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The Next Big Thing in Future Of Homes In India- Post-Covid Era Expectations Of Home Buyers

The post COVID era suddenly brought us closer to the future of homes. This change has happened much sooner than expected! We will see a surge in futuristic expectations by the home buyers in India and the world over. The old order will give way to newer ways of reinventing and transforming spaces inside your houses or apartments.

Technology will lead the way in propelling growth in the homes of the future. The spaces will need to perform better, be more efficient, and play multiple roles at the same time.

The real estate sector will actually ride the technology wave to deliver performance on multiple expectations. The spaces inside the homes are limited, and home buyers would want ‘pandemic ready’ interactive homes where you do NOT feel suffocated, and there is a lot to experiment and experience in your home. The spaces inside our homes will need to give an airy, flexible, soothing, rejuvenating and recuperating ambience.

Technology will have to play a major role in making our homes even more engaging, inviting, healing and joyful feel. New home buyers have had enough of suffocation during lockdowns brought up by COVID-19.

Now, the future will bring us ‘pandemic ready’ futuristic homes, which will bring us both mental and physical respite in trying times.

In this article, we shall discuss the following-

Location vs. Size of home

Which one of these is more important? Prior to COVID, the employers were hesitant to let go of physical control over employees, especially in tertiary sector where people needed to work either on computers, were offering services, or had little to rely upon in the offices. The need to make the employees come to office got challenged with the onslaught of Corona virus. Within a few weeks, both the employers and the employees adapted to newer ways of work. The employers for the sake of protecting their customers, and employees to protect their jobs. Change was accepted, challenges met, and improvisations done to continue the human quest to fight-back and thrive when challenged!

In a regular scenario, the employers would NOT take the initiative to allow their employees to let-go that easily. But, during COVID, both the employers and employees cooperated and coordinated to make things work!

size-of-home

The result clearly was that future arrived a wee bit sooner than expected. The theories regarding the efficacies of working remotely got tested real time. Best practices were embraced quicker, and the work-from-home scenario got enabled and tested better than expected!

This impacted the residential market scenario. Regardless of whether an employee was living closer to office or far away, distance just did NOT matter anymore! This meant that LOCATION did not have the same importance. In a post COVID scenario, this de-focus on location of residence is likely to continue. Work-from-home flexibilities are also likely to continue, simply because the magic formula to deliver while remote working has been tried and tested. People are willing to be away from work-place so far as they can move around freely in bigger spaces, and breathe fresh air.

Size of home also came into question during lockdown. With people working from home, the realization was quick to dawn that while working at home, be it a rented or own residential unit, the leg-space to move and walk around the house needed to be bigger. It is stifling if you cannot take an uninterrupted walk in the lobby or rooms in your house. A 1000 sft apartment does not allow for good movement. A studio apartment with everything inside four walls felt more like a cage. People felt depressed in apartments, especially those who lacked space, did not have balconies, or multiple options in terms of spaces they could slip into. Need for MORE SPACE became as important as oxygen!!

Pay for ‘amenities-package’ outside home OR for ‘walkable spaces’ inside home?

The home buyers are now forced to think about a trade-off between common facilities and amenities (used and touched by many), vis-à-vis spaces inside your own apartment. Home buyers are now forced to think whether to go for more space inside the house, OR, pay for a common facilities like swimming pool or clubhouses that are the first ones to get locked during pandemic.

It is also common knowledge that when buying an apartment or a unit in gated communities, you don’t just pay for the unit, but also for the amenities and facilities.

amenities

With the COVID experience, safety will continue taking precedence over the next few decades.

Given a choice a home buyer would rather choose ‘more space’ in the form of a separate work-from-home space or an extra balcony in lieu of a ‘package of amenities’ that’s meant for common use!!

With masks and social distancing becoming a way to secure SAFE LIFE, a bias towards ‘more walkable/usable spaceinside home is most certainly attractive to the new home buyers.

