For property purchases, the action clearly seems to be shifting online. Over the last four years in India, real estate transactions to the tune of $43 billion (around Rs 2.6 lakh crore at current exchange rate) have been influenced by research done on the internet, says a study by Google. When segmented, it is residential real estate that takes the lion’s share of transactions at $31 billion (Rs 1.8 lakh crore).
“It is clear that internet today, is emerging as the top destination for researching before finalising any high value purchase and the consumer behaviour is no different for real estate purchases. Real estate queries on Google search have been growing consistently registering over 3x growth in the last three years, the rate of query growth is even higher for tier-II cities and growing at over 350 per cent. Our search query data shows that over 53 per cent search queries are done with clear purchase intent,” says Nitin Bawankule, industry director, Google India.
Even as buyers are carrying out research and studying the options through the internet, buying a home is a protracted affair. Some developers, however, have tasted success in selling a home online. One such developer is Tata Housing. “Last year Tata Housing participated in one of the largest online shopping festival — Google Online Shopping Festival — and had set an extraordinary record of selling more than 50 homes online with sales totalling more than Rs 25 crore in just four days,” says A Harikesh, senior vice president, marketing and sales, Tata Housing Development Company.
While the case of Tata Housing may be unique, most developers are warming up to the potential of the internet as a marketing medium and also the changing profile of the buyer who is younger, tech-savvy and is seeking information and transparency in dealings with the developer.
“There was a considerable amount of change aversion among Indian developers in the past. The general feeling was that it was a ‘new age’ medium with little potential to catalyse actual sales. This mind-set has changed drastically over the past few years, and developers are now making active use of digital media for marketing properties,” says Kishor Pate, chairman and managing director, Amit Enterprises Housing Ltd, a Pune-based developer.
Bawankule adds that his survey found 48 per cent of purchase decisions in tier-II cities such as Pune being influenced by the internet, which is fast catching up with the