Indian Millennial Homebuyers: The Times Are Changing

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Anil Pharande, Chairman – Pharande Spaces

Everything that your parents may have communicated to you about owning a home may be incorrect if you are a millennial under the age of 35. However, don’t blame yourself for this – your parents operated by a rigid set of values that they have simply passed on to you. It was a simple enough formula – get a good education, get married, have kids and buy a big flat in the city. This is – or was – the quintessential Indian middle-class dream.

This dream – and the formula – may continue to have relevance to quite a few younger people in India, but the way life works for today’s millennials in India is no longer so cut and dried as it was for their parents. In the first place, we have a rapidly evolving and increasingly competitive job market in India.

The career charts of Indian millennials are no longer as predictable as those of their parents were – nor does a sound college education mean that one can actually get the best jobs anymore. Also, millennials are the ‘job hopping’ generation which wants to sample different lines of work and also different companies with varied work cultures before they ‘settle down.’ This is one reason why many Indian millennials initially prefer to rent rather than buy their homes.

Secondly, because their careers are no longer cast in the concrete of limited options like engineer, doctor, lawyer, banker or ‘Government job, young Indians today are marrying later and are not necessarily in a hurry to have children once they do, either. When they do decide on having children, having one child is, more often than not, enough. The typical millennial family of today is essentially nuclear and does not subscribe to the values that drove the much larger and much more complex joint family package.

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They are more flexible and value their freedom, so they are not overly invested in making heavy financial commitments as soon as they are able to (making such commitments was a defining factor of the previous generations of Indians).

What does this mean in terms of their home purchase decisions? For one thing, it means that a smaller flat – even for a dual-income household – is perfectly adequate to begin with. What increasingly matters for the young, smart socially conscious Indian nuclear family of today is not necessarily size, but:

  • Value for money (banks and developers should understand by now that dual income does not equal dual gullibility)
  • Being able to get to and from work conveniently (not because getting to work fast matters most, but because getting home faster leads to better work-life balance)
  • Good public transport connectivity (because using public transport is good for the family budget as well as the environment)
  • Two car parking spaces (because two earning members may need to be as mobile as possible)
  • Fast broadband + Wi-Fi connectivity and other smart home features (because many Indian millennials can and do work from home, or from home as well as an office)
  • Environmental sustainability of the project (because most Indian millennials do believe that the world can become a better place)

Upgrading to larger homes should be an option, but it is by no means the only acceptable path for the Indian millennial to follow. For the previous generations, the ‘upgradation’ route was more or less socially enforced – but that trend is now history.

Strangely, many residential developers in cities like Pune have not caught on to the reasons why their projects are not selling as fast as they used to. They choose to believe that it is because ‘market conditions’ are currently ‘slow’. That may be true, but the larger fact is that housing projects that appealed to their parents may not have the same attractiveness for today’s millennials.

Projects that do not meet the requirements of today’s younger generation of working professionals are not going to work for this buyer segment, regardless of the market conditions.

One truth about the real estate market has not changed, even for millennials – while it is not all about ‘location, location, location’ for them, location is still certainly very important. It’s just that ‘central location’ is no longer the Golden Rule – Indian millennials are far more inclined to purchase their first homes in the suburbs, not in the city centre.

They are also far more likely to buy homes in organized townships with stand-alone infrastructure and their own schools, healthcare and shopping / entertainment facilities. Townships with their own office complexes offering potential walk-to-work or cycle-to-work possibilities and those close to major employment hubs such as IT parks and manufacturing belts are the most preferred.

About The Author:

Anil PharandeAnil Pharande is Chairman of Pharande Spaces, a leading construction and development firm that develops township properties in West Pune. Pharande Promoters & Builders, the flagship company of Pharande Spaces and an ISO 9001-2000 certified company, is a pioneer in the PCMC area offering a diverse range of real estate products catering especially to the 42 sectors of Pradhikaran. The luxury township Puneville at Punavale in West Pune is among the company’s latest premium offerings. Woodsville in Moshi is another highly successful PCMC-based township by Pharande Spaces which is now in its 3rd phase.

Infrastructure And its Correlation to Home Buying

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Anil Pharande, Chairman – Pharande Spaces

In India, as in other countries, it is a simple fact that localities which are as close as possible to important workplace areas will be most consistently sought out by people looking to buy homes. Therefore, projects with great connectivity by railway and road, see the highest demand for residential properties.

