Coronavirus impact: What type of housing projects will buyers seek?

We look at some of the features that home seekers are likely to pay greater attention to in housing projects in a post-Coronavirus world

Commentators are working up a frenzy on how the future of work will be ‘work from home‘. However, not many seem quite as excited about the future of living. Being locked-in for several weeks in apartments that may be a few hundred sq ft in size, is exposing its cracks, figuratively speaking, to its residents. Coming out of the dark period of the Coronavirus pandemic, home buyers must wish they had attended Hogwarts and learned five magic spells that could conjure up their dream home.

 

Projects that offer health benefits

Lumos solem (Let there be light): Natural light and ventilation are often not given due importance in most modern high-rise apartment complexes. The lucky few metro-dwellers who have balconies in their apartments, are cherishing them after years of neglect. The unlucky multitude, on the other hand, are ruing the lack of one. Residents privileged to live in apartment complexes with more greenery, have rediscovered forgotten sights, sounds and smells. A complement to these endowments of nature is a heightened sensitisation to wellness. A primary health centre within the development, no longer seems an embellishment. A planned wellness regimen within the community is an attraction. Finally, hitherto profligate families are learning to make do with less, reducing waste and contributing to a sustainable future.

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Locations with retail and other facilities

Locus servitio placere (Room service please): Wouldn’t we all heave a sigh of relief if our daily burdens were taken care of? The neighbourhood grocer offering doorstep delivery, has reasserted his immutable value in our lives, reclaiming ground ceded to e-commerce. Customers will prefer homes with convenience retail and pharmacies at close reach. Concierge and at-home services would appeal to senior citizens and double-income households. Many housing societies have cobbled these services together during the lockdown. As new habits take root, home owners will wonder why these were not part of the living experience from the outset.

 

More utility from the same space

Da nobis plus spatii (Give us more space): For the first time in a while, all the family members are concurrently co-habiting their apartment, 24×7. It is bound to feel smaller. Every sq ft of the apartment is being put to novel uses. Can the same corner of the house accommodate a study for the children’s online classes, as well as a workspace for the parents? Can the bedroom or the kitchen double up as a home office during the day? Common amenities in the project are also suddenly being held to a new set of expectations. Can they serve more than one purpose? Are they designed for the new norms of socially distant interaction and personal hygiene? Some popular amenities – the swimming pool and gym – will be relegated to many months of disuse, bringing into question their high maintenance cost for operations and upkeep.

 

Coronavirus impact: What type of housing projects will buyers seek?

 

Well-managed neighbourhoods

Cingite me cum amicis (Surround me with friends): Some housing societies have navigated these lockdown restrictions better than others, with residents working with the office-bearers for the common good. There have been heartening reports on how strangers have come to the aid of hapless neighbours. Seniors have been adopted by younger families. Gated communities are no longer impervious to its immediate surroundings. Well-managed societies in harmonious and orderly neighbourhoods, will attract attention over others.

 

Greater provision for home appliances

Summone gente mea (Summon my genie): Some learning curves are not pleasant. Despite becoming more familiar, household chores remain burdensome. It should not surprise us if consumers, smarting from their over-dependence on domestic staff, view home appliances with a new fondness. To make full use of them, however, homes will need to be designed around a higher intensity of appliances, starting with planning for required power loads and water usage. Ventilation demands will change too, as will the need for enhanced safety. Planned spaces to house these appliances, unhindered access to operate them, and appropriately located spouts and sockets, will all require careful thought.

 

None of these wishes are new. Customers have voiced these desires in the past. However, in the long list of demands, these have often been sacrificed in favour of other functional needs and economic constraints. Development rules too have not paid adequate attention to these aspects of planning and have progressively eliminated concessions due to rampant misuse. Developers, picking up the cue, have paid them lip service, stitching them into their products in a patchwork manner and never really committing to them. It remains to be seen whether the experience of the lockdown will persuade development authorities to mandate some of these features and prompt customers to put their wallet where their heart has already been.

(The writer is chief executive, Mahindra Happinest. The views expressed in the article are his personal views.)

 

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