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Exploring how COVID has changed priorities and expectations of homebuyers in India

Exploring how COVID has changed priorities and expectations of homebuyers in India

Coronavirus has impacted lives the world over. People have gained an all-new perspective about their lives, and this has changed the priorities for the new home buyers as well. The way we look at work, family, friends, and life itself has changed. Although, it has scarred the mental make-up as well. With many jobs put out of gear, it has most certainly slowed down the fast-paced life and brought a re-invigorated perspective to the human connect factor. Globally, people have understood that being human matters!

This includes the way home buyers look at their dream homes. New needs have emerged as a result of COVID, and a newfound pragmatism has come to the center stage. Clearly, the expectations of home buyers have evolved. Even after the COVID virus is gone, the transformation of expectations from a new home will continue to be based on having a dream home that’s pandemic ready!

Families emerge more resilient and better connected post COVID

Factors like lockdown have brought families together, and made them watch one another’s back. The scare of getting infected by the virus, the unsettling news about number of COVID deaths, unavailability of a cure, and the related struggles has resulted in a far more resilient world citizen.

The pandemic has given birth to a hitherto less prevalent ‘social’ frame of reference’ where importance of life and being socially-connected has assumed renewed importance by the common man across the globe.

It is a paradox that while ‘social distancing’ seeks restraint, we, as human beings have come to realize the ‘importance of being together’ much more after being asked to stay away from one another. This has led to the world looking at life differently, and even celebrating the gift of life!

How people feel about human life and relationships has experienced a massive uplift for the good! All of a sudden, life has become valuable, relationships have taken precedence over mundane monetary considerations. Mother-nature has made human beings realize and appreciate that we must NOT take life for granted!

Seeking answers to what a dream home means in the post COVID era

The concept of a home has consequently changed, and the new priorities are driving the buyers as they explore home options. The buyers are asking themselves, “What kind of home will I need if a similar COVID-like situation emerges? What kind of home will it take for me and my family to be safe? What kind of requirements would I have if I were to be contained within the four walls of my home? What kind of social infrastructure, outside world connectivity, and inner solace would I be needing if I am NOT allowed to step out of my house?”

These questions have triggered a clarity of thought that’s predominantly human in nature. All this has changed the criteria upon which a home search is based in a post COVID era.

In this article, we shall dwell upon the following priorities which will be dominate the minds of home buyers in India, or even globally:

  • Adequate lighting and spaciousness
  • Ease of cooking
  • Greater sense of privacy
  • Efficient electricals and lower utility bills
  • Area to work-out and exercise
  • Outdoor spaces like balconies
  • Work from home spaces
  • De-focus on common amenities

Adequate lighting and spaciousness

The urban population is used to a fast-paced life full of physical movement. However, when quarantine rules are imposed, families are stuck within the confines of their home. COVID has exposed us to suffocation that was never experienced over the last 4 or 5 decades.

During such difficult times, a good amount of sunlight and spaces bring an unparalleled respite and cheer. This is one of the reasons many people who took smaller residential units were quick to upgrade to larger more spacious homes. A studio apartment with very limited space feels like a cage for an overgrown bird.

Human beings want well lit, well ventilated spaces with a sense of airiness that brings down gloom. The scientific tenets of Vastu come into play here, which states that being happy, cheerful and a feeling of well-being are important elements for the well-being of a family.

How you feel matters, and this becomes all the more critical when you are expected to stay indoors for weeks together during pandemic.

Ease of cooking

For those who have depended mostly on food supplied by outside sources on the move, the kitchen in their own homes was a new place they got introduced to. Plus, there are situations where more family members pitch in to cook, and lend a helping hand. In both these situations, the kitchen space needs to be welcoming, and easy to move around.

The work triangle (cooking-hearth, wash-basin and refrigerator) in the kitchen needs to be efficient. An open kitchen in such a situation also does the job of making you feel connected to the family while you are in the kitchen, and your loved ones are around you in the dining or living room. The innate need to connect with the family members gets served well with an open kitchen.

We can no longer order food sitting at home, or go out and eat food without the risk of contracting the virus. Hence, cooking at home should be made easier with a well-designed kitchen that helps you work effectively and efficiently.

During lockdown, the kitchen truly took the centre stage of the home, and families go together while cooking, sitting together and eating a meal.

The lockdown also created the special need to have adequate storage space to store food items. Again, the importance of dry warm storage spaces has come to light for the need to store large quantities of food items.

Spaces for storage like food items, kitchen appliances and preparation areas would get more practical in the post Corona times. The efficiency with which one does the preparation work for the meals, cooks, serves and cleans has become extremely important. Builders and architects will need to invest more time and thought in providing greater convenience in the kitchen space. An optimally designed kitchen that’s a pleasure to work in would score a big nod from home buyers in the times to come.

A convenient, practical and a pleasurable kitchen space is all one needs when a situation like pandemic hits us.

Greater sense of privacy

Corona virus made the homes a place of shelter, where the loved ones were nestled safely from being impacted by the pandemic. Be it elders, children or our own selves, we have a great need for being protected physically and emotionally. All the family members being inside the house 24×7 is a difficult proposition. The need for personal space, a non-intrusive privacy is needed by everyone.

Post pandemic, this need cannot be over-emphasized. Some extra space in the house, be it a balcony or study room or exercise room or puja room etc. becomes imperative. While families love one another during stressful time, continuous family time can be very over-whelming and discomforting.

This factor of privacy needs to be factored in more practically in the designs of homes so that people don’t get burnt-out with an excessive dose of social time with family members. People spend a good amount of time with their colleagues or friends outside the home. This allows them to be at ease with their surroundings.

