COVID-19 has played a significant role in the way people select homes. With a large number of people working and spending extended periods at home, the recent months have seen a rise in the home office set up creating a niche for itself as a new real estate asset class.
Work from home and social distancing norms have made people realise the importance of having well-designed spaces to work from, and having plenty of outdoor amenities and areas to be able to enjoy the outdoors or get some exercise. In addition to the requirement of additional space, the real estate industry is witnessing an interesting trend of new-age millennials showing increased preference towards home-ownership with increasingly larger periods of time spent within the confines of one’s home.
In a recent market survey about the most popular asset class for investment amidst COVID-19, a majority of the respondents picked real estate as the best investment option. More than half of this segment belonged to the millennial age group - a generation that has, until now, been known more as renters than as homeowners. It appears as if the pandemic has made millennials suddenly wake up and realise the benefits of owning a comfortable and spacious home of one’s own.
Additional factors for their new love for home-ownership could be the security that one feels with the ownership of a solid, tangible asset, in addition to the very low interest rates offered for home loans at this time. Thus a new growth trajectory can be seen in India as well as in international markets such as the US, where millennials have dominated the homebuyers segment of late.
With Indian families being largely non-nuclear, most Indians have found their current homes lacking adequate, separate spaces to accommodate working couples, children with overlapping online classes, and their parents. Even nuclear households are increasingly finding it challenging to find enough space within their existing homes and have already started factoring these in their home searches. This is where a well-designed home stands out from the rest, with more usable space per square feet being clearly demonstrated in the design. Indoor space that plans for privacy within the different rooms allows multiple people to work from home without feeling crowded. The requirement of additional and flexible spaces in homes has taken precedence over everything else.
The requirement for additional space is not limited to the four walls of one’s home - outdoor spaces have also gained importance. Outdoor spaces and sports amenities within communities are perfect when working from home to go for walks and get enough activity and exercise to maintain a healthy lifestyle. These features with options to cater to all age groups are typically found in projects with well thought out master plans and the average home buyer is including these preferences in their checklists while deciding on a home purchase, which is a significant milestone in a person’s life.
These factors have made superior design a key aspect when it comes to property sales. Different developers have different core competencies, with some being especially strong in marketing and sales. In contrast, others are perfect at access to capital, while yet another group is highly focused on superior design. COVID-19 has made buyers pay more attention to this latter group of design-focused developers at the expense of the more traditional ones. So projects in both villa and apartment segments with excellent open spaces, a wide range of amenities and thoughtfully designed indoor spaces are gaining market share. One of the recent trends has been a preference for villa projects as they tend to more easily offer all the attributes that buyers have started looking for, even if one has to loosen their pursestrings more to afford one.