Covid-19 second wave and Real Estate

Businesses have taken a toll with the new wave of CoronaVirus, all the industries have been affected and a few destroyed. We decided to take insights from the real estate leaders about how the second wave of Covid has affected the realty business. We have conducted a short interview with Manjusrii Manilal, Head of Sales and Marketing at HM group.

Manjusrii is a veteran with 21+ years of experience in Sales, Marketing, and Operations and also a Member of the RICS (MRICS -The world’s leading Chartered Qualification for professionals in the real estate and construction sector).

Her work Philosophy is – “Thinking, Communicating, Nurturing and Learning” and “Love what you do”, as she has immense love for Sales and Marketing!

Here are the excerpts from the interview : 

1. How do you think the second wave of Covid-19 has impacted the real estate market?

The first wave of Covid-19 had impacted the different segments of the real estate market and so the second wave in April 2021 is expected to impact real estate largely. While office, retail, and hospitality shall continue to struggle, warehousing and residential shall continue to see the upside. Residential demand has grown with the change in the online work and study dynamics. As HDFC Chairman stated that the residential demand is structural and is here to stay. So the strong demand for residential shall continue with the second wave too. The real estate market is much better prepared this time around. We may expect a very short-term impact as both buyers and sellers try to assess the situation. However, the learnings from the lockdown in 2020 will stand us in good stead especially from a developer perspective as we had invested in the digital selling process to ensure a seamless customer buying experience.

2. How are the builders going to keep the momentum of Sales during this period?

Residential Sales will happen at the same momentum and pace as was seen in the first wave. Those builders who can call the shots quickly across the table offering the best value-price proposition will stand to find more traction. Adapting technology is inevitable, for it facilitates transparency and accountability and ensures that the customer’s whole journey from property search in portals to apartment unit search and booking in the platforms of the builder, online payment options, etc is seamless and possible. Digitization is key in such crucial times and could be the game-changer. During such times, it is natural for potential buyers to be anxious about a possible impact that the pandemic would have on the economy at large apart from their own job situation. We need to do our best to insulate the buyer from such anxiety – primarily by way of flexible and limited period entry options and ease of exit in case of any eventuality. That said, we at Ozone will provide a seamless customer buying experience with extensive use of virtual tours which aims at providing as real an experience as possible, ease of booking through online booking platforms, etc.

3. How different are the effects of the second wave of Covid-19 than the first?

While I am writing this, just a couple of hours ago a lock-down was announced by the Govt. of Karnataka, and I realized that there is a greater sense of ease and preparedness of handling the lock-down, working from home, basically trying to manage the business seamlessly, etc by the transaction team. It’s a reflection of the change. This time around customers also understand that residential real estate (read: homes) is a permanent structural requirement. If there is the convenience of property shopping online with the real estate aggregators and the builder, they could make their best choices.

However, for the commercial and retail real estate, the situation could be worse for a few more quarters which may evolve a completely restructured way of looking at real estate space. Hybrid models of working are being considered and office absorption may improve with the success of the vaccination drive and herd immunity against the virus. So it may start looking up in mid-2022. Retail which was already at 40-50% of their pre-covid business in the 1st wave which was showing signs of recovery may continue with the same trend of 40-50% of their pre-covid business in the 2nd wave. All of this may directly impact the real estate space dynamics and the cost retailers would be willing to pay.

While business hotels may not do well in the Hospitality sector until business travel improves, Leisure hospitality may look up from QIII in 2021.While the second wave seems to have taken all of us by surprise – which it shouldn’t have! – we expect the impact to be relatively marginal vis-a-vis the first wave. Having been through a lengthy and enforced lockdown scenario the last time around, we are just that much better prepared to tackle the second wave from a business and selling perspective.

4. How are you placing yourself on a personal and mental level amid the Pandemic?

Agility and Digitization are the 2 arms to handle this pandemic from my business perspective. Considering that we have the necessary prep this time, we are more confident and positive to handle the crisis. We have some great ready-to-move offerings at different parts of the preferred locations in Bangalore, building our confidence stronger.

Stay Safe. Stay Healthy. Stay Positive- these 3 mantras can give the necessary impetus to sail us through this pandemic. Staying strong and motivated and making sure my team is as well!

5. Do you want to communicate any message to the readers?

Please follow all safety protocols without any compromise. Let us respect the efforts taken by all the covid warriors, Govt., health institutions & fraternity and stay indoors as much as possible to break the covid chain, even after the lockdown. We as humanity will emerge stronger and follow the 3 mantras of Stay Safe, Stay Healthy. Stay Positive. Stay safe, stay healthy! 

That said, the market has never been this positive and buoyant in a long time. I think this is as good a time as any for buyers to make that all-important purchase decision. With home loan interest rates at an all-time low and a plethora of options to choose from at highly competitive rates, I would advise buyers not to put off their buying decision

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