House hunt­ing us­ing tech­nol­ogy

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - Estates - - ESTATE - Nam­rata Kohli n let­ters@hin­dus­tan­

Ten years back if you were buy­ing a home or tak­ing one on rent, your go-to-per­son was the ubiq­ui­tous bro­ker who seem­ingly had an­swers to all your ques­tions. You would com­mit him with the task of buy­ing a home, and with that your dreams, as­pi­ra­tions, hopes et al. But now your go-top­er­son is the in­ter­net. With Google at your fin­ger­tips and smart phone an ex­ten­sion of your be­ing, you are now an em­pow­ered “part­ner” in the home search, and not a mere ‘client’ in bro­ker lan­guage.

Cut to early 2000, and less than half the peo­ple who were on the hunt for a house used the web while pur­chas­ing a home. In less than two decades, more than 80% of peo­ple use web when buy­ing a house and they use it fre­quently for the en­tire life­cy­cle of a home pur­chase or rent. Home buy­ing in the times of tech­nol­ogy has seen a sea change.

So what are the at­tributes that de­fine the home buy­ing process to­day? Peo­ple now use search en­gines, news sites, lo­cal­ity maps, ap­pli­ca­tions and re­fer to the prop­erty pho­tos, floor plan­ningde­tails, so­cial me­dia com­ments and tes­ti­mo­ni­als of the prop­erty in ques­tion and even agent with vir­tual tools. There is an em­pha­sis on‘ face­less com­mu­ni­ca­tion’ at least in the Phase 1 of the home buy­ing process that is all about re­search. Be­fore even meet­ing once, buy­ers want all in­for­ma­tion and presentations sent. Buy­ers want tobe tex ting than talk­ing. The pref­er­ence is for on­line re­search and vir­tual walk th roughs rather than off­line site vis­its. Once the email rounds are over comes the tele­phonic dis­cus­sion. Since they man­age to get most of the generic in­for­ma­tion from the net, and come to the bro­ker af­ter a fair amount of re­search with very spe­cific queries, speed and ef­fi­ciency are the corner­stones of the new process. Buy­ers have a check­list ready of fur­ther queries which the agents are ex­pected to an­swer. Buy­ers seek valid in­for­ma­tion, and they want it right now. Last come the site vis­its. But buy­ers or renters are sel­dom seen ask­ing agents to find homes for them to see. They choose the neigh­bour­hood and have the list of homes al­most ready based on sec­ondary re­search. Agents need to be smarter. Agrees past pres­i­dent of the Toronto Real Es­tate Board, Richard Sil­ver who has been a speaker and writer about the use of tech­nol­ogy in real es­tate: “Buy­ers to­day are more adept with nav­i­gat­ing the in­ter­net, and there­fore have the abil­ity to eas­ily find re­views of an agent or the best mort­gage rates. In terms of what they de­mand, I would say it would be fast replies their in­quiries.” He finds his team “tex­ting more, us­ing Ins tag ram, P in­ter­est, We Chat and What­sApp, than ever be­fore.“There is a rad­i­cal change in also what in­flu­ences the home­buyer. The list­ing pho­tos if ap­peal­ing and “in­sta­grammable” will clinch the deal. List­ings photo are of­ten times over­looked or ne­glected How­ever they most def­i­nitely play a ma­jor role in pre­sent­ing a prop­erty on the mar­ket and the net savvy buyer. An­other fac­tor is the ori­gin of the house, the her­itage as­pect, the vicin­ity. Agents need not al­ways use logic and rea­son­ing to sell the prop­erty to the client- of­ten times they for­get one of the most im­por­tant tool -- sto­ry­telling! • Home pref­er­ence is per­sonal but buy­ers are con­cerned more about prac­ti­cal fac­tors such as con­nec­tiv­ity, con­ve­niences and se­cu­rity of a neigh bo ur hood. They want to be able to get to work and back home quickly and en­joy a de­cent level of so­cial ameni­ties in the area they live in. Buy­ers love agents who come as a“one stop shop” for ev­ery­thing–from home search to some­one who can give good re­fer­rals to con­trac­tors and ven­dors and in­te­rior dec­o­ra­tors. The ques­tion lurk­ing in many minds is that will the real es­tate bro­ker/con­sul­tant fi­nally get re­placed? May be never, but the bro­kers’ role and func­tion is get­ting re­de­fined. He is and will al­ways re­main in­te­gral to the home buy­ing process.

But real es­tate con­sul­tants need to keep them­selves abreast with the lat­est It is manda­tory that he has an all-in­clu­sive knowl­edge about the prod­uct port­fo­lio, clas­si­fi­ca­tion of the prop­erty and its lim­i­ta­tions, phys­i­cal prop­erty his­tory, lo­cal­ity in­for­ma­tion (ge­o­graph­i­cal, ad­min­is­tra­tive and eco­nom­ics), cred­i­bil­ity of the builder and prop­erty po­ten­tial, data on the cur­rent ex­penses of the prop­erty, util­ity and in­sur­ance. “Mul­ti­ple prop­erty so­lu­tion at times should be the key skill that a bro­ker must have,” says Ma­hesh So­mani, Chair­man Na­tional R ERA Com­mit­tee, NAR-IN­DIA who feels that the role of a real es­tate con­sul­tant is piv­otal for the eter­nity.

Ac­cord­ing to him an on­line search can never pro­vide such in­ci­sive in­for­ma­tion as the qual­ity of the con­struc­tion, de­vel­oper’s pre­vi­ous track records, de­tailed in­for­ma­tion about the land and its deeds, gaug­ing on-time de­liv­ery. Some­times, web­sites can give out wrong in­for­ma­tion. To cor­rob­o­rate facts, the need of a real­tor or prop­erty ad­vi­sor, arises.

Man can never re­place ma­chines. But ma­chines or tech­nol­ogy will def­i­nitely add up to home buyer’ s tool­kit, mak­ing him an em­pow­ered en­tity. (Nam­rata Kohli tracks ev­ery­thing from House to Home, from real es­tate to in­te­ri­ors and cap­tur­ing key trends in prop­erty mar­kets in In­dia and glob­ally)


There has been a rad­i­cal change in the way in which peo­ple peo­ple buy homes nowa­days

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