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UNLOCK THE POTENTIAL

Times Of India { Property Times } Page 05 - Part 3 - 1 February, 2012

Through the course of the day, panel discussions on various aspects of the real estate sector were conducted, focusing on trends for 2012, winning investment strategies, instilling consumer confidence through regulation, and key image drivers such as transparency. How complex all the issues were came through when Ramesh Nair, MRICS, Managing Director - West, Jones Lang LaSalle, tried to get speakers to indicate in one word whether things were going to get better or worse in various asset classes - and got involved explanations instead. It was Vinod Rohira, MRICS, K Raheja Corp, who pointed out that you couldn't generalise; he was referring to how prices could vary even within a single building, but his comment could just as well have applied to the rest of this rapid-fire round. The final session, on key image drivers, had a lively discussion on regulation, with developers strongly opposing the upcoming regulatory bill as it currently stands. Pune-based Kumar Gera, Chairman of Gera Developers and former President of CREDAI, pointed out that a bill of this nature should include all stake-holders. Mr Gera, who has been involved in consultations on the bill for the last two-and- ahalf years, concedes that there have been 'horror stories that consumers have faced'. However, he also believes that developers are not the only ones to be blamed when things go wrong. Other stake-holders must also share the responsibility; they include the financial partners, local authorities - planners and service providers - and the consumers themselves. "If you have sanctioned a plan, there should be no going back on it," he explained. "And if we have paid development charges, we expect to get water and street lights. Also consumers must ensure that their payments come in on time." If you must regulate, Mr Gera pointed out, then regulate all the parties, otherwise it "just becomes a witch hunt of developers". Through all the discussions, a single point that emerged was that the real estate sector plays a crucial role in the growth of the economy and it must get the attention it deserves, through clear-cut policies, speedy approvals and the necessary finance. Firoze Vandevala, FRICS, CMD, Hirco Developments Pvt Ltd, summed it up best when he said that in his previous job in the power sector, he felt like he was in a "Ferrari" and it was only a question of doing the laps faster than the competitors. Being in the real estate industry, however, he felt was like being a "hunter in a jungle trying to find his way with a fading torchlight, and everything being very confusing". The ministers should have been there, to listen to these stalwarts of the industry; Kumari Selja, Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and Culture, was to be Chief Guest and Sachin Ahir, Minister of State for Housing was Guest of Honour, but neither of them made it to the event. QUICK BYTES EXPERTS AT THE RICS SEMINAR ANALYSED REAL ESTATE TRENDS AND SPOKE OF THE CHALLENGES INVOLVED THEY POINTED OUT THAT LACK OF CLEAR POLICIES AND OVERREGULATION WERE AMONG THE ISSUES IMPACTING THE SECTOR

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