For some luxury businesses, the pandemic has been nothing short of a blessing. Count super luxury apartment developers amongst the lucky few. Four Seasons Private Residences by Provenance Land in Mumbai is designed by international architecture firm Gensler and design pros George Yabu, Glenn Pushelberg, and Wannaporn Phornprapha and touts interiors inspired by jewels and precious stones for which India is famous across the world.

The fancy project, that’s an extension of the Four Seasons hotel brand, sold eight floors of apartments in the last 10 weeks alone. The units that feature custom interiors, bathtubs with high-pressure faucets that fill in less than two minutes, and elevators that move four metres per second collectively sold for over ₹200 crore to clients from the pharmaceutical, retail, and technology sectors.

Four Seasons officials say the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) recorded its best-ever sales performance for October in the last eight years at 7,929 homes—a 42% rise over September’s numbers, and a 36% spike, year-on-year.

According to experts, the pan-India numbers between July-November of luxury homes across Mumbai, Bengaluru, Delhi, and Chennai also show a similar trend with customers showing a preference towards strong established brands.

Four Seasons Private Residences are renowned for their clients worldwide. Actress Priyanka Chopra is a resident at the New York Four Seasons Private Residences and Bollywood star Deepika Padukone is one at the Four Seasons Private Residences in Bengaluru.

Adarsh Jatia, managing director of Provenance Land, says, “In the last two years, there were sales happening, but much slower. The velocity has now taken off. Projects like ours which are very close to completion seem to be higher on the shopping list for customers who don’t want to wait too long,” he says. “Buyers typically don’t want to commit until almost done. In our case, probably a combination of a few things led to the sudden sale surge. We will be applying for OC (occupation certificate) in January and expect to deliver possession within the next six to eight months.”

What led to the apartments getting snapped up? “People in general now see the value of the home, having been locked in for a large period of time,” Jatia says. “They use their home for everything: office board room, fitness centre, classroom for the kids, hobbies like playing music. The HNI (high net worth individual) just doesn’t want to compromise anymore.”

According to experts, the pan-India numbers between July-November of luxury homes across Mumbai, Bengaluru, Delhi, and Chennai also show a similar trend with customers showing a preference towards strong established brands. Four Seasons Private Residences are renowned for their clients worldwide. Actress Priyanka Chopra is a resident at the New York Four Seasons Private Residences and Bollywood star Deepika Padukone is one at the Four Seasons Private Residences in Bengaluru.

It’s also a more wallet-friendly environment to buy real estate. Stamp duty on purchases was reduced from 5% to 2% in the last quarter of this year and was set at 3% from January 2021 to March 2021. This leads to a savings of 3% this quarter which translates to around ₹75 lakh on an apartment that costs around ₹28 crore. Four Seasons Private Residences in Mumbai feature a total of 41 units across 64 floors with some duplexes.

Gulam Zia, executive director with property management company Knight Frank India, says that the vigour with which luxury homes kick-started in India a decade ago, got derailed around 2015. “A few consecutive years of bad sales led developers to convert luxury home projects to either mid-segment or altogether change from residential to commercial,” Zia says. “Not just high-end residential, the whole housing sector was reeling under severe depression when the pandemic engulfed the world, pulling out the last few reasons for a revival. In that scenario, the last quarter of the year 2020 has proved to be miraculous for the sagging morale of the industry.”

Bala Shetty, a long-time Mumbai-based real estate broker who specialises in luxury properties, says that the price band between ₹25 crore and ₹40 crore has seen more traction of late. “Anything more than ₹40 Crore is not that easy to sell,” Shetty says. He adds that luxury projects that include Artesia by K Raheja Corp (₹20 crore-₹30 crore) and Ashish Raheja’s Imperia in Worli (₹12 crore-₹18 crore) have clocked strong sales in the last few weeks.

The euphoria also engulfed the upper end of the housing segment, with the luxury segment also seeing sales, thus pulling it out of the recession. “Not just Mumbai, which remains the biggest market of high-end apartments, even Delhi, Bengaluru, and Pune have also started recording sales of luxury houses in sizable numbers,” Zia said.

For Four Seasons, the advantage has been serviced and managed apartments. “It’s a new phenomenon, and buyers value it because of the lack of services during the last year,” Jatia says. In a Four Seasons setup, standard procedures under COVID-19 are derived from a consulting tie-up with the Johns Hopkins Medical Center.

Of course, it will take consistent sales of luxury apartments over the next few months to convincingly announce the revival of this sector. “But until then whatever sales transpire would reduce huge inventories that had piled up in the recent past,” Zia adds.

Did Jatia see any surprises during the sales of these eight units? “From the time to buyers checking the place out, to delivering the cheque and buying the place, it took three days. No more. Buying during a lockdown typically takes time with all family members wanting to have a look and so on. We were taken aback with the speed of the execution of that particular deal,” he says.

Other interesting experiences included an NRI customer who swiped her credit card to block her home because she believed that her choice of apartment would go away before she could go back and ask her office to transfer the funds, Jatia says. “Another time, an avid art collector came in to see some art (because our show residence had art curated in collaboration with Chemould gallery) and he loved what he saw so much that he ended up buying an apartment instead.”

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