even five per cent of the buildings’ residents use the swimming pool, said C. Sridhar Varadaraj, vice president of Hanu Reddy Realty.
“Most residents do not use the pool because they are not comfortable swimming when other people are around. The gym is put to a little more use than the pool, but it is still not used by a majority of the people. Even those who use the gym do so because they view it as a social activity,” he said.
Some people like K.V.R. Sreenivas though, think that such apartments are good investments, as with these amenities they fetch good resale values if the owners want to sell them. “I have not used the facilities so far because I have not found time yet. But I invested in such an apartment because in the next five or 10 years, practically every residential building will be built with such facilities. So in case I want to sell it in the future, I want to get a good price for it,” he said. Mr. Sreenivas bought a 908 sq.ft. apartment in Padur, on OMR.
However, builders claim that it is only the pool which is seldom used. They say residents flock to the other amenities such as the gyms, tennis courts and children’s play areas. P. Suresh, director of builders Arun Excello said, “In one of my GST projects, I have provided a tennis court and there are people playing on it even at 11 p.m. You can offer such facilities only when you cater to a large population. Everybody uses at least one amenity in the building,” he said.