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Earlier, real estate portals only offered property listings: a requirement was posted online and a list of relevant available options were presented to you. Realty portals have come a long way since then. Today, they offer a range of data, analytics and tools aimed at making the property buyer’s task much easier.
Now you can check out a property’s location on a map and understand its proximity to surrounding physical and social infrastructure: highway, metro station, bus stop, hospitals, cinema halls, schools, parks, ATMs, etc. Thus, you will be able to get a good idea of the amenities available, without having to make a visit to the location.
Traditionally, developers put up a sample flat at the project site which potential buyers visited. Now, realty portals offer online tours using the latest visualisation software. Interested buyers can see the apartment from different angles; how the apartment would look at different times of the day, sample the view from the balcony, and compare the unit plans of various apartments, etc.
Several portals offer an aerial view of the property and its neighbourhood. They use cameras fitted on drones to get the relevant imagery.
Players like Housing.com have data agents who visit developers’ properties and verify as many as 100 data points about each property. Hence, any information available on the portal about the project is authentic and verified.
Many developers are offering dedicated projects for online booking, either on their own websites or on affiliated realty portals. Even NRIs and people living in other cities, register on these websites and choose the project size, payment plan, and then book the property by paying the booking amount online. In some cases, allotment of the exact apartment also happens online. Some developers return the booking amount if you decide within a stipulated period not to go ahead with the purchase. Others insist that you book in another project of theirs or forfeit the money.
What should you do?
The online tools available today, do make researching a project easier. Nonetheless, these tools must be supplemented with physical offline research. “There is no substitute to visiting the project and inspecting the locality,” states Sanjay Sharma, managing director, Qubrex, a Gurgaon-based realty firm. “You must also learn as much as you can about the builder’s track record regarding timely completion of projects and building quality by visiting his older projects. Also, use an expert to check the authenticity of the documents shown to you by the developer.”
Additionally, be cautious about developers who won’t return the booking amount if you change your mind and cancel. Book only if you are reasonably sure of going ahead with the purchase. Try to get a professional to do all the checks beforehand.
Online shopping for consumer goods has taken off in a big way in India because retailers have offered many confidence-building measures. When such a high level of transparency is offered in real estate as well, the entire purchase process will happen online. Meanwhile, you can use the research tools offered by realty portals to gather as much information as you can before you step out of the comfort of your house to do further checks.