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Saturday, 26 November 2011

Future Trends in Luxury Apartments

Those who are going in for high-end apartments are looking for a superior lifestyle where comfort and convenience are as important as luxury and sophistication. Here’s a list of what home buyers are looking for in a luxury apartment.

Men want to know “what women want” and children want to know what their teachers want. Developers most certainly want to know what home buyers want. Today, with the market booming for high-end housing, nothing is too fancy and it is really the time to pull out all the stops. So what do home buyers look for when they are paying huge amounts of money to buy a home that must fit in with their lifestyle and aspirations?

Intelligent layouts
Some may argue that with so many housing developments, one layout is more or less like the other. This is a fallacy. Home buyers are perceptive about layouts and with sample flats being available they are in a position to reject a home on a simple layout error. “Apartments without spaces for household appliances really put me off. Everyone has a washing machine nowadays, then why isn’t there a designated space for one?” questions Rajeev Bhalla who works in an MNC in Gurgaon. Small bedrooms, no provision for storage, no service areas and wastage of space are some other common layout problems that bother customers.

Priority areas
Kitchens and baths Christian Hehenberger, Director of the Institute for Marketing and Trend Analyses in Gutau, Austria, in his book entitled The future belongs to the designers, predicts, “The importance of different rooms in the home will change in the coming years. The show kitchen of the future will be one in which guests will experience live how the host or hostess cooks. The bathroom will no longer be the place for relaxation, but an indoor wellness oasis.” There will be a greater focus on the experience in kitchens and baths. Naturally, this means better layouts, a discerning choice in fixtures and materials, and above all, taste and ambience.

The modern kitchen demands modular cabinet work, conveniently placed appliances and plenty of storage. In large apartments, a small informal eating area is in vogue and lighting, usually neglected in a kitchen, is gaining importance. The client visualizes a kitchen where a hurried cup of coffee with a quick glance at the papers is possible, or as a cosy area where the kids can be fed, while the parents are entertaining in the formal dining area. 

Master baths need space and there is no cheaper way out. Shower cubicles with sophisticated mixer panels are here to stay. Tubs are an additional luxury, and several designs from antique free-standing tubs to modern moulded jacuzzis are available. God is in the details Far from being ignorant; consumer knowledge is reaching encyclopaedic proportions. Fittings and finishes are the two areas that are gaining prominence in homes. Consumers appreciate branded items that assure them of quality. Door knobs, window fasteners, grillwork, taps and lights need to be stylish yet neutral in design. Our clients even specify brands for bath, kitchen, window and door fittings. Imported brands get preference.

“Media and promotions by importers play a big role in spreading awareness about what is available. Frankly, there are times when even we have not come across certain products that we are requested to use,” says Amar Athavale, a Mumbai based interior designer. Better specifications are in demand for nearly every material or product that goes into crafting a luxury apartment. Patterned flooring and wall paneling using opulent materials like granite and wood finishes are popular. Besides design, workmanship is a challenge in these, since perfect finishing is a must.

Go natural
Open areas are a must. In an apartment, terraces and wide balconies must allow some owners to bring greenery into their homes. More and more, landscape consultants are doing landscape designs for terrace and sit-outs in large apartments. Now a days, people want exotic plants, a mini-greenhouse, interesting terrace structures and even a splash pools in their apartment.

Site landscaping is also important to residents, since it creates a feeling of well being and belonging. The use of natural materials for landscape and outdoor spaces is also in demand as it enhances the connection with nature.

Besides access to recreational areas, power back-up and the inclusion of a good club in the area, there is growing awareness about the scarcity of water and power. Water harvesting from terraces and landscape areas as well as the use of solar energy for water heating and lighting of common areas sends out the correct message. Corporate clients and executive want to buy into responsible developments.

Hassle-free maintenance is the deepest desire of every home owner. High-end living and discerning clients will create the market for professionally managed on-call maintenance services, just as high-profile professional dry cleaners and laundries and high quality taxi services are successful with high-end clients. More integration with technology.

Security is a major concern and home buyers are looking at technology as a necessity over and above the mandatory manpower deployed at entry/exit checks. Burglar alarms that monitor access points in the home, intercom systems that link up to a centralised security tracking system, doorbells with speakerphones and even cameras for visitor identification are now standard expectations. The “gadgets make life simpler” philosophy is making home automation increasingly popular.

More and more companies are offering a system with a single point of control for appliances, lighting, air-conditioning and security. In-built vacuuming systems, options for wiring and sound insulation for home theatre systems and the inclusion of the “den” in the layout are some options that developers should consider as built-in features in luxury apartments. Executives looking for high-end apartments that will be delivered this year will expect wireless connectivity, preferably through a state-of-the-art technology like Wimax.

Even the rich want a deal. Packages are here to stay and “options” is the new buzzword. Home buyers will fall hook, line and sinker for an attractive package. Fitted-out apartments are the latest craze, so if developers can offer options that combine fittings for baths, kitchens, lights, switches, etc, buyers would be able to choose and not waste time on selecting these after buying the apartment.

In the near future, we will see home insurance players making inroads into India and developers who tie up with them and offer high insurance covers at affordable premiums will have an edge. Similarly, landscaping, maintenance, extra security and even redecorating can be offered as services from reputed agencies that home buyers can avail of with certain discounts.

Ultimately, even high-end home owners look at value for money and since their perception of value has been honed by exposure and affordability, developers need to look at definite measures to woo customers and keep them happy.

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