Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Architect In The Bend

The straight line is simple; it sets a limit, normalizes the extraordinary and registers a purpose. But to Oscar Niemeyer, one of the greatest architects of the 20th century who passed away last week, the straight line was the enemy.
To Niemeyer, the straight line was a man-made invention, utterly rigid and full of constraints. While movements such as the Bauhaus based their design dialogue on right angles and straight lines, Niemayer held them in disregard, saying, "The rule is the worst thing. You just want to break it."
This was despite the fact that Niemeyer was a modernist himself, deeply inspired by peers such as Le Co busier with whom he worked on the remarkably rectangular headquarters of the UN in New York. He was, however, averse to devote himself to a particular style and when asked if form followed function, he would reply, "Form follows beauty."
Niemeyer believed in curves, which he said reminded him of the sensuality of the feminine form on the sun-kissed beaches of his native Brazil. They allowed his designs to break away from the monotony that was dictating modernism and reflect a more optimistic and liberating nature of architecture, often culminating in surprise, as at the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi in Sao Paolo, and delight, as at the Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum in Rio de Janeiro.
Niemeyer's legacy is preserved in Brasilia, Brazil's federal capital, which he was commissioned to build in the 1950s. The largest city that didn't exist before the 20th century, Brasilia is as sensuous as any capital could be, with the great halls of Congress resembling giant demos and cauldrons and low-roofed administrative. buildings revealing subtler bends. There, the Cathedral of Brasilia is considered one of Niemeyer's greatest achievements. Using 16 parabolas to connect a high circular roof in the center with shades of tinted glass, the Cathedral boasts an audacious design and is a reminder of an architect who is one quoted to have said "Of curves is made all the universe".

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Ranking Real Estate: Block Avenue

According to microeconomics, the discrepancy between the information available to people who own property and those who wish to buy is a big reason why property values are inefficiently calculated. That information is power is a well known fact but now, thanks to the internet, such information (like power) can be acquired democratically.
The main driver behind this movement in real estate is a website called Block Avenue, which documents and then compares property values across different city neighborhoods. The comparisons are based on feedback (graded A through to F) of how a street or community is doing according to set criteria, including amenities and healthcare facilities available in the neighborhood.
An accurate estimate of the "livability" of a property is easily gathered, as owners (the people with the most information about where they live) are asked to rate their neighborhood.
However, as a critic pointed out, "Why would owners rate their property and location poorly?"
To counter this, Block Avenue allows anyone familiar with a neighborhood to contribute to the rating. It also uses objective data sources such as census reports on crime rates, as well as yellow book listings of businesses and recreational options to grade.
With the help of Google Maps and Street View, Block Avenue makes hunting for real estate incredibly convenient and potential investors can virtually eliminate the need to visit a property before buying it,
Launched earlier this year, Block Avenue touts itself as a service made by the people for the people. Apart from property owners and buyers, Block Avenue is generating interest among researchers working on determining how amenities and other variables impact property prices in a given neighborhood. Currently, the services provided by Block Avenue are available only in the US, but with the amount of interest it is generating, the company expects to expand worldwide in the near future.

Monday, November 12, 2012

What to Look Out for When Purchasing a Home

If you are thinking about buying a house, be it to live in or rent as a long-term investment, here are some things you should look out for to avoid potential financial losses in the future.
Renting instead of buying. Many homeowners opt to move into rented premises because they are unable to find a property to buy that meets their requirements. This is one of the biggest mistakes one can make because paying rent over long periods of time absorbs funds which can go towards buying a property.

Buying a house for its decor. Most would be sellers use home staging and immaculate decor to amplify the perceived value of a house, so do not get carried away by fancy interiors and furniture which may prevent you from discovering some of the property's faults such as bad plumbing and wiring. Focus on the structure and  functionality to determine the real value. And don't forget to have a home inspection survey conducted by a professional.

Not considering resale. When buying a house, don't forget that at some point in the future you may want to sell the property. Therefore, have its projected price appreciation and demand evaluated by a real estate agent to ascertain its future market prospects.

Not reaching your neighborhood. Find out about existing amenities and facilities such as schools, hospitals, parks and restaurants. Gauge the safety of the neighborhood by visiting it at different times of the day and night.

Buying an overly luxurious house. Every buyer dreams of a lavish home with fancy architectural design and features such as fountains and swimming pools. However, it's wiser to buy a home that fits your needs instead of one that fits your dreams because such features require a lot of maintenance.

Leaving a house vacant. If you are buying a property for investment purposes, do not let it remain vacant for more than a few months. Vacant properties are always in danger of illegal possession, theft and damage.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Amenities That Increase Property Value

Most homeowners seek to increase the value of their property by upgrading the exterior and renovating the interior. Although home improvements affect property value, the presence of certain amenities increases its value by an estimated 10 to 15$. Similarly, demand for the property increases by approximately 30%. This is why the presence of the following amenities should be taken into consideration when purchasing residential property.
Curb Appeal. The facades of houses, landscaping and the general cleanliness of a neighborhood contribute to creating the first impression among buyers - favorable or otherwise.
Infrastructure and easy access. Wide, clean streets with good drainage make a big difference. Additionally, a neighborhood should ideally have multiply entry and exit points and be easily accessible through the city's major thoroughfares. At the same time, it should not be too close to streets that have heavy traffic and congestion on a daily basis.
Public Transport. Ease in access to and from bus stops and taxi stands is generally viewed favorably. However, public transport stands that are too close to a property can be perceived as a security concern.
Neighborhood parks. Providing recreation for residents, parks with walking / jogging tracks and play areas for children and definitely an added attraction, especially in suburban neighborhoods where recreational avenues are limited.
Schools, healthcare and other amenities. Neighborhood that have good schools and medical facilities in the vicinity are more expensive that those that don't, as most homeowners are willing to pay a premium to live there. Having a commercial area nearby (but not too close) is an added advantage and also impacts property prices favorably.
The Lifestyle Element. The presence of recreational avenues such as cafes, gyms, malls, restaurants, shopping centers, spas and similar service in the vicinity enhance the neighborhood profile and raise property prices significantly.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Tallest City In Europe

