Well, all that glitters may not be gold, after all. The precious metal’s prices may be touching record levels as COVID-19 cases in India and the rest of the world surge. But the gold standard for investors remains real estate in our country. Yes, it is the ‘Preferred Asset Class For Investors’ based on a survey-based report released by Housing.com & National Real Estate Development Council (NAREDCO).

An impressive 35 percent of respondents preferred real estate ahead of gold (28 percent) and the good old fixed deposits (22 percent). Interestingly, only 16 percent favored stocks. Amidst the surging cases of COVID-19 in some cities, a sense of optimism was clearly evident from the responses that represent the views of over 3,000 potential home-buyers across regions.

In fact, nearly 60 percent of those who took part in the survey believe the overall economic scenario will either remain at the current levels or may see a revival in six months. And 53% of them were confident of income stability for the coming six months. Even the not-so-confident have ‘only postponed’ their search for a home and not given up on their hope of owning a dream home. They were hopeful of resuming their search once India emerged stronger from the pandemic.

A majority of respondents surveyed (73%) consisted of ‘first-time home-buyers’, keen to buy a ‘ready-to-move-in-home’ for their own use and were primarily in the age group of 25-45 years. Over 60% of respondents stated that for the next six months, they would prefer a ready-to-move-in property while 21% were okay with a property that would be completed within a year.

Hiranandani Parks, Chennai’s mega sports integrated township in Oragadam, offers a range of ready-to-occupy luxury apartments in stately high-rises that reflect the best of neo-classical architecture across 360 acres of greenery, water bodies & scenic beauty. Home-buyers can also opt for classic villas on independent land or invest in a ready-to-build villa premium plot in different sizes to suit their budget and preferences.

Dr. Niranjan Hiranandani, Founder-Chairman, Hiranandani Group, and CMD, Hiranandani Communities and National President – NAREDCO said, “In the current scenario, we can see a change in consumer behavior and perception, of owning a house with safe and secure surroundings, which will be the driving force for demand.”

NAREDCO believes that real estate will be ‘positive’ for both end-users and investors in the post-COVID-19 world. For one, those living in rental houses have realized the importance of being in their own homes during a pandemic. Most of the NRIs who are facing an equally challenging time and planning to return are actively looking for a home to settle down in India without compromising on their lifestyles.

These days home-buyers are also considering homes that are comfortable, spacious, and offer cutting edge features required for work-from-home mode. A township like Hiranandani Parks provides advanced communications infra, sophisticated amenities, business centers, and wide-open spaces for adequate social distancing.

“As an industry, real estate needs to adapt to a tech-savvy future in terms of digital platforms for sales and marketing, adopt enhanced automation at sites, given the obvious challenge of being dependent on migrant labor. As we prepare for opening up the economy in a phased manner, the industry will need enough financial cushioning to deliver homes and also get the industry back on its feet,” Dr. Hiranandani added.

Echoing his views, Rajeev Talwar, Chairman, NAREDCO and CEO, Director DLF Limited said, “The overall behavior of the consumer has changed to a ‘Save more, spend less and invest smart’ model. Real estate has always been less volatile as compared to share markets making it the safest investment available. The preference of this new age home buyer has also changed owing to the crisis and it is imperative for us to adapt to new technologies that will ease the entire home buying process for these buyers.’’

Dhruv Agarwala, Group CEO, Housing.com, Makaan.com & PropTiger.com, believes a majority of potential home-buyers will start returning to the market in the coming months.

“This survey has established that credible developers and ready-to-move-in or nearing completion properties are preferred by prospective customers, who are largely end-users. With the significant correction in stock markets and the continued volatility, it is not surprising that real estate has become the top choice as an investment asset class,” Agarwala noted.