(Guest Column by Rohan Parikh, Managing Director, Iconic Developments Pvt Ltd)
Luxury is not just cars or international holidays, today it has evolved to include a luxurious lifestyle, with technology, security and comfort with services playing a crucial role. As cities expand and evolve, and with it the concept of luxury living, the real estate sector has experienced a decisive shift towards affordable luxury living catering not only to High Net Worth Individuals but also the growing middle class.
The recent increase in per capita income has been an agent of this change tethered to the natural but rapid urbanisation and other socio-economic factors such as migration, to the outskirts of Colombo. In this setting, the demand for upmarket, comfortable and luxury spaces have increased.
Consumers too, have become smarter and are observing the change. Their choice of housing has evolved into affordable luxury. It is not just about space but also the facilities that appeal to the urban social and community lifestyle, smooth connectivity, public transport, and necessities such as hospitals and schools which have contributed to this burgeoning demand. Community social life, in particular, plays an important role, and thus approachable social hangout places are also on the radar. These altogether become the deciding factors for prospective homeowners when it comes to buying a property.
In response to this demand, design and innovation within the real estate industry have advanced rapidly in a short time. Excellence in architectural design, exceptional space management, and sustainable solutions related to the environment as well as suiting the Sri Lankan context is of high priority for all real estate companies. Green designs are also becoming preferred by the growing conscious consumer who is opting to live in homes that are environment-friendly and help control climatic change.
When it comes to other factors, technology and security are paramount compared to the traditional choices for a consumer. From 24-hour electricity back-up, air-conditioning to clean and pure water, everything is important that makes life simpler and smoother.
Prime locations such as Rajagiriya, soon to become the administrative capital of the city, set in lush green environment are coveted areas for its convenient location, compounded by the availability of quality healthcare and education. Development drives of successive governments and fast, built expressways have also given it the added advantage of being directly connected to Colombo City and the airport.
An excellent example of this would be the Iconic Galaxy apartments, which take maximum advantage of vertical living, offering affordable luxurious self-contained spaces for homeowners. The pool, gym, banquet hall, entertainment centre, medical centre and café are some of the amenities offered at the apartment complex combined with a well-protected, safe space. Children can enjoy the complex and its facilities with no worries.
Therefore, developers such as ourselves are incorporating luxury amenities in convenient locations with minimal wastage of area to cater to mostly young couples and nuclear families. We choose not to ignore this growing segment of customers, and efforts are being made to provide luxury features at affordable rates, to offer the possibility of enjoying high-end facilities without stretching the budget.
If you put all the above in a house, it would be prohibitively expensive. Therefore, financially approachable homes bundled with luxurious amenities have gained popularity as affordable luxury homes. Developers now offer the taste of ultra-modern facilities and the use of superlative finishing materials in prominent localities which are affordable for mid-income buyers. 
Prospective homeowners have responded well to these changes as they can now achieve their aspirations of living in luxury without an extensive budget. Partnerships with leading banks such as HNB and NDB offer our customers attractive benefits, low-interest rates, and easy payment plans to make their dreams a reality.
These options ensured that our projects, such as the Iconic 110 Parliament Road a few years ago, was sold out before completion. It has already set the benchmark for what affordable luxury should be like. The model was further enhanced with the Iconic Galaxy, as we pushed the boundaries on what affordable luxury looks like, offering amenities that no other developer has provided at competitive rates.
Furthermore, real estate projects, such as the Iconic Galaxy have caught the eye of investors who are now turning to affordable luxury housing to securely lock their money as it promises higher returns in the future.
Today, instead of procuring wealth, people prefer to invest in real estate with the motive to attain comfort in the present while gaining its benefits in the future in terms of higher returns, leaving the next generation with a measure of personal wealth and an additional mode of income.
Ultimately, while the world is yet to recover from the unexpected economic slowdown, real estate in the affordable luxury segment is expected to be less affected.
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