So you are looking for a place for rental and practically speaking, your requirement ranges from a good house to approachability of the place to whether there are schools/departmental stores nearby or not. In most of the cases, you often tend to waste a lot of time visiting flats which you would have outrightly rejected, if you had more details prior to the visit (read: The Broken Online Classified Services in India and an opportunity ro create value).
Most of the online real estate search has been around just the property alone, but Mumbai based startup, Housing.co.in has launched a brilliant map based product that actually maps out the details of the property. That is, not just geocoding of the property, but everything else you’d like to know about the property – right from pictures to rental, security deposit, details if furnished etc.
The way Housing.co.in works is very simple – just start your search and refine using multiple filters and once you are done, you can call up the broker or fill up the form and they will call you back.
Unlike several other sites which tried to shortcircuit the middlemen (i.e. the broker), Housing is clear on the part that brokers will continue to play an important role in the entire food chain and real value for a customer should be around information (and not saving the broker’s fee).
As far as monetization model is concerned, the startup charges a subscription fee (bi-annual and annual) to brokers which allows them to upload unlimited listings on the website. Listings for landlords is free for now and the startup may start charging a nominal amount later.
What about conversion? “We track total number of hits and queries for each flat. Our metric is number of leads generated per listed home and not conversion because the latter depends upon knowledge, expertise, responsiveness and negotiation skills of the broker in question.”, mentions Advitiya Sharma, cofounder of Housing.co.in.
Isn’t this a ‘feature’ for big real estate sites?
Cofounder, Advitiya Sharma shares :
“No, it can’t. Bigger real estate websites leave it upto the brokers to upload data who frequently spam the website with fake listings just to increase their visibility on the website. To put it more accurately, the bigger websites serve as no more than a crude ‘telephone directory’ to search for broker contacts. By investing in an in-house data collection team, we ensure that we showcase only genuine flats with verified pictures and details.
To sum it up, if you just want to find a broker, maybe you’ll be better off with bigger real estate websites (for now, until we get all brokers in Mumbai on our portal). However, if your preference is finding a flat instead of a broker, Housing will give you a plethora of ‘real’ flats (with real, verified pics and details) to choose from. Moreover, the bigger websites can never geocode each and every flat accurately. Since we do, we can provide additional information such as neighborhood and commute details for every flat on our website.
We’re big on data and technology. We believe good and genuine data separates good real estate from a bad one. Data mapping is not a different ballgame for us. It’s just an extension of the benefits of accurate data collection.”
Quite an interesting approach to building this business and if you are based in Mumbai, do give Housing.co.in a spin and share your comments.
Earlier, Commonfloor too launched its map based search product and raised Series B funding from Accel Partners and Tiger Global.
Given the offline nature of this business, it will be interesting to see how Housing.co.in grabs mindshare from the bigger real estate sites. What are your thoughts?