Pandemic has recalibrated homebuyers preferences in line with new normal: Ashok Kapur

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July 22, 2021 2:11 PM

In an exclusive interview, Ashok Kapur of Krisumi Corporation shares his views on the impact of COVID-19 on the residential realty and homebuyers' preferences.

Bolstered by strategic location, a spate of infrastructural developments, and a burgeoning millennial population, Gurugram's residential market will continue to attract interests from both end-users and investors alike.

The COVID-19 pandemic has recalibrated homebuyers’ preferences in line with the new normal. It has also heralded a shift in customers’ preferences towards organised developers with sound credentials and an excellent track record. With the significance of home gaining wide acceptance, the residential sales are expected to be buoyant by the end of 2021 against the backdrop of low-interest rates and proactive measures such as a reduction in stamp duties by several states, says Ashok Kapur, Chairman, Krisumi Corporation.

In an exclusive interview with Sanjeev Sinha of FE Online, he shares his views on the impact of COVID-19 on the residential realty and homebuyers’ preferences, and talks about their flagship project in Gurgaon. Excerpts:

What has been the impact of COVID-19 on the residential real estate sector? Have you seen an uptick in sales in the recent past?

The COVID-19 pandemic has reaffirmed the significance of buying a home rather than living with the insecurities of rented accommodation. It has established that home is not merely an address; it is also a space of belonging to reconnect with oneself. The residential housing segment witnessed a subdued phase initially last year during the first wave of COVID but subsequently picked up the momentum as the pandemic made people realise the true value of their homes. The uncertainty of the virus brought the fence-sitters to the market.

The pandemic pushed each and every business to the digital mode, and real estate was no different. The social distancing norms and other protocols, which have become the ‘new normal, have brought about the much-needed shift in the overall communication process. Developers have taken the virtual route for interaction with homebuyers and stakeholders for closing the sales loop. Keeping in line with this trend, we at Krisumi have launched a 360-degree immersive film showcasing our flagship project, ‘Krisumi Waterfall Residences’, in April 2021. We have added the immersive film to our website, showcasing our premium residences. Homebuyers can see this film and get a virtual reality experience of our residences while making buying decisions without physical verification.

The year 2021 witnessed a promising start; the residential sales saw an uptick by 44% Y-o-Y in Q1 2021, as highlighted by a Knight Frank report. We foresee this momentum to sustain amid the recent decline in average daily cases of coronavirus and easing of travel restrictions. Premium housing will witness traction among HNIs, UHNIs and expatriates on account of infrastructural developments and the policy push by the government.

Has COVID-19 changed the sentiment/preferences of homebuyers?

The COVID-19 pandemic has recalibrated homebuyers’ preferences in line with the new normal. It has also heralded a shift in customers’ preferences towards organised developers with sound credentials and an excellent track record. The work from home has emerged as the dominant undercurrent for shaping homebuyers’ preferences. Homebuyers these days prefer residences that can accommodate ‘space’ for remote working, with more outdoor open spaces and gated communities having state-of-the-art amenities. Customisation of space has been expanded to such an extent that developers offer complete open floors and design them as per homebuyer’s requirements from a range of standout design options.

This shift in preference is significant because of the Covid-19 pandemic and its socio-economic impact. The majority now prefer a fully-equipped workspace, a dedicated area for fitness, a private space for their weekend meetups, a play area for children while considering other important factors such as location, ticket size, thoughtful design, cutting-edge technology, etc. This has led to disruption in the overall approach adopted by developers while considering it as an additional component in their product offering. Anticipating this trend at the beginning of 2021, we, at Krisumi, launched a new asset class 2LDK (Living, Dining & Kitchen) + personal workspace in our flagship project, Krisumi Waterfall Residences, Gurugram. These residences are perfectly suited for the ‘work from home’ (WFH) lifestyle for both Indians working with global firms and the expat communities.

What is the progress update of your flagship project? By when do you plan to deliver it?

Our flagship project, Krisumi Waterfall Residences, exemplifies the confluence of Japanese art and architecture with Indian aesthetics. Strategically located at Sector 36A along the Dwarka Expressway, Krisumi Waterfall Residences is a part of the larger integrated township called Krisumi City. The first phase, Krisumi Waterfall Residences, comprises 433 units (2, 3 LDK and penthouses), including a 36,000 sqft clubhouse. We have launched three towers – A, B and C. While the first two towers were launched earlier, the third tower was launched during the pandemic. Towers A and B comprise 239 units; Tower C consists of 194 units spread across 34 floors. The top few floors would be reserved for limited edition fully-furnished apartments targeted specifically towards the expatriate community. Construction of all three towers is going on in full swing.

