Santhosh Kumar, Vice Chairman – ANAROCK Property Consultants
The pandemic has highlighted the deep cost of procrastination, and many aspiring homeowners now wish they had made a decision earlier
Most Indians do not need much convincing to buy a home. The desire for homeownership is hard-wired into the Indian psyche and is also the basis of most families' financial planning. For such people, who represent a clear majority, the question is not if to buy a house, but when. So - why now, instead of later?
- It is true that end-users shouldn't try to 'time' the real estate market, but it is quite evident that property prices are at their lowest best. There have been no changes in pricing on the primary (purchased new from developers) market for over a year. Even the pandemic hasn't caused them to reduce significantly as anticipated. Buying now equals buying at the lowest possible price.
- There are a lot of options on the market, even in ready-to-move properties. Moreover, prices of RTM properties are almost at par with under-construction homes in many areas. This has never happened before - and since developers have curtailed new supply, it is unlikely to happen again. Never have homebuyers had such a tempting choice range, at such low prices.
- Developers have pulled out all the stops to attract buyers. Extremely lucrative offers have been rolled out for the festive season, many of which result in an actual reduction in the cost of acquisition. These offers come with an expiry date - when the housing market regains enough momentum, they will be withdrawn.
- Home loan interest rates are at a 15-year low. Coupled with the bottomed-out property prices and additional discounts and offers by developers, there are very real savings to be secured on life's most cost-intensive investment.
- Far from being a temporary phenomenon, the COVID-19-induced work from home culture has become a mainstay for many companies who have discovered that employees can be as productive from home - if not more so - than in offices. Buying a home now, while the cost of acquisition is so low, allows buyers to secure larger homes into which home offices can be incorporated.
- The property market is poised on the cusp of a full-fledged revival. Once the revival kicks in, property prices will harden and asset appreciation begins in all seriousness. While earlier predictions for this revival hovered between 18-24 months, the pandemic has accelerated the process. We can reasonably expect the market to turn the corner in 12-18 months.
- Thanks largely to the pandemic, there is an extremely favourable confluence of buyer-favouring market circumstances. Such a confluence of factors is unlikely to repeat itself unless another event as disruptive as this pandemic strikes again. Given all the lessons learned by now and the fact that pandemics of such magnitude appear to have a 100-year cycle, most of today's buyers will hopefully not see such a time again in their lifetimes.
- The pandemic has highlighted the deep cost of procrastination, and many aspiring homeowners now wish they had made a decision earlier. Our homes are our citadels - the only environments over which we can exert any real control. Rental homes do not permit their inhabitants any real control - the only way to ensure the complete safety of an environment is to own it.
- After a protracted period of financial upheaval, it has become necessary to revisit all expenses which represent undue pressure on personal finances. Living in a rented house is a recurring financial drain without returns on investment. Owning a home secures an asset which will appreciate in value over time and simultaneously eliminates recurring rental outgo. This is a timeless fact of life in India, which is why owning a home is such a source of comfort in the first place.
- The best home options are being snapped up at a rapid pace. While there is no dearth of overall inventory, active homebuyers are zeroing in on quality projects by Grade A developers. The supply of such options is limited. A longer wait reduces the chance of securing a home that ticks all the boxes on location, amenities, high-grade construction – and, in the case of under-construction projects, the options that will be completed fastest