Family Influences In Property Buying: India’s Changing Trends- Kishor Pate, CMD – Amit Enterprises Housing Ltd.
Property investments are among the major decisions taken in a household. Those who finally bought their homes after living for years in rented properties will appreciate the relief associated with home ownership. The independence and security that a self-owned home provides are unmatched. However, the decision to purchase a home is not always a straightforward one – there are various socio-cultural and economic processes associated with property purchase. In fact, these trends are closely studied by real estate developers and brokers. Among these factors, family influence is doubtlessly the strongest.
Changing family trends in property decision-making
In India, there was a time when only the male members of the family actually brought in the family income – and in a majority of cases, men were the sole decision makers in the family. All big financial decisions like buying property were made by the male head of the family, and such decisions were invariably accepted without any arguments.
Today, the scenario has changed completely. In more and more parts of India, men are no longer the sole breadwinners and decision-makers in a family. Women have become financially independent, often continue to be so after marriage and in fact work at the same levels as men. A massive number of households in urban India now have dual incomes, and women have equal decision-making powers and often make decisions on behalf of the whole family. Definitely, when the issue is as important as property purchase, women have the right of an opinion regardless of whether they hold jobs or are housewives.
Stronger focus on children’s needs while purchasing homes
Another factor that has changed in the family influences surrounding home purchase is that the preferences of adult family members are no longer the sole focal point. Along with preferences and choices of adults including elders of the family, the needs of the children are now also being taken into consideration while buying a new property. While choosing a home to buy, Indians parents are at considerable pains to establish whether their kids will have a safe, supportive and conducive environment.
In fact, this is one of the main reasons why most Indian families today prefer larger houses if they can afford them. They want their children to have space to play in, and not be endangered by crammed furniture and goods that need to be piled up to conserve space. They also want to ensure that the property they buy has abundant ventilation and light, which they know as essential for their children’s health, growth and all-round wellbeing. In fact, the same considerations also apply for the safety and welfare of the elders of the family.
Family profile – going from joint to nuclear
In India, living in large joint families was historically the default trend. Many people lived in the same house with their individual families. Obviously, to accommodate so many people under the same roof, it was imperative that one had a very large home. Usually, it was the senior male members of a joint family that got together and made important decisions affecting all the members; in the matter of home purchase, these decision-makers would look for large standalone properties which, among other things, could be enlarged to an extent when the family grew.
However, the traditional Indian concept of the joint family has seen a radical change; nuclear families are now the norm rather than the exception. Usually, a nuclear family consists of a couple and their children – period. Obviously, nuclear families do not require nearly as much space as a joint family. The property buying decisions of a nuclear family are radically different from those of a joint family, both in terms of who make them and what the choices that are made.
What nuclear families look for while scouting for property
• Apartments: Apart from the cost factor, maintaining an outsized property is tedious. The contemporary Indian nuclear family looks for homes that are compact, yet space-efficient – so apartments and flats are the natural choice. The choice of locations also opens up considerably when one opts for flats rather than standalone properties.
• Proximity/accessibility to workplace, schools, healthcare and shopping: Since there is lack of manpower in nuclear families, they look for facilities which are close by. For instance, they prefer buying homes which are either close to their places of work or offer good connectivity to them via public transport so that they can save time and money on transportation. Proximity to their children’s school is important for reasons of safety and convenience. Daily needs must be met by availability of nearby shopping outlets, and medical facilities should be available to tackle emergencies without delay
• Possibility to upgrade: While purchasing a property, the Indian nuclear family will invariably have an eye on the possibility of upgrading to a larger home in a better location in the future as financial capability improves. If the current property or location do not offer enough scope on the resale market so as to facilitate such upgrading, savvy families will shy away from them.
• Good neighborhood for the kids: The focus on children’s wellbeing is sharper today than ever before. Indian parents will simply not want their kids to grow up in an unhealthy environment. Therefore, while buying property, they will ensure not only that the property itself is sound but also that the identified neighborhood is healthy and wholesome for their offspring. This is why the availability of parks and playgrounds within the housing complex has become a matter of paramount importance for the new Indian family.
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