The real estate sector was in the doldrums before the pandemic took its breath away. Dealing with the global disruptive phenomenon has been a learning experience in more ways than one for Sundaram Home Finance.
Dr Lakshminarayanan, MD, Sundaram Home Finance, who took charge before the pandemic, faced a unique challenge at the height of the first wave of the Covid crisis and nationwide lockdown. “It was an unknown adversary that we were facing. The RBI moratorium has helped both industry and customers. Later, the second wave devastated the health ecosystem in many ways. Customers who have been impacted by Covid have seen their livelihoods disrupted. We worked with them, restructured their loans (via payment by delayed EMIs),” he tells us.
“We have prioritized the safety of employees and the health of customers. Normality was no longer a certainty. Our business wish lists have been put on the back burner for the past two years. Hopefully that is behind us now. This is a growing market and we are confident to take advantage of the opportunity presented to us,” he explains. At the end of the second wave, companies learned how to manage confinements. Given the pace of vaccination, the impact has been reduced to a large extent, although fear of other variants is looming and continues to pose a threat, Lakshminarayanan said.
Interestingly, the recovery and rebound in the real estate sector at the end of the pandemic has been encouraging. “The sector has been the most resilient in terms of recovery. I was surprised at the pace. Before Covid, the real estate sector was on a downward trend. I see continued long-term growth in the real estate space,” he said.
Lakshminarayanan adds, “Young people are eager to buy houses today. The days when one was proud to own a bicycle or a car has evolved to include a house as it is a mark of stability. Additionally, there is a growing preference for buying plots, especially after Covid. These don’t have to be in the city but in places like Gobichettipalayam. Real estate prices are also rising in these areas,” he said.
“There are many growth opportunities in the southern market. We are not opposed to expansion outside the south. Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities can be exploited in the medium term. Karnataka, AP and Telangana offer good opportunities. West TN has also been doing well lately and we are looking to expand our presence there as well. We are in the process of hiring 200 people this year and will continue to hire more frontline staff in the coming year, especially in smaller towns. We are also planning to launch niche “documentless loan products” for successful business owners in these regions. »
Disbursements crossed the Rs 2,000 crore mark in nine months. “We have consistently done well since May 2021 on the disbursement front and have seen monthly growth in the six months or so. It’s good to be in a booming market,” he said, adding that plans were underway to add 10 to 15 more branches in the south.