Now, download a home

Written by Aditya Verma | Updated: Mar 31 2008, 04:16am hrs
The property-classified landscape seems to be slowly but definitely shifting towards online. In fact, more and more individuals aged between 25-38 years are looking for properties online. The traditional method of browsing through newspaper property classifields on a lazy Sunday afternoon is giving way to a faster and sharper online property search. Over the next few years, we would see Internet increasingly become the medium of choice for property seekers.

The online realty market is set to grow to Rs 1,050 crore in the next four years from Rs 30 crore now. The major players own about 80% of the market currently. The market is still very nascent, and there is enough room for growth for each of the major players in the market. The industry expects the online real estate market to grow larger than the online job market.

So, what are the drivers for this transition The first and foremost driver is the rapid increase in the number of people who are accessing Internet. India currently has in excess of 42 million Internet users and is amongst the fastest growing Internet economies in the world. Second is the average age of a home buyer, which has declined from 38 years in the 90s to 28 years now. This age group of people spends more time on Internet than on any other medium. The third factor is the ease and convenience that only Internet can offer. An Internet property search can be done in a few minutes unlike any other medium that may take several hours.

The online real estate business in India has seen mushrooming of a number of websites in the last 1-2 years.

Currently there are more than 50 online property sites although only 3-4 have a national footprint. The basic objective of these sites is to get buyers and sellers together (like a marketplace). Online property websites allows the property seeker to get in touch with the property sellers at any time of the day using e-mail or by sending an SMS. Every week, these websites also send details of properties matching ones requirements with name and contact details of the sellers. For people interested in investing in property, several of these websites give an idea of the prevailing property prices across the country so that they can make informed investment decisions.

Property seekers and investors have benefited from this convenience and have started using more of online. This trend has been observed and appreciated even by offline players like newspapers. It is evident from the fact that leading newspapers have started contemplating their own online property initiatives or a partnership with an existing online player. It is not long before Internet becomes the preferred medium for buying, selling, renting and leasing properties in India.

There is no doubt that by going online, Indian realty has bridged the gap quickly between properties and potential buyers, dealers, and owners in the country. Given the fact that the real estate sector is growing at a breakneck pace the perceived slowdown being seen as just temporary online information on homes and commercial assets is in demand these days.

Not just this, online realty gives overseas investors a deep insight into the business potential the Indian real estate market offers. Among leading foreign investors who are benefiting from online realty are: Siputra Selim Group, Morgan-Stanley Real Estate, Emar Properties, Royal Indian Raj International Corporation, Laing O'Rourke, and Warburg Pincus.

There is no denying the fact that online real estate is here to stay. So, next time you go online, your dream home could be just a click away.

The author is business head,