Back in 2014, apartment sizes across India’s metro cities shrunk by 100 sq. ft. on an average, as real estate developers went all out to make homes more affordable. And they did so, with the average cost of apartment units falling by 6% back then.
In Mumbai, the country’s financial capital, apartment sizes had shrunk by 12%, resulting in a 9% drop in the sales value of apartments. And the trend continued in the following years, as the real estate sector was hit hard by multiple government policy measures.
Now, in a major trend reversal, the catchphrase ‘bigger is better’ is once again trending in India’s housing market. Data shared by property consultancy firm Anarock shows that the average apartment size in the country’s top real estate markets grew by 10% in 2020 to 1,150 sq. ft., from 1,050 sq. ft. in 2019. Reason: the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
With the new work-from-home culture, “flat sizes have begun increasing for the first time in four years,” says Anuj Puri, chairman, Anarock Property Consultants. In fact, 2017 saw the maximum yearly decline of 13% in the average size of apartments to about 1,260 sq. ft. “The two main reasons for apartment sizes reducing in [the] previous years were affordability and millennials’ preference for low-maintenance homes,” adds Puri.
And keen to generate more buyer interest with smaller price tags, developers whittled down their flat sizes. But they have been quick to catch on to the trend that size matters again.
In the post-Covid-19 world, homebuyers’ preferences have clearly changed. Now the norm has shifted towards larger, multifunctional homes, equipped with a study room. Besides, for those with the means, recreational and fitness spaces are a must as well. “The pandemic has had a tangible impact on India’s real estate sector,” says Saurabh Garg, co-founder and CBO, NoBroker.com, a brokerage-free real estate platform.
An internal assessment by the company has shown that Bengaluru has the highest number of prospective buyers looking for 3 and 4 BHK (bedroom, hall, kitchen) apartment units. “Also, the outbreak-led safety concerns are driving buyers as well as tenants towards opting for society accommodation, where new-age apps are enabling users to have a safer and more convenient residential experience,” says Garg.
According to data from Anarock, the average apartment size was the highest in Hyderabad at 1,750 sq. ft., which was about twice the size of apartments in Mumbai. But Mumbai saw the maximum rise of 21% in the size of apartments to 932 sq. ft. from 773 sq. ft. in 2019. Pune came next with a 12% annual increase in average apartment size—from 878 sq. ft. in 2019 to 986 sq. ft. in 2020.
For India’s super rich, homes at destinations such as Goa, Rishikesh, Dehradun, and Alibaug are becoming their primary residence in the new norm of work from anywhere. “In 2020, the value of ‘home’ has transformed, holding a much deeper meaning for everyone,” says Ashwin Chadha, president, India, Sotheby’s International Realty.