Bungalows and villas edge out apartments as dream houses in Covid times

Emerging need for more space, greenery, light, ventilation and privacy are driving demand. If you’re buying one, ensure the title is clear and the plans are duly sanctioned

Namrata Kohli  |  New Delhi 

A bungalow built over 1,602 sq yard at Friends Colony West, New Delhi, on sale for Rs 70 crore. Photo credit: India Sotheby’s International Realty

Just a few decades ago, a bungalow or villa was the dream house of the upper-middle and affluent classes in India. If it wasn’t affordable, the next best thing was the row house or the builder floor. Somewhere in the 1980s or 1990s, the high-rise apartment began catching the fancy of the upper-middle and affluent class. Builders were quick to capitalise on the boom and it was a matter of time before they started embellishing skyscraper complexes, if you will, with amenities such as clubhouse, spa, restaurant, sports facilities and in some cases, even a shopping area.

The pandemic seems to have changed all that with low-rise, independent floors invading the mindset like never before.

Says Amit Goyal, CEO of India Sotheby’s International Realty: “Today a lot of people tell us, ‘I am staying in an apartment currently but my next move is to own a bungalow where there is nobody else and where there is complete independence.’”

Low-rise projects

While low-rise has been the order of the day in tier-2 and 3 cities, even metros are seeing a spate of launches, be it ready-to-move-in villas or some under construction. For instance, in Bengaluru you have Embassy Boulevard and Whitestone Rosario projects and in Hyderabad you have Aparna Elixir, Vessella Meadows and Cyber Meadows. Chennai also has many projects such as Sobha Gardenia and Casagrand Grandio. In Chennai, the Hiranandani Group is tapping the growing demand of independent houses and has launched villas and villa plots at Hiranandani Parks at Oragadam, Chennai. Says Niranjan Hiranandani, CMD. Hiranandani Communities, “We have earmarked about 44 acres of land for phase-wise launch of 620 villa plots. Social distancing norms and strong emphasis on health and hygiene in Covid times has fuelled the demand for designated villa plots that offer comfort, wellness, and community living of a high order.”

The remote or hybrid work culture has induced the need for very large homes under the new normal. During the pandemic, everyone has been spending a significant amount of time at home, creating a robust demand for people to upgrade their houses. Says Sanya Aeren, Chief Advisor, Marketing & Communications, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, Orenda India: “The move towards low rises from high rises is most apparent in North India. Delhi lies in seismic zone 4 and during the pandemic, we had two earthquakes. People have become extremely scared of natural calamities and many want to move away from a high rise to a safe bungalow, often away from the city. People are moving away from Delhi towards Gurugram and there has been a spurt in residential transactions on southern Gurugram Road and NH-8 road. Under-construction projects and ready-to-move-in projects are in demand now.”

DLF has low-rise independent floors and villas in phases 1-4 Gurugram and more launches are expected in the next quarter in Gurugram and New Gurugram. In October 2020, DLF launched premium independent floors starting at Rs 11,000/sq ft. The current price is Rs 15,000/sq ft.

Emaar Marbella is another community in Gurugram with low-rise options. Located on the Golf Course Extension Road with a mix of plots and built villas (launched in 2010), all villas are Basement & G+2 and come equipped with private lifts, modular kitchens with chimneys and landscaped gardens. The plot sizes are 267 sq yd, 350 sq yd and 500 sq yd with prices ranging from Rs 5.47 crore to Rs 8.6 crore.

On Gurugram Sohna road, you have the Central Park Flower Valley project which has vast open spaces with homes facing green landscapes. It also offers personal lawns to those living on the ground floor. A 3BHK Fleur Villa over 3,350 sq ft starts at Rs 4.25 crore while a 3BHK Flamingo Floors Rs 1.36 crore. Says Amarjit Bakshi, CMD, Central Park: “The demand for low-rise homes, villas and open spaces is on the rise, especially post Covid. There is a growing tendency towards moving into larger homes, as nothing is more important than one’s well-being, and people are more aware of this than ever before.

Covid restrictions have driven the demand for larger residences. At least 60 per cent of the people looking for low-rise homes are newly married working professionals with kids.”

The heart of Delhi is dotted by bungalow culture and it’s back in a big way post Covid. The most sought-after area is the Lutyens bungalow zone, or LBZ, followed by Malcha Marg, Chanakyapuri areas (NDMC areas) and then Shanti Niketan Anand Niketan, Westend, Vasant Vihar. Giving an idea of the going rate, Sotheby’s spokesperson says that a bungalow at Jor Bagh and Golf Links is valued at anything from Rs 50-150 crore and at Sunder Nagar between Rs 70-80 crore.

Shanti Niketan has bungalows over plot sizes in the 400-1,200 sq yard range. A bungalow built on a 400-sq yard plot is valued at Rs 30 crore. Westend has bungalows in plot sizes ranging from 500 to 2,000 sq yards. A bungalow built on a 500 sq yard plot is priced at Rs 35 crore while a premium independent floor comes for Rs 14 crore. At Vasant Vihar, the smallest plot size is 400 sq yards which begins at Rs 30 crore though there is a very small block of 215-sq yard plots for Rs 15 crore.

Builders like Salcon and Uppal rule the market for floors but in the case of bungalows, most are bought as old structures by the owners, who then engage architect firms, the likes of Morphogenesis, Design Plus and Arjun Sodhi to rebuild the bungalow as per their own taste.

