The festive quarter that ended in December saw a robust sale of homes across major cities. This happy end to the calendar year was preceded by eight months of pandemic-induced turmoil where property sales touched a new low.

The record sales of homes or residential units as the real estate industry calls it, came on the back of all-time low interest rates and attractive sops in the form of limited period stamp duty reductions. A report by Knight Frank India in December said that this whopping 60 per cent reduction in stamp duty by the Maharashtra Government saw the registration of residential properties in Mumbai jump over two-fold in December to 18,854 units.

Paradigm shift

As we enter 2021, the momentum of historic sales could slow a bit but will remain strong to narrate a positive story. Unlike the past year, the real estate sector is now picking up with home buyers willing to make the move. With most workers displaced during the lockdown now back, construction activity has resumed and work is moving at a faster pace to fulfil commitments.

In Mumbai, there are a lot of properties which were unsold but ready to move in, with no GST to be paid because occupation certificates were already issued. This has also helped home buyers look at real estate proactively and as an investment.

The demand for residential property has in fact also been guided by the concept of work from home — as families are now looking out for an upgrade as individual space becomes a crucial factor.

Mumbai: Western suburbs top

Housing projects in western suburban Mumbai is now literally the jewel in the crown for Mumbai’s real estate market. If property registrations are anything to go by, the western suburbs especially in the Goregaon-Malad region saw maximum registrations. Some media reported that 35 per cent of the total 39,500 properties registered between September and December were in these areas.

The increased demand for lifestyle real estate products is evident from the high-end units on sale in the western suburbs of Mumbai. The real estate development taking place in this part of Mumbai are all high-rise residential towers and not restricted to small buildings in view of better FSI that is available to suburban Mumbai.

If fact, this availability of a better lifestyle real estate property in the suburbs has seen people move from South Mumbai. Their need for a better price and better location is being met here.

As per a global house price index report of Knight Frank, which has tracked mainstream residential prices across 56 countries and territories worldwide, India slipped seven spots to rank 54th in the July-September period of 2020. The report also puts the year-on-year decline in property prices at 2.4 per cent.

On the back of rationalisation of pricing, the real estate market is seeing a surge in demand that will continue through the New Year. What the sector is witnessing at present is the demand to upgrade homes — property with better quality, convenience and facilities. Both the pricing and low interest rates have helped give wind to this demand, which is likely to continue in 2021.

On a path of reinvention

The real estate sector is like a cog in the wheel driving India’s economy. Infrastructure development and housing are major players known to be crucial in reviving a countries economy in recession. In India, about 15 per cent of the total jobs are generated by the real estate sector. Add to this, all the ancillary industries that cater to building homes — cement, steel, aluminium and the like.

The sector in 2021 will have to adopt innovative ways of dealing with the requirements. While homes will continue to be sold, they will now be done with creative disruption. This reinvention will include technology playing a lead role in meeting altered norms being considered by home buyers.

While the fallout of the pandemic cannot be written off, urbanisation has to continue and the real estate market will return with renewed steam in the near future. This return of sales in 2021 displays a surge in demand among the middle-income and upper-middle-income groups as they get ready to buy their dream homes in a year that has started off on a good note with the sector and overall economy looking up to a stimulus vaccine shot.

The writer is Director-Marketing, Sheth Creators