THE KING'S ADDRESS
Business Today|October 31, 2021
After a ‘lost’ year, luxury real estate is surging as the ultra-rich trade up to opulent city apartments or go green with villas in Goa, Alibaug and Kasauli
PRIYA KUMARI RANA

SWEEPING VIEW Grand vistas of the 200-acre golf course greet you from the balcony of every DLF Camellias apartment in Gurugram

If 2020 was the year of the second home—that suburban getaway for the family, a refuge from a city in lockdown—then 2021 is the year of the luxurious primary home. Homebuyers are either consolidating their move to an urban haven with all possible conveniences and amenities or flocking to the great outdoors—by the beach or in the hills—for a spacious, comfortable indulgence to live the WFH dream.

Whichever destination they choose, what unites homebuyers is the growing need for all possible mod cons and a newfound love for spacious, verdant areas. “All those who could manage an upgrade, in their lives, wanted slightly better spaces, amenities, services, safety, security, and infrastructure; anything that promised more holistic well-being for the mind and body, for yourself or the family,” says Karan Kumar, Chief Marketing Officer of New Delhi-based DLF Group. “That’s why we’ve seen an interest and uptick in our super luxury portfolio.”

63% OF THE DEMAND FOR luxury properties is from the Mumbai Metropolitan Region

₹1,500 CRORE OF SALES clocked during the pandemic by luxury real estate firm Transcon

In India, the demand for luxury properties—generally anything priced above ₹1.5 crore—has increased from 11 per cent during the first wave of the pandemic to 13 per cent during the second wave, according to a 2021 survey by ANAROCK Property Consultants and industry body CII. The survey was conducted across 21 cities and covered 4,965 respondents, aged 21-27, who were looking to buy new properties. As per the survey, nearly 63 per cent of this demand is from the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), split equally between buyers wanting ready-to-move-in homes, those opting for new projects, and those willing to wait a year. But there’s no compromising on their need for spaces, greenery and amenities.

“Homebuyers are looking at larger spaces to reorganize their lives post Covid-19,” says Akash Puri, Director-International, India Sotheby’s International Realty (India SIR), which offers advisory services for luxury properties. “They want to access a WFH lifestyle. Some want private gyms, cinemas, nicer views, and larger living spaces with an attached garden.”

Puri says some buyers are taking advantage of low mortgage rates while others are reinvesting their capital gains from the stock market’s bull run. Then there are high net-worth individuals (HNIs) loaded with money as overseas travel was curtailed. “People are not spending overseas, so there’s a huge fund available to upgrade their lifestyle,” says Puri.

Despite the pandemic, India SIR sold over 50 million-dollar homes, worth about $300 million totally, in India and Sri Lanka in the past one year. Their top markets in India are Golf Links—where an 8,000-sq. ft home is listed for nearly ₹150 crore— Sunder Nagar and Jor Bagh in Delhi, as well as Goa, Mumbai, and Alibaug, where a 6,329-sq. ft ‘glass’ house is listed for ₹13.9 crore.

But as much as having the means, there’s also a behavioral shift, says Nibhrant Shah, Founder, and CEO of luxury home developer Isprava, whose revenue almost tripled during the pandemic. “The entire mindset has shifted; perceptions have changed post-pandemic. There’s this whole new type of buyer who doesn’t consider this to be even a luxury home anymore. You have the uber-rich buyer who never wanted a holiday home. Now, if Covid-19 happens again, they can’t leave the country, so they need somewhere to go. Then you have the WFH-ers—the tech guys who work from home, who will never go back to the office. Why waste time in traffic or pollution in Mumbai or Delhi? And lastly, you have younger people who are never going back to the city. They’d rather buy in Goa and rent in Mumbai.” He gives the example of two buyers who paid ₹25 crore for homes in Goa.

And they are hardly the exception.

The Jewel in the Crown

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