Born on September 14, 1957, Renzo Piano was always critical of tall buildings, claiming that they were merely an investment in one's ego. This, however, has changed with the architect's redesign of Southwark Towers in London. The Shard, a 1,016 foot tall structure, now stands in its place and is being touted as the tallest building in Europe.
Dresses entirely in 11,000 panes of glass and built on an irregular pyramidal base that tapers through the height of the building's spire, Piano conceived of The Shard as a building that would combine public and private spaces and form an energetic and thriving community.
In his words, "I foresee the tower as a vertical city, for thousands of people to work in and enjoy, and for millions to take to heart in."
True to that vision, the Shard will house a mix of residents: the UK's first Shangri La hotel, 10 apartments, retail space, restaurants, luxury residences and a five-storey public observation deck on the 72nd floor from where visitors can admire views of London from the tallest spot in the city.
The first 28 floors will serve as premium office space, and because the building has been financed by Shariah compliant investments from its Qatari investors, it is unlikely that businesses connected to the alcohol or gambling industries will be granted leases.
Additionally with regards to commercial occupants, the developers, Seller property, have started, "We are being very selective. We don't want one single, overbearing occupant, we want a mix of media, finance companies, etc." Commercial leases are currently going for up to 70 pounds per square foot.
the Shard forms part of a larger complex knows as the London Bridge Quarter which includes a shorter building known as London Bridge Place built next to the tower. Major improvements to the surrounding rail and subway station are underway and the area as expected to include a public pizza, museum and other businesses. If everything goes as planned The Shard may well serve as the herald of London's future.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Aloof Modernist: Le Corbusier Architecture

Le Corbusier (born Charles-Edouard Jeanneret) was one of the most influential designers and architects of the 20th century. Even 47 years after his death on August 27 1965, he is remembered for his contribution to modern architecture because of designs that portrayed a utopian sense of purpose.
Early in his career, Le Corbusier often traveled around Europe. In Paris, he learned about using concrete and reinforced steel in structures; in Berlin, he was taught about industrial processes and machine design. In the Balkans, he obsessed over Greek Parthenon. These experiences would later form an essential part of his designs.
With peers such as Mies Van Der Rohe, Walter Gropius and even Pablo Picasso, Le Corbusier developed an idea of architecture that was more focused on function rather than form.
In his words, ' decoration always hides a mistake in construction." The construction of the Villa Savoy, on the outskirts of Paris sums up this belief by incorporating his famous 'Five points of Architecture' which deal with elevated housing, continuity of landscape, free floor plans, illumination and the simplicity of the facade. As he detailed in his book, Towards An Architecture, he believed that a house was " a machine for living"
After World War 1, Le Corbusier became involved in dealing with the rise of slums in post-war Europe by building low cost functional communes for large scale housing. The most famous of these is the united Habitation in Marseilles, also known as 'the Radiant City'. It features 237 apartments with facilities for recreation and leisure encased in block shaped and fortress-like facades dominated by strong vertical and horizontal lines (which subsequently gave rise to the form known as brutalism).
In the 1950s, Le Corbusier tested his ideas on an even grander scales when he was commissioned to plan the city of Chndigarh in India. The city is testament to Le Corbusier's belief in large, functional and spacious block structures with facades of buffeted concrete. The Legislative Assembly building (illustrated above) in particular, with its curved roof edge, has become the counter-piece of the city and representative of what Le Corbusier referred to as his "engineer's aesthetic".

Monday, August 13, 2012

Emerging Architectural Trends in Pakistan

Although most architects in Pakistan would concur that a distinct Pakistani design language is yet to emerge on our skylines, a number of trends over the last decade have resulted in the construction of some outstanding structures.
These include:
Global influence. Architecture in Pakistan has taken on a distinctively global flavor in terms of design and functionality. Consequently, an increasing number of commercial high rises and houses new display straight lines, simple facades and clean finishes, using "no-nonsense" materials such concrete, wood and glass.
Sometimes a combination of these materials is used to create facades with large windows or glass curtain walls.
Old world courtyards. There has been a resurgence of old world havelis, in contemporary homes and even commercial spaces, such as restaurants. Courtyards create private outdoor areas that are centrally located within the structure. They can be used as relaxing sanctuaries or recreational spaces. Special attention is paid to details such as flooring, finishes an landscaping; plants (such as bamboos) are used to create partitions within the courtyard, or a backdrop for water features. Wooden pergolas (usually made of mahogany or teak) are used as accents.
East meets west. While there is a movement towards contemporary architectural elements are deployed equally frequently. For example, sinus-detailed screens, known as jafri, can be seen in many commercial projects against modern backdrops of glass, wood or steel. Regional materials such as reddish terracotta tiles (which are earthy and reminiscent of colonial flooring) and traditional fabrics and textiles are equally visible and serve as edgy design details.
Going green. Green architecture is gaining traction; some solutions to ensure that a structure is environmentally friendly include the appropriation of open spaces for adequate wind flow to allow cross ventilation, roof insulation to keep the interiors cool, the addition of water bodies to create cool spaces and an emphasis on foliage to provide shade. Rainwater harvesting systems are being used in order to facilitate the collection, conservation, and recycling of water.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Architecture of Summer Olympic Games 2012

