From co-working spaces to studio townships, realty in MMR is changing

Today’s buyers expect virtual tours, live chat facilities and entertainment hubs at their doorstep.

Updated: Jul 31, 2017 16:45:18

By Anubhuti Matta & Lavina Mulchandani


Remember what buying a home used to be like? The plodding site visits conducted by bus, in groups. The broker you didn’t know whether to trust. The homes — just plastered walls with windows at one end.

Click forward to 2017. Today, you take a 360-degree tour online so you know exactly what to expect. You browse websites, apps and social media pages that allow you to bypass the broker altogether, if that is how you wish to do things.

You might buy a ‘studio flat’ in a township of only studio flats.

You may opt for a 1BHK that is furnished down to the kitchen cabinets, oven and washing machine.

The questions have changed too. From ‘Are there good schools for the kids to go to?’ to ‘There’s parking included, and a mall nearby, right?’ ‘Do I have options to chill on a weekend or will I have to go too far?

Because often the kids are the buyers — millennials looking to settle down but keep their pub-hopping lifestyle.

A look at some of the most significant changes in the real-estate landscape that have come about in the past few years.


The real-estate market has developed a whole new segment over the past decade. There were no co-working spaces until the middle of the last decade, and now there are so many, amid demand growing so quickly, that it’s become a segment all its own. It’s a reflection of how we’ve changed too.

This is a generation that thinks, lives and works differently from its predecessors.

They freelance, make their own hours and take their own risks. And they do it all in the new, brightly coloured spaces where they can book a slot for a few hours, a day, a week or even a month.

A report released by realty consultancy CBRE last month estimates that co-working space in India will touch 10 million sq ft by 2020.

It’s no longer just freelancers and start-ups either. “Staff at small emerging businesses are also looking to co-working spaces to maximise their productivity,” says Ramesh Nair, CEO and country head at JLL India.


They’re more affordable, easier to maintain, and just enough space for a young couple starting out. They’re essentially oneroom-kitchen homes, but they’re modular, bright and well-furnished. So they’re now called studio apartments, no bigger than 300 to 400 sq ft, and builders are constructing entire townships of them, because demand is so high. This means that your studio comes with access to a pool, landscaped gardens, a gym and maybe a shopping centre too. But remains affordable, and manageable.


If you ask your parents, they’ll still say the best time to buy is just after the builder lays the foundation of a project. Prices are low, and you know work has begun.

Two things have changed — most young buyers don’t want to wait years to start their lives as home owners, and inventory is high, which means there are ready flats available at a discount. Many, then, are opting for more expensive but more convenient ready-to-move-in flats. Anuj Puri, chairman of Anarock Property Consultants says, “Projects by unknown developers are out and those by wellknown developers are in.”


Some things never change. If you’re buying a home, you still want it to be in a safe neighbourhood, near a public transport point, ideally with a tree or two outside — something you can call a view.

But young buyers’ first questions are no longer likely to be about schools and hospitals.

They’re more likely to be about leisure facilities — malls, restaurants, cafés. They’re willing to settle down with these because they are most likely to be frequented.


Their parents had a dream home, scrimped and saved to make the down-payment and then the EMIs, lived in it all their lives.

Today’s young buyers are framing their own dreams, and for many, renting is easier than buying in the same way that eating out is easier than cooking.

Time and disposable income are the new dream.

So is flexibility — you can’t move to Germany for a year, toy with the idea of living in the UK and come home for a spell to work things out, if you have a home loan and a flat that needs caring for. Millennials are also putting off getting married, which is another reason home ownership is being put off too.


Those that are buying, are letting their hearts and their heads both have a say. Want to live in Lokhandwala but can only afford a 1BHK in Badlapur? Why not have both? Young buyers are choosing to buy where they can afford to, and still live where they want to, giving their own homes out on rent to subsidise part of their own rent payouts. It doesn’t have to be the Mumbai Metropolitan Region either. Buyers are looking to other cities’ fringes, to seek out the best value for money. “In 2016, Mumbai saw a 56% increase in the number of launches in Thane’s Ambernath area and Navi Mumbai’s Panvel and Taloja areas compared to the previous year,” says Anshul Jain, MD of realty consultancy Cushman & Wakefield India.


As twin incomes become more common and cooking becomes less of a priority — either it’s a rush job or someone else is doing the cooking — kitchens are getting smaller (albeit better equipped), and that space is being added to ‘social sections’ of the home, areas such as balconies. Gone are the formal dining rooms and kitchens large enough to accommodate a table. Most 21st-century MMR floor plans have larger communal spaces, and layouts that people can flow through rather than be sectioned off in. And the bathrooms… they have to look like a hotel’s. The glass door / cubicle is almost mandatory, as are those marble-toned little shelves just big enough to fit a shampoo bottle on.


Picture this. A well-landscaped garden, a grand entrance, a swimming pool, marble sculptures, imported chandeliers and a reception area that looks like the lobby of a five-star hotel. Today, it’s all about first impressions — for the would-be buyer, and the relatives and guests she would plan to host in her new home. So you can’t have a concrete box of a lobby with a lift or two at one end. Instead, there’s gold-tinted marble, concealed lighting, crystals in the ceiling and, space permitting, winding driveways with lawns on either side. As developers work to make a good first impression, global brands are being roped in to ‘create’ lobbies and bring elements from around the world into their projects for the well-travelled, well-heeled young buyer.


There’s a fairly big market today for fully furnished homes. This includes a fully-kitted-out kitchen complete with cabinets, oven, hob and microwave; split air-conditioners in the main rooms; even TVs, washing machine and water purifier. These plug and play homes reduce the stress of setting up a house. For a generation that orders online so much, a quick run-through of the builder’s favoured brands and appliances is also enough to go by. And paying a little extra for convenience? Why that’s the millennial mantra.


In a time of jewellery, mobile phones and TVs being being bought online, it was only a matter of time before the home itself was added to cart. No more tramping about all Sunday, every Sunday, house-hunting. Or clambering up buildings that are still under construction.

Today’s buyer prefers to just go online, get a 360-degree view of the property and its surroundings, chat live with a builder’s representative, explore their options and discuss possible discounts and payment options.

There are even those who go all the way and are willing to book online because it is faster, easier and convenient.


A home is just the core product. Today’s buyer also wants a gym, club, jogging track and cycling path all in the same space. It doesn’t matter if the jogging and cycling are done on the 22nd floor, and the gym and rec area are in the basement. As long as it’s all included. So, even in stand-alone buildings, the one-stop-shop approach rules. And when there’s no room, you go vertical, with terrace gardens, underground recreational areas and banks of elevators to connect it all.


Glass walls, chrome fittings, towers that would belong anywhere in the world—how our homes look has changed too. Instead of windows, we have ceiling-to-floor glass. Instead of three storeys, we have 35. We have sky bridges and sky villas; jogging tracks in the air. When you book your home, you can pick a Moghul or Roman theme. Developers are also involving architects and interior designers from around the world, as the race for new USP continues.

First Published: Jul 31, 2017 16:45:18


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