Taking the conversation forward from the two previous great posts on NextBigWhat.
It seems most leading online real estate players are focusing on virtual reality type of innovations – 3D glasses, drone views, virtual walkthroughs, slice views etc. These are helpful to an extent but also slightly overrated when it comes to enabling a property decision. Flush with investment dollars, theseplayers are also trying to do everything possible to attract eyeballs – running expensive OOH & PPC campaigns, releasing full page ads in newspapers and doing TV ad blitz. However, in this marketing war for gaining more traction, they are forgetting their most important stakeholder –the consumer – who is ‘looking up’ to them to get a lot more done.
A property transaction is the most expensive transaction that most of us would ever make in our lifetime. It often involves your whole life’s savings and encumbering yourself with a lifelong burden of EMIs.For such a vital and expensive decision fraught with risks, consumers neither get the research they deserve nor the support they need.
Online real estate players who are supposed to solve some of these customer problems are focusing somewhere else. Classified listing portals are focusing on increasing the number of listings. These listings are mostly uploaded by brokers as‘traps’ for consumers to call them up. Other transaction oriented portals are tossing up smoke screens to push builder’s latest new launch projects. In a market gripped with uncertainty and sky-high property prices, the end consumers – as someone holding the purse strings – expect a lot more from online RE businesses.
- First, they expect a lot more information – complete, reliable, and fresh delivered in easy-to-use way at appropriate stages of decision making. In the initial stages, they want to understand the overall real estate landscape of the city and the good locations in terms of connectivity, readiness, livability, value for money etc. As they progress, theywantto know the best available option that their money can buy taking into account ‘real’ on the ground information like legal status of project, government clearances, builder’s reputation, past project delivery, civic infra etc.Decision drivers like how well a project is connected, how livable it is, actual carpet area etc. can help aid that decision.
- Second, there is deep need for quality services. Only two services exist today in online real estate space – classifieds and new launch booking. Consumer is left in lurch for vast parts of her journey. This is one area where there is significant lag, especially on digital front. Online players need to evolve from brokerage based pseudo-advisors to enabling genuine last-leg service providers like financial & legal advisors, vastu experts, interiors designers, aftermarket service providers like payment collection etc.
- Third, deal-making needs to be less stressful and it can be enabled by digitalizing pre-money buyer-seller interactions on a multi-sided platform. An efficient and self-regulating digital marketplace or a ‘dealroom’can take away lot of unnecessary pain and unnerving experiences buyer and seller have to go through while a transaction is being materialized.Given improving technology adoption curves and best-in-class digital experiences emerging in other industries, it is very much possible to create such an ecosystem for real estate.
Author- Vivek Agarwal is the founder & CEO of www.Realizing.in , an independent and transparent real estate search and discovery platform for builder projects in India. Realizing offers deep research, data driven insights and decision tools that help consumers take an informed property decision.