On July 27, 2012 London will become the only city in the world to host the Summer Olympic Games 2012 three times. And for the spectators, the thrill of competition will be set against the backdrop of some of the most experimental and expensive architecture in the world.
Most of the events will take place at the Summer Olympic Games 2012 Village Park in Stafford, London (for more information, read our Real Estate Review). The park houses the Olympic Stadium, the London Aquatic Center and the Olympic Village, which are all within walking distance of each other.
The Olympic Stadium, constructed at a cost of 486 million pounds, is designed by populous, one of the world's leading sports facility design firms. The stadium is an architectural marvel; shaped like a bowl, its elliptical geometry blends in effortlessly with the slopping geography of the site it is constructed upon. The Stadium will undoubtedly be the centerpiece of the Olympic since the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as the track and field events, will take place there.
The highlight of design at the Olympics is undoubtedly the London Aquatics Center. Built at a cost of 269 million pounds, it is designed by famed architect Zaha Hadid, and is "inspired by the fluid geometry of water in motion";in essence, the structure resembles a wave with wings. Resplendent in its de-constructivist elegance, with solid feminine lines that dominate its facades, the fluid design of the Aquatics Center is perfect for a venue dedicated to water sports.
The athletes participating at the Summer Olympics 2012 will reside at the purpose build Olympic Village which cost 1.1 billion pounds to construct. In contrast to the flowing design of the Aquatics Center, the Village has a distinct modernist design; the concrete and cuboid shaped buildings employ strong vertical and horizontal lines, stressing functionality rather than form. The Village is complemented by extensive landscaping, with gardens aflame with cornflowers and marigolds.
It is safe to say that for thousands of spectators who will witness the Summer Olympic Games 2012 first hand the Olympic Village Park with all its architectural wonders will be a sight to remember.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Impact of Budget on Pakistan's Real Estate Market

The federal budget 2012-13 came into effect on July 1, and has certain implications for property purchasers and sellers, especially in regard to property taxes.
These include:
1. Capital Gain Tax (CGT)
  • CGT has been re-introduced in Pakistan after a passage of 26 years; it was lifted in 1986.
  • CGT is imposed on residential and commercial property owners who are reselling a property within two years of purchasing it. It is payable at the time of selling a property.
  • CGT is calculated as a percentage of the increase in the value of a property in a given period; 10% CGT will be applied on property that is being resold within one year; five percent CGT will be applied on property that is being resold within two years.
2. The collctor Rate (CR)
  • The CR is official value of the property and is decided by the Government; it is used to determine the value of several property taxes including Capital Value Tax, Registration Fee and Stamping Fee.
  • The CRs remain have not changed this year and vary according to where the property is located.
3. Capital Value Tax (CVT)
  • CVT is payable to the Government when a property is purchased; it has not changed this year.
  • CVT is determined as a percentage of the Collector Rate; it varies according to the type of property. The details are as follows:
Plot Size (sq yds)                                CVT
Less than 100                                      0%
100-500                                              2%
More than 500                                     2.5%

Covered Area (sq ft)                            CVT
Less than 1,000                                    0%
1,000-2,200                                         2%
More than 2,200                                   2.5%

Commercial Property
Covered Area (Sq ft)                          CVT
All sizes                                                2.5%

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Apartment Design Checklist

An increasing number of people are opting to live in apartments because compared to independent houses, they are relatively easier to maintain and are more secure.
However, there are a few factors to keep in mind when choosing an apartment with regard to structure and design, especially if you intend to sell it a later stage. Good infrastructure for the entire complex and a well planned architectural layout increases value, while substandard construction, poor architectural design and finish decrease the value by five to 15%
Here are a few things to look out for when purchasing an apartment:
  • Facades should be completed using high quality material such as stone or brick. Not only are these materials aesthetically pleasing, they require less maintenance.
  • Parking space much be allocated to each apartment within the complex; parking space should ideally be covered. There should also be provisions to accommodate additional cars for guests.
  • Separate entry and exit gates should be in place to manage traffic flow and keep the complex uncongested.
  • Avoid apartment complexes built parallel to each other; this will compromise your privacy. Opt for complexes built in a circular or oval shape; they provide more privacy.
  • Staircases should face the east to allow maximum sunlight; they should be at least three feet wide, separate service/ emergency staircases are ideal
  • Windows, especially those in bathrooms and kitchens, should allow maximum sunlight and ventilation.
  • Balconies and terraces should be strategically positioned; large balconies near living areas can extend entertainment space, while those near the kitchen can be used as laundry space or for growing plants.
  • Interior spaces should provide space saving, built-in-storage space
  • Fixtures and fittings should of good quality.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Real Estate Blockbusters

With the summer here, people across the world are thronging to movie theaters to escape the heart, and of course, enjoy the blockbusters that are playing, which recently included the superhero epic, The Avengers, that grossed more than a billion dollars worldwide and drew in the crowds in Pakistan as well. And with the forthcoming superhero films, namely the Spider-Man reboot and The Dark Knight Rises, the chances are that people will continue heading to the cinemas in full force.
Consequently, the number of beverage and refreshment outlets within cinema lobbies has increased. These spaces continue to be in high demand, primarily because there's nothing better than watching an action packed movie armed with a bag of popcorn pr a generous serving of nachos and cheese.
Here is a detailed look at outlets located on cinema premises:
  • Every theater/multiplex usually has about five to 10 refreshment outlets; these are owned by the cinema and are available for rent by vendors.
  • The covered area of outlets ranges between 15 and 64 square feet.
  • Rental rates range between Rs. 2,500 and 3,000 per square foot. This rate is 10 to 20% higher than rates for similar spaces in malls and commercial areas.
  • Most rental contracts are signed for periods ranging between one and three years and are subject to renewal thereafter. Two to three months' rent is usually required as a security deposit.
  • Maintenance and security are usually part of monthly rental; facilities include provision of water, gas and electricity.
  • Until recently, most cinema outlets only sold snacks and beverages. However, with the cinema going culture picking up, these outlets are now being rented for diverse businesses; an increasing number of movie souvenirs/merchandise stalls are cropping up while other vendors are capitalizing on the young clientele and have set up gaming arcades.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Real Estate Investment Tips for Retirement

