As “online” becomes a popular buzzword nowadays, real estate, too, is trying its luck with the medium to capture potential buyers quite early in their investment decisions. Technology is already enabling services like street view, 360° view of a property’s neighbourhood, property walkthroughs and landscape photography carried out by drones – all of which help buyers, investors and lessees in their decision-making process. Though there has been a significant increase (by up to 65%) in property-related online searches in the past four years, it would be safe to say that “most property transactions are finally concluded offline in India”, according to Santhosh Kumar, CEO, Operations & International Director, JLL India. Searches for properties in India originate from anywhere in the country where there is sufficient internet penetration, including mobile internet usage. They also tend to come from other countries where NRIs reside.
So while a potential buyer will usually conduct an initial search online and shortlist certain properties in this manner, the buyer would still want to inspect the chosen property and negotiate other terms with the developer “personally”, a process which is cannot be done online in India “as yet”, according to Kumar. Understandably so, as the nature of internet marketing is such that there is a lot of misleading information there as well, caution property advisors. Also, a thorough due diligence of the legal sanctity of every identified property is a must, and this would only be possible online if all relevant documentation related to the properties were available online.
Stakeholders have high hopes on the recently passed Real Estate Regulatory Act which they feel is going to raise the transparency bar among developers. Till the Act is implemented on the ground, brokers are giving full offline support to clients who are interested in buying residential properties. They also educate the buyers about the legality of property documents. “In our partnership with Snapdeal, we have ensured that only those residential properties are listed that have been checked for all possible parameters needed to conclude the deal,” says Kumar.
Analysts say that besides the end-users, the investors’ community is also heading online with the only difference that while home buyers would still pay at least one visit to the property before parting with their money, investors are increasingly happy to keep the whole process online. Unlike people in older generations who used to buy their first house towards their retirement, the tech-savvy younger generation is buying homes in their 20s and technology is just facilitating that process.