The Changing Face Of Indian Real Estate

Anuj Puri, Chairman, Anarock Property ConsultantsThe Indian real estate sector has undergone several phases of growth over the past two decades, with the speed of growth varying widely according to the economic situation and demand dynamics. The industry is currently emerging from a prolonged period of slow down brought on by many different factors. In the current property cycle which started from 2008-09, this is definitely one of the worst slumps. The reasons have been trust deficit because of a huge gap between promises and delivery in terms of quality and possession timelines, and also because prices in the larger cities had made residential properties largely unaffordable for mid-income buyers.

What has happened over the past 2-3 years has a cascading effect on buying sentiment, and it will take a concerted effort from developers and the government to restore confidence. As it is, the situation is already improving. The completed unsold inventory has reduced to 4-5 percent in the larger cities, when compared to unsold inventory of under-construction projects. Delivery has become very important, and buyers are not going in for under-construction properties unless the project is by a developer of national or regional repute. Projects which have been inordinately delayed are drawing no interest.
Technology in the current day and age is a far-reaching force that has an impact on most areas of our lives, and also on most business sectors. Real estate is one of the business verticals where both end-users and investors leverage the power of the Internet to identify and invest in real estate. That said, Indian real estate continues to work best as an offline business, largely because there has been very little technological innovation which could boost its applicability as an online business.

While real estate consultancies, aggregators of real estate listing and even builders have made some progress, this is field still largely under served due to the lack of integration with credible expert offline advisory and transaction support. In short, the continued challenge lies in successful sales conversion in a manner which also places the customer's interests first.

Real estate is one of the business verticals where both end-users and investors leverage the power of the Internet to identify and invest in real estate

First and foremost, find a differentiator which can set you apart from the rest of the crowd. There is no shortage of online portals marketing real estate today - what is lacking is innovation, specifically in terms of delivering real value to buyers and investors. Come up with a brand new idea, and don’t try to ape what is already happening.

As I’ve already mentioned, a new way of thinking and innovation are key success formulae for online real estate startups in India. You cannot hope to succeed by rehashing old concepts. Remember what the Internet represents to buyers and investors - it provides hither to unplumbed depth of information and is therefore an excellent research tool, it allows people to compare multiple options based on multiple criteria, and it makes purchase decisions faster and more convenient than ever before. You need to leverage these advantages to the fullest, while never forgetting that the customer is king today.

We will see a large part of the 'touch-and-feel' aspects of real estate inspection and purchase going online in the future. Customers will experience increasing depth of experience as players adopt the latest VR technologies to bring their properties into everyone’s living rooms and offices.