If you are thinking of real estate investment in order to have a stable income after you retire, here are a few tips to keep in mind.
It's never too early. Ideally, you should start investing when you are in 30s. Real estate prices usually increase by five to 10% every year, so if you delay investing by a decade you will end up spending 30 to 50% more.
Consider your options. The price increase over a decade of a property in a remote area is estimated to range between two and five percent, while prices in a developed area are estimated to increase by 40 to 60%, so opt for the latter. Another option to consider is property in a gated community constructed by a reputable developer. Gated communities are considered to be a good option for investment as they have better returns in terms of rental and sale price.
Buy what you can sell fast. Although you may do real estate investment with the intention of holding on to the property for a long time, it is always better to purchase a property that will remain in demand and can be sold immediately in case of emergency. Residential townhouses and commercial retail and offices spaces in well maintained areas are a good choice.
Invest near your own home. Being physically close to your new property will prove to have several benefits. Not only will it give you a good idea of the property's value, living in proximity to the property will also make it easier to keep an eye on it, maintain it and monitor tenants if and when needed.
Construct and design sensibly. If you decide to build house, use good quality materials; they will last longer and therefore requires less maintenance. Try to divide the house into two portions; the rental yield will be seven to 10% more than an independent house. In this way you might achieve your best real estate investment purpose.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Renowned Beckingham Palace of David and Victoria Beckham is on the Market

Rowneybury House, better known as Beckingham Palace is currently owned by football's first couple, David and Victoria Beckham. The glamorous couple however are permanently moving to Los Angles and have decided to sell their sprawling, English country home which is now on the market for an estimated 18 million pounds.
Beckingham Palacae is located in the quiet, rural town of Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire. Recent property and lifestyle surveys have shown that Hertfordshire in general, and Sawbridgeworth in particular, is one of the top 10 most desirable locations to live in while commuting to work in London. Sawbridgeworth has a population of about 9,000 and is approximately an hour's drive away from London.
The house is a 1930s Georgian style mansion built on an expansive 22-acre estate. The property is listed as a Grade II building in the UK (It is considered part of Britain's cultural heritage and is thus protected from reconstruction or demolition ); it was previously a council-owned children's home.
The Beckhams acquired the seven-bedroom mansion in 1999 for the sum of 2.5 million pounds and carried out extensive and expensive additions and renovations amounting to an estimated 18 million pounds. The amount spent on renovations considerably exceeds the current market value of the property.
In addition to seven bedrooms, lavish entertainment areas, state-of-the-art kitchens and beautifully manicured gardens, the house has a snooker room, a recording studio and gym. Beckingham Palace also boasts indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a golf course, flood-lit tennis courts, a helipad, three gazebos, and a petting zoo for children.
The latest news is that reality show star Kim Kardashian has her eye on the property which she plans to use when her family is in the UK.Rumor also has it that she will rent out the house to David and Victoria fans while she is away.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Real Estate Investment in Basement Businesses

Basements are gaining traction in Pakistan as a best real estate investment. Basement are as commercial and retail spaces, and a as a result, they are no longer dingy areas without adequate ventilation or lighting. In fact, many new real estate developments, large and small, include pleasant, well ventilated, adequately lit basements with easily accessible entrances ad emergency exits.
The reason for this is that many commercial areas prohibit construction above a prescribed height, and in such cases, basements provide extra floor space, which means higher property value and rental yield for landlords amounting to approximately 10-15% more compared to buildings without basements. Furthermore, because basements are available at lower rental rates than ground level shops, they make better financial sense for small businesses.
Basements in Pakistan are usually used in two ways:
1. Parking or storage spaces in large and mid sized commercial buildings. Although parking space can be found in the basements of high-end shopping malls, retail businesses, restaurants/cafes and bakeries in mid-sized buildings usually rent or purchase ground-level shops that have an attached basement to use as storage space or kitchens.
2. Commercial/retail spaces in smaller buildings. An array of businesses are now housed in basements, small offices, clinics, salons, gyms, and even tuition centers are operating out of well designed basements in smaller, newer buildings.
Covered area of basements include: 80, 120, 160, 200, 300, 500, 600, 800  and 1,000 square feet.
The pricing structure (in rupees per square foot) for commercial/retail spaces is as follows:

City                               Purchase Price                  Monthly Rental
Karachi                             4,400-13,500                  17-18
Lahore                              5,120-13,700                   19-79
Islamabad                         5,600-14,400                    20-80

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Real Estate Investment in Quetta with just Rs. 10 Million

Surrounded by mountains, Quetta was once knows as "Lille London" due to it's cooler climes. Although Quetta isn't as idyllic as it once was, demand for real estate there is high, primarily due to the influx of migrants from neighboring areas, and it was considered to be the best place for real estate investment.
Here is a look at houses in upscale and well-maintained residential areas in Quetta that can be purchased for Rs. 10 million or less:
1. Cantonment was established in the late 1800s, during the British occupation. It is located on the outskirts of the city. Several recreational venues have a presence there (including the Quetta Club, several sports grounds and a shooting range), as do Command and Staff College, FG Federal College, Chiltan Market and Serena Hotel
Plot Size (sq yds)                            Purchase Price (Rs)
75                                                      3-3.4 million
125                                                    4-4.5 million
250                                                    7-10 million

