The country’s recent rise in COVID-19 cases and fears of another wave could hamper the recovery of real estate seen in the last six months. Also, the Maharashtra government’s refusal to extend the low-stamp duty exemption could potentially affect the mood of home buyers and investors.
The extraordinary challenges associated with another wave of Covid-19 infection in the country are adversely affecting expansion plans for companies that postpone their office rental decisions. Ultimately the second wave of pandemic has disrupted the (CRE) commercial real estate sector.
The end of the stamp duty exemption and the introduction of a state curfew/lockdown situation due to the second wave of the pandemic could have a negative impact on home sales. This has interrupted construction work and a sharp drop in the number of customer visits on sites for project finalization.
A report from JLL India-
According to Q1 JLL’s 2021 first-quarter office report, “The momentum of leasing in the coming quarters will largely depend on how long it takes to end the second wave of Covid cases.” Samantak Das, Head of research, JLL India said- Rising concerns about an increase in the number of Covid cases in the second half of March has further pushed residents to postpone their property buying decisions again.
Impact of COVID second wave on Commercial Real Estate sector-
The second wave of Pandemic or increased cases of COVID-19 impacted the commercial real estate sector in a serious manner. Government decisions like imposing a curfew and overnight closures are likely to affect supply chains. India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) stated in a report that Covid poses a mild challenge for supply chains across different real estate sectors.
This is also reflected in the increase in vacancy for Class A office space, which increased for the fifth consecutive quarter in the first quarter (Q1) of 2021. The vacancy rate increased from 12.8% in March 2020 to about 14.8% on 14 March 2021.
In the first quarter of 2021, net absorption of the office space market fell by 37% in Q1 2021 at 5.52 million square feet (MSF). Accordingly, net leasing or rent decreased by 33% from 8.34 MSF in the (Q4) fourth quarter of 2020. Only the markets of Bangalore and Delhi NCR experience an increase in net absorption in the (Q1) first quarter of 2021 compared to the (Q4) fourth quarter of 2020.
As the vaccination campaign takes off and occupiers remain cautiously optimistic. The 2021 year is expected to see an increase of about 38 MSF of new completions. While net absorption is likely to be around 30 MSF with a slight downward bias. This will be in line with the average annual net absorption observed in 2016-2018.
Despite the emergence of work from home concepts. Tenants with a sound financial profile in Class A office space continued to fulfill their existing leases and obligations on time without any impact on leases according to the analysis.
Impact on Residential sector
According to a latest analysis by CARE Ratings, the second wave could hamper the recovery the sector has experienced over the past six months.
The demand for affordable housing and medium-sized housing likely to recover more quickly, thanks to a government-funded subsidy scheme. The government has extended the period of exemptions. And benefits of buying affordable housing by another year i.e, 31 March 2022. The demand in smaller cities is likely to be better as the work from home trend has encouraged people to buy houses in their hometowns.
In 2021, housing demand is likely to return to the level in 2019, but only if the impact of the second wave does not last. Because if the second wave continues for an extended period of time, it could affect jobs and ultimately impact the residential sector.
Dr. Niranjan Hiranandani, Managing Director of Hiranandani Group said. Study and work from home is certainly to stay longer, so some families may find it wise to move into a larger home with flexi-interiors. The exemption in the stamp duty rate has certainly played a vital role in improving sales. However, it is not the only positive factor affecting sales until September 2020 and before the end of the scheme. Other factors are still present, for example, home loan rates are at historically low levels; property developers are offering great deals. These factors also play an important role in positively impacting homebuyers’ confidence.
Anil Pharande, chairman of Pharande Spaces said. Real estate will definitely be impacted as the number of site visits will decrease. On the other hand, people during this pandemic are more eager to own their homes. As a result, online property queries or searches are rising. Developers will easily close the sale as soon as the situation stabilizes. There will be a 10-15% drop in sales, but it will even out again. Property prices are at an all-time lower level in 10 years, and interest rates on home loans are also attractive. Further, developers will continue to make adjustments to meet this demand.
Anuj Puri, chairman of Anarock Property Consultants, said, incentives such as a reduction in stamp duty are for a limited period. And the state’s lowest and best home loan rates (6.70%) have not been continued beyond 31 March 2021. In general, these factors, together with the partial lockdown will affect the total home sales in the future.