LOG ON TO REAL ESTATE
Gone are the days when locating a property of your choice was a frustrating experience. Today, no matter how far you are from the actual location, you can buy, sell or rent out a property from the comfort of your house, just with a click of the mouse.
Property portals are adding flavour to real estate transactions. Aditya Verma, business head and vice president, makaan. com, says: "Real estate portals provide a platform that brings property seekers and property owners together. An Internet property search makes the process sharper and faster." However, due to lack of awareness, most people find it difficult to use property portals. So, if you are planning to buy/sell/rent a house, it's advisable that you know what's on offer on these portals.
It's been almost a decade since property portals started operations in India. However, it was only during the property boom, especially during 2004-07, that they emerged as a force to reckon with. However, even now, most transactions are done offline. In most cases, property portals provide the necessary impetus to start a search. Despite all this, the traffic on these property portals has only increased over the years. "We have about 40 lakh visitors every month. Out of this, 27 per cent come for buying properties, 13 per cent for sale and the rest for renting," said Satya Prabhakar, CEO, sulekha.com. Another portal, Makaan.com, has between 5 lakh and 8 lakh visitors per month and 99acres claims to have 10 lakh visitors every month. Why property portals? Property portals are designed not just to eliminate brokers from a real estate transaction. Rather, they give you access to a large database of property for buying/selling/renting. They cut down on the time involved in property search by reducing physical movement. Also, lower cost of advertisements makes them a cost-effective tool.
BUYING AND LOOKING FOR RENT The groundwork. Before you start your search on a portal, you should be clear about a few things. "In most cases, people jump into a property search without finalising basic specifications. This makes them vulnerable to the opinion of sellers and developers, who try to convince the buyer on their specifications. This leads to confusion," says Verma.
Suppose you are planning to buy a house. Before you start your search, you should have in mind the type of property you want to buy, and your budget. If you have a budget of say Rs 40 lakh, don't search for a house in the exact price range. Instead, look for a house costing 85 to 90 per cent of that. This is because there are additional costs that you have to incur after buying a house. These include registration, stamp duty, broker's fee, etc. Also, you should be clear about the city and the exact location where you plan to buy the house. Have a precise idea of the area of the house, the number of bedrooms you want, floor preference, etc. If you are looking for a rental property, get a fix on the rent you are willing to pay. You can get an idea of the prevailing rentals in the locality of your choice from various property portals. Choosing the right portal. Once you are clear about what you want, you need to choose the property portals with utmost care as well. "The choice of a property portal is no different from the choice that one makes for any other product or service. Products that are designed with deep understanding of consumer insight always find preference among buyers. This logic holds true in online space as well," says Verma.
Your choice should not be guided by the number of options a search on a portal throws up. Instead, look at the relevance of the results. "The seeker should look for the latest property option (by date) and shortlist properties that have contact details mentioned with it," says Verma.
Try to shortlist properties and compare their features. Some portals provide tools for comparison. Store the details of properties which meet your expectations, for further consideration. If you find something which suits your requirements, try to contact the owner and fix an appointment. In some cases, brokers place advertisement on the behalf of the owner. Try to contact the owner as soon as possible to avoid any misinformation and loss of time.
SELLING AND RENTING OUT
You can use these portals to advertise your property. Advertising is an art, and to make it fruitful, you need to have a strategy to attract customers.
Listing the property. To make your property visible, you need to list it on a property portal. There are different plans that you can choose from The charges vary with plans. Some portals provide free listings for the first few days. Find out about them and make use of those offers. "List your property on all portals under the free listing option for the widest reach. But at the same time, rely more on the paid listing if the portal caters to the region where your property is located." says Rajan Sastri, a real estate consultant.
Listing properties on property portal is a simple process. You need to provide the relevant information for this. You will need to give, in a prescribed format, basic details related to the property.
Mention your contact number or email ID to receive responses from property seekers on your advertisement. Sastri says: "Responses to advertisements come via telephone, SMS or email. In all cases, respond within an hour. If you are unable to attend to the inquiry immediately, send a message by phone, SMS or email stating when you would be able to get back."
If you opt for a fee-based advertisement, avoid cash payment. Make the payment through cheque or draft. If you make the payment online, use your personal computer. "Do not transact from a cyber cafe. Also, ensure that the address bar of the website's payment gateway starts with the letter 'https'. Do not conduct a transaction when the letters start with 'http' (i.e. without the 's'),"says Deepesh Shah, an Internet security expert.
Key information. While advertising, there is some information about the property that you should provide up front. These include details such as the type of the property, its exact address, the selling price (if you want to sell), tentative rentals (if you want to rent it out). Before arriving at the sale price or expected rentals, get an idea of the prevailing rates in the locality for a similar type of property. "Publishing an unreasonably high price shuts out genuine inquiries," says Sastri. You can also put up details like the time of construction, the time of possession, ownership type, etc. If there is an option to put a picture of the property, do so. Vineet K Singh, business head, 99acres.com, says: "Providing information such as details about neighbours and locality or nearest hospital, school, markets and clubs also helps in selling or renting out a property." Property portals can be of great help, especially while doing the initial search. So, make the most of them.