2. Chaman Housing Scheme was established in 1979. It is located six miles from the city center. Home primarily to foreign dignitaries, it has modern houses and a good infrastructure. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is located there.
Plot Size (sq yds)                            Purchase Price (Rs)
75                                                      3-4 million
125                                                    4.4-6 million
250                                                    9-10 million

3. Emaan City is one of Quetta's newest developments. Located near the PAF base, this gated community has good infrastructure in addition to a commercial market, park and an independent water supply.

Plot Size (sq yds)                            Purchase Price (Rs)
120                                                    2.5-3 million
140                                                    2.5-3.2 million
240                                                    3-5 million
267                                                    3.5-5.5 million

4. Satellite Town was established in the 1970s. It is located near Munni Market, one of the Quetta's prominent markets and Sariab Road, a popular commercial hub. Educational institutions in Satellite Town include the University of Balochistan.

Plot Size (sq yds)                            Purchase Price (Rs)
75                                                      3-4 million
125                                                    4.5-6 million
250                                                    7.5-10 million

There are golden Rea Estate Investment opportunities in Quetta, and it is strongly recommended to invest in Quetta if one is looking for good IRR. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A House For Mother: Best Real Estate Investment in Post Modernist Approach

Out of all the movements in architecture, the post modernist movement specially in real estate investment could arguably, be the most exciting. And on Mother's Day, it is appropriate to mention the Vanna Venturi House, designed by the renowned architect Robert Venturi for his mother, in the 1960s. The house is now considered to be the symbol of post modernist architecture.
At the time , the most pervasive form of architecture was modernist - a product of industrialization, governed by rigid and structured rules such as strictly functional columns and block-shaped building.
Venturi was critical of these rigid rules, going so far as to mock the "less is bore" modernist maxim (coined by Mies Van Der Rohe), by saying "less is bore". It was a rebellion he detailed in his book, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture.
The Vanna Venturi House was an attempt to defeat modernism's idea that the scale of a house reflects its size. Venturi's design manipulated that the sight lines by guiding them along a would-be chimney and stretching the front facade of the house horizontally. What resulted was a house that looked bigger than it actually was, causing it to become known as "The biggest small building of the second half of the 20th century."
Post modernist architecture has also enjoyed fame in our part of the world and architects continue to experiment with the concept. For example, the 27-storey Antila Tower in Mumbai, India, considered the world's most expensive residence, looks like a house made by Ikea with its vertical, open box design. In Pakistan too, the design for the Centaurus Tower carries elements of deconstructivist design - an idea which comes from the 'anything goes' attitude of post-modernism.
Evidence for the acceptance of post-modernism in the Subcontinent can also be seen in growing number of architects working on projects such as Rashid Latif Medical College, as well as the many new houses that carry elements of post-modernist architecture.
As a concept which stems from the rebellion against what is traditional, the emergence of post modernist architecture in the Subcontinent might be a sign of the coming times.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Best Real Estate Investment in the Summer Holiday's

As the summer sets in, the demand for holiday homes across world wide increases. According to real estate investment experts, three categories of homes are gaining traction around the globe: chalets, farmhouses and seaside bungalows (beach huts). Chalets and farmhouses can be found in different parts of the world, while huts are only available along the coastlines, primarily in Karachi, Gawadar and Ormara. They can be purchased or rented, and are available furnished or unfurnished. Without any doubt these could be best real estate investment in the upcoming summer season.
1. Chalets are usually located within city limits, on the scenic grounds of well as a kitchenette can can accommodate between two and four people. Facilities include private swimming pools and jacuzzi. Plot Sizes: 100-250 sq yds. Purchase price: Rs. 405-13 million (Karachi); Rs 4.4-12 million (Lahore); 5-15 million (Islamabad); Daily Rental: Rs 1,500-20,000 (Karachi); Rs. 2,500-17,000 (Lahore); 2,000-30,000 (Islamabad).
2. Farmhouses are usually located on city outskirts and are built on large plots. They generally comprise four to six bedrooms, bathrooms and a kitchen. They can accommodate between eight and 10 people. Modern farmhouses provide facilities such as cable TV, Internet access, and swimming pools. Farmhouses communities also offer nature-based recreational activities such as hiking, horse riding and fruit picking. Plot Sizes: 1,000-10,000 sq yds. Purchase Price: Rs 4-75 million (Karachi); Rs 5-100 million (Lahore); 7-80 million (Islamabad). Daily Rental: Rs 4,200-30,000 (Karachi); Rs 4,000-37,000 (Lahore); Rs 3,500-32,000 (Islamabad).
3. Beach Huts are located along the coast and range from basic 'huts' built on small plots on buy public beaches to luxurious villas located on comparatively secluded beaches. Luxury beach huts can usually accommodate up to 10 people and comprise up to four bedrooms and bathrooms, swimming pools and kitchen. Plot Sizes: 180-245 sq yds. Purchase price: Rs 2.5-9 million (Karachi). Daily Rental: Rs 1,000-30,000 (Karachi).
These were some of the best real estate investment tips in the upcoming summer season of around the globe.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Buying and Selling Real Estate at the same time

