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Second wave of Covid-19 spurs demand for farmhouses

With work-from-anywhere becoming the norm, the rich and famous in Mumbai and Delhi are buying spacious farmhouses with customised fitness and wellness facilities thrown in. Property consultants say that enquiries for second homes have gone up significantly after the pandemic set in, and now, with the second wave, the phones have not stopped ringing.

Varkala, India - February 09, 2016: big luxury bungalow with columns white exterior entrance in the tropical resort, palm tree alley, idylic place in India
Editorial credit: alionabirukova / Shutterstock.com

Varkala, India - February 09, 2016: big luxury bungalow with columns white exterior entrance in the tropical resort, palm tree alley, idylic place in India Editorial credit: alionabirukova / Shutterstock.com


As the second wave of the Covid pandemic continues to rage across the country, Delhi’s rich are scouting for ready-to-move-in farmhouses on the periphery, while high-net-worth individuals (HNIs) in vertical Mumbai are driving away from the maddening crowds to nearby Lonavla, Alibaug and Karjat.

With work-from-anywhere becoming the norm, it does not really matter where you reside. The rich and famous are choosing to buy spacious farmhouses with customised fitness and wellness facilities thrown in. The focus has now shifted to horizontal residential developments rather than vertical, high-density ones.

Lower anxiety level

Prasun Bhat, a Mumbai-based investor, has been residing in his 5,000 sq. ft. villa in Khandala, called Kalpataru Amoda, for the last eight months. The property, which has a basement and first floor, is surrounded by a garden on all four sides and has a terrace overlooking the hills. It also has a private plunge pool.

“My primary home in Worli in Mumbai overlooks the sea. While we had all the facilities in the 70-storey tower, we were not permitted to move out of the complex as the number of cases was rising. It has been a frightening experience living in the city since the last one year and, therefore, we have now moved to Khandala. The air is fresher, surroundings greener and the density is low. My anxiety levels, too, have reduced tremendously,” he told Moneycontrol.

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The villa, just 90-minute drive from Mumbai, is surrounded by gardens and orchards. The upcoming airport in Panvel is just about 50 km away.

Wi-Fi connectivity too is good, he says.

“After we came to reside here, I have dropped all plans of buying more properties in the city. My advice to everybody is that whatever be your budget, plan for a second home away from the main city. Circumstances require that you should possess one. Covid has triggered the need to buy a second home which down the line may just about become your first home,” he says.

Property consultants agree that enquiries for second homes have gone up significantly after the pandemic set in, and now, with the second wave, the phones have not stopped ringing.

“The first wave saw only enquiries. Today, there are several desperate buyers in the market. Earlier, people were scouting for bungalows, today they want ready-to-move-in units that they can occupy immediately. The number of transactions is less as there are not many ready-to-move-in options and independent houses on lease for longer stays is not an option in this market,” says Ritesh Mehta, head, Residential Property Sales, JLL.

Homebuyers in Mumbai are looking for second homes in the range of Rs 2 crore to Rs 50 crore that are just about a 90-minute drive from the main city.

“The idea is to reach Mumbai fast in case of an emergency,” he says.

Lack of supply driving up prices

Typically, there is demand for bungalows (preferably ready-to-move-in) in the range of Rs 2 crore to Rs 5 crore among the upwardly mobile. Ultra HNIs are looking for properties in the range of Rs 15 crore to Rs 50 crore.

These are generally plotted developments spread across 1 acre to 3 acres that come with a built up area spread across 4,000 sq. ft. to even 25,000 sq. ft., he says.

The challenge these days is that there is high demand chasing too little ready-to-move-in supply and that is driving prices upwards, says Mehta, adding that “people are not willing to wait to see a house getting constructed. With the pandemic continuing to rage in Mumbai, they simply want to move in”.

There is also demand for independent bungalows in the range of Rs 15 crore to 50 crore in these areas. These are not builder developments but private constructions generally managed by private caretakers.

Another region that is witnessing traction these days is the Pavna Lake area on the outskirts of Lonavla. The prices here are all of Rs 2,000 to Rs 10,000 per sq. ft.

Alibaug is another option located close to Mumbai. Bungalows here cost anywhere between Rs 3 crore to Rs 8 crore. The area is a 45-minute ferry ride away from the main city.

Karjat, an area close to Mumbai, offers affordable villa options in the range of Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1.5 crore. “There are several row houses and bungalow schemes being offered by local developers in this area, which is about three hours’ drive from Mumbai,” says Mehta.

Having said that, there is limited appetite among Mumbaikars for properties in Goa for long stays. “They want a second home but at a driving distance from the main city,” he said.

Farmhouses are the flavour in Delhi

In Delhi, too, the appetite for farmhouses has increased since the pandemic set in. Several large joint families are selling their primary house in the main city and moving to a farmhouse.

A few weeks ago, the owners of sanitaryware company Jaquar bought three farmhouses in Delhi’s Westend Greens for around Rs 235 crore. These are spread over 2.5 acres each.

“In many cases, the farmhouse is becoming the primary home. The thrust is on wellness and greenery. These properties come with a private gym, swimming pool, snooker table, badminton court, yoga studio, home office, volleyball court, golf putting/practice net and even a home theatre,” says Amit Goyal, CEO, India Sotheby’s International Realty.

Typically, these farmhouses, generally built on a 1 acre to 2.5 acre property, are spread over an area of 4,000 sq. ft. and above. The cost starts at about Rs 20 crore and can be more than Rs 100 crore. The most-sought-after locations are Westend Greens, Vasant Kunj, Chattarpur, Radhey Mohan Drive and Sultanpur.

Demand has gone up post the pandemic, so much so that prices, too, have increased by almost 10-30 percent.

The Delhi Development Authority has also recently approved the draft ‘Green Development Area’ or ‘GDA policy’ to provide an integrated framework for development of lands falling in the designated green belt and Low Density Residential Area (LDRA), as per the Master Plan of Delhi, 2021. Under the draft policy, a three-rung approach for development of lands falling under GDA has been adopted, namely Grade 1, Grade 2 and Grade 3.

Under Grade 1,  600 sq. mt. up to 4,000 sq. mt. spread over 1 acre has been proposed; under Grade 2, 4000 sq. mt. up to 10,000 sq. mt. spread across 2.5 acres has been proposed and under Grade 3,10,000 sq. mt. and above has been proposed.

“Once this is cleared, smaller sized farm houses will get more sanctioned area or floor area ratio (FAR). One would be able to get a larger area even in a smaller sized plot and that would further spur demand for farmhouses,” he added.

Things to keep in mind before buying a second home

Homebuyers should ensure that building plans have been sanctioned by the MCD; construction should have taken place as per the plans, says Sunil Tyagi, Senior Partner, ZEUS Law, a corporate commercial law firm.

Make sure that the property tax has been paid to the municipality. If there is water boring in the plot, it should have been approved by the competent authority, he says.

The land should have been demarcated on the Aksh Shijra/layout plan issued by the land revenue department and physical measurement should have been conducted to ensure that actual land possession is as per title documents, he says.

Besides, the land parcel should be a clearly divided portion and not undivided portion of any other land and mutation should have been carried out in the land revenue record in the name of owner.

Last, but not the least, buyers should check for any acquisition notices issued by the government for road widening or construction of metro projects.
Vandana Ramnani
first published: Apr 20, 2021 11:26 am

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