26 April, 2023
Unlock the doors to real estate success
Read time: 4 minutes
Quarterly Numbers, Recession and Going Deeper


Source: Gemba Academy.

The Economic Times recently reported a staggering 97% drop in private equity inflows into the Indian real estate market during the first quarter of 2023.

This sounds like a mind-boggling statistic that could spread fear on the economic health of the country. While many have attributed this to the ongoing recessionary fears, I couldn't help but think about the relevance of quarterly numbers in the real estate industry to begin with.

As someone who has been in the real estate business for over a decade, I can tell you that in residential real estate, people buy houses due to various reasons year-round. It's difficult to attribute any seasonality of quarters as such. So, why do we still obsess over quarterly numbers? Here's why I think they're irrelevant:

  • Real Estate is a Long-Term Game: Real estate is not a sprint; it's a marathon. It's an industry where investors and developers plan for the long-term, not just for the next quarter. One cannot judge the success of a project or a company based on a single quarter's performance.
  • Market Volatility: The real estate market is inherently volatile, and it's nearly impossible to predict market conditions accurately. Quarterly numbers can be affected by numerous factors, such as changes in government policies, natural disasters, and global economic downturns, making them an unreliable indicator of performance.
  • Emotional Aspect: Real estate is not just a financial investment; it's an emotional one too. People buy homes for various reasons - to fulfill their dreams, provide for their families, or as a sense of achievement. These factors are not limited to any specific quarter of the year.
  • Real Estate is Not a Monolith: The real estate industry is a diverse and dynamic one, comprising of various segments such as residential, commercial, and industrial. The demand for these segments can vary depending on a multitude of factors, making it challenging to attribute any quarter's performance to the industry as a whole.

With all these factors in mind, it's clear that quarterly numbers don't tell the whole story. In fact, they may even be misleading. Instead, it's essential to focus on the long-term picture and invest in good projects. This approach is particularly important for homebuyers, who are making a substantial financial and emotional investment.

We are definitely in an unprecedented global recessionary environment. We are witnessing something that has never happened, with interest rates going through the roof in the last 12 months, and inflation touching an all-time high in the past 40 years. By being strategic and thoughtful in your approach, you can still make smart investments in the current market:

  • One key factor to consider is location and neighbourhood. While economic conditions may impact the overall real estate market, the performance of individual properties can vary widely based on their location. In particular, areas with strong job markets and population growth tend to be more resilient to economic downturns. For example, if you're considering investing in rental properties, look for areas with a high demand for rentals and a low vacancy rate. By focusing on locations that have a strong potential for growth and stability, you can increase your chances of success in the current market.
  • Another important consideration is your financing options. With interest rates on the rise, it's more important than ever to carefully consider your financing choices. While fixed-rate mortgages can provide stability, they may not always be the best option. For example, if you plan to sell the property within a few years, an adjustable-rate mortgage may be more cost-effective. Similarly, if you're investing in a property to generate rental income, a commercial loan may be a better choice than a residential mortgage. By carefully analyzing your financing options and considering factors such as your investment goals, time horizon, and risk tolerance, you can make the best decision for your situation.
  • It's also worth considering alternative investment options, such as real estate investment trusts (REITs) or crowdfunding platforms. These options can provide a way to invest in real estate without the need for a large down payment or direct ownership of the property. However, it's important to thoroughly research these options and understand the associated risks before investing.

Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful. During the 2008 financial crisis, Warren Buffett's investment company, Berkshire Hathaway, invested heavily in the US residential real estate market. In 2009, Berkshire Hathaway acquired Clayton Homes, one of the largest builders of manufactured and modular homes in the United States. The acquisition allowed Berkshire to enter the affordable housing market, which was in high demand due to the financial crisis. Buffett's move into the real estate industry is an example of his long-term investment strategy. Rather than focusing on short-term market fluctuations, Buffett saw an opportunity to invest in a market that was in high demand due to the economic conditions at the time.

During this recessionary environment, you too should keep your eyes open for deals and steals. Be patient, be prepared, do your due diligence and have a long-term mindset to make the most of this opportunity. As always, I’ll leave you with a thought:

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.

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By Ashwinder R. Singh
Step up your real estate game with exclusive access to tribal knowledge accumulated over decades.
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