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Priyanjana De is finally moving into a two-bedroom apartment in Varthur, a suburb of Bengaluru, from her paying guest accommodation after three years.

The 28-year-old data analyst has decided to take up an offer by her employer, a multinational IT firm, to work indefinitely from home. But she wants a bigger space. Happily, rents have declined sharply.

“I am going to pay 15,000 for an apartment that charged 20,000 earlier this year. Varthur is quite far from the office, but then I don’t need to go to work anymore," said De.

She’ll be moving out of her accommodation at AECS Layout, a neighbourhood that’s popular among techies working in the city’s IT corridors.

People are moving out of the city in droves. De’s PG, or paying guest, facility had 75 women until March—there are only 12 left.

As remote working becomes the new normal, particularly in tech firms, thousands of Bengaluru residents are looking to rent or buy larger places—even if far from their offices—while many have returned to their hometowns. Elsewhere, Mumbai and Pune, too, have seen rental vacancies shoot up along with a sharp fall in rents.

Real estate developers find homebuyers looking for larger apartments, more open spaces and gated communities, even at the cost of moving to far suburbs, with commuting time not being an issue any longer. Plotted developments, which are typically away from city centres, are seeing a robust uptick, with top builders launching projects.

M. Murali, CEO and managing director of Shriram Properties, said buyers are looking for “slightly larger apartments" with an additional one room. “They want an additional room to convert it into their workspace. People are okay to move another 7-8km if they get a larger home, in cities like Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad."

In Bengaluru, preferred rental locations like Koramangala, HSR Layout and Bellandur, due to their proximity to startups hubs, have seen a spike in vacancy rates.

In just six months, the pandemic has transformed India’s tech capital, where nearly 100,000 homes are rented out every month. The city, with its thriving IT and startup sectors, has been built on a migrant workforce. Property analysts said north Bengaluru, an upcoming real estate location, will see a spurt not only in residential projects but also commercial offices which may move out of traditional locations.

Saurabh Garg, co-founder and chief business officer, NoBroker, said areas in Bengaluru’s outskirts such as Yelahanka, Kanakapura Road and Hebbal are witnessing more people searching for homes.

“They have realised they will be working from home for a long time, so why pay a premium and live in a centrally located area. HSR, Bellandur, ORR are seeing low demand, which is different from the rental patterns earlier," Garg said.

Since the launch in July of Mahindra Lifespace Developers Ltd’s Happinest Palghar, a distant suburb of Mumbai, the developer has sold over 300 homes, priced at between 9.5-20 lakh.

“There has been a rebound in sales since July. The idea of owning a home even by younger consumers and the importance of having good living conditions in a community, with enough space, has gained momentum," said Arvind Subramanian, managing director and CEO of Mahindra Lifespace.

Developers are acquiring land to build projects in the far suburbs. Mumbai’s Sunteck Realty Ltd recently bought 50 acres in Vasai for mid-income homes that will cater to post-covid customer’s need of larger homes.

Pankaj Kapoor, founder and managing director, ‎Liases Foras Real Estate Rating and Research Pvt. Ltd, said affordable projects in faraway locations Palghar, Bhiwandi gained sales momentum, and home sales in smaller cities are improving faster than large metros as people move back to their hometowns.

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