With construction coming to a standstill across the country and ambiguity over project completion, home seekers are now looking to invest in ready-to-move-in homes, said Bijay Agarwal, MD, Salarpuria Sattva Group.
He further added that home buyers are now inclined towards a self-sufficient home living set up. A home that satisfies the emergent requirements of the new normal.
In an exclusive interview with RoofandFloor, he spoke about how the company is realigning their business strategies to sustain in the coming times, challenges due to the pandemic, and much more.
Here are the excerpts.
Firstly, how has the pandemic changed the way real estate operates in India?
Covid-19 has changed the way we live or work, and this will have a lasting effect on us for a while. A few of which will become a part of our lives, the ‘new normal’. In the real estate sector, the pandemic has augmented a few trends already in substantiation.
Across sectors, these drifts have changed the requirements of people. Furthermore, considering the present situation, traditional real estate has taken a paradigm shift. Social distancing and need to live in a hygienic environment have become the need of the hour.
As we foresee the industry, to operate seamlessly in the post-Covid era, the industry has to recognise, comprehend, strategise, and implement innovative ways to meet the emerging versatile demands in the market.
Over the last few months, the government announced various measures to boost consumer sentiment. Do you think there’s more scope from the government’s side?
The government has tried to aid the developers by announcing several initiatives to maintain liquidity in the market. The fiscal stimulus announced by the Finance Minister and measures taken by RBI to maintain liquidity were logical steps towards the revival of the sector.
The initiative to introduce Rs 30,000 Crore special liquidity schemes towards both primary and secondary market transactions in investment-grade debt papers of NBFCs/HFCs/MFIs, will help keep the cash flowing in the housing sector. The six-month extension (till August 2020) for all RERA-registered projects on or after March 25, 2020, will also exempt a lot of real estate developers from defaulting. At present, the industry is expecting this to extend until December.
Beyond this, the announcement of the Affordable Rental Housing Complex scheme will open up new business opportunities.
Now that you have resumed operations, what are the challenges you are facing, and how are you addressing those?
This global pandemic has left us with several challenges. In the construction industry, the number of workers on a project can vary significantly, between varied projects and across work durations. In a situation like this, the gathering of labourers can pose a significant threat to spreading the infection.
At Sattva, we have employed 600+ native labourers’ across our projects for completion and handover. We have also ensured that our employees get screened before entering the office. We regularly sanitise all our workspaces and have made the necessary alterations in our day-to-day activities, to adhere to the government’s guidelines.
Have you started receiving enquires?
Yes, we have started receiving enquiries. We see a surge in demand for ready-to-move-in residential units.
Do you think homebuyers’ preferences will change in the times to come?
The pandemic has changed the way people think and live. It has raised numerous questions about the form of our cities, the spatial planning of homes, and the layout of our neighbourhoods. The feeling of staying safe and secure is paramount for people across the country as the fear of infection is still very much present.
Keeping in view the present situation, potential homebuyers are inclined towards a self-sufficient home living and a healthy lifestyle altogether. During the nationwide lockdown and changing work patterns, homes were turned into workplaces, schools for our kids, a place for us to exercise and relax etc.
Therefore, it is no longer limited to homebound work culture; it is much more than that; people require a home that satisfies the emergent requirements of the new normal, in both personal hygiene and work fronts.
We can expect people to focus more on the automated home environment to suit the work-living needs.
Should home seekers wait for property prices to correct or take the plunge?
The importance of owning a home has regained its prominence. Considering the concerns of a rented space, owning a house is the most logical decision at present.
Furthermore, favourable government policies, with revised repo rate and reverse repo rate, have made the home buying more striking. The steep cut has brought interest rates on home loans by public and private sector banks to their lowest, between 6.95% and 8.55%, in over a decade.
The combination of lower interest rates along with abridged property prices, are keeping the home buying prospect still attractive. With an additional focus on the security part of property deals, it has the potential to drive real estate sales across the country as well.
Your take on the future of residential real estate post in the second half of 2020.
It is difficult to identify a sector which has not been impacted by the pandemic. Still, for the Indian real estate sector, the impact of the crisis cannot be assessed precisely at this given point of time. With the changing buyer sentiment and existing migrant labour issue, it has become challenging to predict where the market is headed to.
To bridge the gap and maintain considerate property costs, developers are employing native manpower and working towards houses with mixed aesthetics of a home and workplace.
The unpredictability has caused a few pre-launch deferments to next year as people are inclining more towards ready-to-move-in homes. Though the residential market has been hit hard due to this pandemic, however, with the shift in priorities of the existing and potential buyers, we can expect the sector to revive soon.