The 'Urban Exodus' and the real estate market in Bengaluru

04:38 PM Aug 10, 2020 | Team Udayavani |
Bengaluru: The coronavirus pandemic has impacted both the livelihoods and lifestyles of people in general. In the initial days of the lockdown, that was imposed to contain the spread of the infection, the country witnessed a trend of reverse migration. The reverse migration (people migrating from metro cities to villages) was due to psychological as well as economic factors. Apart from daily wage labourers, many of whom went to the extent of travelling by foot to reach their natives, the migrants also included those working in IT&BT sector and others who lost their jobs amid the pandemic. In Bengaluru, which is widely regarded as the "Silicon Valley of India" several techies, who now have the option to work from home have vacated their rented premises and shifted to their hometown. This has also impacted the hotel business, the real estate scenario among other things. Media reports have suggested that over 50,000 houses are now lying vacant in the city and small hotels that are struggling for survival have put up 'for sale' boards outside their outlets. In this regard, Udayavani spoke to few people who shifted base to their home in Mangaluru during the lockdown. A general perception that we came across was that people preferred to be in the comfort of their house with family members during this health crisis. Sadhana, who works for Amazon in Bengaluru had come to Mangaluru a few days before the nation-wide lockdown was announced. However, she has not yet shifted back and would be travelling to Bengaluru in the next few days to vacate her rented house. "Our company is focussed on employee safety and we have been given the option to work from home till January. This might be extended as well. I will be vacating my rented apartment later this month as there is no point in paying rent while I am staying here," she said. She also informed that her landowner was reluctant that she would be vacating the premises as finding a replacement during this time would be a tough task. Another youth (doesn't wish to be named), who was employed in Bengaluru for over last three years and lost his job in the month of May said that he preferred coming back home than pay rent. Moreover, he cited the current health crisis, lack of beds etc in the state capital. "If I am to fall ill there is no one to take care of me there. I will rather be with my family during this time," he said. However, he plans to move back to Bengaluru later next month to look out for employment and hopes that things do improve by then. Speaking on the issue, Farook Mahmood, President emeritus, Bangalore Realtors Association India said that the migration of people during coronavirus situation has not really impacted the real estate scenario. He clarified that not many houses have fallen vacant citing that the mass exodus was mostly of daily wage construction labourers who were being accommodated either at construction sites or elsewhere by their employers. Those with blue-collar jobs have not shifted anywhere. Quizzed about the IT/BT sector employees he said that most companies have adopted policies allowing 50% of the workforce to function from office. Since they are working on a rotational basis, there would not have been many from this sector who might have moved out of Bengaluru. On how the scenario might affect the rentals in the city, Farook said re-negotiations of rentals would occur as many employees from the retail sector have either lost jobs or are now taking pay cuts. But all this would be at their individual levels, he added.

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