Transforming Rural Land to Urban – Ethical Considerations in Real Estate Development
Keywords:Peri-Urban, Stakeholder Perceptions, Ethics, Ethical Code, Real Estate, Built Environment, Regulation, RERA, AIFORERA.
The rural-urban frontier is a constantly shifting one due to a variety of economic and social factors that trigger this transformation in the rural-urban continuum. The most intense changes in the built environment are taking place outside the borders of cities, in rural areas adjacent to them. Real estate development has become the most significant instrument for this transformation. Existing real estate industry ethical codes in India are short on specifics and lack enforceability; a statutory code of ethics could promote best business practices. A schematic diagram is developed to understand the complex interplay of ethical behaviour between agencies in the real estate ecosystem. Drawing on the deliberations of a high-powered focus group as well as a rich all-India sample of 103 respondents covering 15 States, the paper identifies what the various stakeholders perceive as priorities for incorporation in a common code of ethics. The surveyed sample includes 87 professionals and experts (administrators, planners, regulators, lawyers, chartered accountants, bankers, engineers, architects, academicians and researchers), and 16 stakeholder associations (of builders, consumers and realtors). Transparency, promise-keeping, accountability, professional excellence, law-abidance, fairness and integrity are identified as the main characteristics prioritised, but the perspectives of stakeholder segments are nuanced and vary considerably, necessitating a strategic approach towards the drafting of a common ethical code. It is suggested that the All-India Forum of Real Estate Regulatory Authorities is best placed to bring on board all stakeholders in the finalisation of a code of ethics that could get statutory moorings in the RERA Act of 2016.
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