The real estate market heading into the current crisis has sometimes been described as the real test of character of developers. The deepening economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic is felt worldwide. It is not only the immediate economic challenges which are worrying developers, but also the imminent social and behaviour changes in buyers. It will push us to learn to cope with and embrace a new professional paradigm.
Despite the chaos that’s taking hold in the broader market, real estate developers can apply brave but smart strategies to keep their projects going and assets producing. There have been instances of existing businesses cutting down on their manpower or reducing salaries across the board, which will leave lesser money in the hands of consumers, resulting in problems with existing customers who may be on an instalment plan. Also the prospective buyers will be squeezed for funds and there is real danger of reducing per unit price. Some of the investors who had been holding on to their investments in the hope of better returns, may come out to sell in desperation, forcing the prices further down.
What then, a real estate developer can do to survive and come out stronger on the other side of this crisis. There are opportunities which will need to be tapped with a suitable plan. In the space of customer inquiries, it will be prudent to increase spends on creating brand in digital world. With people spending more time indoors and working long hours on their computers, it is quite intelligent to create a connect with customers online. Also, customers try to interact with brands in various ways as online search and research is very intuitive. The developers who could create a simulacrum of the customer buying cycle and fill all the gaps that might exist in digital brand positioning, will walk away with bulk of online enquiries. It would be worth presenting to customers the options understanding the current state of customers.
Another opportunity that presents itself to the developers is in terms of canvassing for upgradation. There is a sizeable chunk of people, who have paid off the housing loans they had taken for their first homes. It is time to give them compelling reason to upgrade or buy another property. Historically low interest rates and availability of good options at considerably stable prices will drive in bargain hunting investors with surplus funds. Can a developer reorient its product proposition to suit their requirements.
The onset of long term social and behavioural changes should also be considered in redrawing the product design as much as possible. In days ahead, functionality of design will win over luxury. It will be smart to reorient designs keeping the new social habits people will form. A great outdoors within the precincts of project may become more attractive than a high end club house. Large open though covered spaces for small group conversations would be inviting for more people than a large banquet hall. Provision of health care facilities and good house keeping services will trump a restaurant or a coffee shop. A developer sensitising and orienting the design and construction team to these realities will be a winner compared to the ones who don’t do this.
Every challenge hides an opportunity in its lap. It needs effort to recognise the same and work to capitalise to come out on top once the challenging situation is over. Time will tell us how manages the crisis period proactively and wins and who gets crushed under the weight of inaction.