Even in many tier-2 cities, landlords have started listing their properties online
After two waves of the challenging Covid-19 pandemic, the Indian real estate sector is slowly recovering in 2021. Though the construction and real estate industries have declined by 8.6 per cent and 1.5 per cent, respectively, between April 2020 and March 2021, Q4 has seen a YoY growth of 14.5 per cent and 5.4 per cent, respectively, the NSO (National Statistical Office) says. The economy is steadily moving towards normalcy with increased vaccination rates and the real estate industry is calibrating itself accordingly. The residential sector took a big hit during the first few months of the pandemic. But October saw a spike in demand as house rent and loan interest rates dropped, coupled with the time of festivities. This saw customers purchasing new homes. The fall in stamp duty in Maharashtra also played a major role in this increased demand. Moreover, during the second half of 2020, employees began to work from home which meant that the demand for larger and more spacious houses went up. On the brighter side, real estate firms adopted digital methodologies to conduct their business. In many tier-2 cities, we even observed landlords listing their properties online for the first time. From a practical perspective, going digital made sense as physical site visits went down, citing social distancing reasons. In addition, nowadays, demand for housing is driven largely by millennials. They are naturally tech-savvy and expect 24x7 availability and connectivity everywhere. Both to ensure the safety of the agents and customers and to cater to the new millennial home buyers, firms have begun investing in new-age technology to navigate the new post-Covid world.
A significant development is the use of Virtual Reality(VR) that offers homeowners digital walk throughs of their prospective homes. Developers are using multiple features like downloadable floor plans, 360-degree drone views, dollhouse views, and much more to create as complete a virtual experience as possible. Real estate brokerage is expected to dominate in the near future. Not only do new real estate solutions provide a complete virtual home-searching experience but they also support real estate agents better. VR has the potential to create cloud-based virtual office set-ups and that can reduce the need for physical offices, saving the company significant costs. At the same time, the sense of community and togetherness is not lost and inter-departmental communication is facilitated regardless of in which cities the team members are. On-ground activities are also becoming better through virtual solutions. Throughout last year, agents were forced to regularly step out to show houses to the customers as many home owners are still hesitant to browse for homes online. Virtual office solutions enable these agents to access data, CRM, and other resources while being mobile and also giving them the necessary inputs whenever needed without stepping outside. In addition, these solutions enable real estate agents to build the skills, knowledge, and professional savvy that is required to drive. The goal here is to help agents with better retention and quick grasping of facts with the training imparted in a gamified model. Although most noteworthy is the approach of the new age firms to the compensation model, agents are motivated by getting the options of earning equity and a handsome brokerage fee on every sale they make. The real estate industry is no exception to the change in the working model of the world. Virtual solutions have now replaced the traditional sense of sight and touch but the core remains the same: skilled real estate agents now aided with technology that can enable them to conduct virtual deals and earn success and respect from their customers and colleagues.
(The writer is Executive Director of eXp Realty. The views expressed are personal.)