COVID brings in new Home Truths

WFH is limited to big-ticket sales only for now

Families are now looking for bigger, greener homes in close proximity to their workplaces says SANYA AEREN, Chief Advisor, Marketing & Communications at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Orenda India, in this free-wheeling chat with B N KUMAR, Editor of BizNewsConnect.

BNC: What are the main focused areas of BHHS Orenda India? And which are the geographies that you are servicing in India?

Sanya Aeren: Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Orenda India, provided bespoke solutions across a range of services, inclusive of: Real Estate Services that include Leasing/Selling/Purchase of Commercial, Residential, Industrial and Institutional properties; Unique Services such as Data Centre Management, Co-Working Aggregation, Hospitality and Warehousing; Advisory Services like Project Management, Audits, Compliances, Valuations and Feasibility Analysis; Management Services such as Asset Management, Facility Management, Relocation Management and Warehousing and of late Capital Markets and Investment Banking services

We are currently located in Delhi NCR, and soon plan to expand to Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Goa and Ayodhya within 1 year. In 3 years, we plan to expand across Pune, Kolkata, Chennai and Ahmedabad.

BNC: What kind of inputs/expertise do you derive from the parent US company?

SA: Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices provides us with various inputs and expertise which is inclusive of all standard operating procedures (SOP). Our agents, have access to their relocation network, global listing syndication, as well as the Resource Centre-the hub for social media, marketing collateral, and videography among a few. The resource center is also source for lead generation.

We also have access to various international publications like , NetJets, WSJ, Mansion Global and Prestige. Just recently, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Orenda India has also been provided access to the recently unveiled Real Estate I.Q. System.

BNC: India has quite a few Realty Services Consultants. What is your niche area or specialization?

SA: Our niche area/specialization,  apart from being a one-stop solution to a wide range of bespoke solutions in the  of real estate sector includes services like , advisory , management , capital markets. Additionally we also offer various unique services like data-center management, co-working aggregation, hospitality and warehousing, we also are actively present in the  in land aggregation space.

Our thrust focus area lies in residential luxury.

BNC: Have you started acquiring clients? Can you name some and the types of services you are offering to them?

SA: Yes, we have started acquiring clients. We have currently signed a few exclusive international and domestic mandates. We cannot name the domestic clients due to the confidentiality clauses.

A few developers with whom we are working on exclusive international mandate are- Tribeca (Trump Towers), Hines, etc.

BNC: What is the service model – fee based, or commission based?

SA: Varies as per project. For marketing and sales aggregation projects the service model is fee and commission based. For exclusively mandated projects the service model is commission based.

BNK: COVID has hit the industry hard with WFH culture and office space sales going into limbo. What according to you is going to be the trend now and in future?

SA: Due to rapid vaccination drives conducted by the Indian government, offices are reopening and are further set to open fully in January 2022.

The commercial realty is seen picking up momentum in top cities of the country driven by IT/ITES sectors. As per a real estate study done recently, India’s net office absorption stood at a 4.39 million sq.ft. Specifically, in the Delhi NCR region, a 5% increase has been seen in the net absorption of office spaces.

Following, the new social distancing norms, offices require larger spaces. Also, a hybrid model shall be followed i.e., 15% of the employee strength should be operating from office, 20% from home, and the remaining 65% should be hybrid

BNC: Some research indicates that home buyers are looking for larger areas to make room for WFH. Are these limited to big-ticket sales?

SA: Initially, incorporation of more space in homes was not limited to only big-ticket sales. However, with, offices reopening, owing to aggressive vaccination drives, inconsistent internet speeds at home, employee preference to having to work in an office environment, WFH are limited to big-ticket sales only for now.

BNC: Majority of Indian home buyers are middle/lower middle-class families looking for sub-Rs 50 lakh homes. What is the trend here, post-COVID era?

SA: Post pandemic, middle/lower middle-class families looking for sub-Rs 50 lakh homes are now looking towards purchase of Rs 50-Rs 60 lakh floors,

Also check: Realty Check - Towards Increased Transparency

instead of flats. Covid-19 has changed the way people think. Families are now looking for bigger, greener homes in close proximity to their workplaces.

BNC: Excuse us if we are painting a not-so rosy picture. But indications are that job cuts and pay cuts affected during COVID worst period are yet to be restored. In this scenario, do you see the sales – in actual terms – witnessing any positive trend?

SA: Yes. In fact, there is scarcity of good talent and employees even in the IT, BFS, Health and E-commerce sectors. We ourselves are a startup company and hiring on a day-to-day basis.

Our experience with the same, tells us that even till date there is still not easy availability of good talent in the industry.

With various vaccination drives arranged by the government, and a positive response, social infrastructure likes malls are operating, which will lead to a better employment rate.

Real estate sector is expected to show a booming phase from 2021 recovery due to loss in the past few years as structural reforms has put the sector on high trajectory attracting global attention. Cross borders real estate investments are expected to give an uprise figure as it is expected to reach $2.5billions in 2022. Rapidly improving pandemic situation and favourable policy interventions will be a boost for the realty sector.

BNC: What is your assessment of the industry in its various segments -Affordable, Luxury, Commercial, Office and Retail – say in the next five years, given the pandemic blues

SA: The Indian real estate industry is going through a structural shift, and post pandemic it is now on its road to recovery.

Talking about the affordable sector, the demand has been on a rise in South India, in cities like Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru. In fact, home loans rates are as low as 7%. Prices throughout the pandemic and even after have been at a rate of INR 4,000 to 4,200 per sq.ft.

Also, the government has given a lot of impetus to this segment by extending the PMAY interest subsidy scheme. PM Narendra Modi will transfer Rs 700 crore as first installment of PMAY to more than 1.47 lakh beneficiaries of Tripura to support the ambitious goal of “Housing for all”.

Cities are growing at a rapid pace, which has led to an increased cost of living for both individuals as well as companies. This calendar year, India has seen a rapid growth in unicorn companies, which has led to an increase demand in the luxury projects from the IT and other relevant startup sectors.

Talking about retail and commercial real estate, due to the pandemic there has been a high increase in the digital online sales, thereby leading to an increased demand of warehouses as well. Nonetheless, the physical aspect of this experience cannot be matched, and with the rapid vaccination drives held by the government for the citizens, malls and other commercial spots are all set to reopen.

With the support from the Indian government, Offices are all set to open by January 2022. But keeping in the mind the pandemic, office will be redesigned keeping in mind social distancing norms.

BNC: With the whole world talking about climate action, what steps should be taken at the government, developer, consumer and of course the consultant level for sustainability.

SA: Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the real estate sector worldwide is stepping up its response to climate change and sustainable development.

With an aim to create a sustainable country, people are taking steps such as waste management- use of recycling bins and proper disposal, efficient elevators, smart homes wherein lights should turn-off when no occupant is there in the room, e-vehicles and much more.

Smart sensors detecting movement is crucial to make energy efficient buildings by optimizing the lighting, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning.

Efficient energy management via smart sensors will help trigger alerts before any issues of repair arise. Tracking and adjusting building systems efficiently will prevent overuse of energy and meet compliance standards.

In essences, people are looking for real estate which would align with their sustainability, beliefs, and commitments.

BNC: What is the team strength?

SA: 30 people currently.

BNC: Your profile says you seek to revolutionize the realty scenario in the country. Request elaboration on how you would want to do this.

SA: Yes, we are all set to revolutionize the realty scenario in the country. We plan on doing the same by following the core principles of trust, longevity, transparency, and integrity which are infused in the BHHS hierarchy from roots to shoots.

We wish to bring a global mindset and global best practices to the not so organized current ecosystem of Indian real estate.

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