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Guest Column: How interesting is real estate marketing

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Fifty-three per cent of real estate transactions were influenced by the internet, according to a Google Zinnov study in 2013.

Four years later, this figure can only have become larger. There is a shift to greater research on the internet before engaging on the ground. I wouldn’t say that Indians are buying homes online as of now, but with the right builders and price point I would expect that investors could soon start to try that route as well.

The reason for the shift in one word is convenience. And this convenience is sought because there is an increasing demand on a person’s time. Rapid urbanisation has meant that real estate consumers are literally thrown into a new city and have to generate their own research to navigate through the complex world of real estate buying or renting. And this is where the internet real estate portals have added a whole lot of value for the home seeker.

1. Online real estate portals provide detailed information and some of them offer verified information so that it is real.

2. There is the visualisation of properties to give a sense of the property and the project/locality. In fact, in the case of recently launched properties, I would go as far to say that now there are views offered which are as superior and real as going and seeing the site. The 3-D tour is one such feature with which one can zoom out and get a slice view of the project and towers.  In fact, one can even zoom further out and get an area wiki. Such tools help and enable a home seeker to visualise and even interact with the available real estate. This, further saves the time of the home seeker by helping him or her in shortlisting the properties.

3. The next logical step to visualisation is interaction and one can do so by transporting its avatar virtually and interacting with the partner, while being at work or even at different locations. Facebook Spaces is a pioneering effort towards this kind of interaction.

4. And finally the quality of information, the trust which the seeker has in the portal and the builder as the visualisation will lead to transactions happening online.

It is true that the real estate sector can be tough to navigate and it is also correct that it has been opaque as there is an information asymmetry which exists. But, this is factual for a lot of other sectors in India too. The opaqueness in the real estate sector sticks out because unlike a packet of chips, this is the most expensive purchase a person will make in his or her life. The first time you buy your house I can assure you, for most people it is a stretch and you do bet the farm.

The internet and real estate portals as part of it work towards reducing this information asymmetry and thus empowering the customer. And the way to do this is by ensuring that data, information and analysis are presented accurately. Today, portals take extra care to verify the data so that there is a bond of trust which is developed between the home seeker and the portal. Then there is the content which portals publish to keep their consumers abreast with what is happening. Some portals undertake drip marketing and serve content as per a home seeker’s requirement in the various stages of home buying journey he or she is in. 

Thus, the broad mantra followed is that, less the information asymmetry more the empowerment.

Additionally, online real estate portals offer a suite of closely associated property services which also help empower the home seeker by providing help in legal services, home loans, property management and maintenance, furniture rentals, moving services and documentation services. These again help the home seeker close the deal.  In the west there are portals which even help with valuation and are becoming more and more accurate to +/-5 per cent of the deal value. Price discovery is in fact one of the most difficult things to do and consumers have the benefit and support of advanced modelling done by the algorithms to give a good estimate of both buying and selling.

And, finally online real estate portals are doing a great job capturing the actual location of the properties and providing a map view which is accurate. Some portals also have a team of field experts to accurately map the property so that a consumer can check the distance and time to office or airport or anywhere and also see the average travel time during different phases of the day. This, again, is based on real data and thus a seeker is empowered by this knowledge to make a choice basis the location of the property.

So, in conclusion the real estate portals are doing exactly what is expected of any netizen, reduce information asymmetry, give more data and analysis and empower people to make their home buying dreams come true and not become a nightmare.

public://Neeraj Chaturvedi, Group CMO,  Housing.com, PropTiger.com and Makaan.com_.jpgThe writer is the group chief marketing officer, Housing.com, PropTiger.com and Makaan.com. Views expressed here are of the writer's and Indiantelevision.com may not subscribe to them.

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