Property investment is always driven by the infrastructure in and around a locality. From sufficient roads to reliable water supply and drainage, infrastructure includes all the physical characteristics which contribute towards creating sustainable communities. Unsurprisingly, property costs close to infrastructure including airports, railway stations and roads are higher than in other regions.

If a location does not offer reliable electricity and water supply, connectivity, public transportation stops and sanitation by ways of good sewerage and waste disposal, it will not work as a residential destination regardless of what else it offers. All these are services that nobody living in a modern Indian city is prepared to live without.

From a property marketplace outlook, sufficient infrastructure in an area includes everything that leads to an easier, convenient lifestyle which does not have to contend with any kind of shortages, service outages and breakdown of public facilities.

Well-planned roads and public transport

Roads are required to make transport quicker and simpler. They are important right from the time when basic infrastructure and initial real estate development are being put in place, as raw materials and labour has to be able to reach the location. Once the area is established, roads let people travel to and from work, for kids to get to and from school and for access to shopping and entertainment.

Proper planning of road, rail and public transport nodes is very important. The key factor to be kept in mind during this planning is that people do not want to too close to bus depots, railway stations, shopping areas and industries businesses – but neither will they wish to be too far away from them.

Reliable supply of essential utilities

In a developing country like India, there are still many towns and suburbs of cities that do not enjoy reliable water and electricity supply, garbage management and public security features. With the income of typical Indian families constantly growing, today’s urban homeowners are willing to spend more to get access to seamless water and electricity, and adequate security.

Naturally, residential complexes that provide 24×7 water and electricity supply and round-the-clock security are far now highly favored. This is what has led to the growing momentum of township development in Pune and even more so in PCMC. Housing projects in places that don’t have reliable utilities and where security is a concern do find takers – but these are usually exceptionally budget-strung buyers who resign themselves to having to wait for everything to fall in place at some stage.

Sanitation infrastructure

In India, there has been rising awareness of the minimum levels of sanitation that a household should have access to. A new location will only start attracting real demand from homebuyers if it offers appropriate measures of sanitation such as municipal road cleaning, trash removal, sewage and waste water disposal, and other related services. Without these services, life becomes unhealthy and intolerable. A location’s score on the sanitation front is a very important criterion for homebuyers who are shortlisting housing projects in which to buy a property.

Social infrastructure: Schools, hospitals, shopping and recreation

Indian families put great onus on the availability of schools in a residential neighbourhood. This is why areas with good schools in the vicinity fetch higher property rates than most others. This is not only a question of convenience for Indian parents, but also of the safety for their children. Because of life’s uncertainties and the rise in road and domestic accidents, hospitals are another component in an area’s social infrastructure that is of critical concern for homebuyers. They expect quick access to medical facilities –  this is non-negotiable.

Recreational open spaces such as parks are also consistently in favour from city dwellers that wish to experience nature to some extent, and thereby be able to find some refuge from the urban madness that rules most of their days. A locality that offers water bodies, gardens, parks and playgrounds in the vicinity are considered premium.

Developers of large integrated townships are aware of how important the availability of good social infrastructure has become, which is why they include gardens and artificial lakes as well as schools, shopping and entertainment inside the project premises for their residents.

Infrastructure in all its facets is therefore hugely important in today’s residential property scenario, and it directly influences the buying behavior of Indians scouting around for homes. The degree to which social and civic infrastructure is available in a neighbourhood dictates how successful a residential destination is today.

This is why integrated townships have become the most important trend on the Indian property market today. Townships are not dependent on how proactive the municipality and private sector players in deploying social and physical infrastructure. They deploy it themselves in perfectly-contained microcosms that not only include residential projects but also office and retail complexes as well as educational and healthcare facilities.

Integrated townships ensure that their residents have everything they need for a modern comfortable and secure lifestyle accessible within easy reach, for instant use. The high demand for township properties in rapidly urbanizing cities like Pune and PCMC vouchsafes the fact that homebuyers are no longer willing to compromise on the advantages of sufficient infrastructure in their neighbourhoods.

About The Author:

Anil PharandeAnil Pharande is Chairman of Pharande Spaces, a leading construction and development firm that develops township properties in West Pune. Pharande Promoters & Builders, the flagship company of Pharande Spaces and an ISO 9001-2000 certified company, is a pioneer in the PCMC area offering a diverse range of real estate products catering especially to the 42 sectors of Pradhikaran. The luxury township Puneville at Punavale in West Pune is among the company’s latest premium offerings. Woodsville in Moshi is another highly successful PCMC-based township by Pharande Spaces which is now in its 3rd phase.