When the first wave of the COVID 19 pandemic hit, and the lockdown was announced, the most pressing issue that the government faced was the issue of mass migration of migrant workers. The media covered the social impact that such a large migration would have on the already stressed health care system and the untold misery of walking hundreds of kilometres without any money, food, or a place to sleep. But what slipped under the radar was the fact that this mass exodus of migrant workers was symbolic of the mass exodus of money from the Indian real estate market that these workers were a part of. Overnight, the industry suffered a huge blow which would have repercussions for months to come.
The industry, which was booming pre-COVID, could not operate those first months of the lockdown, leading to immense losses. With the lockdown in place and restrictions on public movement, construction sites ranging from malls, schools, and restaurants to under construction apartments had to stop work on their sites. Of course, prospective buyers could no longer view properties, making sales a near impossibility. With liquidity constraints and a labour crisis looming, the industry prepared for the worst.
Some unexpected positives came up. To survive the lockdown and solve the issue of buyers being unable to view properties, sellers began using technology to help buyers view properties remotely. This single innovative solution made way for sellers to push out sales even during a global pandemic. Another unexpected outcome was the surge in NRI investors, providing growth spurts for the industry.
After the lockdown eased, the industry made a surprising recovery. 2021 was expected to be a great year for real estate, especially considering that more people were keen to buy a house for the security that being a homeowner gives them. As things began to perk up, valuable prospects such as the upcoming residential projects in Dahisar east and other hotspots were in great demand. That is until the second wave of COVID 19 hit. Once again, the demand for office spaces went down, as people were working from home. All the problems that the market had to go through the first time round resurfaced, only that this time, the virus came back with a vengeance. The worst affected cities like Mumbai and Delhi also happen to be prime real estate markets. The local restrictions applied to these cities have bulldozed any chances of the real estate market from developing.
The long-term impacts of COVID 19 are yet to be seen, but if we take notes from the first wave, we know that a quick recovery is possible if the lockdown is eased at the earliest. The entire economy of the country depends on how effectively the government can control the virus from spreading, and how quickly the public can resume their normal economic activities.