Automated furniture accessories and equipment (Robotics furniture)

With space being limited, the use of existing space for multiple purposes is an obvious option. In cities like Mumbai, every square inch of space matters. Architects have long been trying to optimize on efficient spaces in crowded cities like Mumbai where space is a scarce commodity. The same is now the case with other cities like Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Chennai. The space a home buyer pays for will need to be utilized better. The answer lies in being innovative and using technology like robotics furniture, that converts spaces into better utilized areas for different purposes. The Bed could be converted into living sofa, furniture for storage could be moved with the push of a button to create office spaces. It’s like the movies, that the spaces get converted into different settings just like magic. In western countries, this kind of automation of spaces is being used to transform spaces to deliver multiple uses.

[Video source: https://vp.nyt.com/video/2020/11/11/89959_1_13technology-bed_wg_1080p.mp4

Cramped studio apartments gave jitters to those who thought of ‘location’ as the only criteria for buying smaller spaces. Even those who thought that life is outside of home are now re-thinking their paradigm. For instance, those who thought that a studio apartment is meant only to provide shelter in the evenings, or during weekends are now forced to have a different perspective. Consequently, they are now open to buying bigger spaces, even if it means moving out of the thick of the urban landscape.

Healthier, well-ventilated buildings, air-systems

This will mean that the buildings need to be ‘pandemic ready’ and have adequately safe provisions to undertake sanitization drives, secure containment of viruses through human contact, and quell the fears of the residents.

Another important element is well ventilated homes and common areas to allow fresh air to wash away possibilities of viruses to breed or gain-foothold in any part of the building. Ventilation standards are governed by MERV standards in advanced countries like the USA. Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV), is a measurement scale indicating effectiveness of air filters. These filters have to do with ventilations systems, and a higher MERV rating means that the filter used for at trapping certain types of particles are superior. These govern the air quality. It is a measure used in USA, and ranges between 1 to 16. A MERV of 13 to 16 are used in hospitals and surgeries, and are meant to contain bacteria, droplet nuclei (sneezing) and so on.

In hospitals, we also see HEPA filters, which are considered of a higher grade than MERV 16 filters. HEPA filters are high-efficiency particulate absorbing filters.

Such measures which were hitherto NOT important in residential buildings in India will gain momentum and preference in the times to come. The real estate industry as a whole in India will push for clean and better circulated air quality in common areas like elevators, lobbies etc. which in turn will reduce the likelihood of virus infestation.

Lifestyle changes post pandemic

People are social animals, and post pandemic, a lot of paradoxical situations are created. One thing is sure that lifestyle will witness changes. The way people interact, socialise, work, travel and live will change. This will mean changes in the residential housing as well.

Our perception about space and architecture will change too. Governments worldwide will want to create communities that are safer, and regulations will also be driven to create spaces that will save human beings in the event of a pandemic like situation.

People will seek more utility and minimalistic designs that give way to more space. Spaciousness will pave the way to decisions on just about everything we come in contact with, be it homes, eateries, public places, offices or any form of space that impacts human life.

Homes will need to be designed in such a way that they are stressrelievers. Emotions will rule high, and anything that elevates will be important, be it designs, architecture, amenities or facilities in residential spaces.

Touchless technology, Apps and Data

Home automations and technology will experience a surge in making everything TOUCHLESS to minimize the possibilities of spread of any kind of virus or contagion. Technologies will be developed with a purpose to neutralize bacteria and viruses, and this will be a ‘Unique Selling Proposition’ in the homes of the future.

Home buyers in the post COVID era will want to know what’s being done to keep them safe and secure. The residential buildings will need to step-up on technology to make the offerings that will make sure than the residents of a particular residential-society do NOT fall under the category of ‘containment zones’.