This kind of Privacy at work allows you to stay clear of the prying eyes of the family members. You need some breathing space, and not be seen or heard by you family members throughout the day!

Hence, home buyers in future will seek a balance between ‘excessively intrusive home’ and a home that’s built smart to allow you ‘me-time’ whenever required.

Efficient electricals and lower utility bills

With the entire family spending more time at home, you are bound to see a surge in the electricity bills, internet bills, and overall maintenance of the home. Family members who are used to spending long hours outside of the home are suddenly going to stay at home, cook more, eat more, watch more television, use more cooking-gas, use more electrical appliance (air-conditioners, geysers, kettles etc.) and also generate more garbage. All this results in electricity and utility bills shooting up.

This means that the home buyers of the future will need energy efficient electrical equipment, lighting and utility solutions in their future homes. Elements and solutions to contain torrid heat during summer, and cold winters will help down the electricity bills considerably.

Area to work-out and exercise

Being contained within the four walls of the home with restraint on activity to walk around and move around has caused unbearable stress on the mental make-up of millions of people, especially in the urban areas. Imagine being contained in a 1000 square feet apartment for 4 family members, with no hope of normalcy in sight!

Under such extreme conditions, having some space meant for workouts or spaces that allow for clear and convertible spaces for home based work-outs or yoga session can bring unimaginable relief.

Staying fit physically while locked up at home is also a great way to defeat mental stress. Just eating, watching television, or simple inactivity can be very depressing!

Builders and architects will have to get innovative in providing flexible spaces that can be transformed into workout or physical exertion areas. Even the concept of a home-gym will see a surge in the times to come.

Outdoor spaces like balconies

Having your own outdoor spaces like lawns, exclusive rights to terrace, balconies and so on are a blessing especially when stepping out of home is not an option. The flexibility to look at the clear blue skies, have the sunlight gleam over your face, or simply having access to fresh air in your balcony is nothing short of luxury. The more space you have, the easier it is for you to walk, move or jog. This is all the more important when you have pets, energetic children and older generations who simply need to find expression in bigger, open spaces.

One should also be capable to maintain these spaces especially if domestic help or maintenance services are going to be disrupted during difficult times like COVID lockdown. Wanting your own exclusive garden spaces in independent bungalows requires financial commitment to be able to support it.

In large gated communities, the spaces need to be well-managed to cater to all the residents without causing healthcare hazards, especially when social distancing is required. Considering this, home buyers in future would ask for flexible own outdoor spaces to allow them connect to life and nature.

Work from home spaces

With work-from-home becoming a reality, some companies who were earlier averse to the idea of work-from-home have gotten a new-found courage to allow employees to work remotely. The human ability to evolve and work as virtual teams also has been proven effective. The flip side of this is that those working are not equipped to handle this additional requirement inside their homes. While the employers are alright to have the employees work from home, the employees are NOT equipped with a readily conducive environment.

Working from office offers various infrastructural and ergonomic comforts besides the psychological freedom. You are at ease working from office, with family members NOT interfering with your work space.

Now, you see children, your spouse, elders, and visitors to home disturbing you all the time! Your bedroom, kitchen, study, dining or puja room could be your work from home area. You could also be circling from one room to another periodically depending on the demands from other family members. Plus, the distractions at home with no superiors to watch over you physically can also lead you astray more often than not.

All these factors have given rise to specific demands on builders to provision for work from home spaces as per the home buyers’ budget. It becomes all the more important for builders and architects to provide for multiple options within home so that a bedroom or a study room could get transformed into workstation as and when required. The provisions could include more electricity points, ports for Ethernet connections, flexibility to have wi-fi running through the house, and many inter-related flexibilities.

De-focus on common amenities

The pandemic has put a question mark on having common amenities that are used and touched by multiple human beings. Human beings are carriers to many viruses and bacteria, and all these can be transmitted through the common surfaces that we are exposed to.

During the pandemic gymnasiums, swimming pools, club-houses, beauty-salons, spas, sitting areas, restaurants, cafes, shops etc. were the first ones to be shut down. The common areas running in thousands of square feet in gated communities were also shut down immediately, and NOT used when the residents of an apartment are confined to the walls of their homes. This is ironical that you pay for all the facilities and common amenities, and have life hazards looming large should you use these amenities.

The areas that gained importance pandemic were the elevators, stairs, security system, open gymnasiums, open parks etc. Need to have multiple and spacious elevators (lifts) has become more important. The need to have touch-free sanitary, bath and kitchen fittings will further gain importance.

Entry to your home without physical key will also gain importance in the times to come. Storage for supplies to the residents will gain importance. Parking facilities for essential items like water, food, cleaning etc. are also going to be critical factors to sustain the community in residential apartments.

In a nutshell, anything that prevents human touch and contact will gain importance, and home automation companies will provide for such facilities for all budget types.

Builders will make adjustments in their layout plans, and eliminate the overtly common amenities and facilities that are likely to cause any kind of infection. Standalone apartment buildings may become attractive to home buyers who are no longer interested in using or paying for these common amenities and facilities.

Conclusion

People globally are now ready to make personal adjustments, and for a new normal carved out by the Corona virus. The new home buyers in India will drive builders and architects to accommodate all the design elements that will make living in the new normal a stress-free, productive, aesthetic and a safe experience for every member of the family.

Just like ‘Earthquake resistant buildings’, we will now have ‘pandemic ready’ homes that give us space, protection, beauty, and utility. These homes will need to synchronize well with an innately primal human nature that seeks safety and security above all else. The homes of the future will need to make people feel more connected to mother nature, protect them in adverse situations, and secure their mental and physical well-being under all circumstances.

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