Selling an existing property and buying another one immediately afterwards involves a few inevitable risk factors, especially if funds are limited. A major concern for most homeowners who are doing this real estate investment, this is whether or not they will be able to find the right property ti buy immediately after selling the one they are residing in.
Here are few tips to making the process of real estate investment easier:
1. Sell first and then buy. Put all your energy and resources towards selling your existing property first; getting the right price can take months of negotiation. As soon as you have a couple of offers from potential buyers, start searching for a new property. Don't be procrastinate, because time is money when the property market is in flux.
2. Add the following points to the sales deed after your existing property has been sold:
  • A grace period that allows you to stay in your current property for at least three to six months before you have to hand over the property.
  • Agree on a payment schedule which allows you to receive 98% of the payment at least 10 days prior to the handover. This will give you the funds to purchase the new property and in this way you things will be easier for you in doing real estate investment.
3. Prepare to rent. If you can't find the right property to buy during the specified grace period, be prepared to live in a rental property. This is better then rushing into a deal. You can even ask your buyer if he/she will allow you to rent the current property for a few months.
4. Be Prepared. The new property that you buy may require renovations. In this case, ask the seller for permission to begin renovations before the full payment is made. In most cases this requires a 25% down payment.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Best Real Estate Investment opportunity in Lahore, Pakistan

Over the last decade, the trend of upscale, gated residential communities has emerged in Lahore, Pakistan. Some of which are comparable to international projects in terms of planning, infrastructure and real estate investment opportunities as well as the amenities they provide.
Khayaban-e-Amin is one such project attracting real estate investment from across Pakistan primarily due to the fact that it is envisioned to be an upscale, well planned and secure neighborhood.
It is located opposite Valencia Town, a posh and well-known residential area, on Defence Road, minutes from Shaukat Khanum Hospital and Thokar Niaz Baig. Spread over approximately, 1,400 acres, Khayaba-e-Amin comprises 16 blocks.
Although it was established in 2005, so far only two block (E and G) have been completed. Two blocks are under development: Block L and a block which will only cater to Pakistanis living overseas.
Development work on these two blocks is expected to be completed within two years. Pre-constructed houses (built on plots measuring 125, 250 and 500 square yards) as well as vacant plots are available.
Proposed amenities include a small commercial area, community center, hospital, mosque, several parks, school, internal shuttle service, round-the-clock security in the form of manned gates and surveillance cameras and an independent water filter plant.
The pricing structure (in rupees) of property in Khayaban-e-Amin is as follows:
Plot Size                                 Purchase price range
125 sq yds                                   1-1.2 million
250 sq yds                                   1.8-1.9 million
500 sq yds                                    2.8-3 million

Houses Size                           Purchase price range
125 sq yds                                   2.3-3.5 million
250 sq yds                                   5.6-6 million
500 sq yds                                    8-8.5 million

Saturday, April 7, 2012

How you can do real estate investment for less than Rs. 10 million in Peshawar, Pakistan

Peshawar is one of the oldest cities in Asia and has been the political and commercial hub of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for decades. Peshawar could be the best place for real estate investment as it is the most developed urban center in the province, Peshawar attracts a large population comprising migrants from the surrounding rural and semi-rural areas. This has resulted in increased demand for residential property.
Here is a look at residential areas in Peshawar where houses you can do real estate investment for less than Rs. 10 million
Askari and Falcon Societies: Developed by Army Welfare Trust, these small residential societies are located near the Peshawar Airport. Although they do not have a lot of commercial activity, they are popular because they are extremely secure.

Plot Size (sq yds)                                Purchase price range (Rs)
125                                                         5.7-6.8 million
175                                                         6.8-8.3 million
250                                                         8.4-10 million

Cantonment: Located in proximity to Peshawar Airport, Cantonment is an upmarket area and best for real estate investment. It is along with Saddar, Peshawar's busy commercial zone, three historical Mughal gardens are located there, as well as Deans Trade Center, Edward's College, the Governor's House and Peshawar Museum.

Plot Size (sq yds)                                Purchase price range (Rs)
125                                                         6.9-8 million
175                                                         8.5-9.5 million

Hayatabad: An upmarket residential neighborhood, Hayatabad was established in the 1970s by the Peshawar Development Authority, without any doubt an ideal place for real estate investment. Several prestigious educational institutions, parks, a community center and a sports complex are located there as well as numerous banks and government institutions such as FIA, NAB, NADRA and the Passport Office.

Plot Size (sq yds)                                Purchase price range (Rs)
125                                                         5.9-7 million
175                                                         7-9 million
250                                                         8.6-10 million

University Town: University town is another perfect site for real estate investment. It is located about five kilometers from the city center, this is a rapidly developing area. Several international aid agencies, foreign consulates and guesthouses are located there as well a some of Peshawar's best educational institutions.

Plot Size (sq yds)                                Purchase price range (Rs)
125                                                         6.5-7.8 million
175                                                         8.2-9.3 million
250                                                         9-13 million

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Townhouse Trend in Real Estate Investing

Historically, townhouse trend in real estate investment were the urban residences of the European aristocracy; they were 'simpler' houses, which were not as lavish as their country real estates and were usually located in the urban centers.
In Pakistan, modern townhouses are usually double storey, semi-detached houses within a shared compound. They have become a popular real estate investment, because while they are independent homes, comprising three to five bedrooms, they offer security and ease of maintenance.
Like apartment complexes, townhouse compounds are also managed by the homeowners' associations that take care of water, sewerage and security issues.
Townhouses are gaining traction in Pakistan, especially among the buyers who have smaller budgets but prefer to live on a house within a gated community.
Here is a look at the availability of townhouses in Pakistan and their prices:

