“Developers will have to innovate their strategies to revive the sentiment of end-users as well as the investors. The coming times will see several design interventions by builders in their upcoming projects to ensure the safety of the homebuyers,” said Ashish R. Puravankara, M.D., Puravankara Limited.
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?
With the pandemic sweeping in, evolution became the need of the hour. The new normal has further accentuated the importance of Proptech. It has created an environment where many players are taking the digital route and rethinking their structural and architectural designs and offering to customers.
The companies have streamlined their processes for homebuyers and made their projects available on virtual platforms so that buyers get to view and assess a property without having to pay a visit physically. They have realised that technology will be the driving force for construction and architecture in the post-Covid era.
The level of uncertainty in the economy is quite high, which impacted the buyers’ sentiments in the initial days of lockdown. Currently, it has disrupted the supply of raw materials for construction.We hope the situation will normalise soon and things start getting better.
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?
While the government and RBI have taken measures to infuse liquidity, other concerns need to be addressed. For example, despite RBI announcing a reduction in the repo rate for banks, several banks are yet to pass down this benefit to people applying for loans. The government’s move to infuse Rs. 30,000 Crore for NBFCs and HFCs will help encourage these financial institutions to lend more to people.
We also hope that the government would consider implementing a single clearance window for projects, which will ensure faster approvals for projects and eventually helps developers to finish the project on time. This would also help them to regulate cash-flows.
Now that you have resumed operations, what are the challenges you are facing, and how are you addressing those?
After we resumed operations, we tried and mapped out ways to maintain social distancing at work, ensuring the safety and hygiene of all our employees. Even at the construction sites, we are conducting regular temperature checks and are ensuring that end to end safety protocol is being followed.
There are a few challenges in terms of adapting to the new normal. However, technology has been the solution for us; and we have been doing well in terms of overall sales and customer enquiries.
We have been using construction technology like pre-cast for quite a few years, and that helps us construct buildings in controlled environments with minimal wastage and maximum precision.
We have further boosted our online/digital systems to connect with our customers, giving them a different and enhanced experience of knowing the property through virtual mediums. The web-based booking engines like BookMyHome, created by our specialised team, has been received well by our customers and more than 60% of the leads we receive are through online platforms. From site visits, booking, payments to registration, we are going all digital and using the latest technology to stay relevant.
Innovations like these have helped us in addressing the operational challenges post the advent of Covid-19.
Have you started receiving enquiries?
Yes, we did three virtual property launches in the last two months, and the interest was immense.
We launched Provident Woodfield, and Purva Atmosphere in Bangalore and Purva Aspire in Pune. We had more than 30,000 participants in our virtual launch generating immense interest for all our three projects by our discerning customers. We have been successfully able to convert a large chunk of these enquiries/leads into sales realisation.
Should home seekers wait for property prices to correct or take the plunge?
Property prices are a culmination of the cost of construction, land, government charges, capital, and margins. The sector has not exactly been very buoyant for a while now. In end-user markets, rates have more or less been stable and not unrealistically skyrocketed.
In the current scenario, developers have been working on fragile margins and expecting a price correction may not necessarily be a good idea.
Your take on the future of residential real estate post-Covid.
The ongoing pandemic has disrupted the entire existing real estate ecosystem, and the impact is so profound that it is still difficult to ascertain the quantum effect on the sector. Thus, one can expect there would be some paradigm shift which will shape the future of the realty industry. Some of the critical changes one can expect are:
- The market will see further consolidation; only serious players with a healthy balance of payment will remain in the real estate business.
- The residential segment will become more and more end-user market, as customer centricity and seamless post-sale experience will be some of the key differentiators.
- Investing/owning a home will climb up the list when it comes to personal finance investment tools.
- Assisted virtual reality and proptech will become the new norm.
- There will undoubtedly be some design innovations, both structural and architectural, especially in the residential segment. These innovations will be focusing on equipping customers with requisite facilities and amenities to address any similar situation in the future.