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Dhaka Tribune

The first 6 months

June saw a renewed interest in real estate as the Bproperty website experienced a user growth of 48.39% from the previous month

Update : 20 Jul 2020, 10:25 PM

The second half of the calendar year 2020 and the first half of the fiscal year 2020-21 is currently underway. For most parts, 2020 had been a very positive year for the real estate sector of Bangladesh and was on the right path after a stellar 2019. However, as we now know, the second quarter of 2020, with the onset of the novel coronavirus transmission and nationwide lockdown, forced all businesses, including real estate, to cease all their activities — bringing not only the economy to a standstill but also the livelihood of the people.

As a result, we have been witnessing a somewhat “reverse migration”in the last few months as hordes of people are having to leave their settled lives in cities for a more affordable living condition in their village homes. This is very concerning for the property sector of the country since almost all the focus of real estate businesses is solely on developing homes for urban landscapes.So, with a significant number of people having been gone from the cities, developers would be having a hard time meeting sales goals and projections made earlier in the year.

For now, the only hope these developers have is to understand the mindset of those that have decided to remain in the cities and those who are willing to invest in real estate — that means, understanding what property size they might look for and in which areas. And when it comes to better understanding the future, it is always a wise decision to look at the past — for which, the user engagement data from Bproperty’s online portal can be an excellent source of information to be used in creating an overview of real estate needs and the states of the people.

According to the online portal of the property solutions provider, there was a 21.87% reduction in user activity during the second quarter of this year in comparison to the first quarter. The biggest drop was experienced between mid-April to late-May. This was during the height of the lockdown and the most important period of readjustment to the “new normal.” However, June, the pre-budget period, saw a renewed interest in real estate as the Bproperty website experienced a user growth of 48.39% from the previous month —nearly matching Q1 numbers — which, at least to some extent, can be attributed to the announcement of allowing previously undisclosed money to be invested into the real estate sector.

As a result, even after a slow Q2, the first six months of 2020 saw only 11.58% reduction in Bproperty website users in comparison to the previous six months and yet a 17.65% increase in users from the same period last year.

The beginning of last year also saw the rise in demand for mid-sized homes which continues to persist to this day. The majority of property searches on the Bproperty website in the last six months are sized between 1,000 square feet and 1,600 square feet. Around 61% of total users preferred homes within that size. However, taking a closer look at individual searches paints a bit of different pictures. About 29.57% of the searches made between January 1 and June 30 are below the average, between 800 square feet and 1,200 square feet.

In comparison, the number of users searching for similarly sized homes during the first six months of last year was 19.51%. This data shows that people might be inkling toward smaller apartments in the coming days.

Nevertheless, 2020 has, for the most it, continued to be the year of spacious homes. Over 44% of property searches have been for homes equal to or greater than 1,600 square feet. Developers and sellers have been anticipating this trend as, even now, there are nearly 1,900 homes listed on the website that can be easily attributed as “spacious” if not luxurious. Similarly, if the forward trend is for smaller apartments, it is not out of the realm of possibilities to find many a new smaller-sized homes listed on the website.

While there have been some minor to major changes across the board in real estate, perhaps it is location preference, in terms of a home purchase, that has held steady until now. For a few years now, Mirpur, Uttara, Bashundhara, Dhanmondi and Mohammadpur have been the most popular locations to buy a home. Mirpur and Uttara in particular have been the foremost choices for property investment as these two areas have been experiencing major infrastructural development.

Perhaps that is why even the Covid-19 situation could not dampen the interest of the people in those areas — which accounted for nearly a quarter of all user activity during the first six months of this year.Unsparingly though, Rampura, Badda, Khilgaon, Dakkhinkhan,Banasree and other similar “affordable” locations have been performing very well over the last 12 months. Badda and Banasree in particular have been the top up and comers, regularly reaching more Bproperty website traffic than that of many popular areas.

The data from the Bproperty website is another indicator of the resilient interest of the people in real estate. The economy may worsen and things may look bleak for a time, property investment — whether it is for the sake of investment alone or for the safety of a home — is always on the minds of the people. With an ongoing economic downturn, expecting people to look for smaller homes in affordable areas is not unusual. However, the tide may very well turn soon enough as the winds of renewed investment is poised to blow any minute now.

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