A humble trader in the sanitary and ceramics sector for 30 years Suresh Kr. Garg, Chairman, Tulsa Group ventured into real estate in 2008 by signing his first deal of a retail apparels showroom of 16000 sq. ft., and laid the foundation of Tulsa Group. The company has so far delivered close to 15 lakh sq. ft. of inventory in high-street commercial real estate space in Siliguri city and has about 18 lakh sq. ft. of residential and commercial space combined in the pipeline. It expanded into the city of Guwahati, Assam in 2016.
WHAT HAVE BEEN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES POSED BY THE PANDEMIC FOR THE GROUP?
Cash flows became a huge issue as companies called in for indefinite rent suspension and buyers losing hope, halted all payments. We had a huge labour force to manage. Groups of them either had to be transported back safely or provided shelter and supplies. It took over 6 months to get a grip of the situation and work to resume.
WHAT ARE THE PARADIGM SHIFTS SEEN IN THE CUSTOMER BEHAVIOUR?
Covid-19 has perhaps taught people the value of homeownership vis-à-vis pure renting. We found the demand only increasing once the situation stabilised. Buyers now seem to look to larger spaces and societies equipped with all amenities for healthier, more comfortable, and grandeur living. Unlike previous generations, they want it all and they want it now, and in the budget they can afford.
WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ON BUDGET 2022?
Certainly, the government seems to be in favour of this sector. India needs infrastructure and the government acknowledges it. Although affordable housing under the mission of ‘Housing for all’ has been their focus, this budget should be an impetus for growth for all forms of real estate. Interestingly, the government has laid a strong focus on the long-neglected tier 2 and 3 cities for professional urban planning. This will go a long way in uplifting the markets of these cities.
WHAT IS THE CURRENT SCENARIO OF NORTHEAST INDIA REAL ESTATE AND ITS FUTURE POTENTIAL?
The region had its fair share of challenges, be it of anti-social activities for decades or lack of connectivity of roads, internet, talent, or exposure. However, things have changed for the better. Guwahati is one of the chosen smart cities of the country. The government is investing heavily in roads, bridges, and flyovers. A metro project is sanctioned. This is helping connect the adjoining regions, creating an influx of traffic into the city, people exploring jobs, and better livelihoods in the city. Spending power is increasing every year, and hence is the demand for shopping centres, global brands, and all-equipped apartments on the rise. We are expecting the population to grow by 3x times in this decade, and accordingly, the demand for real estate should in the coming years. This is the time for the Northeast.
In Bengal, the second most important city after Kolkata is Siliguri. Given its strategic location, surrounded by smaller towns and countries like Bhutan and Nepal, the city is of great trade importance. We have witnessed a stupendous and steady rise in private demand for real estate space, be it for luxury apartments for comfortable living or commercial for business expansion. Being a tourism hub, brand hotel chains are now exploring the region. Siliguri Airport has had one of the highest percentage growth in traffic in India, consistently over the last few years. Now having direct connectivity to all important cities of the country has definitely helped the city get its due limelight.