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Sunday , 4 December 2016
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Usability of property portals

Many business sectors in India have received external funding in recent times, something that has significantly improved their service offerings. The real estate sector too has been among the top receivers of such funds, which has had a great impact on the services they provide to their customers. The number of listings has grown significantly, search features have been optimized, and various value added services have been introduced.

With property portals such as housing.com, 99acres.com, magicbricks.com, makaan.com, commonfloor.com, etc., it has become easier for buyers to search and locate the best available real estate deals for their specific needs. Apart from the huge database of property listings across various categories, these online retail portals have also made significant investments in technology to simplify the decision making process of buyers. One of the key technology implementations has been the introduction of virtual walkthroughs that allow potential buyers to experience the real thing, as close as possible.

Buyers no longer have to visit each and every property they may have shortlisted. Instead, they can take a virtual walkthrough and make their decision accordingly. Some portals also allow users to buy their property online, which is a significant development and very useful for buyers who may have limited time at their disposal. Another good thing for buyers is that some property portals offer direct discounts, which significantly reduces the overall cost of ownership.

Property portals have been a boon for sellers as well, because these portals enable them to access a global database of prospective customers. In the conventional setup, the marketing reach of a property seller may have been limited to a specific area or city, but with online property portals, they can tap into a larger group of potential buyers, unrestricted by geographical constraints. Sellers may have to pay listing fee or a specific amount for every lead generated, but it’s still very cost effective from a revenue generation perspective. Sellers also benefit from the reduced cost of advertising and marketing overhead.

The only negative aspect is the lack of a dedicated system that can establish the reliability of sellers and their properties. Some property portals do carry out physical assessment of the actual property and post pictures, but the more important aspects such as financial assessment and establishing the legality of the property, are not accounted for. With thousands of listings, it is financially unviable to carry out such a massive due diligence exercise to establish the authenticity of each and every property. For these purposes, buyers may have to physically verify the involved documentation and rely on suggestions and advice provided by friends and colleagues.

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