Sunday, February 27, 2011

Broker is old school, Mediator is the new word!

By the end of our land search, we had a network of 150 brokers spread across the state. I found most of them online or through paper advertisements. Given the fact that real estate brokers in India do not enjoy public confidence and are viewed with suspicion, the people I worked with preferred to be addressed as ‘mediators’.  However, my experience is that they seldom ‘mediate’ between the seller and the buyer and become more of a hindrance when it comes to closing the deal. The problem is that brokers feel that they would be circumvented if the two parties established contact. The problem is even worse when there is a chain of brokers involved. The crab mentality eventually prevails and nobody gains. Most of the properties that are marketed do not have exclusive representation like in the western countries. As a result a property may be marketed by mere hear-say and sometimes without even with the knowledge of the owner. The frustrating part for the buyer is when his/her broker is not  in direct contact with the seller but is just a link in a chain of brokers. Each broker in the chain wants the biggest piece of the commission pie and as a result the deal never materializes. In our initial stages of search, we would come across brokers who did not know the owner but were marketing great lands. They would keep us in the loop with excuses like the owner is not in town etc but would not let us get in touch with the owner. Little did we know that he did not know the owner and his dealings with the broker upstream never materialized.  On putting pressure about the status of the land, the broker would revert back with a standard answer - the land has been sold. As our land search techniques evolved and matured, the first question was if the broker had direct contact with the owner. If so, then a meeting directly with the owner is organized.

When it came to the  second round of talks, another interesting observation was that the owner often did not show up, but instead their “well wisher” did - the owner was apparently engaged somewhere else.
This year long land search was a rich experience during which we were exposed to broker psyche, common excuses and a few pit falls of real estate purchases in general. Having gone through the drill, now I can smell a broker from a mile, often dressed in traditional white half shirt and white dhoti. Typically, they move in groups of 3-5 either on bikes or in White Boleros. If you see a group of people fitting this description by the road side talking on their mobiles, you can bet money on them being brokers. As my father says, 1/3 of Tamil Nadu is wannabe mediators, 1/3 are wannabe politically affiliated and the rest are jobless who are thriving on free rice, TVs and labor wages, thanks to welfare schemes of the state government.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Techie2Aggie crosses 1000 views

Great to see that the viewership has increased dramatically in the last few weeks. We have crossed 1000 views in little over 2 months.

Lots of action on the ground. Stay tuned for some more updates in the next few days!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Getting the ENTRANCE strategy right

The area in front of our entrance is a narrow waterway channel which flows into a Peromboke (government) pond. In dry season this is not a problem but during the monsoons the channel is a a couple of feet under water which makes crossing very difficult.
Luckily, we have a Bolero that can "take on anything" but nonetheless a couple of pipes were needed to have a motorable access round the year.

Commercials :
2 Cement pipes (4 inch thickness, 8 feet long), Standard Pipe connector - Rs 4500
JCB excavator time (4 hours) - Rs 2200
Labor: 4

Total Time : 1/2 day
Total Cost : Rs 6700
Cost includes 50 Km round trip transportation

Our entrance starts from right side of the channel. A JCB was used to make the channel deeper to place the pipes parallel to the flow of water.

First pipe being placed at 3 feet depth from road level.

Second pipe was moved adjacent to the first one by a JCB via a rope. 
Second pipe taking position.

Workers sealing up the pipes and the connector with cement mix. Cement mix consisted of cement, sand, water and small pebbles to make the joint between the pipes strong.

Side view of the bridge. We still need to make walls on either side of the path for additional support.
For now, the ride is comfortable enough.

Another view of the entrance.
I am not sure what is max load it can take. However, we have tested its durability with a Borewell truck (70 tons)

The white mud on the side was dug out from wells by neighboring farmers at 30-40 feet.  We used it to our advantage since it proved to be a good binding material for the road.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Innovation at grassroot level..really! !

We were scouting the local village for some goat/cow manure for the kitchen garden at home when we came across this shack. People in the village were using drip lateral pipes to make cots. What do you call this - Plight of technology or Innovative minds of our village folks??

I guess you can call this a really "hi-tech" bed..

Taking a break under the high-tech shack while our workers were hoarding on the goat manure..