Gone are the days when gated community projects are only for high-net-worth individuals (HNIs). Increasingly, middle class and upper middle class are also becoming part of the gated communities. Developers also foresee the future of the development catering for these sections would be a gated community development with the demand increasing from the buyers.
“It won’t be an overstatement to say that the first question a prospect buyer is posing when inquiring about a project is ‘Is it a gated community?’ The demand for gated communities is consistent and almost 90 per cent of the projects undertaken by premium developers these days account to gated communities,” says Mallik, general manager, sales and marketing, Ramky Estates & Farms.
Earlier, the target buyers for the gated communities were HNI. Many developers are trying to bring gated communities at affordable housing making the middle class also the part of the growth story. “HNIs have been the core target group for luxury and premium gated communities. However, with the increasing demand for middle and affordable class housing, there is a drift amongst developers and the focus is more towards gated communities which cater to middle and upper middle class segments,” he said.
However, affordable gated communities usually offer the much needed amenities like swimming pool, kids play area, multipurpose hall and basic power backup and in contrast, high end gated communities in addition offering a fully functional clubhouse with indoor and outdoor sport facilities, guest rooms, sauna/jacuzzi facilities and gym/health centre among many others.
Depending on these amenities, the developer charges an additional price from the buyer. While there would be minimal or no cost difference for the core apartment, the differential factor would be the one time price paid towards amenities, which may range from `3-10 lakh depending on the magnitude of amenities offered, he said.
Even though, there is not much of price difference between buying a gated community and stand alone project, there would considerable difference in maintenance costs. Developers say the maintenance costs are ignorable compared to the value the customer gets living in it.
The benefits of staying in a gated community are much more than maintenance costs. Security is the key element in gated communities. They are more difficult to access in comparison to standard communities and hence a reduced level of criminal activity is observed in these areas, said PV Ravindra Kumar, CEO, Vasathi Housing.
The differential maintenance costs for a standalone apartment vis-à-vis gated community would be an addition of 50 per cent or more.
However, in terms of value proposition, there would be savings on the opportunity costs. For instance, an hour of swimming pool usage at any ‘pay and use’ facility costs about `1,500 per month where as it costs less than `200 per month in a gated community, said Mallik.
All the gated communities provide 24X7 security maintained by registered security agencies. There would be a visitor screening and some gated communities also provide CCTV surveillance in common areas. Some developers are providing access controlled entry for apartments. The level of security for gated communities is much higher compared to standalone apartment complexes, he said.
Even Non Resident Indians are increasingly buying gated community flats as there is rental management service controlled by the society or developer and the value addition in terms of security. Buyer’s outlook for a home is no longer defined by four walls and is expecting a community in their vicinity. There definitely would be a spurt in the demand for gated communities, added Mallik.