Myth of the ‘ideal home’

Meticulous research and expertise are needed before buying the home on a whim

July 28, 2023 05:46 pm | Updated August 10, 2023 01:50 pm IST

You are introduced to it in advertisements and hoardings. Radio jingles and TV commercials also draw your attention to the ideal home, or ‘dream home’. But is there really such a thing in India? But is there really such a thing in India?

The paradox

By and large, the concept of an ‘ideal’ home is very relative in this country. While everyone carries a picture of their dream home in their hearts, that image usually cannot translate into reality.

People long to stay close to nature, yet also close to the excitement and opportunities of the city. They long for a home in an environment unpolluted by noise and vehicle emissions, and yet depend heavily on public transport for commuting to and from work.

Even the richest of the rich have to have their primary homes in the city so that they can remain wired into their various business interests — although quite a few can and do opt to live at elite addresses with better infrastructure, more greenery and no overcrowding.

That is not an option for the biggest chunk of middle-class Indian homebuyers, for whom home purchase always involves compromise on their vision of an ideal home. Not only are they constrained in terms of how much they can afford to spend, but our cities themselves have several inbuilt constraints.

The pitfalls

In their search for the ‘ideal home’, Indian homebuyers can get carried away on quite a few fronts:

• They may over-leverage their budget to buy a costlier flat than their financial situation justifies, in locations which — while having a certain social ‘feel-good’ factor — may not necessarily deliver an improved lifestyle

• They may choose a less cluttered and less polluted area, and as a result become stuck in a location bereft of basic facilities such as regular water and electricity supply, or access to important social infrastructures like shopping, schools and hospitals. Such homes will not see any real capital appreciation, eliminating the potential for putting them back on the market to move to another area.

• On the flip side, they may lay excessive importance on the ability to commute to and from work conveniently and wind up buying a home in a polluted, stress-inducing area that compromises their physical and mental health.

Lured by promises of their dream home at attractively low rates, countless Indian homebuyers fell prey to marketing hype in previous years, and paid a heavy price. Now that is in place, the risk of buying into a project that gets unduly delayed or does not take off has been greatly reduced, as has the potential for low-grade construction. The current market presents buyers with the option of buying a de-risked ready-to-move property at a reasonable price which can be further negotiated.

What to watch out for

Homebuyers need to focus on properties which fall within their current and future budget. The home they buy now should fulfil their requirements for at least four-five years. It will be pointless for an end-user to enter the market with an investor’s mindset and hope to upgrade quickly if the flat turns out to be a bad choice. For the same reason, it makes no sense to buy in a cheaper project or locality which lacks basic ingredients of a satisfactory lifestyle.

It is highly advisable to use the services of a reputable property consultancy, who can offer the benefit of expert guidance.

The concept of an ‘ideal home’ tugs at the heart-strings, but a home needs to be bought with the head, not the heart. The head is the seat of rational decisions, and it must be from there that home purchase decisions are taken.

The writer is Vice Chairman, ANAROCK Group.

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