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Much before the Coronavirus spread and the subsequent lockdowns made site viewing impossible, buyers were spending quality time checking out properties online – the starting point of their buying journey. It is only after thoroughly viewing their options online that they proceeded to make visits at select sites. As the pandemic has rendered face-to-face meetings impossible, prospective buyers are likely to spend more time online.
Pune-based Rahul Patil recently booked a house in Kolte Patil Green Olive project at Hinjewadi. Using the online booking facility provided by brokerage firm PropTiger.com, Patil bought a property worth Rs 83 lakhs. In an industry which has traditionally been driven by face-to-face meetings, concluding an entire property transaction online might be challenging for a real estate broker. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic will have a lasting impact on consumer behaviour, virtual property transactions may become the norm.
Here’s a look at how real estate agents can carry out such tasks, assuming that they have all the necessary virtual assistance and tools in place.
Even though online channels remain the only medium to carry on businesses, it has its limitations. It is best to be aware of these, to anticipate issues during the transaction process and to address it effectively. For example, if the buyer is looking for housing finance, the representatives from the bank may not have the same turnaround time as you may have expected. It may also happen that at an advanced stage of negotiation, the buyer may feel the need to pick a different unit, because they aren’t happy about the floor. There could be numerous challenges in the online journey and one should be prepared to tide through these hiccups.
Be upfront with your client
Being prepared about the challenges is one thing and convincing the buyer about the same, is another. This is where transparency comes into the picture. At every step, keep your client in the loop. Make as many video calls and phone calls as necessary. Most of all, do not hide anything from them. Doing so would ultimately lead to trouble in the future.
For example, if the developer is looking for more upfront money than you have initially told the client about, negotiating with the builder to cut you a break may or may not work. You will have to politely and firmly convey the message to the client and conduct a video call, where all parties concerned can participate. As a matter of principle, do not over-promise and under-deliver.
Invest in the latest technology
If people are going to view, visit and buy property online, the tools that enable such experiences have to be top-class, to make the desired impact. Grainy pictures and jarring videos would just not work. Video walk-throughs, slideshows or 3D models of a property are not virtual tours. An actual virtual tour allows the prospective buyer to view the property. It duplicates the experience of physically visiting a home through technology. Invest in up-to-date technology and use the right tools, to ensure a user-friendly virtual tour, on mobile, as well as on the browser.
Apps such as Zoom, Google Duo and Skype are effective for video calling. Use these to stay in touch with your clients and share information with them.
Work on building trust
Brokers who have worked hard and built a name in the market, are today reaping the benefits of all that investment. Brokerages that are successfully concluding online property deals today, have been busy for years nurturing a consumer base that trusts them so much so that they are willing to make the biggest purchase of their lifetime using online channels only. As property investments are highly capital-intensive, brokers will have to continue working on building trust, to stay relevant.
Use safe payment gateways
After all the negotiations are successfully concluded, the transaction would come to a stage of payment making. This is a crucial juncture where you will have to provide an end-to-end payment solution on your website or app. Virtual payments are quite popular in business-to-business transactions. Here too, you will have to invest in the right and secure technology that manages the money flow, making the entire payment process hassle-free. Absolutely no risks should be taken, while selecting a virtual payment managing system.
In India, Razorpay is a well-known payment solutions company, which provides access to all payment modes, including national and international credit and debit cards, UPI, mobile wallets, etc.
In the meantime, make your clients aware about the benefits of virtual payments. These facts would certainly help you put your points across.
These are time savers: It takes about two business days for a payment to be processed. Cheques, on the other hand, take up to a week for clearance.
They save costs: There are no extra charges that the buyer has to incur, while making online payments.
They are safe: Thanks to the advancements in digital payment technologies, online transactions are more secure than offline transactions these days.