The Dilemma Of Buying a Mountain Home in a Developer Project

Mrs & Mr. Chandra, a working couple from Delhi (NCR) came and met me with the following requirement and challenge, requesting my advice :

They wanted to invest in a mountain cottage in Mukteshwar, Kumaon as a holiday home currently and eventually planning to settle here post retirement.

Both being corporate executives, they wanted a cottage in a gated community, with a good neighborhood and ready infrastructure.

However, they preferred their cottage to be built for them as per their specifications and taste, instead of buying a ready for sale built up cottage.

Developer promoted gated communities are available in abundance in and around Mukteshwar, where plots can be purchased directly from the developer or in resale. The developer often is also the builder of the cottage.

Mrs. & Mr. Chandra had made multiple trips to this area and visited various gated community projects, however they were indecisive due to the following dilemmas, and on the verge of aborting their plan of their mountain home, when they met me thru. a reference during their visit to Mukteshwar.

“Tiger, we are a working couple based far away – and being professionals are scared to invest our earnings seeing the status of developer promoted gated communities here. The following sets us back:”

  • The developer wants to sell us a plot allocated in a layout on paper in his colony layout – we aren’t clear on the verification process to validate the same. All are private enterprises, Mostly one man show developers and that also gives us jitters on the sanity of this paper layout.
  • The way proposed here is to pay for the plot and register it in our name, then the developer builds our cottage through a separate construction agreement. We don’t see too many cottages completed in most layouts though the developers claim that most of the plots are already sold. Why? We are sure no one wants to just invest in plots here in the mountains as there are better land investment options available in towns/cities.
  • How do we choose our plot of land in a gated community, what are the factors to select the optimum one and factors to avoid ?
  • The developers are quoting a builder agreement and construction rate, what are safeguards to ensure in these?
  • Being remotely based how do we ensure we get what we are being promised and will not be stuck with our investment blocked/we being short changed with substandard quality of construction.

I smiled (very subtly though) as these are the very dilemmas I see driving away 90% of people who shy away from investing and building their mountain cottage.

My advice as a consultant to the Chandra’s was as follows:

  • First, there is no standard size that fits all, so let’s assess the developers whose projects you have liked, and rate them based on certain standard criteria’s, I am suggesting as your consultant.
  • There is a three dimensional validation process for the gated community layout, including the title of the land it is being developed on and the plot you have liked – we will ensure those validations thru multiple records
  • Paying for and registering the land first and getting construction done through a separate agreement is a common way developers operate here; however, that’s not something you have to accept. There are alternative agreements of build and register, which can be negotiated with the developer (if he is a genuine one) and this will ensure your interests are protected till your mountain home which is what you are interested to buy and are paying for, is completed and handed over to you by him.
  • Selecting the right plot is as critical as selecting the right project – these are the mountains, where something as simple as access, approach and proximity in snow or hours of sunlight received during the day or water (which is scarce) reserves  planned and factored by the developer are just a few critical factors to be considered, there are many more which I told them we will consider while evaluating and helping them qualify their choice of plot and also the price they should be paying for it.
  • A strong ATS / contract is the most critical tool to ensure you aren’t short changed in the deal either of the land you are investing in or in the quality and time committed to you for construction. We will ensure that is in place and also be your auditors on ground, as we are present locally, to ensure stage wise audit and compliance. So don’t worry about being remote.
  • Lastly, about the reputation and validation that you are investing in a sound project, that comes through local benchmarking, history checks and legacy/financial verification, which we will do and qualify.

The Chandra’s identified the right developer, selected a qualified plot for their cottage and in eighteen months have taken possession of the same having to just visit 3-4 times during the entire period of construction, as their on ground Advisors/Partners – RealEye, ensured all of the above.

Check out our complete service portfolio here RealEye . 

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