There’s no denying that they’ve changed the way the world works. Life 10 years back was not the same as life today. Internet has penetrated every strata of life as we know it, and dare I say, left it in a better state.
It’s definitely easier to order food through the JustDial app than go to the local restaurant and pick it up. Sulekha and OLX have made searching for things in your locality a lot easier (and have left the classifieds section of newspapers redundant in the process). Makemytrip and Redbus have practically eliminated travel agents and have given users the comfort of making their own travel arrangements. Flipkart is revolutionizing e-commerce in India (the joy of visiting a bookstore is offset by the comfort of getting it delivered to your doorstep). Google.
When so many things have changed, and with customer service and customer satisfaction levels increasing in industries across the board, I keep wondering why we hear so many complaints about the services in real estate. Sure, there’re some awesome property-listing websites that are coming up and making life a lot easier. Commonfloor.com and housing.com (check them out, they’re pretty cool) are years ahead of their competitors in terms of information provided and user experience. But that’s just half the story. The other half, the brokers, is where invariably where people are let down.
Brokerage in India isn’t the same as the rest of the world. I look at other countries and see brokers as smartly dressed, educated individuals who help their customers make a choice about their real estate needs, rather than just push the apartments they have on their portfolio. In the US, there’re courses that agents compulsorily need to take before registering for a real estate agent license (not to mention a 3 year compulsory internship under a licensed real estate agent in most states). The situation here, well… you know the story. Though we have qualms with the brokers who’re in the market today, we can’t really eliminate them from the equation. Why?
Real estate is fundamentally an offline business model.
It’s not a ‘Click-n-Pay’ domain. Websites can give a LOT of information regarding a property listing – Cost of property, descriptive metrics about prices in the area, pictures (videos even), position on a map, Google Street view, etc. These websites add a lot of value but can you imagine making a real estate purchase without physically seeing the property? No! For most people, real estate is the single biggest financial transaction of their lives. The entire process is time consuming, confusing and complicated. You need the help of someone who can give you advice on the choice you’re about to make and guide you through the process. The middle man is there for a reason, and it’s not wise to think he can be eliminated.
All of this begs the question, what am I trying to do?
Simple. Establish equilibrium between the online and offline aspects of real estate – Be the online portal where people start their hunt for real estate. And be the real estate agent who helps them close the deal at ground 0.
Are you trying to eliminate the existing brokers from the equation altogether? Will they work with you on this? How will your website be different from others? Will you be providing any value added services? How will your brokerage be different from others in the market today? Are there any advantages for a home owner in approaching you directly without going to the existing brokers? How do existing corporate companies benefit from your presence in the market?
All are valid questions. Questions which I will answer, but not right now.
For the moment, I’m trying to enter the industry through rental brokerage in Whitefield, Bangalore. The website is not yet in production and atleast a few months away from going live. So till then, if any of you are looking for an apartment for rent in this area, gimme a call @ 7406-11-22-11 🙂