What stars look out for while house hunting? ‘A yesteryear actor wanted a place like Salman Khan’s farmhouse’

A star’s residence is an important part of their overall image. We spoke to a real estate consultant, an architect and an interior designer to understand the prerequisites laid down by celebrities before they settle for a property
What stars look out for while house hunting? ‘A yesteryear actor wanted a place like Salman Khan’s farmhouse’ (Photo Credit: Salman Khan/Instagram)
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We have all heard the phrase ‘your house is a reflection of your personality’ and just like everyone else, celebrities too abide by this quote. However, considering the nature of their profession and the public interest around it, celebs usually come up with interesting prerequisites before they settle for a property. Some of which are for safety reasons, a few to maintain an image and others purely for the purpose of vanity. Over a period of time, celebrity homes even become a landmark and continue to be a topic of interest for all their fans. 

Which is why we often see their admirers gather outside their properties on important days, and sometimes even on a regular basis just to get a glimpse of their favourite star. For instance, Shah Rukh Khan greeting a large number of fans from his terrace on his birthday, Salman Khan waving at his admirers on big days and Amitabh Bachchan’s Sunday meetings with his fans is a testimony of their stardom. This even is an aspiration for many. So Pinkvilla got in touch with a few stakeholders from the real estate market to understand the requirements and demands that a star makes while looking for a house. 

They vary from privacy requirements, to private entry and exits to discount requests for adding value to a certain property. Nilay Rajpurohit, a renowned celebrity real estate consultant in Mumbai informs that celebs always approach with specific areas in mind, where apartments might not always be readily available. “For example, in Mumbai people would want to upgrade from Borivali to Andheri and then to Bandra followed by Worli and so on. However, celebs would want to take a house only in a particular location like Carter Road or Pali Hill in Bandra, or near Prithvi Theatre in Juhu. Some upcoming celebs might want to settle in Andheri Lokhandwala, Versova, Four Bungalows or Seven Bungalows, so that they can be closer to other celebrities and their shooting locations as well,” informs Nilay.

However, that’s not the case always. “There are some who say they don’t want to stay in or near a property where another celeb resides. I assume this might be because they would not want to share the building with a bigger celebrity as that might affect their media and PR buzz,” he adds. 

The real estate consultant asserts that buying an entire floor or all the apartments on one floor is a very common practice amongst the celebrities. “In most cases, A list celebs come with good budgets and are looking to buy an entire floor or a bungalow to maintain their privacy. They usually don’t want any neighbours, primarily because they host a lot of parties which might create a ruckus for the ones living around. But it's not easy to find such properties in Mumbai, especially in the prime locations that they demand.” 

Nilay shares an example of an A list actor who is on the hunt for an entire building in Mumbai. “A big actor is looking for a one full building where he can have his office, his wife’s office, studio, meeting rooms, make-up rooms and a lot more. He wants to make it like a mini Antilia. But he hasn’t been able to find one, as such properties in good locations are extremely rare, and plus very expensive. I remember, another A lister who I was dealing with had liked this sea-facing apartment but wanted a separate entry and exit for himself in the building which wasn’t possible, so he let the property go. Another one wanted a road facing apartment on a lower floor so he could come out on his balcony and wave to his fans just like Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan. We cater to all these requests,” he smiles. 

Adding on to Nilay’s observations Amit Khanolkar, Principal Partner of DIG Architects says that the specifications that they receive from celebrities depends on a lot of things like their social status, the way they want to project it and the functionality of the house. “Most of these people entertain a lot and would often have guests over. So, the uniqueness, aesthetics and the wow factor has to be there in everything, right from the lights, to the wall piece, bed linens and rugs. Secondly, they even work at odd hours so we get requirements around that as well. For example, since they sleep at odd hours they might want to put up black out curtains in order to stop the sunlight from entering the house. Even their wardrobes are customised, as they travel a lot and wouldn’t want their clothes to smell when they return. So they would want to put dehumidifiers to maintain them. It’s a functional requirement for everyone who travels for most part of the year,” explains Amit.

Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s interior designer-granddaughter Tapur Chatterji who’s worked on a couple of celebrity homes, says that celebs are also often misguided. “This is because they are not really aware of the outside world and the actual market price of a lot of things, so people tend to take them for a ride. But if the trust happens, everything else falls in place. I find it very easy to work with them as I understand their privacy requirements and their language as well. Since they have travelled the world, they must have seen some piece of work somewhere which they might want to replicate, so one needs to have that aptitude and the exposure to understand that,” she states. 

However, sometimes they would also want to use their celebrity status at their advantage. Nilay cites an example of a sports celebrity. “Once a big sports personality went directly to a developer, who is probably a bigger celebrity in his own field. He said that he wanted a discount on the property as him investing there will help the builder to attract more clients. But the builder wasn’t interested so he flatly refused. He is still looking for a house. So yes, a lot of celebs ask for discounts as they believe their presence will add more value to the building,” he adds.

Tapur adds that just like everyone, celebrities too have worked hard to earn their money. “If I give my other clients a discount on something, they are entitled to it as well,” she smiles. Prod her if this job is as glamorous as it seems, she laughs and says, “The glamour part comes only towards the end. Before that it's a lot of hard work."

Needless to say this job comes with a lot of challenges too. Amit says that one challenge about doing a celebrity house is that the client focuses more on the outer beauty of the apartment, while they concentrate more on it’s strength. “There is this term called ‘Surkhi Bindi’, which means everything has to look great from the outside and for them the house is like ‘Surkhi Bindi’. I remember one actor had given us a tight budget, but some work was needed to be done on the ceiling. Since we were putting up a fall ceiling underneath that, he suggested we let the inside part of the ceiling be. But from a safety point of view it wasn’t recommended, so we insisted on doing the entire ceiling properly,” he recalls amusingly.  

Tapur says that another struggle is to meet their timeline expectations. “Sometimes celebs would expect things to get done quickly, but then you have to explain to them that these things take time especially if there are any specific requirements, as it takes a while to procure quality material.”

And do they sign any Non-disclosure agreements (NDA) with the stars in order to keep details about their house private? “I have never signed any confidentiality agreement with any celebrity but I know of some NDA’s being signed about various aspects of the project,” Amit informs. 

Another important aspect while buying a property for many is looking into the Vaastu of the apartment. Do celebrities get into that as well? “There are some who believe in Vastu but not all of them do. One client of mine who is related to a celebrity and has done some films in the past was very particular about this. She called a Vastu consultant all the way from Rajasthan who came to Mumbai and did a lot of alterations to the apartment. We had to redo the flooring as they wanted to put some Vastu instruments under the floor,” says Nilay.

Sometimes superstitions also play a role in the business of buying and selling properties. “I know of an actor who is quite superstitious. He knew that a bungalow was up for sale in his society, so I ended up showing it to him. He quoted half the price of the property, so I told him that devaluing a bungalow in his own area will devalue his property too. But he gave me a reason that a tree which was at the entrance of that on sale bungalow was not good for the property, and cutting it down will be even worse. So according to him the bungalow shouldn’t be sold at the market rate,” Nilay reminisces. 

Furthermore, these property demands from celebs are not only limited to Mumbai. “I have ongoing demands from clients who want land parcels in the outskirts of the city as well. A yesteryear actor wanted a place like Salman Khan’s Panvel farmhouse, as he too wants to host the same kind of parties. He is still looking,” Nilay signs off.  

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