Things happening for good..Real Estate India

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Few days back I had written an article about real estate and bad practices followed by the builders, well today, at least there is some solace for those who were stuck with DLF..hope other folks learn lesson from this decision from supreme court.

My original article:

http://rajeshgautam.com/2014/06/11/investing-in-real-estate-in-indiagood-strategy-but-be-careful/

Supreme court slaps 630 CR penalty to DLF for their bad practices

http://www.financialexpress.com/news/cci-fines-dlf-r630-crore-for-abusing-market-dominance/832827/1

Man Shadow on Moon…It appears to be Google Maps Anomaly

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Few weeks back, news about a shadow on the moon became viral over the internet and everyone was sharing the same on social media.

This was the original image which surfaced on Social Media.
Four locations having the same shadow
View Full Image

My daughter also got into it and started researching on Google Maps. Initially we could not believe that actually there is a man and shadow of a man like figure but later she researched and found that this may be a dust particle stuck on the camera with which Google Maps were captured. She found a repeated image on the same length. See below and try it yourself.

These are the four locations found Google Earth(Moon) which have the same shadow.

Four locations having the same shadow
View Full Image

If you have Google Earth then open it else install one and select moon maps. Search for the following coordinates.

Latitude 27°28’16.20″N Longitude 4°46’48.09″W

Latitude 27°33’3.57″N Longitude 6° 7’16.74″W

Latitude 27°37’23.62″N Longitude 7°28’24.13″W

Latitude 27°40’45.81″N Longitude 8°48’54.77″W

You can also search for “Bancroft” and view this in Google Earth at elevation of 24 Mi. Then search for these images.

http://www.examiner.com/article/colossus-spotted-on-google-moon-video

Returning or planning to return to India from UK, then check this out..

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Mike Garrod, who has just left this message for the readers of this blog :

“Hi everyone. I’m looking for couples or families who are considering/planning a move to India from the UK. I was wondering if they’d be interested in allowing the BBC to film their move for a new TV show? Please contact me for more info”

This may be an opportunity for the readers from UK to appear on BBC. To Mike’s credit he is based in UK and edits on FCP and has directed music videos and documentary. He works with BBC, ITV, Channel 4 (UK), Sky One, MTV, Channel 5 (UK), Granada, Discovery, National Geographic, Swiss National, MBC, HBO, Swedish Film Institute, TV3 Sweden + independent producers.

You can email him at mail@mikegarrod.com or visit his website at http://www.mikegarrod.com

Investing in Real Estate in India……Good Strategy But Be Careful….

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Investing in home or a piece of land is the number one priority for all of us (Indians) and generations can vouch that this strategy in the long run pays off. I had been investing in Indian real estate market since 1998 and was lucky to be part of the great run. Thanks to the people around me who had assisted me to invest safely since then.  Now that I am in India and directly involved in some of these deals, I believe that not only NRIs but even local investors have to be careful with the gimmicks played by builders and brokers. Absence of law and law enforcement in this sector keeps the end investors on toe and builders and brokers take full advantage of the same. For NRIs it’s more difficult as they may be investing by looking at brochures and tall promises made by builders and brokers but they need to be very careful. Here is a list of things that you may consider evaluating before you invest.

Possession of Projects: It is very common for builders to promise delivery dates of projects, but it is almost sure that you can add at least 2-3 years to the actual possession date. Some projects are even delayed by 3-4 years; this can jeopardize your investment or your plans of moving to the new place. There is no penalty to the builder for this delay, sometimes back builders have started adding penalty clause but that will make you laugh.

Location: Most of us know location is one key element when we invest in real estate. Builders spend lots of money in creating very attractive brochures which carry most of the information about projects including location maps; anything which is not a part of builder’s location is generally shown as lush green area, you may want to check in real what exists nearby as in some cases you may find offices, apartments or malls but in some cases there will be railway lines and noisy roads going behind your plot or apartment.

Sale on Projection: This may be happening in other places as well, but this has happened in Gurgaon where the Government had announced to build a highway and builders started creating land banks and further started selling apartments, villas and plots on the highway which never existed. You may experience that your apartment or dream house is ready but they are not accessible because there is no road. Dwarka expressway is one example where most of the reputed builders are sitting on people’s money and expressway was supposed to be ready by 2011. Here we are in 2014, and people still cannot find a way to their homes.

