Virtual view: Online house hunting rises; physical visits reduced to less than half during pandemic

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August 22, 2021 5:15 AM

In April-June 2021, when India faced the most virulent wave of Covid infections, online searches rose steeply in Delhi-NCR, particularly in June.

In April-June 2021, when India faced the most virulent wave of Covid infections, online searches rose steeply in Delhi-NCR, particularly in June. On the other hand, housing sales, too, picked up in the quarter with most buyers finalising their purchases in June.In April-June 2021, when India faced the most virulent wave of Covid infections, online searches rose steeply in Delhi-NCR, particularly in June. On the other hand, housing sales, too, picked up in the quarter with most buyers finalising their purchases in June.

Homebuyers in Delhi-NCR are increasingly adopting online avenues for house hunting, with Covid-19 accelerating the trend. Anticipating a growing demand for digital platforms that help customers in search and discovery of properties, PropTech companies are using drones, VR and big data to help customers firm up decisions as Covid hinders physical visits.

Analysts attribute the growing clout of digital platforms in Delhi-NCR’s realty market to a rapidly expanding middle class, growing urbanisation, technology adoption and rising internet penetration. They point out that on an average a homebuyer would make six-eight site visits before finalising a property, but with digital penetration and Covid, such visits have come down to two-three.

In April-June 2021, when India faced the most virulent wave of Covid infections, online searches rose steeply in Delhi-NCR, particularly in June. On the other hand, housing sales, too, picked up in the quarter with most buyers finalising their purchases in June.

PropTiger data for April-June 2021 shows that housing sales in Delhi NCR rose 50% YoY to 2,828 units in Q2 2021 (CY) with around half of them coming in June. On the other hand, housing.com’s monthly index that analyses buyer activity across 42 key cities shows that the region saw maximum online demand in June 2021, securing the top rank on the leading online property listing platform.

“First two months after the second wave were disturbing leading to a near halt in buying activity. Once vaccination started to gain pace, real estate seekers hit the search button that was evident from our online survey as June saw maximum online demand,” Mani Rangarajan, group COO, housing.com, makaan.com and proptiger.com, said.

He added, “The good part was that many searches got converted to sales as stability of real estate was already playing on people’s minds. Obviously, the data shows a dip from January-March quarter as April-May was affected by Covid. However, June sales made up for the deficit, taking it to a level above the first wave figures”.

The trend of homebuyers moving towards online platforms and its conversion into sales is also seen in the micro-markets. Housing’s online search results reveal that Greater Noida and Faridabad witnessed the maximum online traction during June 2021.

Similarly, PropTiger’s sales data shows that Faridabad saw a sharp jump in sales at 519 units in Q2 2021 against just four units in Q2 2020 and 156 in January-March 2021. It was the only micro-market in NCR that witnessed growth on an annual and sequential basis, although on the back of a low base. Sales in Greater Noida grew 8% YoY to 521 units in Q2 2021, but fell 55% on a sequential basis.

“Online searches across sectors have gone up drastically and we can definitely say that digital adoption curve has moved at least four to five years,” Rangarajan said, adding that buying a house is primarily the biggest spend anyone does and it involves a lot of deliberation.

“This effort, which earlier most of the people used to do physically, now forcefully moved online and since it’s been almost an year and half we are into it, we can clearly see that a behavioural change has happened and almost 90% of search and discovery has moved online,” he noted.

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