The Homebuyer Diktat: Are flexi homes the future of city real estate? | The Financial Express

The Homebuyer Diktat: Are flexi homes the future of city real estate?

The pandemic has influenced homebuyers’ choices in a big way with most buyers seeking multiple functionalities from their homes.

The Homebuyer Diktat: Are flexi homes the future of city real estate?
Homebuyers' preferences have been evolving a little too much!

By Amit Kumar Agarwal, CEO and Co-Founder, NoBroker.com

In these unprecedented times, we are seeing a rapid change in the way people live and work. And, as a result, buyers’ preferences have been evolving a little too much! Builders who want to stay ahead of the times are now anticipating the needs of the new buyer of the new normal.

The Post-COVID Homebuying Scenario

The pandemic has influenced homebuyers’ choices in a big way with most buyers seeking multiple functionalities from their homes. Other factors such as changing demographics, hybrid work culture, macroeconomic factors, geopolitical developments, and lifestyles have also contributed to these aspirations.

The Repo Rate of the RBI, which was already in a decreasing trend before the pandemic, fell drastically following the COVID-19 outbreak. From its high of 6.5 per cent in 2019, the Repo Rate stabilized around 4 per cent in 2020. It resulted in increased purchasing power of prospective homebuyers and gave the much-needed fillip to home-buying. The vector of economic demand for residential real estate increased as a result, coupled with superior savings during lockdowns.

Work, Life, and Leisure: Owning a Dream House in the City

People are looking for adaptable accommodations that can act as multifunctional or recreational spaces. According to the NoBroker survey of around 8,000 participants, the percentage of buyers asking for “Flexi Homes” took a 15-fold jump between 2020 pre- and post-COVID, increasing from 2-3 per cent to 45 per cent post-COVID. But why is that?

There are multiple variables driving this trend. In the post-COVID era, we are seeing a reverse migration of the workforce. People are returning to metropolitan regions and, unlike before, want to dwell as close to their offices as possible. Let’s understand this trend with numbers.

NoBroker’s Half Yearly Report of 2022 found that about 71 per cent of people had already moved to their work cities. 72 percent of the tenants are considering buying properties despite the recent hikes in interest rates. 45 per cent of them claimed that the EMIs are now more manageable and 32 per cent found it difficult to rent a good property. About 65.8% of respondents were also house-hunting for bigger or better accommodations.

The challenge here is that a house in the city either leads to an inflated budget or a smaller carpet area as compared to buying in the suburbs. But the tradeoff comes with superior price appreciations, lower cost of commute, improved access to amenities, and other long-term gains. These factors make flexi homes, which can be adapted to a person’s or a family’s needs easily, an asset.

Flexing the Flexi Muscle: The Dawn of a New Era

Flexi homes build on a modular approach. You can think of a modular kitchen, to begin with. The only difference is that rather than letting its modules take up a lot of space, they keep everything to the bare minimum. For instance, in a flexi home, the modular dining table or sofa set can be lifted, folded, and pinned on the wall, thereby creating more space for other use cases. The same holds for beds that can become workstations by the day and bed again by the night.

Owing to their functionality, flexi homes are becoming more and more popular. Some of their advantages include:

  1. They are designed to be as close to an ideal home as possible, boasting everything one needs for a comfortable life.
  2. The rooms can be used for multiple purposes such as a home office, gym, or playroom for kids.
  3. These homes provide an opportunity to live in prime locations at budget prices.
  4. They also offer an investment-friendly environment with potential long-term gains.
  5. And last but not least, they give the much-needed respite from monotonous lives at pocket-friendly prices.

There’s little doubt then that more people are opening up to the idea of flexi homes. This demand is being addressed by real estate developers. It is not a simple or an easy change to be adapted into a project and will take at least 5 years before more and more projects can be designed as per buyer’s requirements. But this is not a lot of time in real estate terms. But there has been a start from buyers’ side in terms of asks and from builders’ side in terms of acknowledgement and accommodation.

In conclusion, the real estate market is changing and so are the preferences of the buyers. The builders who want to stay ahead of their time are coming up with properties that take the buyers’ criteria into consideration. There is a greater demand for houses that are budget-friendly where homes can act as multifunctional or recreational spaces, designed to be as close to an ideal home as possible. It’s only logical for flexi homes to become an integral part of the ultramodern lifestyle in the near future and makes complete sense for builders to incorporate these demand into upcoming projects.

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