Wednesday, April 21, 2021

New Normal, Breaking the Chain & Real Estate!


“Stop blaming outside circumstances for your inside chaos.”... Steve Maraboli.

Steve Maraboli, is American internet radio commentator, motivational speaker and author. And no wonder as, no motivational speaker will hold responsible to someone else for the mess you have created & high time we the people of Smart City Pune & Maharashtra understand this basic principle of life! Well, Lockdown Season two is here & so is second wave of the virus & no other region or State or country has witnessed the ferocity of this wave (rather we should call it as Tsunami) than we the most progressive State of the country is Maharashtra! Not just that but no other society or the govt has faced this virus wave so miserably (read as foolishly) the way we are facing it! Mind me, I am saying “We” & I am not blaming anybody as the virus doesn’t recognize the body its attacking same way a bullet fired by the enemy from across the border doesn’t recognize the Jawan’s colour, caste or religion or regiment! And that’s why entire Army or Military or Armed Forces shows the discipline & togetherness while fighting a battle which we have conveniently forget or ignored! Unfortunately, in the war there is no excuse for your ignorance however innocent you may have been while fighting with sincere attitude, the bullet doesn’t knows that, all it knows is you have exposed yourself & bang, it will hit you!

Ok, coming to first aspect which of course is related to my field or work or business i.e. real estate which people like to call as “Builder” (I have no shame or regret nor ego as it’s my bread & butter)!  Approximately from last September i.e. nearly eight months back the patient numbers started reducing, the first season of lockdown ended & the New Normal has been declared. Already two industries has been hit worst than any other in Pune as well in Maharashtra & those were Hospitality (Restaurants) & Real Estate as these two opened up last & it’s in these two industries, maximum migrant work force (manual labour) are employed & most of them are from other States where the situation wasn’t grave & the respective works were already started from Mid July. I accept even more than real estate the hotel (eateries) industry got worst hit as the nature of their product vs. their investments as in real estate at least the product is not perishable & land usually appreciates only with the time, slow sometimes but it does! But then in real estate stakes are very high, here I always give example of automobile segment that every common middle class or higher middle class’s person dream is to own a car & a home, right? So, when a higher middle class man (or woman) goes to buy a car does he looks for a Merc or Audi which starts from basic range approximately some Rs. 40 lakhs, answer is a big No rather he looks for something Rs 5-8 lakhs budget car, is a fact! But when the same guy goes for a decent two bhk home, which starts from Rs 50 lakhs (in Pune region) & yet he is ready to shell that amount, this is the difference between real estate & any other product. This is why stakes as well as risk factors are very high in the real estate though unfortunately most people (even builders) see only profit side of the industry & lands in trouble!

Let me clear in the start, this is not to justify about keeping real estate i.e. site’s work going neither I disrespect efforts of govt authorities as well everybody to fight with the virus wave as well I fully understand the seriousness of the pandemic spread & panic it has created! But at the same time let’s not forget about nearly some half a million people (5 lakh) in Pune region which are dependent on real estate’s construction & equale numbers of people seeks their homes in these constructions. At the same time though official figures are not available (as usual) but imagine the turnover related to real estate in PMC, PCMC & PMRDA jurisdiction at total halt, agreed life is more important than money but whose fault is there in forcing the lockdown like situation on masses & which lives are paying for other people’s mistake, isn’t it high time the real estate should ask this question to the govt? As last year we accepted lockdown & suffered its effects without any complaint & govt also supported real estate ( a bit) via schemes like stamp duty reduction & other types but the this lockdown two, is going to hit (already hit) real estate on both fronts, one is setback to entire construction process as all other States are open, so the work force has already weary to work here & now those which are working here they are also running back to other States. So the lockdown & curfew may be for one month or more but the panic & setback it gives will affect nearly next five to six months for the construction process as to gather all work forces again & restart is not a mechanized thing! And second is, the entire sentiment of the market (read as  home buyers) get disturbed due to such on-off policies about lockdown as its uncertainty of  the future which makes people refrain from concluding on decisions like home buying which is one time & costliest purchase for the most & I don’t blame them! If this is scene for residential segment then the commercial segment (projects) are in more panic mode which actually is not necessary but that’s what panic does even to the toughest of the minds & real estate is no exception to this logic! Many industries has announced work from home is a fact & then many other segments (tourism, hospitality) has seen big layoffs, even production industries also, resulting less demand in commercial spaces is a fact but its temporary phase! Because a commercial space at proper location is like gold, its rate may seem stable or demand may be less a times but gold is gold, right? Same way, the pandemic will be over some day & life will be “New New Normal” at that time, those which will be holding commercial space at right location in right city & own a home (what better than Pune) are bound to get benefitted of having ownership of such space, that’s how real estate has been always! And I am not saying this because I am a builder I am stating sheer logic as in real estate you earn money only when you look at right future (its bit risk agreed, but that’s part of the game) & take the steps accordingly in the present! We the Indian’s are never comfortable with “work from home thing” as we want to meet people & it’s not just work for us but a social gathering also, is a fact! Already the ill effects of work from home are being witnessed in many families as husband wife tied to their gadgets & kids online, surely not a healthy sight is in any home. So, sooner or later the office going work culture is bound to be there as soon the so called IT & Service Provider giants will realize the work from home culture is actually affecting their revenues (reduced output from the eployees), is again my logic! And then commerce is where people’s needs are there & needs will be where people are there, so are they in the Pune region!

Pune region is present & future of entire State & post pandemic also people will hereafter choose to live in a city which has public health infra in place (even private) which Pune has got! And that’s why from entire Maharashtra the patients are coming to Pune for health treatment, making entire public health infrastructure of city collapse as well spreading wrong news about the Pune city in the country!  And future or this region’s commercial as well residential spaces is brightest among any other competing regions in the country, as this region has water, culture, public health infra & brain power all of which makes a perfect combination for the growth of the business, this even a trainee of a commerce branch will tell you!

Actual scene in Pune is, it’s much more safer than any other city & with best of the public health facilities & people here are also much aware than other regions about their health, it’s the confusing policies from the top brass (Mai Baap Sarkar) is what making things chaotic. First we say New Normal, then we realize it’s out of our hand now we say Break the Chain & then we keep Breaking the Chain with every day new circular! And about real estate the scene is worse as site's construction is allowed but only with site residing labours, is it a joke? As what small projects will do as well not all labours reside at site even in townships, so they won’t be allowed to work, what will they do? At the same time shops & showrooms of all construction related materials are to be remained shut neither offices of the consultants like structural designers etc are allowed & you say run the sites, wow!  Why can’t there be holistic, practical, simple & clear cut guidelines about real estate ever by any of the govt authority (one more my Mungerilal dram), is something I never understood! Same way high time again to think for things like stamp duty reduction scheme as well reduction in premiums like fire & many others at least for coming few two or three years if the State govt is also a stake holder in real estate’s money! Not just that but as a beneficiary, the State govt must fight with Central govt over pinching issues like income tax, interest rates as well GST type things for real estate in the city or else there will be buyers for the office spaces & homes but no builders to build them, till then, amen real estate!


Sanjay Deshpande 

Sanjeevani Dev.

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