Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Villa rentals hit Rs 10 lakh plus in Bangalore

Villa rentals hit Rs 10 lakh plus in Bangalore
Asha Rai & Anshul Dhamija | TNN

Bangalore: What is the highest rental you can imagine a person paying for a luxurious villa at a prestigious address in Bangalore? Rs 4/5 lakh per month said an informal dipstick survey. It’s actually multiples of that. Rentals for some exclusive homes in certain gated communities in city have risen to over Rs 10 lakh. Epsilon Villas is so exclusive that very few even know it exists off the old Airport Road. Soon to be home to former India cricket captain Rahul Dravid, this ‘by invitation only’ gated community has, among others, Sunil Alagh, former Britannia Industries MD, as a home owner. At Epsilon, the average rental is said to be around Rs 7 lakh per month going up to Rs 10 lakh plus. Cisco’s senior-most executive in India Wim Elfrink reportedly pays the highest rent of Rs 17-lakh monthly for his home-cum-office.
At ‘Palm Meadows,’ one of Bangalore’s earliest luxury, gated communities, rents range between Rs 3 lakh to Rs 5 lakh per month depending on the size of the property. At Mantri Altius, a luxury condominium in the heart of the city, average rental is around Rs 2.5 lakh per month. Most of these rentals are paid by senior, expat professionals working in Bangalore. There are instances where many expats have made getting a house in gated community a must requirement before accepting a Bangalore posting.
Why this huge desire for gated community properties, even when rents are as high as in exclusive neighbourhoods of big American cities? Says Jitu Virwani, chairman, Embassy Group, “Contrary to the general impression, expensive software jobs are in Bangalore today. The expats coming here are very senior people in their organizations. They want the same standard of living they had back home. They also want independent housing with amenities like swimming pool and gym which are not available outside gated communities.”
One such case is Wim Elfrink. A direct report to Cisco chairman John Chambers, he is the company’s chief globalization officer while also being vice president, customer advocacy. Cisco has made India its hub for the East and committed a billion dollars in investment. His villa, one of the biggest at Epsilon, has a huge backyard with a swimming pool. In every which way, it looks like a posh house in a rich, Californian suburb. Cisco spokesperson did not respond to a query on the rental paid by Elfrink, said to be the highest in the city.
In most of these developments, price per sq ft becomes an irrelevant criterion as you are paying a huge premium for the ‘right address’, for facilities of international standard and mostly unavailable in other properties. For e.g., an Epsilon villa listed with a property site says it offers a 110V electrical line (standard Indian power lines are 220V) so that American gadgets can be plugged in straight away. Plot size is of over 10,000 sq ft with builtup area of 8000 sq ft. Four bedrooms with attached baths and walk-in closets, five bathrooms, two servant rooms, bar, barbeque area, steam, massage room, gazebo, attic, and other frills.
Says Amit Bagaria, chairman, Asipac, a real estate development services and project marketing company, “In countries with a low human development index, gated communities provide genuine security to the upper classes, as well as expats. Such communities are usually staffed by private security guards and are often home to high-value properties, or set up as retirement villages. Some gated communities are secure enough to resemble fortresses”.


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