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How is the concept of luxury living evolving in India?

A sea-facing triplex penthouse in Mumbai’s Napean Sea Road was recently sold for a staggering Rs 202 crore or about $30 million in India.

With amenities like high speed elevators, a club house, private swimming pool, luxury yacht and personal plane a call away, this luxury house received the highest ever deal recorded in India’s residential real estate market. 

This deal has not come as a surprise to experts in India. Even in a dwindling real estate market, the luxury residential segment with prices starting in crores or ten million rupees (about $150,000), is surpassing all expectations and is the fastest growing sector with an investment portfolio accounting for up to 40 percent of the real estate market across the country.

As India’s economy continues to grow, more people are moving from the ranks of the merely affluent to the rich. If current trends continue, India will have 4.37 lakh (437,000) millionaires by 2018, according to Wealth-X – and most will want their homes to reflect their new found status.

Ashwinder Raj Singh, CEO of Residential Services in JLL India says: “The desire to stand out is creating this demand for super-luxurious homes with price not being a constraint. It is all about the life statement one wishes to make.”

And the standards are set high. “The appetite for luxury living in India has increased rapidly and is within reach of a much larger group. The global Indian now seeks the same brands and experiences in his home as he has had with his clothes or the car he drives,” Abhishek Lodha, Managing Director at Lodha Group, tells Rediff.

The changing expectations

The expectations of high-end Indian buyers have also evolved. In the past, luxury in India meant having an address to boast along with facilities like swimming pool or gym, but today these premium homes embody a concept exclusivity and pride that goes beyond a fancy address in a city.

“The address is still important, but along with that are the requirements of a lifestyle that only a few in the world can afford to have. This includes private gymnasiums, private swimming pools, complete home automation, interiors based on Mediterranean or Italian architecture, private gardens and home security that might put the CIA to shame! It doesn’t matter whether half of the facilities they seek are available in the country or not, they are ready to spend the money,” says Singh.

The metropolitan cities like Mumbai, New Delhi and Bangalore along with a few mini-metros like Visakhapatnam and Mysore seem to be the hotspots for luxury homes. According to Santhosh Kumar, JLL India’s CEO of Operations, convenience is what keeps them in these cities. He writes in his blog: “A convenient location is one of the most important aspects that must be considered while choosing a luxury apartment.

“A centrally-located apartment is preferable for High Net Worth Individuals who want to stay in close proximity to important places like airports, business districts and railway stations. At the same time, such a location could also be marred by issues such as traffic congestion, noise and pollution. True luxury is defined by a careful balance of connectivity and general ambience.” Other factors such as good views, top of the line facilities and high levels of security are also essentials.

Two sides of luxury

With high end homes needing to be luxurious inside and out, India’s developers are now tying up with international brands or celebrities. For instance, Lodha group and Giorgio Armani have come together to develop 1450ft World One Tower in Mumbai with prices starting at £1.4million for an apartment.

“All major Indian developers have been used to catering to the mass market for many years now. They might be aware of building a luxury residential project, but they don’t have an expertise in the sector, simply because they haven’t done it before,” explains Singh.

“Secondly, the brands in this sector bring with them an aspirational value that connects with the super-rich of the society. Hence, the experience, expertise and brand equity of associating with major brands gives the project an extra element of exclusivity. No builder would mind giving such a service to a buyer who doesn’t mind paying a premium for such an upscale quality of life,” he adds.

While the world of ultra-luxury remains out of reach for the vast majority, as India’s economy continues to grow, more potential homebuyers will be in a position to pay out for the home of their dreams. It makes for an exciting time for the sector and a lucrative time for developers and builders. As Kumar says: “Many more developers are now venturing into the premium segment, which has resulted in a massive spurt of luxury projects. In fact, many of these properties are being touted as so exclusive that sales are by invitations only.”

This article originally appeared on Real Views, JLL's news site that features stories exploring the world of real estate and its impact on the wider business world. Visit the Real Views site to subscribe for our weekly email of top stories, delivered direct to your inbox.