Increase of Area: This problem is quite strange and seems illegal.  Few times people had been sent letters to deposit more money than what is in the contract because builders claim that area allocated on the plan of apartment/plot is more than what was actually mentioned in the contract. I don’t understand how the area can change in the end when architects make the plan, and then the plan gets approved by the Govt agencies. Only few cash strapped builders carry these practices but you still need to be careful.

Sale before Proper Approvals: Few very strange cases where buyers are struck so badly that they have no options left other than taking a loss on the investment they made.  Ansals Aravali, a 2500 acres community where 1 acre and 2 acre plots had been allocated to buyers, builder had provided all facilities like water, electric etc, farm house had been made and 10 years later buyers find out that builder had not taken all clearances from the required Govt agencies, which resulted, no more construction and even demolish all farm houses which are constructed by the buyers. Scared now? These farm houses may have been sold years back, but just few weeks back SuperTech had been ordered by high court to demolish two of their premier towers in Noida because they had not followed the rules.

Soft Launch Advantage/Disadvantage: I got an opportunity to invest in Gurgaon through tier 1 builders and brokers and found that some of the information probably is not even known to the regular buyers. Although nothing is hidden, I still think when people invest they are not aware of these facts because they generally deal with brokers. Anytime when the project is launched by a builder to the regular public, the builder probably already has sold their inventory to very big investors called under writers, then further these underwriters subcontract to brokers to find small investors, who buys 2-10 units and then further launch date is announced for normal public. In this process, builders make sure that their entire inventory is gone but during the process every middle party involved makes money. This entire process is called soft launch, it’s advisable to find out trusted brokers and hunt for these deals but sometimes soft launched projects may not have all approvals in place, which could put your investment in jeopardy.

Business Ethics: Observed that business ethics like any other business in India are far in this vertical as well, if you have bad luck, these brokers can play bad games and as bad that sometimes they may be selling you some property which is sold twice or a piece of land that is illegal or may not even have all the approvals in place. Always refrain from giving any direct money to brokers, they can run away forever.

Super Area Confusion/Trick: Try to understand, what is the actual build up area are you going to get when you buy any real estate. Builders generally charge you for super area but they will never mention what will be the built up area. In some cases, I even found that when I bought an office on the first floor, it had a ratio of super area and build up area of 65% but when bought the office in the same complex on ground floor then ratio became 50%.

No EMIs Trick: Real estate market is softer in India since 2012, builders are now coming up with the new gimmicks, they are promoting that you do not pay until you get possession or all your EMIs are paid on your behalf etc. Be careful and be aware of the fact that all these offers have interest factored in the price. There is no way that the builder is going to work in your favor. Protect yourself.

I had bought many properties abroad but never faced any of the above problems.  Everything is black and white, but if you are investing in real estate in India then there is no doubt that the rewards could be handsome but be extra careful and be extra vigilant.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/noida/SC-stays-demolition-of-2-Supertech-towers-in-Noida/articleshow/34680049.cms

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/Nine-Aravali-farmhouses-pulled-down/articleshow/12670429.cms

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campa_Cola_Compound

(This blog is dedicated to Aastha my daughter, who is in 5th grade, checks my blog stats every day, since I do not write frequently, this time she wanted me to write a blog as her birthday present, so that stats go up. :))

Easy Ways to Expose Yourself to the World of Hackers…..

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During the last 30 years, technology had been a big catalyst in changing our lives in many good ways. Now we have many new products, tools and software applications that are part of our daily lives. Technologies like internet and its various wireless forms like 2G, 3G & 4G have really shortened the world by decreasing the communication gap and cost. I remember in 1997 when we used to call home (India) from USA, it used to cost us around $2 per minute and that cost had literally come down to pennies in the last few years. Today many software applications e.g. Facebook, Google, many email services and endless mobile applications to call, SMS and chat are offered free. There may not be any cost attached when we use these tools but there are many security threats attached to them which many of us are not aware of and because of that lack of knowledge we suffer.