Maintenance charges

Unlike high-rise apartments, the bungalow ecosystem is usually not endowed with common amenities such as clubhouse, spa, health club, and golf course. Typically, in a builder floor constructed over an 800-sq yard plot with four floors in a building, the common facilities are limited to the staircase, lift and security guards. The outgo per floor is generally in the range of Rs 20,000-25,000 per month. The maintenance outgo for a high-end apartment is computed as Rs 4-5 per sq ft per month.

New emerging corridors of real estate are also introducing villa living. Take the case of Dwarka expressway, which has villa projects by Sobha and Experion. Luxurious ready-to-move-in options are available at Windchants for those who want to be part of a condominium. “We also have villa offerings at our plotted township at Westerlies,” says Ananta Singh Raghuvanshi, Senior Executive Director Sales and Marketing, Experion Developers. “Low-density homes in a metro are always aspirational. The pandemic has created a brand-new requirement for larger spaces and more personal space. Women are playing an active role in the decision-making process with specific and practical needs.”

It’s faster to build villas than apartments. Says Pradeep Aggarwal, Founder & Chairman, Signature Global and Chairman, National Council on Affordable Housing, Assocham, “People nowadays want fast ownership, and the turnaround time for plots and independent floors is much shorter than for housing societies and multi-story apartments, which is one of the reasons independent floors are becoming popular.”

Signature Global has launched Signature Global City in sector 37D, Gurugram under Deen Dyal Jan Awas Yojana; the project will have 324 plots. The low-rise premium floors in the gated residential complex will be available in 2BHK (990 sq ft), and 3BHK (1,445 sq ft and 1250 sq ft.)

A note of caution

A buyer should first and foremost be mindful of the title of the property. Sotheby’s Goyal provides a ready reckoner of what all one needs to check. “Freehold conversion is the most critical aspect. Many plots were earlier allotted by DDA, which let them out on 99-year leases. We know of people who buy property worth Rs 100 crore and pay in advance, only to get stuck in freehold conversion. The exercise often takes time because some family members are not available in the country or disputes arise or some papers are missing.”

Second, one must get a competent lawyer to verify original documents. Getting a bank loan at any point before or after the deal becomes a big issue if the original documents are not in order.

Third, property must be built up as per the approved sanction plans by competent authorities. Fourth, one must figure out if there is any ASI monument such as a tomb or heritage structure within 100 metres of the property. In such a case, the authorities will not allow you to demolish or rebuild the property. Many times, people get stuck when they buy a property 20 per cent cheaper without realising that they won’t be able to build the square footage that others are able to build in the colony, simply because they lie within the radius of the heritage structure.

Finally, one must engage a skilled and credible team of architects, developers, contractors and interior designers for every aspect of one’s dream home.

Table: Indicative prices of prime bungalows and villas in key metros


Project and Developer

Approx unit size

Price (Lumpsum in Rs)



Embassy Boulevard – Embassy Group

3,935-7,310 sq ft

7.30 cr-13.22 crore

Ready to move in


Prestige Augusta Golf Village – Prestige Group

2,400-4,300 sq ft

2.42-4.65 crore

Ready to move in


Hiranandani Parks, Chennai – Hiranandani Communities

3 floors & 12 plots, villas; Villa plot: 1,200-2,400 sq ft

Plots: 36 lakh onwards; Villa: 85 lakh and above

Ready to move in


Marbella Villas by Emaar India

Emaar Villa Belleza (5,605 sq ft); Emaar Villa Monada (6,520 sq ft); Emaar Villa Belinda (8,120 sq ft)

5.75 crore and above

Ready to move in


Central Park- Flower Valley

Flamingo & Cerise Floors; Fleur Villas 2BHK: 2,350 sq ft; 3BHK: 3,350 sq ft

Floors: 1.25-2.17 crore; Villas: 3.43-4.25 crore

Under construction, possession by the year 2022

Gurugram – Dwarka Expressway

Experion – Experion Group

Gated community of 28 villas of built-up area 6,000 sq ft

8 crore

Just launched – sample villa ready

Gurugram – Dwarka Expressway

International City – Sobha Ltd

3,153-7,330 sq ft

3.79 crore

Phase 1 ready, Phase 2 under construction, will be ready by 2022

Gurugram- DLF Phase 2 etc

DLF plots and villas – DLF Group

Floors: 2,300-3,000 sq ft; Villas: 3,000 sq ft-plus

Floors: 3.57 crore-plus; Villas: 5.25 crore-plus

Just launched, ready by 2022

New Delhi

South Delhi independent floors (Vasant Vihar, Shanti Niketan, Westend)

400-500 sq yards

30 crore onwards

Ready to move in

New Delhi

South Delhi Prime – Central Delhi independent floors (Jor Bagh)

600 sq yards-plus

50 crore onwards

Ready to move in


Code name One & Only – Lodha Group

1,800 to 5,400 sq ft per villa plot

1.37-4.45 crore and above

Under Construction


Lodha Maison

7,000 sq ft

31 crore

Ready to move in


Aparna Elixir

4,800 sq ft

12 crore

Ready to move in


Vessella Meadows

3,600 sq ft

6 crore

Ready to move in


Cyber Meadows

4,800 sq ft

6.5 crore

Ready to move in

Source: MagicBricks and TechSci Research

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