Townhouses are primarily located in Civil Lines, Clifton, Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Gulshan-e-Iqbal and PECHS.
Plot Size (Sq Yds)                           Purchase price range
120                                                    100-150 million
140                                                    135-170 million
180                                                    150-200 million
240                                                    180-280 million
300                                                     220-320 million

Townhouses living is catching on in Lahore due to the establishment of several new housing developments, most of which are in Gulberg..
Plot Size (Sq Yds)                           Purchase price range
125                                                    60-120 million
270                                                    105-140 million
500                                                    150-200 million

Islamabad and Rawalpindi
Bahria Town is one of the other townhouse schemes. It has projects in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, which are set against a suburban landscape with greenery and good infrastructure.
Plot Size (Sq Yds)                           Purchase price range
125                                                    55-90 million
250                                                    70-100 million
300                                                    120-150 million

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Tips To Do Economical Real Estate Investment

whenever you go for real estate investment, one way of reducing costs while building a house is by sticking to simple structural elements using good quality materials. It will not only reduce construction costs, your house will be easier to maintain.
In Real Estate Investment to keep structural design sound, simple and economical, consider the following:
  • No Split levels. Ensure that all the rooms in the house are built  on the same level; avoid sunken lounge spaces and split levels.
  • Staircases. Spiral staircases cost more than standard ones and take longer to build.
  • Windows. Standard windows sizes (measuring three by four feet) are functional and affordable. Larger windows require more material, (e.g. additional cost of grills and frames)/ Similarly, odd shaped windows (e.g. arched or round) are more expensive.
  • Ceilings. Double-height and false ceilings, as well as pitched and sloping roofs are more expensive in terms of designing, material and specialized labor.
  • Bathrooms and Kitchens. Position bathrooms and kitchens against exterior walls; they will require exhaust ducts and pipes. In double-story houses, make sure that bathrooms and/or kitchens on both floors are above each other; this will reduce plumbing costs in real estate investment.
  • Flooring. Keep flooring material consistent throughout the house; this will allow you to buy material in bulk at reduced rates. Porcelain tiles are a good option and easy to maintain.
  • Paint. Using the same color will allow you to buy paint in bulk at a discount. Choose standard colors; they are cheaper than custom-made colors, and make repainting the house less tedious, as they are readily available. Invest in a good brand that is long lasting. Do consider textured wall paint as an option; although it is more expensive for real estate investment but it lasts longer.
  • Exteriors. Cladding exterior walls with bricks and using weather resistant or textured paint are highly recommended, because although they are more expensive than regular paint, they are virtually maintenance free and long lasting.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Real Estate Investment in Malaysia

A progressive and secure country with modern infrastructure and an attractive business environment, Malaysia is a popular destination for real estate investment and has gained traction over the years among Pakistanis.
Property investment in Malaysia as a foreigner is fairly simple. You must be above the age of 21 and the property you purchase must be valued at RM 500,000 ($ 160,000) or above. However, sale of bumiputra or native properties in certain areas is restricted for foreigners.
Real estate investment can be made either by going to Malaysia, or through real estate agents specializing in overseas property. There is no restriction regarding the number of properties one can buy.
The capital city Kuala Lumpur and the scenic island of penang are popular locations for foreign investors. Freehold condominiums in both these cities have a potential return on investment of eight percent per annum; foreign investors can also purchase vacant plots there.
Foreign investors can secure a property loan from banks in Malaysia. Local banks can extend loans of up to 90% of the property price. The transaction takes between six months and a year to be processed and usually requires a two percent payment on booking followed by another eight percent when the sale agreement is signed. Properties bought by foreigners also require the land office's consent; this process usually takes about three months.
If a property is sold within two years of purchase, a 10% tax is levied on the profits gained; a five percent tax on profits gained is imposed on properties sold two to five years after their purchase. Residential property sold after five years is not taxed for profits gained. Without any doubt Malaysia is one of the best places for the real estate investment in the World.

Taj Mahal: An Example of Real Estate Investment

The Taj Mahal in Agra, also known as "The Jewel of Muslim Art in India", is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It was built by Shah Jehan, the Mughal Emperor, in memory of his late wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It was no doubt a best real estate investment ever.
Construction began in 1631; masons, stone cutters, in layers, carvers, painters, calligraphers, dome builders and other craftsmen from the Indian Empire, Central Asia and Iran worked together under the supervision of architects Abd-ul-Karim Ma'amur Khan, Makramat Khan and Ustad Ahmed Lahquvi (the principal designer). The entire complex, which comprises the Taj Mahal and several gardens, took 22 years to build at a cost of approximately Rs 32 million at that time.
Shortly after its completion, Shah Jehan was deposed by his son Aurangzeb and was eventually buried in the Taj Mahal next to his beloved wife.
Although the Taj Mahal was built in the style of Mughal and Persian architecture, the use of the breathtaking pure white marble, embellished in certain places with nearly 28 precious and semi-precious stones (including carnelians, lapis lazuli, sapphires and turquoises), was extraordinary and a novel idea at the time.
What also made the Taj Mahal unique was the fact that prior to its construction, most Mughal and Persian buildings, such as Jahangir's tomb, were surrounded by four lawns In a way, the gardens become a procession which culminated in the Taj Mahal.
The Taj Mahal's architectural style was then used in other Mughal structures and remains a very strong architecture, the cost and sheer size make it very difficult to do so. However, we do see gesture in our mosques, particularly those in the Middle East, where the Taj Mahal's architectural style is clearly visible.
Ultimately, the Taj Mahal is an edifice of one man's love for the woman he loved. Never again in history have we seen such a monument built for love.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Get Hotel Retail Space: Business Retail Space For Lease

