Just a “Click” for Home Buying
Earlier what appeared to be a far-fetched dream, the real estate developers offering options to buy or book homes online as customer interest picks up across categories has gained popularity in India .
According to a report almost 52% of home buying decisions are influenced by Internet research. While selling online is still an experiment at best, the business of online classifieds has been booming. According to the report, the volume of real estate-related queries is growing at the rate of 35 per cent year-on-year, out of which about half the queries are made with intent of a purchase. Notably, 30 per cent of these searches come from mobile phones. While 18 per cent of the queries are for rent, eight per cent each for real estate builders and brokers. Mumbai was the most-searched city for real estate-related information in 2013, followed by Bangalore, Pune, Chennai, Delhi and Kolkata.
From virtual walkthroughs to 3D rendering of properties to facilitating site visits and handling documentation, these portals are making it easier for customers to choose property.
Several new concepts have cropped up in the market that could well prove to be of assistance to customers who need help while zeroing in on their choice of property. Newer perspectives that need to be looked into while buying and contemporary trends that facilitate an easy deal are what make these drifts and developments in buying and selling gain more value additions.
Doing adequate research before zeroing in on a property ensures that you don’t end up making a bad decision. In this regard, the online mode is increasingly becoming the most preferred platform for research among home buyers. A recent study by Google and Zinnov has estimated that over half of the residential buys in key cities of India are influenced by the internet.
Here are the top five things that you should check when hunting for a home online.
Rankings and feedback
Almost all real estate aggregator websites and social platforms give property rankings. These are often based on customer feedback and reviews. A ranking given by a previous buyer will give a good idea of the credibility and quality of the property/project.
Furthermore, a few websites in India also provide their own rankings that are based on analysis of factors like customer feedback, the builder’s completion track record, the number of complaints by existing residents and location. It may be worthwhile to look out for a website or a platform that also gives own ratings in addition to customer rankings.
Many of these websites also have a blog section. They are mostly written by subject experts and cover a wide variety of topics related to real estate updates and trends. It may be a good starting point for any potential buyer to go through these blogs as often they give insights into property trends, news on future projects, price movements and issues on a larger scale, such as water and electricity in a particular area. In case you already have a preferred location or a project in mind, it will always be helpful to run a search if the blog has covered that.
City-specific chat rooms
Often ignored, but a very important tool is the city-based chat rooms available on a few real estate-related websites. These provide an excellent medium where people already invested or willing to invest in specific cities can chat. Some portals also provide a 360-degree connect between agents, projects and builders so that any potential buyer can get detailed information.
Exclusive discounts and offers
Sometimes builders promote and give an exclusive discount or freebies on a specific website that they might have a tie-up with. There are a lot of offers, especially during the festive season. A few websites also have online tool that connects with the builders and brokers. So a buyer can get in touch with them to seek better discounts.
You can get an idea about demand and supply by looking at the number of sell listings compared to buy listings. This helps in negotiations while making a property investment. Similarly, comparing projects of the same builder or area across multiple websites can help unearth better deals and contact numbers of different brokers trying to sell the same properties can give you more powers to negotiate.
Despite the convenience of booking and making payments, buying online is only a fraction of the procedures one must go through before a property changes hands. Flat buyers must still physically visit bank branches to secure loans, local government offices to register property and pay stamp duty, housing society offices to transfer share ownerships and electricity distributors’ offices to transfer power meters—all of which add to paperwork related to home buying, which is conducted mostly offline.
While it may still be some years before online property buying becomes as common as purchasing clothes, electronics or books by the click of a mouse, real estate companies say there has been an uptick in web transactions of late.
The increasing use of the Internet for property research is also a crucial factor. Experts tracking the sector say that property portals are also catching on with consumers. However, at the moment, most people use the portals for renting out properties as there is a direct connects between the owner and the consumer without any middlemen. However, the share of online property business in the overall realty market in the country is still minuscule. Experts expect it to grow to 15-20 per cent in the next couple of years.
The portals are mainly driven by revenues through advertisements, commissions from developers or brokers and funding from private equity funds. These portals are increasingly becoming a tool for research on buying, selling and leasing residential or commercial properties in many parts of the country. According to industry estimates, people in the age group of 30-45 years do most searches and the property price varies from Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1 crore.