Home buying among top five priorities now: Aakash Ohri

India’s residential real estate saw a good year in 2023, both in term of launches and demand. And the current trends indicate a good 2024 too, says Aakash Ohri, Joint Managing Director and Chief Business Officer, DLF Ltd, the country’s largest real estate player.

According to him, real estate investment or home-buying is among the top five priorities now. In an interview to businessline, he talks about the year gone by and the future outlook. Edited excerpts:

2023 was a good year for real estate. What does 2024 look like?

People are hungry for real estate; and home-buying is among the top five priorities now. It is expected to be so in 2024. There will be continued investments not just in DLF, but also across the market. The demand is expected to be strong for organised players as people continue to be wary of fly-by-night operators. Investments are coming back into real estate, and home buying is seen as a favourable asset class.

Do you foresee a price rise in 2024?

Price hikes, I think, will be micro-market, project and developer-specific. Agreed they are also linked to demand, but corrections will happen if they are not at par with buyer expectations. Buyers are ready to exercise caution if their expectations (of deliverables) do not match with the price quoted. Developers also cannot get away now quoting arbitrary prices with very discerning buyers coming in. This is a time when developers should consolidate their position, build long terms relationships, and see to it that the confidence of investors are not hampered.

Are buyers in the position to command market corrections, if necessary?

Yes, they are. Today there are self-correcting mechanisms in the market. Regulations are also on the side of the buyers, in most cases. Earlier we saw developers out-pricing themselves and buyers taking up properties, some of which hit a rough patch. But today such price quotations are summarily rejected. The buyer profile has witnessed a change, and he has increased redressal mechanism at his disposal.

And how is the buyer profile changing?

The average age of the first-time home-buyer in India is now in 30-35 years; which till before Covid was 40-45 years or so. The new buyers, some of which are the double income generation, see home-buying as a priority. They are quick to take loans, which could be as high as ₹4 – 5 crore, spread out over twenty years or so; and book premium or luxury offerings. Markets are doing well, and the economy too; and so there is good demand that is coming in from the younger generation.

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