One of the key USPs of the Krisumi Waterfall Residences is a lavish 2-level fully-equipped residents-only clubhouse, state-of-the-art gym, restaurant, bar lounge, spa and salon, mini-theatre, fine dining, alfresco dining with pool view, tennis court, squash, etc., and is fully integrated with all three residential towers. The project also enjoys a unique distinction of the first luxe air-conditioned tower lobbies in the apartments of this ticket size.

As a part of the larger project, Krisumi City will also feature a high-end retail mall, education institutions, a premium hotel and premium office spaces. Whilst we promised to deliver Waterfall Residences by mid-2024, we are on track of delivering much before that.

This is perhaps the first time a JV of an Indian and Japanese company is developing a residential project in India. What can the homebuyers expect from this association?

Entering the real estate market in partnership with Sumitomo Corporation, a Fortune 500 company for the last 26 years, was a well-thought-through decision, with the aim to enthuse trust and offer something exclusive to consumers. We felt a gap in the market that saw the need for a credible developer who could fulfil promises and deliver results to the satisfaction of the consumers. We endeavour to fill in that vacuum through the partnership between Krishna Group and Sumitomo Corporation, standing on the foundation of deep-rooted culture, strong ethics, a transparent approach, and quality consciousness defining Japanese DNA. Through our flagship project, Krisumi Waterfall Residences, we wish to bring in a piece of Japan to India that is contemporary and cutting-edge. The modern urban landscape that we are creating will add enduring value not just to the community that resides here but the entire NCR region.

Nikken Sekkei, one of the largest design firms in the world, has been brought on board for designing the project entirely. They are also on board for the master planning of the 65-acre site and not just the first phase so that everything remains in sync. The project is being designed and developed on the philosophical concept of Japanese landscaping to highlight natural elements while avoiding artificial ornamentation. Besides a plush 2-level 36,000 sq. ft. fully-equipped residents-only clubhouse integrated with all three residential towers, the 433 well-appointed apartments offer a range of customization options, including colour palette of beige and grey, open/closed kitchen, TV lounge and S room options. The basement of the project has thoughtful features like a driver’s waiting area, dedicated shower area and locker rooms for domestic helps.

The project exemplifies superior construction techniques with adherence to Japanese standards for design, quality and safety. Tata Projects has been awarded a single large umbrella contract to save time and ensure efficiency. Along with their dream homes, homebuyers will also get seven quality assurances valid for five years, including Polypropylene piping, engineered wooden flooring, CP Fittings and Chinaware, aluminum doors and windows, external paint, electrical switches and sockets, door handles, locks and cylinders. The project is inspected and overseen by a team of technical experts from Japan who visit the site periodically.

The project also leverages cutting-edge technology such as High-Performance Glass with very Low U-Value to ensure energy efficiency; Aluminium Monolithic Formwork for the construction which has 2X Faster construction cycle versus conventional formwork, solid concrete shear walls, Polypropylene Piping as opposed to traditional uPVC piping, to provide greater resistance to chemical exposure, corrosion and breakage, etc. The project has been designed as per the latest building code to ensure a higher resistance to earthquakes and accorded a 4-star GRIHA certification.

With the second wave of COVID-19 subsiding, what is your outlook for the rest of the year?

The decline in average daily cases and the widening of the vaccination coverage augur well for the quick rebounding of the Indian economy. The easing of restrictions has restarted almost all business activities. The COVID-19 pandemic has also reinforced real estate as a stable and lucrative asset instead of conventional investment classes. Commercial realty is grappling with challenges due to extended work from home that will invariably lead to an uptick in demand for residential properties.

With the significance of home gaining wide acceptance, the residential sales are expected to be buoyant by the end of 2021 against the backdrop of low-interest rates and proactive measures such as a reduction in stamp duties by several states. Bolstered by strategic location, a spate of infrastructural developments, and a burgeoning millennial population, Gurugram’s residential market will continue to attract interests from both end-users and investors alike. Amidst the pandemic, the demand for gated condominiums will continue to rise for safety and security reasons. Extended Work from Home and Online schooling has also led to a rise in the need for a dedicated workspace, wellness zone, kid’s room, etc., as COVID has restricted the movements, and we foresee that the demand for 2 BHK+ workspace, 3 BHK +workspace homes will continue to grow in the next few years.

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