Home buyers likely to leverage COVID-19 impact on real estate segment

COVID-19 lockdown has also accelerated technology-led home buying in India

Budget 2019: Real estate sector's expectations from Modi 2.0 [File] Skyscrapers under construction in South Mumbai | Amey Mansabdar

Though the Indian real estate market is reeling under the COVID-19 impact, market experts say that it can be a very positive time for home buyers as they are at an unprecedented advantage to negotiate good deals on ready-to-move-in options. Homebuyers are also likely to benefit from all-time-low interest rates of 7.15 to 7.8 per cent on home loans.

A report from ANAROCK research reveals that out of the total unsold stock of over 6.44 lakh units in the top seven cities (as on March 2020 end) nearly 12 per cent of homes are ready to move in. 

Experts also point out that the COVID-19 lockdown has accelerated technology-led home buying in India, making it possible to inspect properties online as well as negotiate and finalise deals. Virtual site visits are also becoming a reality and a large chunk of the property selection and purchase process can now be done digitally. 

The ANAROCK report points out that the total unsold stock of ready to move in homes is worth about Rs 65,950 crore. “Of the total unsold ready stock, the Mumbai and Pune regions together have approximately 35,200 units, which are collectively worth Rs 37,550 crore. This accounts for 57 per cent of the total value of ready to move unsold homes across all top seven cities. NCR is next with 15,600 unsold ready units, followed by Bengaluru with nearly 10,100 apartments. Hyderabad has least unsold ready stock of 2,400 homes worth Rs 1,870 crore,” remarked Anuj Puri, chairman, ANAROCK Property Consultants. 

He also added that some states are now mulling the introduction of e-registration of property documents, thereby completing the entire value chain. “This is necessary since physical site visits are unlikely to pick up quickly even after the lockdown ends, as both buyers and sellers will remain wary,” said Puri.

Though the real estate market can receive a jolt as many people may postpone their purchases due to salary cuts and job cuts but those who can afford and are looking out for a property will be at an advantage. As per a survey report by 99acres to gauge buyers' sentiments in the times of the COVID-19 pandemic, 60 per cent of the Indian home buyers who were in the market looking to buy a house before the pandemic are still planning to buy their homes within a year. The survey was conducted across major cities namely Delhi (NCR), Mumbai region, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Pune, Chennai, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, and Lucknow. 

This study also revealed that around 40 per cent of buyers have postponed their decision due to uncertainty in the market and financial factors. The survey  found that the home buyers showed a strong affinity towards ready to move in properties with 85 per cent of buyers believing that ready to move in homes were safer than an under construction property.

The survey observed that post the pandemic a majority of real estate buyers (90 per cent) expect a price correction and 31 per cent of them felt that real estate is still the best option to invest followed by fixed deposit, gold and the stock market. 

The survey found new trends in the real estate market due to COVID-19 such as a big shift towards the adoption of online portals, with 75 per cent of people, for whom offline was the first and only major source of property search earlier, saying that they now prefer opting for online real estate portals to search their dream homes. There has also been a demand for virtual tours or visits wherein 60 percent of home-buyers stated that they would prefer to do virtual tours either to shortlist or to finalise their homes.