[ecis2016.org] While offering properties for sale via online platforms is not new, we examine why an increasing number of developers are adopting online sales and the advantages it offers
The Indian real estate industry has developed by leaps and bounds in the last two decades, as developers showed interest in adopting new technologies and methods. In the last few years, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, some of the leading industry players launched digital platforms to sell properties directly to customers. Selling properties on digital platforms is not new, as several online property brokers have already been showcasing properties on these platforms. So, what is unique about the new trend?
“With innovation in technology and the launch of various media, home buyers have a choice of selecting properties via multiple platforms, such as developers, brokers, third-party mediators, etc. However, the buying-selling structure is least complicated when you directly deal with developers. With realtors embracing technology, the online selling platform has further reduced the human interaction and provides absolute transparency to home buyers,” says Kamal Singal, MD and CEO, Arvind Smartspaces.
The transformation from physical to digital property sales by developers
Experts point out that the transformation from physical to digital property sales has already grabbed many eyeballs and metro and tier 1 cities are leaders in adopting this trend. Further, NRI home buyers largely relied on digital platforms even before the outbreak of Covid-19, which underscored the importance of digital platforms for real estate marketing and sales. The second and third waves have further fuelled this transformation.
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“We set up the digital sales platform as an extension of our website and combined multiple stacks of technologies (i.e., website, ERP, VR, etc.), where we list the entire inventory online for customers to view. Available units are highlighted in green. Customers can experience the project virtually and click their way through till purchase,” adds Singal, explaining the approach adopted by Arvind Smartspaces.
Benefits of digital platforms compared to offline medium
Through digital technology, developers can provide customers with options to choose their dream homes, buy them and monitor the progress of the project, anytime, from anywhere in the world. Home buyers across the globe can now select and purchase a home from their mobiles with ease and convenience. Customers can visit properties virtually with their families from their own place. In case they are outside India, they can still experience and visit selected properties whether they are buying homes for themselves or their families in India.
Risks involved in digital transactions
“E-commerce is an ‘advantage buyer’ but subject to due diligence and maintaining safety and security aspects while doing transactions. Even while using digital platforms that offer real estate deals, a buyer needs to exercise due diligence, to ensure that one does not get trapped in scams. ‘Buyer Beware’ is the operative term. The best safety option is to ensure RERA Act registration of the project and visit the RERA website to cross-check details about the project as mentioned on digital sales and marketing platforms, vis-à-vis what is mentioned on the RERA website,” suggests Niranjan Hiranandani, vice-chairperson of NAREDCO and MD, Hiranandani Group.
It is also important that home buyers opt for reputed developers whose track records can be accessed on digital platforms for evaluation.
Before buying a property through a developer’s digital platform, keep the following points in mind:
- Check the project’s association with bank/financial institutions.
- Opt for developers with impeccable records.
- Finalise the property only after physically visiting the property/project site.
- Always get the property documents verified by your lawyer.
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Why can’t realty apex bodies and associations develop such a platform for customers? “NAREDCO has already created a digital platform which is functional; the portal ‘Housing for All’ enables direct connection between buyers and builders, and the functionality includes closing of sale transactions at a quicker pace and effective prices,” informs Hiranandani. Now the question arises: should you buy a property from the developer’s digital platform or take the help from online brokers to purchase a property?
Developer’s digital platform vs online brokers
Using the developer’s digital platform to purchase a property involves a one-to-one transaction. The developer is directly responsible if something goes wrong or for misinformation (if any) displayed on their platform. On the other hand, in case of online property brokers, they work as an intermediary and share information received from the developers. So, due diligence is important in both the cases but more when you deal with online brokers. Buying from a developer’s platform can limit your options and you may not experience many choices, while if you go by online brokers, you get a chance to compare various properties and there are chances of getting a better deal.
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To sum up, selling properties online in India is currently at a nascent stage and may take some time to take off. However, property buyers can use such platforms to save time, while also continuing with the offline mode for crucial fact check such as due diligence, quality verification, among other things.
Do digital sales make any difference in terms of property acquisition cost for homebuyers when compared to offline sales?
In most cases, developers allow services at zero cost. A homebuyer’s acquisition cost is lower as he/ she can purchase the property while sitting in his/ her home or office.
Do digital platforms by developers come under the purview of RERA?
Yes, buying a property through a digital platform from developers comes under the purview of RERA. Always check the property’s RERA registration details before buying it via the digital platform.
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