The Coronavirus crisis has not only altered the way we live, think, work or even socialize with others around us, but has also impacted almost every industry around the world, including real estate. However, along with its negative impact, the pandemic has opened a new era of selling real estate which was being under-utilized till now. Also, as priorities of people have changed and they are now realizing the importance of owning a home, the demand for real estate is likely to go up in the post COVID-19 world, says Manoj Gaur, MD, Gaurs Group, and Chairman, Affordable Housing Committee, CREDAI (National). In an exclusive interview with Sanjeev Sinha, he talks about the impact of Coronavirus on real estate in India and shares his industry outlook. Excerpts:
How has Coronavirus impacted real estate in India?
The impact of Coronavirus on property sales has been different for different players. Thankfully, riding on the digital presence we have been consistently able to generate 25-30 bookings every day. In fact, real estate developers who were able to analyze the buyers’ sentiments were able to capture the mood and convert that into impressive sales at a time when every business was going through a gloomy period of sales. The time was all about reaching the potential buyer through platforms that he was using the most, which was digital as everyone was glued to the internet while sitting at home.
The pandemic has opened a new era of selling real estate which was being under-utilized till now. Going forward, developers are expected to be more focused on digital strategies and reach out to the millennial that constitute the larger part of buyers.
Priorities of people have also changed and they now have realized the importance of owning a home, especially the ones that can guarantee safety and security. Post COVID-19, all indicators point out that the demand for real estate will go up tremendously.
How much will the financial stimulus help the sector to revive?
For India to realize the dream of reaching the $5-trillion economy, the growth of real estate is imperative. The sector is expected to grow to a market size of $1 trillion by 2030 and by 2025 it is likely to contribute 14 per cent of the GDP, which is double of its current contribution. Looking at the role that real estate is playing and is slated to play in India’s economy, the need of financial stimulus gains utmost importance. The government needs to infuse liquidity in the sector, cut down GST across all boards and remove stamp duty.
The relief package that the sector expects – around $200 billion – will help smoothen the functioning and cover the shortcomings brought down by Coronavirus. We also expect the government to streamline the procedures so that the schemes announced achieve the intended result.
How have been the sales? Has lockdown affected the sales?
As stated earlier, developers of repute have been able to garner good sales number as they have smartly employed digital tools to reach out to the potential buyers. Various measures such as online bookings, online payments, eased out payment schemes, etc, have helped the sector to sail through the difficult time. The end result was unexpected and we clocked in some decent numbers. We have clocked sales of close to Rs 200 crore till date from March 25th. In fact, encouraged by the sales numbers, we decided to launch one project during the lockdown, which is also receiving tremendous response from the potential buyers and investors.
What new measures have you taken to maintain sales?
The best way to minimise the impact at the moment is to stay in touch with the potential buyers and we are actively doing it through our online platforms. The real estate sector has come out with innovative online schemes through which a home seeker can easily book his home or even a commercial unit without the hassle of a site visit. Realising this very early, we activated our digital teams and CRMs to exploit the modern technology. We conducted virtual tours of our projects that helped the buyers to take a look at their future real estate asset and how it is going to pan out. Our measures included sales via video conferencing to online project tours to easier online payment gateways. We came out with the ‘Ghar Baithe Ghar Kharido’ offer for our commercial as well as residential projects where we asked the buyer to pay Rs 1 lakh to book as against the full booking amount, the rest of the amount could be paid within 100 days which was fully refundable in case of cancellation, no questions and no deductions.
Any new project which you are planning or the new launches?
A new culture of work from home might take precedence which would require people to have a corner of their own in the city from they can operate undisturbed. Studying the need, we launched Gaur Homework during the lockdown which is perhaps the only such offering in India. These are Studio Apartments-cum-Small Offices at Gaur City Centre, Greater Noida West. All our projects have been developed with farsightedness and engulf the lifestyle that a buyer wants to lead. We have always delivered the best and will keep on doing it in our future launches also. The mantra is to understand the demand and live up to it.
How do you look at the future of real estate in the post-Covid-19 world?
The New World will come up with new demands derived from the experiences gained during these troubled times. Real estate is set to gain as it will drive the change to make the world safe and hygienic. The culture of gated community will gain more prominence and people would prefer to shop in areas that are sanitized well, which would give rise to more development in the commercial segment.
The mall culture will pick up pace as people will move in areas that are properly sanitized and provide them with the best of facilities without making them to jostle for space in dangerously over-crowded markets. Organized retail is expected to boom from here on with people relying on these stores even for their daily needs. Some existing malls might have to change to suit the new normal to stay in business, but the ones made with futuristic outlook will get instant acceptability and hence increased footfalls instantly like the malls developed by us.
Digitization will also change the way real estate works. It will not only speed up the processes, but also bring in more transparency in dealings. Overall, real estate is set for an exciting new journey!