[ecis2016.org] The low consumer satisfaction score of Indian real estate is in contrast to the matured property markets of the world where the consumer satisfaction score is in the range of 60
In spite of several structural changes and policy reforms in the past decade, home buyers in India continue to have low satisfaction levels, reveals a survey by Track2Realty. According to the survey, the C-SAT (consumer satisfaction) score of Indian real estate stands at 18, on a scale of 0-100. Surprisingly, 10 years back when there were not many regulatory measures governing real estate, the C-SAT score stood marginally higher at 21.2, shows the survey.
The low C-SAT score of Indian real estate is in contrast to the matured property markets of the world where the consumer satisfaction score is in the range of 60. The low C-SAT score is also an alarm bell for a housing market where the unsold housing inventory is a real cause of concern.
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How is C-SAT score in real estate assessed?
C-SAT score is broadly measured through the buyers’ satisfaction with the given product, as well as intention to become repeat buyers with the same developer and/or act as a referral buyer to friends and family. The findings of a survey by Track2Realty are based on responses from home buyers across India’s 10 leading housing markets, including Delhi, Noida, Gurugram, Ghaziabad, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai and Coimbatore. The survey looked into five key areas – home buyers’ satisfaction; trust index; promise and performance; delivery cycle hassles and post-possession realities, to arrive at the score.
City-wise score shows C-SAT score is the highest in Pune (34) and lowest in Noida (06).
How to assess C-SAT?
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Why are Indian home buyers dissatisfied?
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Project delays, defaults and hidden cost of housing, are the major pain points cited by a majority of buyers. According to the findings of the Track2Realty survey, a defect-free home and timely possession are luxuries that only 14% of home buyers have experienced. Unsurprisingly, only 12% buyers said they would buy the next property with the same builder.
Over eight out 10 buyers (82%) were unhappy with their home-buying decision. More than half the participants (54%) felt that rental houses were far less troublesome than a house of one’s own.
Post-possession consumer feedback could probably give a facelift to the builder’s credential and help score a higher C-SAT. Unfortunately, post- possession hassles are one of the key turn-offs for as many as 72% buyers.
The study noted that the vast majority of the Indians, 58% to be precise, reported more hassles during handover than during the endless wait for the project’s delivery. Customer service during the construction lifecycle was reported to be unprofessional by no less than 74% home buyers. 80% home buyers reported no response by the developers on the extended timelines.
“As a pregnant woman, I had more anxious visits to the developer’s project site than to the hospital. This is the plight of the middle-class home buyers, after having invested their hard earned money,” says Pramlata, a home buyer in Ghaziabad.
46% participants complained of hidden charges and coercion to pay more money under one pretext or the other. “If my cheque was not deposited on time by the marketing staff of the builder, then, how am I responsible for that? However, the builder forced me to pay a delay penalty at the rate of 24%, for their own fault,” rues Rajkamal, a software engineer in Noida.
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88% home buyers complained that developers were still selling on super built-up area and not carpet area, as mandated by the RERA Act.
34% have even been coerced by the builder to sign the pre-dated consent on the future layout and FAR changes. “I was categorically told to either sign the advance consent letter or else wait for possession till other home buyers sign it. Under the burden of both, the rent and the EMI, I had no choice but to surrender. I do not have bandwidth to fight the builder in a long and expensive legal battle,” complains Rakshit Desai, a marketing professional in Mumbai.
More than two-third Indians maintained that they wished to drag the builder to court but were deterred by the prospects of lengthy and expensive legal battles.
Has the RERA given the home buyers some respite? Not really, since 70% Indians felt that the RERA was just another window of litigation and builders do not comply with the RERA orders.
Unfair contracts were cited by 82% Indians as the root cause of malice in Indian real estate. 70% home buyers maintained that one gets to see the builder-buyer agreement, only when they have already made the initial payment.
“This is like a chicken and egg syndrome of the Indian housing market. Most of the home buyers do not come forward to challenge the unfair contract and hence, the builders get away with this. In rare cases when the buyer challenges the builder under the Consumer Protection Act, then, the builder harasses him with lengthy litigation,” admits advocate Nirmit Srivastav.
Post-possession satisfaction level in Indian realty
Builders’ in-house facility management is a real bone of contention for a vast majority of Indians – 62% believe the developers should not keep the facility management in-house and this should be ensured by legal mandate. As many as 84% home buyers believe that professional facility management agencies are the need of the hour, to settle the teething issues during and after the possession.
Do builders even understand the need for measuring C-SAT scores? Not many home buyers, 92% to be precise, have even heard of the developers measuring the satisfaction level of the home buyers. A vast majority of them, as many as 68%, have never been approached by the builder or his team, once the property has been handed over to them.
(The writer is CEO, Track2Realty)
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