This article has been authored by Mr. Sumit Jain, Co-Founder & CEO of CommonFloor.com exclusively for The Startup Journal
Despite the evolution of the real estate landscape in India, finding the right property in accordance with several parameters like livability, connectivity, proximity to one’s work place, value for money, returns on investment among others continues to be a daunting task.
On one hand the massive increase in real estate activity (fueled by spectacular returns on real estate investments in the early and mid-2000s) has resulted in mind boggling choices for the property seekers today while on the other hand instances of fraud, lack of transparency continue to make the property search experience a nightmare.
Both issues can however be addressed with the apt use of online real estate tools. The online real estate space has today evolved to the extent of literally becoming the eyes and ears of any property seekers. It would therefore not be wrong to conclude that any property seeker is doing grave injustice to his/her property search by not deploying the right set of online real estate tools available at his/her disposal.
As per CommonFloor.com research, a first time property purchase takes place over a period of one year. This is time from when a decision to look out for a property is taken to the time when the property is eventually purchased. Relying purely on offline tools like personal visits, word of mouth recommendations for one’s search for such a long time frame can be extremely hard, taxing, demotivating and counter-productive.
Property Life Cycle
Further, matters do not end at purchase of the property itself. A whole new set of requirements surface while settling into a new home. Any property for that matter has five distinct states associated with it.
1) Search: This is the stage where the property seeker is focused on gathering as many options matching his/her requirement.
2) Research: This is the stage where the seeker extensively pursues details pertaining to location, livability, proximity to basic amenities, return on investment to zero in the final property for purchase.
3) Management: Once a purchase is made, as mentioned earlier moving and settling into a property has different set of areas to be addressed. This could range from finding the right parking to onboarding reliable domestic help to locating workmen for repairs to zeroing in on the right childcare or school.
4) Renting out: as one progresses in life, renting out property is the next stage in a property’s existence.
5) Sale: Sale is the last stage of the property cycle. This is the stage where the owner looks at optimizing returns on his investment.
Efficacy of Online tools
There are many online tools are available for assistance at each stage of the property cycle today.
Tools for Search
Search: The online real estate space today spoils consumers for choice. We for instance on our www.commonfloor.com website offer our users over 3 lakh listings from 120 cities Pan India. A listing doesn’t just intimate a user about an available property but provides complete details pertaining to house type (flat/independent etc), furnishing state, flooring, owner, parking availability, possession along with images.
Tools for Research
As discussed earlier, property buying involves considering a huge range of parameters. Over and above examining a property against important set criteria first time property seekers often require themselves to be educated on complex property related issues. Today the online space is sufficient equipped to help all property seekers (especially the nervous newbies) with all these aspects. Consider some of the online tools available at a property seeker’s disposal
(A) Map search: Itoffers seekers following
- Map view of a property: exact understanding of where a property is located in a given area
- Map view of projects along with listings in them: number of properties available for rent, lease or sale within a given gated community
- Ability to see listings/projects not just in a given locality but around a landmark within a given radius: provides a panoramic view of all housing projects in an area thus broadening his/her options
- Proximity to schools, hospitals, parks, departmental stores, medical shops
- Directions from a given location to a particular project
(B) Sky view through Drone Technology: vicinity of the property is an extremely crucial aspect that is considered while going about one’s property search. A seeker’s dream property needs to be ideal in terms of the perfect view and proximity to all important amenities (health care, departmental stores, petrol pump, eateries etc.). Keeping precisely these changing parameters of property selection in mind, the online space offers users a sky view of a properties under construction. When property projects are marketed, seldom are details pertaining to the immediate vicinity shared. Brochures tend to not mention closeness of a project to graveyards or garbage dumps. With this feature, one can save great amount of time by choosing not to visit the wrong place. Users can get an aerial view of the property and its surrounding area without having to visit the location in person. Today Phantom drones are used to click the images of these properties and its immediate vicinity. Images so clicked are then woven together to provide users with a 360 degree view of the location. These drones are set at a height of about 180 meters, keeping in mind the top floor of the under-construction building.
(C) Virtual Tour: Gone are the days when property seekers would be handed over the blueprints of the under-construction properties, leaving them with no other choice but to envision the end result of the property by themselves in their minds. Today the online space offers users a ‘Virtual Tour’ feature by which property seekers can now see a 3D model/virtual view of any given flat or housing unit. The features that makes use of latest visualization software takes details from the same floor plan along with inputs pertaining height of the room to create a 3D room to room view for users. The primary objective of this feature is to provide property seekers with a 360 degree view of the rooms, right from wall to wall and ceiling to floor. The feature helps users to get a good feel of the property in terms of space, lighting and ambience. On the www.commonfloor.com website all that the user has to do is click on the camera icon displayed on the floor plan view on the side of the screen and rotate it for the 360 degree view.
The virtual tour feature offered by CommonFloor.com can be tried by clicking on http://blog.commonfloor.com/vtour/indraprastha_ruhe/3bhk/tour.html
(D) Locality Reviews: Online real estate portals also function as a forum for residents. At CommonFloor.com by virtue of our CommonFloor Groups offering (Apartment Management Software), we offer our users real time information and insights on existing projects and localities. Property seekers can benefit from a huge array of in-depth authentic locality & project reviews from current residents.
(E) Augmented Realty: The online space offers seekers the ‘augmented realty’ feature in form of a mobile app. This feature that lets a user find relevant properties in the direction in which he points his phone. The properties shown are at a maximum distance of 2.5 km. from the user. This is very useful when one is on the road searching for a property.
1) Research articles: Property seeker often find that the lack understanding on property issues. Educating oneself using online resources could not get any simpler in today’s day and age. The online real estate space offers property seekers thousands of research articles on real estate issues ranging from soft topics like Vastu to hard core subjects like completion certificate and project funding
Tools for Management
When it comes property management and settling into a new home, the online real estate space offers nothing less than ERP Level tools.
Apartment management tools today allow residents to (a) Voice concerns and bring important issues to the attention of other residents and the RWA (b) Track the status of an issue online anywhere anytime on the go (c) Use the payment gateway (d) Access the repository of home service vendors like carpenters, architects, plumbers (d) Buy, sell or rent belongings within the community (e) Find and reach out to neighbours with common interests
RWAs are able to manage accounts, Delegate activities, Set reminders, Send notices, Send messages via sms & email, Monitor complaints, manage parking, Keep track of vacant houses, Collect dues and generate receipts.
Tools for renting out and sale
The online space also offers vast national level reach to find the right buyer or tenant. On average about 20 million Indian are searching for property online. So at any given point of time roughly 2% of the nation’s population is looking for property online.
In a nutshell understanding the use of online real estate tools and their timely deployment is necessary to be successful and effective in landing one’s dream home