At a time when the COVID-19 epidemic is reducing buyer interest and the number of property visits, Chennai-based real estate business Kasagrand has launched a new project. Kasagrand Utopia is a child-themed residential project with 673 apartments in Manapakkam, Chennai.
It has facilities like VR games for children, 3D rock climbing, learning center, mini hockey rink, water slide, smart tutoring kiosks.
But why was it launched when real estate companies are losing projects, labor is hard to find, and cash flow is also affected?
In an exclusive interview with BK, Kasagrand founder and managing director Arun MN explains the rationale behind a move that seems counter-intuitive.
“People have started realizing the importance of owning a house during an epidemic. In fact the situation has created a profitable environment for home buyers to invest. This is due to the attractiveness of the lowest home loan interest rates, surprise deals and safe investments in a low-risk sector. Real estate is unexpectedly bouncing back to normalcy. “
According to a survey by real estate classified platform 99acres.com, 60 percent of prospective homebuyers are still willing to buy within the next 12 months.
Innovation in Real Estate
Arun and Kasagrand are not alone in making the most of the opportunity. Despite the large amount of unsold inventory, rising NPAs in construction finance, high profits and tight liquidity, many real estate businesses in India are finding new ways.
During these times, Delhi-based Gulshan Homz is reaching out to customers digitally and providing them virtual tours of their sites to sell the space. The firm believes that this helps to reach its target audience and close enough sales even during an epidemic.
Mumbai-based developer S Raheja Realty is also going digital. The well-diversified business had to find a way to keep its teams and departments connected in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. Leveraged various digital platforms to ensure this and tapped into social media to connect with existing and potential customers.
Casagrand, like these developers, is fully aware of the digital opportunity. It is increasing its advertising spend in the digital and social media segments.
“We currently plan to spend 60 percent of our advertising in the digital space and the remaining 40 percent will be placed in various other channels,” says Arun.
Customer centric approach
Ever since Arun started Kasagrand in 2004 with an investment of Rs 5 crore, his priority was to meet the project deadline on time.
But it has been difficult for all real estate developers during the COVID-19 bar. Those wishing to do something about their unsold inventory feel that there is a fear among customers about project delivery.
Although Arun is steady on his vision to deliver on time.
“We understand the pain of a home buyer and therefore our main objective is to deliver all our projects on time. The criteria are non-negotiable and all our operations are ready to meet deadlines. This helps us avoid any increase in the total cost, which benefits the customers. ”
Casagrand is also thrilled by the fact that the existing projects are being modified to include apartments to work from home. The firm feels that the demand for smaller homes is giving rise to the desire for larger homes that can accommodate a custom workstation.
Arun’s vision to provide end-to-end solutions across the real estate spectrum has led to internal solutions (DoMyHome), facilities management (Casagrand Prop Care), online property solutions (RealMCompass) and industrial parks (Casagrand Distripark) as well as warehousing Established companies in allied sectors.
He has assigned each unit to professional entrepreneurs to manage operations. The pipeline has Casagrand Tranquil, which will develop facilities for retirees. Arun launched Laundry Boy’s on-demand laundry service in Chennai, with plans to expand across India.
Story of development
Arun’s customer-centric, product-centric and digitally driven approach has helped Kasagrand become a leading real estate firm in South India.
Kasagrand has developed more than 20 million square feet of residential real estate in Chennai, Bengaluru and Coimbatore. Its 90 properties have more than 15,000 families as customers.
Explaining the rise of the company, Arun says,
“When we started, we adopted a unique approach – we did a lot of villa projects. We kept in mind our strategy to build quality premises and ensure that they are delivered on time. Our timely delivery set us apart in the industry and earned us credibility and goodwill. ”
When it was new, building customer trust was primary for Casagrand. Its focus on consistent performance also helped overcome challenges with joint venture real estate deals.
In 2006, it delivered its first major project – the Casagrand Riviera. In 2012, it entered the luxury villa project in Coimbatore with Kasagrand Eternia.
In 2014, we expanded to Bengaluru with another villa project with Casagrand Luxus, says Arun. Since then, we have started three more projects in Bengaluru and all these have contributed to the significant growth of the firm. ”
He claims that in 2016 Kasagrand became one of the largest developers in Chennai.
“We are currently working in the residential real estate sector, developing prime residential apartments and villas. We also sell plots. We are present in every segment from affordable and mid-size home segments to luxury and ultra-luxury. “
In the past few years, Casagrand has seen considerable traction in homes for bands priced between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 70 lakh. An average of 70 to 80 percent of this price range comes from Casagrand’s list.
It also targets mainly middle-class and upper-middle-class families and some upper-class customers.
He says, “We have adopted various strategies in marketing campaigns, print advertising, TV, radio, channel partners etc. to reach the customers. We have also built a strong, on-ground sales team.
Despite the COVID-19 epidemic, Arun aims to further expand Casagrand’s presence throughout South India. They have launched 10 residential projects this year in Chennai, Bengaluru, and Coimbatore.
“In 2018-19, our turnover was Rs 1,800 crore. Now, we have projects worth Rs 6,500 crore in the pipeline for the next financial year. We plan to become a Rs 3,000 crore turnover company by 2021. ‘
Casagrand currently has more than 1,500 employees. Arun wants to hire more people. The firm plans to add 250 employees soon.
Without naming his rivals, Arun believes that there are established developers in South India operating in affordable, medium-sized and luxury residential areas.
He claims, “All our projects are designed to be affordable. Our price is competitive as compared to other players. We design our homes to provide maximum space, natural light and ventilation. We only use branded products and materials, which give the apartment an aesthetic look and also last longer. ”
With several projects in the pipeline, Casagrand aims to become an all-South India player and create a position of dominance and relevance, says Arun. We want to remain a preferred employer and a reliable real estate company in the coming years. ”