Business retail space in hotel complexes are a popular choice for brands due to their location and ambiance. In addition, they enjoy the benefit of a customer base made up of high net worth hotel guests, which include foreigner dignitaries, delegates and tourists and even celebrities.
In Pakistan, until a decade ago such retail spaces for lease were coveted by the most exclusive brands, but today due to the security situation, hotel occupancy rates (and thus customers) have declined, while together security measures have discouraged local visitors. However, despite the lower turnover, these spaces remain popular and most leading hotels in Pakistan maintain an occupancy rate that exceeds 70%. Tenants also find it a hassle-free arrangement because maintenance issues are usually the hotel management's responsibility.
Here is a detailed look:
  • Hotel complexes have a limited number of shops, ranging between five and 30; they are usually not open for sale and can be rented.
  • Shop sizes vary between 75 and 250 square feet.
  • Larger hotels have dedicated shopping arcades within the complex, thus the size of these shops can be customized according to the tenant's requirements.
  • Rental contracts are usually valid for a period ranging between one and three years.
  • Average monthly rental rates range between 100 and 250 per square feet. A six-month advance and a security deposit are required in most cases.
  • Most rental contracts include maintenance and security as part of the package, at no extra cost, while electricity bills are the tenant's responsibility.
  • Apart from top-end brands, other businesses located within hotels include handicraft and souvenir stores, fine carpet and rug merchants, florists, patisseries, bookshops, Jewelery, designers, beauty saloons, pharmacies and general stores.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

International Real Estate: Escapes from the Mayan Prediction

Until recently, the Mayan Calendar's dire prediction that the world would end in December 2012 had affected only the paranoid and the easily spooked. However, the international real estate industry has crashed in on this hype and is taking the term "safe investment" to a new level altogether.
A number of international real estate developers are constructing hideouts aimed at investors who would like to attempt to ride out the impending global destruction. These "survival condos" are designed to be self-sustaining and completely cut off from the outside world. Similar to the hideouts from famous fiction such as War of the Worlds, these high-end condominiums are almost always subterranean and are becoming increasingly luxurious.
Here are few options to consider for international real estate, if you believe in the Mayan predictions and want to beat the end of the world:
  • Survival Condos, Kansas, USA: An old Atlas "F" nuclear missile silo is upgraded with luxurious fittings and fixtures, such as granite counter-tops and expensive flooring. These condos cover half a floor of the silo and come complete with a home theater and five years worth of food reserves -  for a cool two million dollars. A key feature are the virtual windows, which give international real estate homeowners the option of customizing the view; for example, an underwater scene.
  • 20th Century Castles, Ohio, USA: A decommissioned missile site is subjected to an extreme makeover and transformed into a secure luxury residence. Every apartment is accessed via an elevator and has a personal gym, swimming pool and Jacuzzi. The blast proof doors are L-shaped hallways will help keep Armageddon out at a mere cost of only $ 1.5 million.
  • Private Fallout Shelter, Devon, UK: Touted as Britain's strongest privately owned bomb shelter, this complex with its 32-inch thick, steel reinforced walls, will withstand a one megaton nuclear blast. For pound 350,000 you get six bunk beds, a Swiss-made ventilation system, plywood lined walls, a diesel generator, and for entertainment, a few board games.
Footnote: Ironically, the mythical Mayan city if Xibalba, or "City of Fear" also lay underground.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

What five to ten million rupees will get you in Hyderabad:Real Estate Investing

The second largest city of Sindh, Hyderabad stands at a significant geographical, economic and cultural junction. It is no doubt a best place for investment in Pakistan. A developed urban center in its own right, Hyderabad has several universities, the institute of Sindhology and Asia's longest bazaar, the Shahi Bazaar, and a real estate market experiencing renewed activity.
Here is a look at residential areas in Hyderabad priced between five and 10 million rupees, which are attracting investment in Pakistan:
1. Cantonment is located in proximity to some of Hyderabad's well-known residential areas such as Latifabad and Qasimabad, and is a few minutes away from Hyderabad Railway Station. Easily accessible from Hyderabad's major arteries, this well-maintained residential district is undoubtedly Hyderabad's most upscale; there are several recreational facilities in the vicinity as well as shopping options. The famous Bombay Bakery is also located there.
Plot Size (sq yds)          Purchase Price range (Rs)
250                                  9.8-10 million
325                                  9.9-10 million

2. Latifabad is one of the Hyderabad's largest residential areas. It is a well planned suburb divided into 12 units. Each unit includes a hospital, educational institutes and commercial area. Latifabad Units 7 and 8 are famous for Anarkali Bazaar and Siddiqui Centre, a popular shopping plaza. An upscale residential area, it is considered to be one of the best in the city, and it is a best opportunity for investment in Pakistan.
Plot Size (sq yds)          Purchase Price (Rs)
150                                 5-6.5 million
200                                 6-6.7 million
250                                 7.5-7.9 million
300                                 7.7-8.2 million

3. Qasimabad is located adjacent to Cantonment and Government Officers Residences (GOR), and is easily accessible via the NS Motorway, Thandi Sarak and Wadhu Wah. It is a middle-class residential area and comprises several prominent societies inculding Anwar Villas, CItizen COlony, Faraz Villas, Gulistan-e-Sajjad, Nasim Nagar and Waqar Town. Qaismabad has several reputable educational institutes, hospitals and recreational avenues.

Plot Size (sq yds)           Purchase Price Range (Rs)
125                                 5-5.5 million
225                                 6-6.7 million
300                                 6.8-7.6 million
400                                 7-8.5 million

Here lies best opportunity for any investor to investment in Pakistan.