Since I have been in the software development business for the last 20 years, I can easily make these two statements:  as soon as you are connected to the internet using any device whether it’s your desktop, tablet or mobile, you are not safe and second, any application, online or software residing on your PC, tablet or mobile device can potentially expose you to hackers.  If there is an extremely intelligent developer/company who claims that their application is completely secure then there is also an extremely smart hacker sitting somewhere to crack that code to misuse it. Most of these cyber-attacks are done intentionally to harm innocent users using internet and World Wide Web. People who named WWW probably had good intentions but literally did not think that “Web” still means: “A network of fine threads constructed by a spider from fluid secreted by its spinnerets, used to catch its prey.” Hackers are spiders and we are their prey.

Using Security Cameras at home: This particular instance had provoked me to write this blog and is a good example of how important it is to really to understand what you are getting into. Few months back, we got security cameras installed in our home. When the installation was about to complete, the installer asked me if I would like to track activity remotely through the web. I had a big smile and my answer was yes because it would be an advantage when we go on vacation, then we could have tracked any activity inside our home, backyard, front gates etc. on the iPhone. But while the guy was setting it up he had asked me to connect the DVR with my local internet and also asked for user id and password. When I asked him why he would need all that information, he had no answer. But, I was still watching him closely and this was what I found. He literally used my user id and password and opened one of the ports which could directly communicate through the servers in Hong Kong and through internet, stream all video activity to that server which further gets downloaded to the iPhone/Mobile app. I don’t think anyone even imagines what these security vendors are doing, but literally any day if hackers hack the server, millions of those users are exposed.

Now there are Wi-Fi security cameras available which are even more insecure. As long as you are securing the place with security cameras and recording the activity, it’s fine. But, as soon as you integrate your IPhone, you would potentially be exposing entire activity to the hackers.

Configuring and using Wi-Fi : Wi-Fi is another technology that everyone is going after. Initially it was meant to connect laptops, desktops, printers and tablets through internet but now the same is being used to control household devices, like switching on the lights, controlling TVs and refrigerators. Many folks by themselves or by installers rush through the job to get their Internet connectivity working as quickly as possible. That’s totally understandable but if the Internet is not configured properly it can cause numerous security problems. Why is security so important and what could possibly go wrong? Here is the list:

Once your Wi-Fi is hacked, hackers can use your account to download/upload movies or any media.

They can surf sites which you may not usually go to.

In some cases they can access your hard disk and that means they can access all your files.

There are many utilities easily available which can hack your Wi-Fi. It’s easy for hackers to look for all open and unsecured Wi-Fi  networks and use them. So why take that risk, at least follow these steps to secure yourself:

Change the name of your SSID and do not make it very attractive and obvious e.g. GAUTAM HOME.

Always use a password or key to connect.

Do not keep password as simple as “1234” or “password”.

Choose encryption type to WEP, if you have other choices available like WPA or WPA2 then it’s better to choose the latter.

Free Emails/SMS/Chat and social networking sites: Nothing is free in this world, anything that you get for no money, means you are definitely compromising something else. When was the last time that you completely read the agreement or terms and conditions when you signed up for the social networking site or signed up for free email service, I guess never. No one has time to go through those agreements. Recently, we were developing a website and we thought that we should have terms and condition on our website equivalent to what Facebook has. Therefore when our team reviewed the Facebook agreement, it was an eye opener and shame to see how we all have really agreed to those terms. On top of it Facebook is still not safe from hackers; every now and then they have a major security lapse. When you search on Google, Google generally tracks what you are searching for and start pushing their advertisements accordingly. I am sure everyone knows that NSA had been tracking all email services and all SMS, now that is for good cause but what if there is a hacker who is as smart as someone sitting in NSA and crack and hack all this information. Recently Snapchat was hacked and 4.5 million users had been exposed. Target and few other major retailers in USA had been hit hard by hackers.

Should you stop using these tools? I say “No”. But you should evaluate the risks of signing up for these services and understand how these new tools or devices are exposing us to the world of hackers. I used to have many friends who would not join any social network site; they would not create a Facebook account for their kids because kids could get spoiled. I had a different point of view, for how long we would be able to control our kids, few years, what happens when they go out of our hands; they would do whatever they would like to do. So why not adapt these things and teach them how to use them, what to do and what not do and also make them aware of these security issues.

Broader idea here is, be aware of these new tools and devices, how they work and what you got to do to secure yourself, because sooner or later you will have to adapt them.

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