Cities across the world have faced the repercussions of a merciless virus in 2020. The sheer suddenness in which the virus proliferated stealthily across cities was frightening at the least and led to the crumbling of several metropolitan cities and towns, under this vicious onslaught, owing to the penury of health infrastructure.
But can health infrastructure be made the only scapegoat in this apocalyptic situation? If we take a cursory look at cities across India, we will find that denser cities like Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi, Noida, Chennai, to mention a few, have fallen easy prey to this invisible nemesis.
Staggering rates of infection have been accounted for in denser cities where owing to decades of mindless & irresponsible urbanization, social and physical infrastructure have literally put their hands up and are crying for attention. It took a pandemic to upend the contours of the cities we boasted living in and led us to rethink living amidst the pollution and cacophony of the metropolis.
Peripheries the focal point of urban dwellers
At this critical juncture where social distancing and stay-at-home have become sobriquets for healthy living, the need for verdant, open spaces offering fresh air, sunlight in abundance, have suddenly dawned upon the consciousness of people.
However, homebuyers are looking beyond the glam and sheen of cosmopolitan living in cities and flocking to the peripheries where space is in abundance, pollution is more or less absent and property taxes are minimal. Sad to say, but the virus and reactions to it have stolen the allure of the cities.
People have felt the greater risk of infection while living in congested urban spaces and are thus getting drawn towards exurbs and small towns where the quality of life is simpler, healthier, and in sync with nature. Also, prices of housing projects in cities have hit the roof and are unable to cater to the demands of the affordable housing folks.
Real estate developers milk this new trend
With the previous gold-standard of housing-short drive to work/ staying near corporate hubs- having withered away to accommodate new market realities, the preference of homebuyers for cost-effective homes near peripheries has called for a fresh supply of homes.
Homebuyers have made health a priority in the wake of the coronavirus and thus want to stay away from the pollution, cramped housing societies and unhealthy living. Peripheries have become the escape from this crisis and homebuyers are leaving no stone unturned in buying a piece of real estate away from the hustle and bustle of the cities.
Real estate developers deflated with dismal sales figures due to the nationwide lockdown woke up to this new-found opportunity and ramped up their resources to launch new housing projects to meet the expectations of homebuyers.
The demand for housing at the peripheries compensated for the poor performance of developing projects in the mid and high-end categories in big cities and metros. Even with high pent-up demand for housing, realtors couldn’t translate that into sales since they couldn’t match the right kind of supply.
On the other hand, the demand for homes at the peripheries suddenly skyrocketed since homebuyers found spacious homes at an average of 30-40% less than those in the cities. The housing projects have offered health amenities that almost matched the luxury of projects in cities.
Also, the 5-year rental outgo for tenants living in the cities is equivalent to 30-50% of the property cost in the peripheries of most metropolitan cities. This has come up as a strong rationale for homeownership among new homebuyers.
This reversal of population from the cities to the peripheries have piqued the attention of real estate developers who are ready to tap this sudden influx of demand at the peripheries.
Real estate developers opine that this trend will snowball as the pandemic progresses into the next couple of years as work-from-home exurban dwellers will demand homes away from the cities. This will lead to new sanctuaries for mid-end and affordable housing projects in the peripheral areas.
Realtors believe that despite the gloom in the real estate industry and the wave of concern about slowdown in the economy, this new-fetched growth of housing in the peripheries would serve as a good tiding for the real estate sector and any investment made here would lead to favorable returns in the future.