Sam Joseph, the CEO of a large MNC organization in Gurgaon, on his return from the USA, was introduced to me, at a social function. When we exchanged cards, the inevitable topic of Realty Investments came up. As is wont to happen with most of us from the corporate backgrounds, “pretentious ignorance” took over, and the discussion veered over to oblivion.


A few weeks down, Sam called on us, at our office. As it happens with most, he rattled off the projects he has seen around Gurgaon, their prices, the location etc. That is when we got chatting about the CERTES Eight question approach. The meeting turned out into a full scale “dissection of the approach strategy” to the topic of Creating Wealth in the Real Estate sector. Most of the contents produced here below are extracts from our beliefs formed over many hours of discussions with clients turned friends. Having been in the corporate world for more than 16 years, and having understood the realms of life there, the investment strategies, the grind and mechanisms, we thought it would be a great idea to share out learning, with “our type”.


Did you know that Real Estate companies are giving the FMCGs a run for their money, as far as advertising is concerned? Advertisers try & tickle every emotion in the book, to grab your Rupee, and like Sam, many fall for it. Now let me share our acquired and practiced wisdom of the CERTES Eight question approach, which could be a point of reference for the investors, to determine their Realty investment strategies.


Allow me now to elaborate the CERTES eight question approach. These eight questions, if asked to self & answered honestly by the prospective investor, would afford a great deal of clarity and would almost guarantee the desired results.

  • WHY? The most important phase in the investment cycle being the define stage. Contrary to the uni-slogan intent of “we want to make money because my peers have done so”, it is pertinent to have a strategic vision statement, well defined, for your investments. Typically, the following are the reasons to dabble in realty investments. 
      • Creating assets
      • Seek capital appreciation on real estate
      • Create rental income
      • Seek tax benefits through Realty loans

“Where do you stand on the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs?”

 Our advice: In this era of multiple options of investments, BE VERY SURE of WHY you want to invest in real estate? DEFINE PHASE.

 WHAT? Typically, the executives and the salaried have the following three channels of investment, in the realty sector. 


      • Residential – Apartments, Villas, Plots
      • Commercial – Office – Office space(demarcated & shared) 
      • Commercial – Retail Space – Malls, High street(s) 


Based on the defined need, be sure to select the right channel, in conformity to the risks, returns & handicaps of each. For e.g.: The returns on a commercial Retail property are perceptibly higher, but the risk(s) and handicaps commensurate. In residential, though returns may be lower, the risk is apportioned and analyzed by the bankers, the investors etc. Office space could be an option for steady rental returns, but the entry level costs are higher.

 Our advice: Don’t get carried away by neo marketing gimmicks used by sellers; like FDI, project management skills, seismic coordinates, international landscapes, MNC architects etc. These are JUST FANCY TERMS. Your first investment should be in the residential sector, leveraging your strength to borrow. The bank would ensure due diligence of the developer’s credentials. Ideally, at the second investment stage, ensure that the money starts performing for you, ensuring a steady income for you.


WHERE?  Like the old adage in the realty sector- there are three things to note while investing in real estate. i) Location   ii) Location iii) Location. (though this is becoming VERY IRRELEVANT now…. I would like to write an article in the times to come on how this quote is being misrepresented. I dont personally believe that the premium being charged by so many sellers is actually justified )

Depending on your defined budget, and the need, select the location. Look at cities and towns which are likely to develop into business hubs, within the construction phase of the project invested in.

Our advice: DO NOT ignore the macro economic indices. Always consider the projected demand forecast for the short, mid & Long term If you are in stage one, seek professional assistance in forecasting demand for housing sector, in a particular city, with an exposure window of @ least 3 years. If you are in stage 2 of investments, then look at cities projecting business booms, both in manufacturing & services sector, which are bound to propel the growth of commercial & residential.

WHEN: With a multitude of developers offering high decibel Pre-launch offers, and a whole lot of brokers promising more than the commitment, it is but natural to get swayed by the promises of multiplying money, fast. Timing of the entry into the project is important, but it is directly related to the perceived risk(s). The ROI (IRR) is always higher and better if one enters the project at the most initial stages. But, factor in a longer window of exposure of your funds to uncovered risks.

Our advice: Three must do factors when considering the entry timing:

a) Enter a project only after convincing yourself of the veracity of the project developers, the prospects and the likely price appreciation in the mid, rather than short term.

b) If entering very early, veto the Intent & ability of the developer on the value offering(s) and delivery timing.

c) Don’t just intend to make hay while the sun shines. Believe that the clouds are around the corner. DO THE RISK & HADICAP ANALYSIS.

HOW MUCH: There are three factors to be considered when you define the “how much” part of your investment.

a) Scope of investment? (DEFINE)

b) How much do you want to commit? (ANALYZE & MEASURE)

c) Profit projections and revenue flow? (TRACK)

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