Saturday, July 01, 2017

Land For All

Sulaiman Karadan talks about the first Land Expo in Kerala, on July 3-4, at Kochi, and about the real estate business

By Shevlin Sebastian

Sulaiman Karadan, of the real-estate firm, Karadan Lands, would often go to a restaurant in Kozhikode to have a rice meal on a banana leaf. One day, the waiter, Mani, asked him what he did. “Real estate,” replied Sulaiman. Mani said, “I know of a property which the owner wants to sell.”

So Sulaiman followed up with the owner and a deal for the 70 cent property was done. “I got a nice margin,” says Sulaiman. But he did not forget Mani. A month later, he went and gave Rs 1 lakh as a gift to the astonished waiter.

On another day, at 6 a.m., Sulaiman was travelling in a car at Kozhikode when he noticed a drunk urinating on the shutter of a building. “I asked him why he was doing this,” says Sulaiman.

The drunk asked Sulaiman who he was.

I am the owner of this building,” said Sulaiman.

The drunk then took Sulaiman's visiting card. The next day, when he was sober, he went to Sulaiman's office and asked whether the building was for sale. Sulaiman nodded. Thereafter, he brought a client and the deal was done.

I gave him a commission of 2.5 per cent,” says Sulaiman. “The rest estate business thrives on these accidental meetings.”

With this thought in mind, Sulaiman is setting up Kerala's first Land Expo at the Le Meridien, Kochi on July 3-4. “There are about 650 properties, across 14 districts, which are on sale,” says Sulaiman. “It will range from 2 cents to several acres. We have a legal wing which has ensured that all papers are in order.”

Interestingly, among all the properties that Sulaiman saw, the one he liked the most is a two-acre property at Wayanad, which has a lake in it. “At Rs 4 crore, I am unable to afford it,” he says, with a smile.

Sulaiman expects at least 5000 visitors to come and see what is on offer.
Apart from the properties, there will be a series of talks. Among them, Padma Shri awardee G Shankar, of the Habitat Technology Group, will speak on Sustainable Habitat Development, while B R Ajit, Chairman of the Indian Institute of Architects will talk about sustainable architecture.

There will also be an interaction with the experts, so that the visitors will get an idea of how to build homes in a sustainable manner, and get an idea of land utilisation, reforms, investment, and management,” says Sulaiman.

Meanwhile, when asked about the effects of the November 8 demonitisation, last year, Sulaiman says, “For nearly five months, after that, there was no business at all. But, in April, the funds slowly began coming in. Now there are genuine buyers. There is far less black money. I expect that in future land prices will go down. Many middle class people will be able to afford to buy property.”

And Sulaiman is happy about it. At his tastefully decorated office in Panampilly Nagar, Kochi, Sulaiman comes across as a man who is calm and laid-back. He has indeed come a long way. The entrepreneur grew up in Edakkara, near Nilambur. When he completed his Class 8 exams, Sulaiman opted out and began helping his father in the timber business. However, in 1992, he decided to move to real estate. “The margins are better,” he says.

Asked for tips on doing well in the real-estate business, Sulaiman says, “It is very important that you choose the right buyer and seller. This evaluation comes from intuition and experience. For me, it has been a fascinating profession, because you meet all sorts of people.” 

(The New Indian Express, Kochi, Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram) 

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