Like retail and manufacturing, real estate builders too are the worst affected due to the pandemic. Migrant labour issue which was pretty rampant in the first phase of lockdown is sufficient enough to support this fact. Added to this, the real estate industry was already bogged down with RERA regulations and GST. And the pandemic is more of adding fuel to the burning fire.
Thought Habitat spoke with some of the leading real estate developers and builders in Delhi NCR and nearby states such as Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and nearby states. Through an email conversation, we asked how they are surviving the pandemic tide and bracing up for the new normal.
Here are the excerpts of the responses:
Mr. Kushagr Ansal, Director, Ansal Housing and President, CREDAI – Haryana
It was only a matter of those lockdown months that construction sector was jolted like every other industry. Labour migration posed challenges to contractors and developers, but we managed to seek our share of laborers from nearby regions to begin the construction when authorities permitted. Rotation of labour at multiple projects and reskilling of local labour available are some of the tactics adopted by us.
The buying and selling would definitely witness a change as many developers have switched on to complete digital models of booking and selling the property. The CRM team and other departments in the office operating from their home stations have shown commendable performance during the months of lockdown.
The new normal for realty would be futuristic and filled with opportunities for growth. It is only upon the discretion of developer and the firm, how they want to shape their future with growth in the adoption of completely digital systems in the real estate sector.
Mr. Ashok Gupta, CMD, Ajnara India Ltd.
We found our alternatives with labour retention programs like providing them hutments at our sites, offering them complete wages. The construction sites were given proper care in terms of hygiene and cleanliness. So, fortunately most of our labour chose to stay back, and were back at work as soon as the permissions came in. Our efforts have been constantly driven towards providing them all the safety precautions like sanitizers and handwashes at common points, masks are mandatory and sites are sanitized completely at regular intervals. We must get accustomed to the fact that this is the new normal.
Our office staff operating from their homes has been up and front with generation of leads and maintaining customer relationships. The reeling real estate sector must be prepared to adapt as per the customer’s changing preference and should modify their positioning and promotions to achieve better results.
Festive season is about to come, people are returning back to their workplaces; decisions like property buying in India are considered to be symbols of prosperity and auspiciousness, we hope it reflects in the market sentiment of buyers, as anyway home loan rates are at their record low in 15 years.
Mr. Amit Jain, Managing Director, Mahagun Group
The pandemic has definitely made all the buyers rethink their choices and decisions that went behind purchasing a home. Lockdown and different phases of unlock have given companies like us also extra time to modify our functioning as per the new normal. Labour migration was definitely a hurdle for the construction industry but it is showing signs of improvement and will get better.
The metro cities will always have better working opportunities for the migrated force of workers, it is strong enough a reason to bring them back. We are prepared now to do the business as per the new normal, government and RBI’s support in terms of timeline extension and repo rate cuts has been helpful in their respective ways.
We hope authorities consider stamp duty reduction like other state governments as it will give the much-needed boost to overall sector.
Mr. Vikas Bhasin, CMD, Saya Homes
The migration of stranded labourers to their home towns did have a bearing on the sector. However, as some economic activities have already started and the incentive to go back to home town has reduced considerably.
The impact will not be very substantial. Coming to the selling and buying part from end-users, it will gain pace as developers are already open in offering flexible payment deferment plans, home loan interest rates are at their absolute low.
The sector is trying to get it all channelized towards positivity with the help of technological advancements and data- driven marketing strategies. The paid digital campaigns have become really important for rational developers.
Real estate has overcome the positioning of being a traditional business, and has become much more organized and structured during this time. Authorities’ constant support and digital integration will help us fill the void created by lockdown gradually.
Mr. Vikas Garg, Deputy Managing Director, MRG World
Real estate sector is fundamental in improving the state of nation’s economy. It is extensive and associated with multiple small, medium enterprises. The government and financial institutions have been supportive to boost the sector, but looking at the pace currently; more support is required for the collective benefit of all stakeholders.
PMAY was started with a mission of ‘Housing for All’ by 2022 by building affordable homes and granting subsidies to median and low-income buyers. The motion for same has definitely been slowed down due to the halt in construction and disruption of supply chain.
While efforts of all developers would be to complete projects within the extended timeline granted, but we would still request our authorities to be considerate in case any discrepancy surfaces due to the issues in supply chain and limited labour availability.
Mr.Vijay Verma, CEO, Sunworld Group
The malignant Corona virus has impacted all the industries, and the lockdown imposed lead to a complete standstill. While the construction activities were halted for a period of around 2 months, but timely announcement by government revoked it.
Labour migration was a challenge for the beginning few days, but with unlock announced and state transport running, influx of workers returned to metros for jobs. We were glad to have a cooperative office team working with us diligently even in the WFH setup. The buying and selling were slowed down for a bit, but with people confined in their homes; digital enquiries for properties saw a spike.
It was only a matter of phasing out from the lockdown and government’s support via reduced home loan interest rates that fence-sitters with stable income started returning to the market. Real estate has always been a slow sales market, we as developers have done our bit by lucrative offers and deferment payment plans. We are expecting the festive season to push us more towards the path of recovery.
Well, with all this happening we believe the real estate sector is prepared to face the tide and deliver its best. In the meantime, learn something about an Teen Entrepreneur initiative.
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