KELSEY HOMES AIMS TO RETAIN ITS TITLE OF BEING RENOWNED FOR ITS GATED HOUSING DEVELOPMENTS
The Kelsey Homes’ legacy spans 35 years with over 200 completed projects and 2,000 happy homeowners under its belt — an impressive number, making them the country’s primary property developer. Formerly known as Keells Homes, the company came under new management in the ‘90s and rebranded to its current name. “We’ve been through a few changes in management over the years, but one thing that hasn’t changed is our commitment to quality and exceeding expectations of our clients,” explains Lalinda Kalubowila, CEO of Kelsey Developments PLC. “We work with the best engineers and architects in the industry to make sure we meet our core value of delivering products of a high quality to our buyers.”
Right before the pandemic hit, the real estate market was gaining momentum, but when COVID-19 hit, people decided they should pause further spending. “People were worried, but thanks to the quick response from the government and health authorities during the first wave, the public regained confidence,” says Lalinda. “Even those returning home were considering investing in the property sector. But, when you do, you want to visit the site to understand how it is physically laid out. Potential buyers may invest their life savings and will not make the jump unless they see the actual picture of the property. So, developers need to be a little patient and understand the dynamics.”
Like most organisations, Kelsey Homes, too, faced its share of challenges during the pandemic, but that did not stop them. According to Lalinda, they challenged the challenges and went ahead with completing phase one of the new project, Central Park, Ja-Ela. “I don’t think many would’ve even considered something like this, but because the country opened up after the first lockdown, we went ahead. Within 30 days of launching, we sold out all 70 apartments in the 1st phase! It was a remarkable achievement for us. I believe we also did a service to the industry by showing other property developers that now is not the time to retreat into a shell. Instead, it is the time to go to the market and capitalize on the situation.”
Through it all, what has been important (and continues to be) is the wellbeing of their employees. Well before the authorities introduced work-from-home policies, Kelsey Homes’ staff were already working remotely. They rostered certain individuals to work in the office and gave them private transport to ensure they remained unexposed to health risks. “We made sure our functions as a company continued to take place and certain aspects remained unaffected to a certain extent,” shares Lalinda. “We invested in new CRM system, upgraded our website, introduced 3D virtual tours and ran digital marketing campaigns, keeping the momentum going with our clients. We also used this downtime to re-look at our strategies and identified where changes needed to take place.” According to Lalinda, there are two determining factors which will shape the future of real estate: government policies and bank interest rates. “These two will act as a positive catalyst because it is clear, through their recent budget and policy considerations, that the government is keen to push forward the housing sector,” he says. “Interest rates have dropped, encouraging people to take out loans for investing. So, it is a system that works well, particularly for the middle-income sector. The current conditions will probably show resilience in this sector because of the affordability factor compared to the high-end apartment market.”
Financially, Kelsey Homes is doing well — over the last six months, the company has recorded 1.4 billion in reservations. Lalinda believes this success is due to some contributing factors. One, in particular, is the boldness in which they make decisions. This is clear when they launched Central Park, Ja-Ela, right after the first lockdown and the sales they closed shortly after. Lalinda shares that they have changed the team, acquired new talent and invest continuously in sharpening skills and building professionalism. “It’s all about reputation,” he converses. “Most of our clients are repeat buyers, so making sure our team is strong is important. In terms of building a reputation, we have not faltered. Plus, our switch from traditional media to the digital space has revolutionised how we work, minimizing costs and increasing reach.”
Currently, Kelsey Homes has a few projects in development in Negombo, Wattala, Kottawa and Ja-Ela. “Next year will prove exciting for us as we aim to put up two to three middle-sized projects, as well as a world-class gated housing facility that will include 500-700 living spaces,” reveals Lalinda. “Over the last few decades, we have established ourselves as the frontrunners for gated housing developers, and in the next year, we aim to solidify that position, increase our market share, and continue to provide excellent customer service.