Monday, May 14, 2012: 08:12:21 PM

TJCD Guest Column

Online real estate market witnessing rapid growth - Vikas Malpani, CommonFloor.com

Going online for real estate related needs is convenient because it allows zeroing in on homes that suit requirements while sitting in the comfort of one’s home

The idea behind initiating online portals has been to make an apartment buyer or owner’s life easier by bringing him and others like himself on a common platform for interactions on services, common interests and things that would make living less complicated.

 
There are various reasons why people go online to meet their residential needs. Anyone who has searched for a house in the traditional way will appreciate the convenience of zeroing in on homes that suit his/her requirements while sitting in the comfort of one’s home.
 
Also, realty market has generally not been transparent with multiple dealers quoting different prices for the same property. Online solutions help to prevent such duplication and bring more transparency in the market, thereby saving the time of customers and providing them the most relevant listings.
 
Increasing consumer awareness
 
Consumer awareness about Internet as a medium to research and gain knowledge to meet one’s residential requirements has certainly gone up in the last few years. Also, our economy has done well in the last few years and more and more people are stepping out of their homes to make a living. With the Internet becoming accessible to a large number of such people, there has been a shift in the way people look for homes. A person wishing to buy or rent a flat today, will first research on the Internet and then go to a dealer to meet his needs. This has brought more transparency into the system.
 
In fact, people are already turning to the web to meet their real estate needs. For many, Internet has become their first point of contact to gain knowledge about the real estate market. We are also seeing continuous rise in traffic, which shows that more and more people are turning to the Internet for a variety of real estate needs.
 
When it comes to Apartment Management, people are generally busy and are not able to come together to discuss common issues pertaining to the society. Online platforms enable them to connect with their neighbours and society members and discuss their concerns in an open and transparent manner.
 
Fending without government support
 
With minimum government support, the real estate sector in India had to fend for itself over the last couple of years. The real estate sector has been suffering from lack of funds, rising interest rates and input costs. Even the Union Budget 2012-13 has largely been disappointing for the real estate sector. It has not addressed these acute problems and has left this sector wanting for more. The increase in the service tax by 2% and the application of TDS will further push realty prices upward. This ‘neglect’ is hard to understand, given that the sector contributes significantly to employment and growth of allied sectors like cement, steel and the like. With such little attention given to the real estate sector, I do not expect much to change. Going online has therefore been a fruitful option not only to save operational cost but also to attract maximum number of visitors without any kind of support from the government.
 
Online real estate portals like CommonFloor.com receive close to one lakh visitors everyday, with a majority of people utilising the comprehensive database of relevant real estate listings. Initially people started with a doubt about the new concept but with the passing of time and growing clarity on usefulness of the platform, they have welcomed the idea and are adopting it with ease at a growing pace.
 
Vikas Malpani is the co-founder of CommonFloor.com

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