How technology is altering the process of buying real estate

While tech advancements in real estate entered the Indian market a few years ago, the scale at which they have been put to use has increased since the pandemic hit in March 2020.

The process of buying a home, at least in the traditional way, has several steps to it: scouting localities, picking the right configuration, multiple site visits with the family, and a whole lot of paperwork. While tech advancements in real estate entered the Indian market a few years ago, the scale at which they have been put to use has increased since the pandemic hit in March 2020.

House visits went digital as did the paperwork and financial transactions. What proptech services have also eliminated is the need for brokers. “You can now access details about a property that a broker might be withholding. The use of AR and VR tools for remote house visits picked up when Covid struck. Although the final transactions occurred after physical visits, these digital tours were instrumental in shaping the customer thought process,” says Pankaj Singh, Founder and CEO, Multiliving Technologies, a realty platform backed by Lodha Ventures.

New tools

With these digital tools, one can look at wall colours, decor, amenities, etc. The view is available in both daylight and night light. The offerings, says Singh, “focus on eliminating everyday hassles for a tenant through home management solutions via our app and smart devices. Our app automates maintenance, insurance, and payments, alerting relevant stakeholders as the due date nears. On-demand services, concierges, call-a-cab, etc. can also be availed,” he adds.

Kagaay, a gamified sales enablement platform launched last year, has flash sales and e-auctions. Tushar Desai, Chief Technology Officer, says that during a sale, properties are made available at exclusive discount rates for a short period of 24 to 48 hours. “Buyers can grab the deal by paying a 4% to 5% Earnest Money Deposit. Realtors benefit because the inventory is not locked up for long periods and they can get a confirmed sale. At the virtual sales, any financial or non-financial institute can execute the auction.”

Other players

  • sales management, customer engagement for realtors
  • Square Yards: real estate and mortgage platform
  • Ghar360, SmartVizs and Livspace: Immersive design
  • automated sales and marketing
  • CoWrks’ Virtual Offices

Commercial assets

In the commercial sector, top players are optimistic about recovery. As per a September report by JLL, titled ‘Optimism in the Face of Crisis,’ nearly 70% of Indian leaders are likely to adopt proptech solutions to respond and adapt to new requirements.

Sudarshan Lodha of Strata says the democratisation of newer platforms and newer investment avenues has brought massive shifts in investment preferences that will outlive the pandemic. “Data analytics and digital dashboards to track investments are changing the face of the industry,” says Lodha, who co-founded the Strata realty investment platform that allows investors to own and sell fractions of pre-leased commercial properties. “We aim to make commercial investments accessible to aspiring middle-class and retail investors through a fractional investment model. Our target group is anyone who earns above ₹25 lakh annually and most of our investors are in the 30+ age group,” says Lodha, who has currently closed properties in Chennai, Bengaluru, and is looking forward to investments in Mumbai and Hyderabad.

For the non-tech savvy

These interventions are no doubt a welcome change, but with a considerable portion of buyers still sticking to traditional methods, how will these players engage them? Singh says that while they offer virtual tours, they are continuing physical visits too for those buyers who prefer it. “However, the dynamics have changed. One has to book a prior appointment, and we limit the number of engagements on a particular day. Having said that, 80% to 90% of our customers are now using digital tools for site visits.”

What has also helped is access to data. Data-driven models are coming into the limelight as they help investors analyse, interpret and gain insight into properties and market conditions. This helps build customer trust, explains Lodha. “Now, instead of 50 investors attending a live event, we host webinars for 400-450 investors. During the pandemic, we were able to raise ₹140 crore from 18 countries without a single site visit.”

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