Vertical living may be the trend in today’s lifestyle, but how often do we long for that little touch of nature: to be surrounded by lush greens amid the concrete jungle of vertical spaces. While the demands of this fast-paced world make condo living the preferred option, offering the best of both the skyline and nature is Raintree Residencies.

In a brief chat with Echelon, Head of Sales and Marketing of RainTree Residencies Imzaan Haqqueexpl ained the uniqueness of the project, which is the first to be launched in the heart of Colombo.

Imzaan Haqque Head of Sales and Marketing

Vertical living has made impactful changes in today’s lifestyle. Luxury living in the sky is attractive and convenient, but it also inhibits one’s touch with nature. How can the benefits of vertical living embrace both nature and convenience to make this lifestyle change more fulfilling?
The motivation for our concept for RainTree Residencies stems from our innate connection to nature, known as ‘biophilia’. Urbanisation in Colombo is rising at a rapid pace like in most emerging economies. Nonetheless, people have not given up their desire to be closer to nature. Our core design ethos for RainTree Residencies was to balance nature, modernity and affordability. We strived to infuse nature into all aspects of our development, from using renewable solar energy to power common areas to planting trees in the atrium to provide a natural coolant, to specifying floor-to-ceiling windows to maximise natural lighting. Our choice of naming the project also draws inspiration from nature via the “Ahela Tree” (also known as the Golden RainTree), planted just in front of the property. In my opinion, vertical living is about making life more convenient. RainTree Residencies breathes convenience with its prime location, with value additions such as a mini-market, café, food court and janitorial services.

We’ve seen some projects either failing or over promising and under delivering. This has made buyers quite apprehensive and more cautious in their buying approach. How is the RainTree Residencies project different in terms of the firm behind the development, what a buyer can expect and its completion timelines?
RainTree Residencies is the flagship project of HNJ Towers. Although we are a relatively new developer, our management has vast experience in the real estate industry, with investments in projects both in Sri Lanka and the UK. At HNJ Towers, we aim to create chic, affordable and green living spaces in locations with strong connectivity points.

RainTree Residencies is a freehold property built on our own premises, as opposed to other developments that are owned by various entities. In addition, we aim to create a tight-knit community within our developments so that all our residents feel safe and involved.

In terms of completion timeliness, we aim to achieve our target deadline of completion by working closely with our main contractor, N&A Engineering Services, and our consultant, Milroy Perera and Associates (MPA).

There are many luxury and super luxury projects ongoing at present in Colombo, demanding high prices, which caters to a similar set of buyers. What is RainTree Residencies’ pricing strategy, and where do you see buyer interest coming from?
We believe RainTree Residencies falls into a new category by itself: “Affordable luxury with a contemporary finish”. Since we are a new developer with pioneering concepts, we are entering the market at a very competitive price point compared to our competitors in the vicinity. The reason is to not only consolidate our position in this niche segment within the market, but also to stretch brand awareness for future projects with our ‘tree logo’.

Most of our buyers are Sri Lankan expats looking for an investment that provides them with all the comforts of a modern dwelling at an affordable price. We also have professionals seeking an alternative home in the heart of the city, since it’s located within walking distance from Durdans Hospital, Royal College and Cargills.

In the last decade or so, we’ve seen significant growth in the vertical living space. Each new project incorporates value additions that are convincing and attractive. How has RainTree Residencies incorporated such learnings into the mix to deliver a more outstanding living concept?
The current trend in the real estate industry appears to be lackluster, with very few developers wanting to break away from the norm of building standalone apartment complexes. As more developers continue to follow this trend, buyers have little or no choice of distinguishing projects other than by their level of luxury and location. We believe that setting a precedent in the way one can maximise a plot of land will define one’s brand. RainTree Residencies is a unique mixed development project that came to fruition after prudently studying the market, and to fill a gap where affordable investment opportunities in prime locations is scarce.

Condominiums are also an option for investment, especially in a market where return on equity is unpredictable. Where do you see RainTree Residencies within this investment portfolio mix, and in terms of ROI?
As Sri Lanka gains attention in the global radar for investment and tourism, the potential impact on our economy will be limitless. RainTree Residencies presents an exciting investment opportunity for customers seeking an alternative investment vehicle to equity and fixed income. RainTree Residencies offers a unique value proposition to its clientele, wherein the management of the apartments will be undertaken by our property management arm for a fair management fee. Furthermore, value additions such as a 24-hour front desk, housekeeping and real-time feedback of operations will be offered to stakeholders. As such, an investment at RainTree Residencies is unlike a traditional apartment complex and more comparable to a limited-service hotel that offers a higher ROI and, more importantly, ‘convenience’ to the investor.

How about rental yields? Is there demand? And is ROI good enough from an investor’s perspective?
As more high-end and luxury units come into the market in the near term, we believe this will eventually lead to a glut in supply in the luxury segment that may hinder growth in rental yields. However, demand from the mid-range and upper-mid range segments continues to observe strong demand.

Prices at RainTree Residencies range from Rs18 million upwards, resulting in rental yields of around 6-10%, generally higher than our competitors’ due to the affordability of the units and its prime location, which command higher rentals. RainTree Residencies comprises mostly 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom and 2-bedroom duplexes that are suited for investment and individuals seeking a truly urban experience. In terms of demand, over 85% of our 88 units were pre-booked even before our launch, a testament to our unique concept that is set to become a precedent for redefining the real estate industry in Sri Lanka.