The financial capital of India, Mumbai, famous for its matchbox-sized apartments, seems to have found a fascination for larger 1 BHK apartments, post the Covid-19 pandemic.
Real estate developers have started advertising such projects with taglines such as ‘BIG 1 BHK’ or ‘1 BHK Spacia’ or even ‘1 BHK Luxury’. Thus, the size of a conventional 270-375 square feet (sq ft) 1 BHK apartment has now increased to above 400 sq ft, and in some cases even above 500 sq ft, along with its prices.
For homebuyers in the affordable segment, 1 BHK apartment is the preferred choice. One of the developers constructing such flats is the Rustomjee Group. This Mumbai-based listed developer is constructing 1 BHK apartments of over 400 sq ft.
“We have two variants of 1 BHK apartments ― Smart 1 BHK measuring 326 sq ft carpet and Large 1 BHK of 445 sq ft ― for our Rustomjee Bella project in Bhandup, which is one of the largest 1 BHK apartments in the Bhandup west market. The price difference is about Rs 20 lakh, with the smart 1 BHK being (about) Rs 87 lakh,” Boman Irani, Managing Director of Rustomjee Group told Moneycontrol.
“As the 1 BHK consumer is extremely price sensitive, we focused on the Smart 1 BHK initially and added the larger offering now for customers requiring such apartments. At the price of Rs 1.09 crore, a large 1 BHK comes with an en-suite bathroom and an additional powder toilet. It’s comfortable for the family of a young couple with children,” added Irani.
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“Larger apartment sizes are definitely sought after more, thanks to the effects of Covid-19, and this was thought thru in all our plans. Bella was launched during Covid-19 and the larger 1 BHK was part of our original plan,” Irani further added.
Another listed real estate developer, Godrej Properties, too offers bigger 1 BHK apartments of around 500 sq ft.
Design changes post Covid-19
Post Covid-19, one developer from the western suburbs of Goregaon, had to make changes to the building plan to increase the size of the 1 BHK offering from 372 sq ft carpet area to 420 sq ft carpet area. Two years after launching this project in March 2020, he unveiled an ad campaign in March 2022, highlighting the size of the ‘Big 1 BHK’ on offer.
Sahil Virani, Managing Partner of Empire Group, said, “For our project in Goregaon East, we constructed 150 apartments, of which 80 were 1 BHK. In that micro-market, developers were constructing 2 and 3 BHK apartments, whereas we believed that there is a market for 1 BHK if we construct it big. Hence, we launched a marketing campaign to convey to the homebuyers that we are constructing bigger 1 BHK apartments.”
Virani added, “We also have first-time homebuyers and upgraded homebuyers, who have upgraded from a small 1 BHK of 300 sq ft carpet or below to a 400 sq ft carpet plus. Ideally, in a 1 BHK, you can have a dining area, and bedroom, with surplus space after the wardrobe and bed. So, homebuyers pick an apartment of 1 BHK 400 sq ft plus rather than a 2 BHK of 500 sq ft. This is for those who are unable to opt for a 2 BHK of 600 sq ft.”
Design changes - Regulatory view
If a developer in Mumbai wishes to change the design of an apartment or make a major deviation to it after taking bookings of a particular project, the developer will require to get the proposal cleared from the Mumbai civic body known as Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), and take approval from the Maharashtra Real Estate Regulatory Authority (MahaRERA) after obtaining consent from at least 50 percent homebuyers.
However, in case of zero bookings, the developer will not require consent from homebuyers.
Also read: The case of Mumbai’s disappearing balconies—and their reappearance
Surge in demand for 1 BHK of various sizes
Real estate developers Moneycontrol spoke to said that post-pandemic preferences of homebuyers have changed and they are now looking for bigger apartments, and are not falling for a bigger configuration in small sizes.
“We are offering a larger 1 BHK of 532 sq ft carpet in our upcoming project in the Mulund area of Mumbai. Here, we are launching 40 units of 1 BHK apartments, of which 14 units will be of 532 sq ft carpet and the remaining of 458 sq ft carpet,” said Mumbai-based Pratik Kataria, Director of Sainath Developers.
He added, “By this, we are catering to everyone, including those looking for a compact-sized 1 BHK and those wanting a spacious 1 BHK. This decision was done purely on the basis of our extensive market research. In 2 BHK apartments, our offerings range from 510, 558, to 733 sq ft carpet. This is a similar strategy to cater to all types of preferences.”
The story remains the same for another developer coming up with 1,900 1 BHK apartments at Thane, post Covid-19.
“Post-pandemic, we noticed the surge in demand for 1 BHK homes and also the desire for lifestyle amenities. With Dosti Nest, we amalgamated the two requirements in our 1 BHK homes of various sizes and a plethora of amenities. We offer three variants ― the 1 BHK Smart of about 288 sq ft, 1 BHK Spacia of about 393 sq ft, and 1 BHK Luxe of about 458 sq ft with a balcony which gives that luxurious feel,” Deepak Goradia, Chairman and Managing Director of Dosti Realty, told Moneycontrol.
Will Mumbai developers continue to construct 1 BHK?
Both Kataria and Goradia say that there will always be demand for 1 BHK, thanks to joint families giving way to nuclear families.
“As the joint family system shifts to the nuclear family type and the desire of the younger generation to own their own living spaces increases, the demand for 1 BHK has picked up again. There is always a market for 1 BHK and it will always remain, at least in MMR,” added Goradia.
“The concept of millennials buying their first dream home, the transition of joint families into nuclear families, especially after COVID-19, suggest that 1 BHK is a time-tested product category and will eventually be available in certain locations in the micro markets," Kataria added.
Despite the urge for bigger 1 BHK and 2 BHK units, there seems to be no end to real estate developers having to stop constructing compact 1 BHK apartments with a duplex twist.
One real estate developer in suburban Mumbai said he sold over 600 1 BHK units measuring 249 sq ft carpet for under Rs 50 lakh, despite the effect of Covid-19 that made homebuyers realise the importance of space in a city like Mumbai.
“We are continuously receiving amazing responses from customers looking to buy compact 1 BHK apartments in the Malad area of Mumbai. This 1 BHK comes with an area of 249 sq ft and a 70 sq ft loft. We have launched around 750 such apartments in the last three years and currently have around only five percent unsold inventory. Also, we did not face any issue as people are looking to purchase in this budget range, where everything fits under say, Rs 50 lakh,” said Himanshu Jain, VP - Sales, Marketing & CRM, Satellite Developers Private Limited.
“Our clients are mainly those who have a budget of approximately Rs 50 lakh in the affordable housing category. These are the customers who are upgrading from 1 RK to 1 BHK, who work and have their offices nearby and who want to stay within the city limits. However, in our upcoming phase, based on our experience and consumer feedback, we are planning to launch a 1 BHK carpet of varied sizes which fits into a similar budget range. This will provide our target segment of home buyers another opportunity to own a home of their own,” added Jain.
Also read: 2BHK housing units most preferred configuration among homebuyers: Report
So, what sells most in Mumbai?
In February 2023, apartments measuring 500 sq ft to 1,000 sq ft accounted for 45 per cent of registrations of all apartments, according to Maharashtra government data collated by Knight Frank, a real estate consultancy firm.
Also read: Do home buyers need to pay extra for balconies, a unique selling proposition by Mumbai developers this festive season?
Apartments with less than 500 sq ft saw a marginal decline in market share at 34 percent in February 2023 from 35 percent in January 2023. Registration of apartments bigger than 1,000 sq ft increased to 21 percent in February 2023 from 17 percent in January 2023.