The grapevine is true. Property in Goa is as much in demand as hot poi at the moment, and everything from studio apartments to villas is selling briskly despite the pandemic—or more appropriately, because of it. The prospect of working from a place that is safe, largely crowd-free and affords a good quality of life is drawing people from the metros to the state. Many who have dropped anchor are finding out that living and working out of Goa is practical and economical and this, in turn, is sending Goa’s property prices North. The fact that it is still cheaper than an apartment in South Ex or Gurugram or Mumbai is what may keep the trend going for a while.
Property in Goa: what’s hot, what’s not
To be sure, Goa’s commercial real estate market also took a hit during the pandemic. “Some commercialised beach areas like Calangute, Candolim, and Baga were hard hit. They did not have many local spenders and were forced to come down to 30-35% of the rents they were asking,” says Manik Sabharwal, Director at Sabh Infrastructure Ltd, a Delhi NCR based property developer with an outpost in Goa.
But the residential market has been on the up and up. “There has been a noticeable spurt in demand for rentals with a large number of people moving to Goa from larger Indian cities where social distancing is impractical,” says local conservation architect Raya Shankhwalker. “After restrictions on travel relaxed, there has been a demand for luxury villas and rowhouses in gated communities.”
With remote working has been a dream for many millennials and digital nomads, the COVID crisis has finally given them the chance to try it out. “More and more people are coming in for the long haul. We are noticing rentals ranging from a fortnight to many months,” says Suraj Morajkar, MD of Sun Estates Developers. “Over the past three months, Goa continues to be the most searched for destination for homestays, followed by Lonavala, Shimla and Uttarakhand.
Realtors say the demand shot right after the lockdown. “After March, we saw a spike in enquiries for our villas and apartments from COVID-weary buyers looking to move away from the crowded, dysfunctional metros,” adds Amar Britto, Director at Acron Developers, one of Goa’s leading real estate firms.
Goa property: what is in demand
You may have to lower your expectations if you’re looking to live by the beach. “Everyone seems to desire sea-view homes, which are very expensive and really scarce,” says Amit Chopra, the President of Goa Association of Realtors (GAR) and Director at Escala Realty based in Dona Paula. “People should bank on the upcoming locations of Morjim, Ashwem and Mandrem—the prices are quite reasonable and, in the coming years, you can expect them to increase drastically like their other neighbouring areas.”
Others confirm that North Goa is much sought after. “There has been exceptional demand for properties in Assagao, Anjuna, Vagator and Siolim since March. Anjuna and Vagator are popular due to their proximity to the beach, Assagaon promises verdant forest views and Siolim is famous as a quaint village overlooking the Chapora river. Reis Magos near Candolim is another popular location since it offers a panoramic sea view from its cliff,” says Saagar Panchal, Founder & CEO at Hireavilla.in, a property management and rental platform. “The Kadamba plateau and the hinterlands of Dodamarg on the Goa-Maharashtra Border are lush green and close to the upcoming Mopa Airport, making them attractive prospects,” Chopra adds.
What you pay depends on where you stay, but at the top end of the market, a bungalow in Goa is still more affordable than a large apartment in a big city. Villas are being sought mostly to the one-percenters and HNIs, say realtors. “Big standalone villas with 6 bedrooms or more, with private pools and big gardens, are getting transacted for about Rs14 crore in Anjuna right now,” Sabharwal says. “A 3BHK rowhouse in a gated complex with a common pool would cost anywhere between Rs1.75-2.5 crore, depending on the size. A 3BHK [standalone] villa with a carpet area of around 1,500-2,000sq.ft. [and] a small private pool could go beyond Rs2.5 crore,” he adds.
A plot in Goa: the ground realities
As with villas, the demand for plots of land is up as well. But experts say this needs far greater diligence. “Although anybody can buy a plot in Goa, the laws relating to land are tough to get into and one does not easily find lands with clear titles for development,” Sabharwal explains. “Since Goa was once a Portugese colony, the history of the land titles gets carried till date. There are other issues if the rights of the land are vested with a “Mundkar” or a “tenant”… These have to be settled both legally and financially when the buyer is planning to buy. There are other incumbencies also with regards to land and other legal issues such as the Title Report, Inscription-Description, or hearing issues. All this makes the land clearance more complicated. Further, any land available for developments needs a Settlement Certificate which clarifies that the land does not come under an orchard or agriculture zone.”
“Finally, the most important document which gives planning permission is called the “Sanad”. This document means that the plot has been given clearance by the Forest Department and Health Department (which involves sanitation, water, drainage inflow and outflow strategy on that plot), and is now suitable for development. Once a Sanad is obtained, the developer goes for demarcation and makes the boundary. Sometimes, at this stage, the locals—mostly the neighbours—dispute the demarcation, claiming that part of the land belongs to them. This often happens because the plots are irregular in shape and are attached to the neighbouring property. In such cases, neighbours have the right to get a stay order on the developer’s property. Another issue that crops up is if a road is cutting through the developer’s plot to somebody else’s plot,” he adds. The only solution is to factor these possibilities while investing and find a workaround to avoid lengthy litigation.
The final word
“The thing to remember is that even in past economic slumps or recessions, land prices in Goa did not go down, underlining that Goa is a safe if not profitable land investment in India. It is always prudent to buy when the market is down or slow. The current scenario is a great window of opportunity for long-term investment,” Chopra says.