Getting real about sell­ing prop­erty on­line

In­di­ans who in­vest their life sav­ings in prop­erty are likely to think twice be­fore mak­ing pur­chases over the Net

HT Estates - - HTESTATES - Ash­winder Raj Singh

The In­ter­net has in­deed be­come a part of hu­man l i f e for good, and the process is far from over. At this point in time, is im­pos­si­ble to an­tic­i­pate the ways in which it will make our lives even more in­ter­est­ing, fruit­ful and pro­duc­tive.

One of the most im­por­tant do­mains that the In­ter­net has im­pacted is the busi­ness world. In­ter­net mar­ket­ing has be­come by far the most ef­fec­tive chan­nel to drive con­sump­tion, chal­leng­ing ev­ery other known route of grab­bing the at­ten­tion of buy­ers. Ob­vi­ously, the real es­tate sec­tor could not lag far be­hind in the race to har­ness the power of the In­ter­net.

How­ever, de­spite its ipow­ers, t he I nter net has not be­come the magic pill for real es­tate de­vel­op­ers and mar­keters.

How the In­ter­net works in real es­tate mar­ket­ing

There is no doubt that the In­ter­net is im­mensely help­ful in gen­er­at­ing busi­ness, and real es­tate is no ex­cep­tion. Some of the most im­por­tant ad­van­tages it of­fers are: It pro­vides ac­cess to a mas­sive po­ten­tial clien­tele

It is by far the most cost­ef­fec­tive real es­tate mar­ket­ing tool

It al­lows de­vel­op­ers and bro­kers to com­mu­ni­cate faster and more ef­fi­ciently with prospec­tive buy­ers. A lot of the in­for­ma­tion per­ti­nent to a project can be posted on­line, and in­quiries orig­i­nat­ing from the builder’s web­site or via on­line list­ings can be im­me­di­ately at­tended to via email and on­line chats,

More re­cently, de­vel­op­ers have ac­tu­ally be­gun to sell homes on­line. With the help of three­d­i­men­sional im­agery and vir­tual tours, they are at­tempt­ing to in­ter­est buy­ers and per­suade them to pur­chase homes on­line. By do­ing so, they are labour­ing un­der the as­sump­tion that real es­tate buy­ers will re­spond to the same im­pulse trig­gers that per­suade them to buy con­sumer durables on­line.

Wh e r e the vir­tual ap­proach falls short

On the sur­face, this ap­proach to sell­ing and buy­ing real es­tate seems novel and even log­i­cal. What works against it is the man­ner in which the real es­tate mar­ket ac­tu­ally func­tions in In­dia.

A house is a brick- and­mor­tar struc­ture that sells at a very high cost. In fact, a home is by far the most costin­ten­sive in­vest­ment that most In­di­ans will ever make in their life­times. As such, a prop­erty pur­chase com­mit­ment is not one they will make with the same con­fi­dence and de­tach­ment with which they would buy a smaller com­mod­ity on­line. Se­condly, buy­ing a home is all about form­ing a per­sonal bond with the cho­sen prop­erty. The home- buy­ing process in­vari­ably in­volves per­sonal i nspec­tion of a num­ber of op­tions at close

quar­ters. Each op­tion is ex­am­ined from var­i­ous per­spec­tives, in­clud­ing: Af­ford­abil­ity Vi­a­bil­ity of the lo­ca­tion Con­struc­tion qual­ity Le­gal sanc­tity of the project Ap­pro­pri­ate­ness of the fa­cil­i­ties and ameni­ties avail­able in the project Rep­u­ta­tion and re­li­a­bil­ity of the de­vel­oper Ap­pre­ci­a­tion po­ten­tial In mak­ing the fi­nal choice at the end of a pro­longed se­lec­tion process, the buyer ef­fec­tively ac­cords it the high­est dis­tinc­tion among all other per­son­ally in­spected op­tions. A home buyer mak­ing such a de­ci­sion based solely on vir­tual in­for­ma­tion is on par with that of an art con­nois­seur buy­ing a Rem­brandt in an on­line auc­tion.

Thus, a vir­tual rep­re­sen­ta­tion of a prop­erty as a means to sell it on­line fails on sev­eral counts:

It is im­pos­si­ble to un­der­stand the real value propo­si­tion

It is im­pos­si­ble to cre­ate an emo­tional bond be­tween the buyer and the prop­erty It is im­pos­si­ble to bar­gain with the de­vel­oper - and this is a priv­i­lege which ev­ery proper t y buyer, re­gard­less of f inan­cial strength, ex­pects

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