In an exclusive interview, Dhruv Agarwala, Group CEO, Housing.com, Proptiger and Makaan.com, talks about the latest trends in the realty market and its future growth potential.
With RERA in place and property prices being stable in most parts of the country, it is the right time to buy one’s home. Also because owing to several other reasons, affordability is at a multi-year high. Moreover, renewed developer focus on completion of units has made many good ready-to-move-in options available for buyers, says Dhruv Agarwala, Group CEO, Housing.com, Proptiger and Makaan.com. In an interview with Sanjeev Sinha, Agarwala talks about the latest trends in the realty market and its future growth potential. Excerpts:
Real estate was betting big on this year’s festive season for revival of fortunes. How did the sector fare?
The festive season in India is a celebration of over 40 days which starts with the Navratras and continues until Diwali. The recently-concluded festive season saw several developers from the NCR performing very well in terms of sales. With RERA firmly in place, customers have more confidence in buying under construction projects. Now with the RERA bench operating both in Noida and Gurugram, we will see progress in stuck projects in both these cities.
Another trend which differentiated NCR realty this festive season was the investment in commercial and retail spaces. With many developers offering attractive schemes and locations, investors showed a preference for commercial over residential properties.
When do you think real estate will come out of the woods and start reviving?
Real estate across the country is already witnessing signs of revival. In the last couple of quarters in this financial year, sales have witnessed more than 20% improvement over last year. Structural reforms and a drop in prices have helped developers sell more units in NCR.
Is it the right time to invest in real estate, or homebuyers and investors should wait for some more time?
I prefer to use the word ‘buy’ rather than ‘invest’ for homebuyers. With RERA in place, it is the right time to buy for end users. Also, with the drop in prices and inflation in wages over the last several years, affordability is at a multi-year high. Renewed developer focus on completion of units has also made many good ready-to-move-in options available for buyers.
The prices of properties are stable in most markets except Mumbai and Pune where we are seeing a rise. Other markets might also see a price rise next year. Hence, buying now would be a good decision.
What is more risk-free at this time – ready-to-move-in homes or under-construction property?
Ready-to-move-in homes are always a safer bet because project execution risk is not there and you get what you see. However, under construction properties are now a much safer bet than they used to be before the advent of RERA last year. The RERA legislation holds developers accountable for completing projects within promised timelines. Hence, buyers have to ensure that the project is registered with RERA. Under construction properties are generally more attractively priced and allow buyers to pay over a period of time and hence are preferred by buyers.
Do you think buying second home is still profitable for investors or should they avoid buying it – at least till the market revives?
After the rerating of property prices more than a decade ago, especially in the metros and other Tier 1 cities, residential real estate, especially apartments, will not be a high yield option in the near future. However, buying a second home is sometimes a lifestyle choice and one should carefully assess one’s financial situation before going down that path.
Where do you see real estate and the property market in India, say, after 10 years hence?
It is almost impossible to predict where the sector would be in 10 years, but one can say with certainty that the sector will be a lot more organized, professionalized, transparent and revolutionized by new technologies. Also, emerging trends such as co-working and co-living are likely to change the way real estate is consumed and one will see the concept of real estate as a service becoming more and more prevalent.