With the coronavirus pandemic impacting our lives and the subsequent lockdown restricting movement, the mood on Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra and Navratri in North India - traditionally considered auspicious to invest in real estate in India - remained subdued even as some real estate developers launched new projects virtually.
Real estate experts told Moneycontrol that the momentum of new launches this festive season had slowed down considerably due to the coronavirus pandemic. Footfalls and site visits, too, are almost nil following the countrywide lockdown and a ban on construction.
Some of the real estate developers Moneycontrol spoke to said that they had decided to launch their new projects virtually while others said they had decided to defer the new launches until Dussehra.
“This is perhaps the most silent Gudi Padwa and Navratri that we have ever seen. Due to the country-wide lockdown, there have been no bookings and no enquiries. While there have been some virtual project launches, most developers have decided to defer new launches until Dussehra and Diwali,” said Ritesh Mehta, the senior director and head - West India, Residential, Jones Lang Lasalle India.
However, industry experts are hoping that real estate activity is likely to pick up after June. “We are anticipating that while H2 would remain tepid, residential real estate activity may recover during Dussehra which is expected to see new project launches and also those that have been deferred this season,” he said.
With lockdowns imposed across the country, who will book housing units and be allowed to register his unit, asks Pankaj Kapoor of Liases Foras.
“Launches are down. This is perhaps the most silent Gudi Padva,” he said, adding “the sops are missing and in the COVID crisis even reasonable discounts are unattractive as people are not sure of their own jobs and their ability to take on a long term liability.”
Prashant Thakur, the director and head - Research, ANAROCK Property Consultants, says that - given that developers always schedule project launches during the auspicious festivals of Gudi Padwa, Akshaya Tritiya, Navratri and Ugadi - it will certainly remain muted in 2020. With strict advisories for complete lockdown across cities, housing sales too will plummet during the upcoming festivals, usually considered auspicious by several homebuyers to buy homes.
Runwal Group has decided to postpone its Gudi Padwa launch and all its campaigns. “All our site offices are closed,” said Subodh Runwal, Director - Runwal Group.
Vijay Khetan Group planned to launch a new project ‘Codename Amazon’ in Andheri East. “Earlier there was to be a physical launch with channel partners and brokers but now due to the Covid-19 situation, we are conducting a digital launch where we will accept requests from customers online,” said Anuj Khetan, Director - Vijay Khetan Group.
Realtors say that the real estate sector has been badly hit by the pandemic and there is already a dip in buyer interest as they are wary of project delays. At this juncture it does not make sense to launch new projects. "Sales are down and the decline is expected to continue for the next two to three months," said Yogesh Jaiswal, Director - Le Classique Pvt Ltd.
Manoj Gaur, MD, Gaurs Group and Chairman, Affordable Housing committee, CREDAI (National), admitted that sales have been adversely affected.
"But it is temporary phenomena," he said.
Deepak Kapoor, Director, Gulshan Homz, said that people are deferring property buying decisions and therefore sales in March are likely to dip.
Ankit Kansal, MD and CEO - 360 Realtors, said that in markets such as Gurgaon and Noida, transactions have come down by 39% and 44% respectively in the first three weeks of March compared to last month. In Bengaluru, the dip is as much as 32 percent. Other markets like Pune and MMR have also been adversely affected.
According to The Guardians Real Estate Advisory, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region may see a 27 percent reduction in property registrations year-on-year. The region has managed only 9,300 home registrations between January and March in 2020 as against 12,800 home registrations in the January to March quarter in 2019. The lockdown may also see loss in real estate business to the tune of Rs 5,050 crore to Rs 6,500 crore.