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Covid-19 has changed the way we live. The requirements of homebuyers have changed since the pandemic hit us. Many today work from home (WFH), and the demand for bigger houses has gone up.

“We have seen many customers extend living room space by making adjustments to the servant quarter. Larger living rooms are preferable post pandemic," said Ananta Singh Raghuvanshi, senior executive director, sales and marketing, Experion Developers.

People are also looking for houses in peripheral, less-crowded areas. Demand for houses in tier-II and tier- III cities has also gone up as people can work from home. Post the pandemic, homebuyers are also looking for greater flexibility in design or houses where they can customize things according to requirement.

Considering this, developers are also providing customization options where homebuyers will have some flexibility in terms of payments, flexibility in design of houses, etc. Let us look at some of the options developers are offering, and how a homebuyer can make the right choice.

Flexibility in design: Now WFH is a key consideration while buying a house. Homebuyers are looking for options that can help them work from home smoothly. They are looking for bigger spaces, and developers are experimenting with designs to provide flexibility in the same space without impacting the budget of the homebuyers. “Developers are providing powder-washroom (only restroom/lavatory but no shower) options instead of fully attached washrooms to increase the size of the room. They are also offering flexible working space options in the living room and bedroom. Some developers are offering “Jodi Flats" where customers can buy two flats on the same floor and remove the walls to make it one flat for bigger families," said Anuj Puri, chairman, Anarock Property Consultants.

There are developers who have replaced walls with movable partitions made of aluminium to give flexibility to homebuyers to use the space according to their requirements.

As the focus on health and hygiene has gone up substantially after the pandemic, developers are also offering amenities keeping this in mind. “Dedicated office spaces, private terraces, integrated sanitization and air filters are customizations provided by developers, keeping in tune with the new normal. To reduce the spread of infection, contactless tech such as hands-free faucets, self-flushing toilets, and automated soap dispensers, are other choices offered," said Indrajit Siddhanta, principal partner and head of business development, Square Yards, an online property portal.

Flexible payment plan: The flexibility is not limited to the structure and design, but developers are also offering customized payment options to the homebuyers to support sales. “Realtors are taking every step to ensure that the momentum generated by good buyer sentiment does not wane. One method is to make buying simple for customers and to provide them with convenient payment alternatives,"said Mani Rangarajan, group COO, Housing.com, Makaan.com and Proptiger.com.

There are various options available, ranging from paying 30% now and the remainder after ownership to paying 5% now and the rest after possession. A Punjab-based developer has agreed to pay the buyers’ rent until the flat is ready for possession.

A developer based in the National Capital Region (NCR) is offering a payment plan (25:75), which allows consumers to pay 25% of the total value during the booking of property and the rest 75% after receiving possession.

Plotted developments: More and more developers are offering plotted developments post the pandemic keeping the surge in demand in mind. “Customization in apartments is generally difficult and hence we have seen demand for plotted developments go up significantly. This is evident from the recent launches where more plotted and villa projects have been launched in cities like Bengaluru and NCR. With work from home, people are willing to buy plots which are located away from cities and are affordable. Developers are also keen to launch plotted developments as the working capital cycles are shorter and it helps them to launch and complete the project within one to two years," said Alok Saraf, partner and REI leader, Grant Thornton Bharat.

Plotted developments that are heavily skewed towards established real estate brands have seen good traction in top cities such as Bengaluru, Pune, Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), Gurugram and Hyderabad, with sizes starting from a minimum of 550 square feet (sq. ft) to 10,000 sq. ft, with prices starting as low as 14 lakh.

“Plot sizes in the range of 1,200-2,500 sq. ft are in greater demand, quoting starting prices of 14-16 lakh depending upon location to upwards of 30-50 lakh in the cities mentioned above," said Siddhanta.

There are a plethora of options available in the market. As buying a house is generally one of the biggest purchases of a person, you should do proper research and then choose the one that best suits your requirement. But remember that at times customization can lead to higher cost as well.

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