The year 2020 is fast approaching and many new trends are likely to unfold, at the start of this new decade. Today, we notice that almost two-thirds of urban decision-making is search-based, mostly done from mobile phones. It is no wonder that almost every business, is looking at tapping opportunities in the digital space. From online shopping, banking and research, to adopting new-age delivery systems, there is a trend towards digitisation of all our basic needs. According to a 2017 study by research firm Technavio, the global virtual events market is expected to be valued at USD 86.37 billion by 2021. The report had stated that the global virtual events market will grow at a CAGR of almost 22%, during 2017-2021.
Technology in real estate
The real estate sector is no stranger to this digital transformation and businesses are increasingly looking at new-age technologies. The Internet of Things (IoT), automation, cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), big data, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and drones, are increasingly finding application across real estate business platforms.
The use of technology allows developers to connect with a wider audience, in different geographical locations. For instance, online expos or events offer home buyers the opportunity to access and select a range of homes that meet their requirements. All this becomes possible from the comfort of their homes, anywhere in the world. Further, it helps home buyers avoid the hassle of commuting and saves valuable time. Many real estate buyers are also exposed to such technologies in developed property markets. This is especially true for NRI and HNI home buyers. Similarly, chatbots are becoming common. It allows developers to provide 24×7 assistance to the prospective home buyers.
Impact of digitisation on developers and property buyers
Further, as part of the regulatory reforms, the government has mandated, through the implementation of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act 2016 (RERA) and the Goods and Services Tax (GST) that several processes associated with property maintenance, compliance and taxes, are completed using the digital route. This inevitable shift has flagged yet another transition for the developer community. As a precursor to the future trends, where buying a home online will be a couple of clicks away, developers are working ahead of the curve. So, when the wave hits, they will be fully equipped to tackle the rising trend. Digital media too is gaining importance for business transactions, as well as for communication platforms. For example, an online expo becomes timely, relevant and an important vehicle of storytelling, gaining customer feedback, sharing expertise and assisting prospects with informed choices – all rolled in one with tremendous reach and speed. At Sobha, we too have decided to use the online expo platform to celebrate our 25th year in the real estate business, with the launch of our three-day Click2Buy Home Expo (14-16 December 2019).
Creating an environment that is transparent goes a long way in building the confidence of the prospective customers. The sectoral challenges make it even more important to look at innovative ways to rebuild that confidence. Taking the digital route is one such way of satisfying customers, before they take one of the most important decisions of their lives. Above all, this will help the real estate developers, consumers and the entire ecosystem.
(The writer is chairman, Sobha Ltd)