Home seekers are looking beyond brokers and word-of-mouth leads, to look for accommodation. The process has gone digital and smartphones and the internet have proven to be catalysts. Today, there are apps that help in looking for homes, as well as provide services like virtual rendering of property, rental agreements, mortgage calculators and finding flatmates.
An online search for property, yields an incredible amount of hits. Most people use their mobiles to explore at least one of the following: search for listings, find directions to a property, look for more information, call or e-mail an agent directly, or watch a video while looking for a home.
To capitalise on this growing trend, many digital firms have added significant value to the property search process. For example, the Housing.com app allows users to find homes and chat with potential flatmates, in a map-based search. It provides information on the internal and external features of the house.
Shemal Gandhi, who booked a home in Mumbai recently, managed to find his home on the app. He compares his search journey to that of his parents. “My mother would go house hunting on weekdays and take my father to a selected few homes that she liked on the weekends. They spent about eight months to find a home. I took three weeks flat to book my home,” he says.
“Home search apps, not just helped me to find leads to the available homes, but also provided plenty of information about the location and features of the home and the society. We scrolled through the listings and shared details of the houses that we liked, from the app itself. It was very easy to schedule appointments with brokers, thereby, quickening our home search. The apps served as a one-level filter for us,” he elaborates
Catching them young
According to experts, property search on apps and mobile sites in particular, has witnessed a significant increase in the last one year, both, in terms of traffic and leads. The transition to look for property on mobiles, is the result of increased internet connectivity in India, mostly via smartphones. Tier-2 Indian cities have recorded a mobile penetration growth that is 1.3 times the national average. It is mainly the young property seekers, aged up to 34, who are active on mobile phones.
Emulating e-commerce giants
Online platforms enable buyers to search for homes from across the nation, instead of being confined to a single locality or city. The Housing.com app has a 3D rendering of projects, which helps users view the floor plan and check amenities inside the flat and society. It also has a live chat option, for buyers to talk with owners.
Developers like Tata Value Homes have already started selling on online platforms. However, when it comes to real estate, the overall app ecosystem is very nascent and not as evolved as ecommerce websites. The focus of innovation is to provide buyers with enough information, to enable them to add apartments to their cart, akin to how consumers buy electronics, apparel and even diamonds on mobile commerce sites like Flipkart and Amazon. Enabling online shopping of homes, seems to be the ultimate goal of these apps.