Epidemic related research and preventive technologies will be heightened, and the real estate sector will witness a huge growth in terms of this innovative wave to secure safety and well-being of the new home buyers.

home-automation

Data driven analytics, touch-free app controlled personal spaces will provide value to home buyers in the near future globally. For example, safety concerns like lobby-air flowing into residential apartments are now under the scanner of those developing better means to provide clean, microbe-free air to residents.

Data driven concierge services, usage of common spaces, access restrictions in gyms, measuring body temperature before common facilities/amenities are used, and many more tech-driven initiatives will gain prominence in the post COVID era.

Predictive analysis on the usage of various spaces in the buildings will further be used while architectural planning to minimise negative impacts of excessive human-traffic, and enhance security within residential spaces, be it garage, elevators, clubhouses, spas, or play areas.

New home buyers will welcome access to common amenities to be restricted for those who do not make reservations in advance before using common amenities. This indicates how new home buyers are likely to think and act in the post-COVID era.

Inventors will be working on being adequately prepared for future possibilities of virus. Globally, human beings will be better prepared for the threat of impending pandemics.

Amenities like in-unit laundry

Residential spas, lounges and play courts were shut down to maintain social distancing. These amenities lost their meaning suddenly. Although, their importance cannot be undermined, amenities will going forward be preferred in-house. Additional focus on providing laundry spaces, areas to dry, wash and iron clothes would also take precedence. People would hesitate to give clothes for wash, ironing etc. to regular laundryman (dhobi), or share ironing and washing equipment with others.

Some amenities like security, Touchless entry, elevators with adequate space are being construed as ‘essentials’.

Desire for fresh air

People are terrified with the thought of the virus, and want to have fresh infection-free air. Home designs that ensure fresh air will top the list of expectations. In line with Vastu tenets, the desire for well-ventilated, well-lit homes will increase.

Home buyers will need a home that enables them naturally to keep with the precautionary measures, and helps them safe outdoor time while stepping outside their homes, and within the complex, or in their lobbies.

Home office spaces

Working from home is a no longer a new thing now. Working family members will need homes that take care of their work from home needs from Architectural Engineering and design stand-point. Home buyers would look for spaces that help them work without distractions. With a likelihood of lots of time being spent at home, a little bit of extra space, and smart work-from-home options would be a necessity going forward.

Higher cleaning standards

Home buyers would want builders to go beyond anti-termite treatment or earth-quake resistant structures, and put-in extra thought on increased level of sanitation in the residential apartments.

We have to live with the fact that viruses like Corona can make life challenging for us, and the best way to deal with them is to have a home where heath protocols can be observed. The building which we call home needs to have provision and necessary design and structural element to keep the surroundings neat and clean. This way, we can steer clear of future threats of any kind of microbes, bacteria or viruses.

Simply put, this means that the builders will have to provide highest level of cleaning standards, and ensure that the building is enabled to take-on the job of taking cleanliness very seriously. The emergency created by Corona virus has made people respect the need for safer and clean environments. The home buyers does not need to be sold on the importance of increased sanitation in the post COVID era.

Pet friendliness

People got very lonely during COVID times, and a spike in pet-friendliness was observed. The home buyers in the future would seek a pet-friendly home, both for those who don’t like pets, and for those who seek affection out of them.

Hence, pet-friendly provisions will make life better for both those who own them, and those who don’t.

pet-friendly

Conclusion

COVID-19 is bound to leave an indelible impact on the expectations home buyers in India will have out of their new homes. Clearly, the policy-makers, the town-planners, the regulators (like RERA), the architects and the builders will ALL have to dwell carefully on the learnings of the new home buyer post the COVID experience, and respond intelligently!

The new homes will need to provide for a better way to live, play, work and connect in a world full of challenges and unexpected downturns!

It’s only human, not to give-up and to improvise in the face of adversity!

To quote Elizabeth Edwards, “Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it’s less good than the one you had before. You can fight it, you can do nothing but scream about what you’ve lost, or you can accept that and try to put together something that’s good.”

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