The charm of a click...

The charm of a click...

The charm of a click...

The role of technology in the transformation of our lifestyles cannot be understated. The lines between us living our digital lives and actual physical lives are blurring constantly. Even conventional domains such as real estate are benefiting tremendously from the use of technology to make property buying and selling hassle-free for investors. The Indian real estate is witnessing a new pattern in consumer behaviour.

More and more consumers are now moving online to search for property, either for renting or buying purposes. This is simply because buying a house online would feel like a natural extension of what we have already become accustomed to, like booking cabs, grocery and entertainment options. Digitisation of the real estate industry is bringing a change in the pattern of how consumers view and buy properties and also how they select a developer to work with. Nowadays, various state governments are also focusing on making this sector digitised in order to aid transparency.

This new trend makes it essential for the developers and the sector to recognise the importance of the digital movement. Instant information access has given rise to a new category of consumers called digital natives.

Modern real estate buyers are highly active on digital platforms and research thoroughly about the developer before  making any investments. Unlike the past generation, they do not simply depend on market credentials and word of mouth. Instead, they use different tools of digital media to assess and select a developer. They research about the developer at various consumer forums to gain insights about different clients of the developer and various complaints about them. It becomes essential for a real estate developer to be aware of what is being said of them online and be responsive to the needs of their customers.

Many consumers will arrive at a decision based on the reviews of the property or the developer provided by the online segments and complaint forums. Reading the reviews, type of complaints on the facilities, delay, and mismanagement, among others, makes the difference in purchasing or renting the property.

Within the traditional approach, our reach was limited to our family and friends, but through the digital space, consumers have reach to millions of other users and their experiences, which will be shared on a common platform. This has definitely widened the scope of the consumer to air their ideas, file a complaint and share reviews.

Evolving trend

The demand of aggregators and real-time experience is on the rise. Aggregators are changing the face of traditional real estate business by simplifying everything from your property search to home purchasing. This approach has been well received by the consumers and adopted by realty players. More tie-ups with these websites will help build effective ways to optimise the user experience by identifying the relevant lead. This will help the developer understand their consumers much better and serve them efficiently. A number of developers are launching mobile-friendly apps in order to provide a whole new experience to their clients.

Consumer forum apps, which allow the developer to connect with consumers at any point of time, or an app to locate a nearby property of the developer, are few such examples. Digital platforms allowing live-in tours, 3D walks and 360-degree views of the property make it easy for the customers, especially NRIs, to view the property and development around the area without having to go through the trouble of on-ground investigation. The 360-degree views and virtual walk-through cut down the traditional approach of house hunting; you can view the property, understand the area and can contact the developer/owner.

Buyers will be able to make better choices because they can research more about the area, properties in the vicinity and facilities, amongst others. However, this will seldom lead to consumers buying or renting directly without visiting the property or consulting with family and peers. These features will bring down the efforts  of the buyer significantly. For the many who do not have time to visit every place for surveying, before making the final purchase, these features will lessen their efforts in terms of shortlisting the property, area/location, facilities and development in and around that area.

Soon, digitisation of property data will become the next step to make property transactions convenient and seamless. Data such as land ownership records will clear out discrepancies and will allow for reviewing of land records, ownership titles, and transfer of rights, among others. E-stamps can replace physical stamp papers, thereby making all essential documents available with just a click of a button.  Not only will this save time, but also bring in much needed transparency.

As consumer preferences shift significantly towards digital, real estate platforms have to adapt accordingly. It is essential that real estate developers recognise the importance and adapt to this trend. Modern consumers are tech-savvy and rely on the digital mediums to fulfill their needs. The industry should become the real-time service providers to connect with and tap digital natives.

(The author is senior vice-president, Expat Projects and Development Pvt Ltd)