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Growth and Great Demand—What to Know About Real Estate in Delhi

Himmat Singh, managing partner of Himmat & Rohini Singh L.LP., provides insight on the changing real estate market in India’s capital city, the new trends to watch out for, and investment opportunities to be aware of

As the only Indian city to feature in the top 100 of the World’s Best Cities list for 2021, Delhi is on the up. And, while India’s property market experienced a downturn during lockdown in April to June 2020, it’s now seeing a strong return—according to business news site The Financial Express, real estate sales in Delhi between July to September increased by 40 percent over the previous quarter.

By the end of last year, the site was reporting a “robust recovery” for the residential property sector, with strong sales growth not just in Delhi but across Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Mumbai. The Times of India reported an equally upbeat outlook, stating in a recent article that “Home prices will continue to witness an upward trajectory in both cities and suburbs, even when the pandemic has subsided—driven by record low mortgage rates and millennials entering their ‘peak’ house-buying years.”

“2021 is looking good for high-end residential,” agrees Himmat Singh, managing partner of Himmat & Rohini Singh L.L.P. “Post lockdown we’ve noticed a return to the traditional Indian view that owning a home should be the number-one priority for everyone.”

The India Gate at sunset with flowers in the foreground
Delhi ranks at number 62 in the 2021 World’s Best Cities list, which took factors such as the number of green spaces and tourist attractions—like the city’s India Gate war memorial, seen here—into account. Image: Getty Images

Singh attributes this remarkable recovery to India’s relatively strong economic position. “While we may have had negative growth during the pandemic, that wasn’t due to a problem with the economy per se—it was due to the fact that the economy had been artificially stopped,” he explains.

“As the lockdown lifted, the economy has started up pretty quickly and there’s a lot of money in the system that is looking for a home—literally and figuratively. This has been aided by the fact that interest rates are now at an historic low. Home loans were around the 9.5 percent mark five years ago, these are now around 6.5 percent and dropping.”

An Altered Market

Approximately seven months since full lockdown eased, Singh notes that while he and his wife and business partner Rohini Singh are as busy now as they were at the beginning of the pandemic in February 2020, the real estate market in Delhi has changed for the better.

“The pricing of luxury residential properties had been pretty flat since the third quarter of 2016 [post demonetization of the Indian rupee],” he says. “People were beginning to feel that the return on their investment wasn’t commensurate to the acquisition cost. So, for a lot of potential buyers, it seemed much more attractive to rent a home rather than buy one. The pandemic, however, seems to have galvanized this segment and we’re seeing a move back to the stability and safety of high-end real estate in Delhi.”

An apartment in West End, prime real estate in Delhi
Encompassing more than 2,500 square foot (232 sq m) of interior space, this three-bedroom, four-bath apartment is situated in the upmarket West End neighbourhood of New Delhi, and is available through Himmat & Rohini Singh L.L.P.

Singh also points to an increase of around 25 percent in terms of transaction volume since lockdown eased compared with the six months leading up to it, and notes that values have increased by about five percent for most neighborhoods, especially for single family homes surrounded by open space.

New Trends

When asked about emerging trends, Singh says that properties that offer their owners access to outdoor space are highly sought after, adding that “this wasn’t the case pre-pandemic. Previously, apartments were very much in favor because of their relatively lower cost and the convenience of living in a condo.

“With the pandemic, everyone seems to be yearning for open space and buyers are willing to stretch their budget to afford one. Vacation homes are also doing exceedingly well because of this newfound love of having your own patch of green—or sand.”

A classic white apartment building
Larger condos, in areas of the city with access to green space—such as this one in the South Delhi’s Panchshila Park neighborhood, sold by Himmat & Rohini Singh L.L.P.—are still in high demand, says Singh.

However, while some agents report closing on sales without buyers so much as stepping foot inside a property, this hasn’t been the case for the Singhs. “Ours is a very touchy-feely business and unless buyers can walk through a property there isn’t much we can do to convince them to buy,” says Singh. “Besides, even if we had wanted to, we couldn’t close any transactions during the lockdown because all the banks, lawyers’ offices, and government offices were shut.”

Investment Opportunities

Singh also says that in terms of subcategories within high-end real estate in Delhi, he and Rohini have found that land appreciates better compared with investing in apartments. “This might be further reinforced based on the kind of mindset we are seeing in buyers after the pandemic.”

And, as the world bounces back, he favors the long game. “We are big believers in the stability and long-term gains of investing in high-end residential real estate,” he says. “As long as the title is good and the property is well maintained over a period of time, it is a great investment.”

Banner image: On the market with Himmat & Rohini Singh L.L.P., this residence is located in the Vasant Vihar region of New Delhi, close to the city’s diplomatic enclave