Real estate developers are working around the challenges to come up with new ways to attract buyers, especially with the use of tech-based solutions.
Owing to the on-going pandemic and the resulting lockdown, prospective buyers are stranded at home and are reluctant to move outside, which has severely affected the buyer-seller relationship across sectors. However, the changing scenario has required both the supply and demand side to adapt to newer ways to look at the real estate sector. The lockdown has compelled stakeholders to increase the use of digital platforms and technology in this sector, according to Proptiger Research.
It says real estate developers are working around the challenges to come up with new ways to attract buyers, especially with the use of tech-based solutions. As the lockdown has hampered physical visits to the site and communication, developers are investing in online platforms including the ability to book homes online and innovative ways to simulate the physical experience of the property for the home-bound buyers. Drone shoots, virtual tours, and online booking platforms are gaining more prominence, as the number of online buyers increase.
While the ‘Digital India’ campaign by the Government of India was started in 2015, with the vision ‘to transform India into a digitally empowered society’, the lockdown has given a greater impetus for home-bound citizens to use digital platforms. Though the use of such platforms for financial transactions and e-commerce has been fairly common, online business transactions have gained more importance during the lockdown. Internet users in India are expected to increase to more than 700 million by the end of 2020; this will provide a further boost to the ‘Digital India’ campaign.
The economic slowdown has resulted in fewer new launches as well as sales, yet on the buyer’s side, use of online platforms to search and discover property has quickly bounced back.
According to Housing Research, Q1 2020 saw an YoY increase of 30 percent in online search traffic over Q1 2019. While online searches initially declined in April due to the initial shock of the lockdown, this quickly recovered and registered a YoY increase of 25 percent over Q2 2019. Even though sales have decreased, owing to the economic downturn, the number of interested buyers is increasing online, as sellers come up with innovative ways to attract them, all from the comfort of their homes.
RELINKING BUYERS USING TECH-BASED SOLUTIONS
Since 2018, drones have been used in real estate during the construction phases. The current situation has given rise to the use of drones as a tool for providing a site visit experience to buyers, where one can see the exact view of the surrounding areas.
In case of virtual tours, 3D models and walk-throughs are being developed to provide a near-reality experience of the property. Virtual reality (VR) is also gaining traction. VR uses technology to create a simulated environment and has its applications mainly in entertainment, and now in healthcare, as well as retail. In India, many residential real estate developers have already experimented with tools such as virtual tours and VR to attract buyers, and this is likely to grow further.
Webinars & Video Conferencing
Webinars have evolved as a great tool to connect with multiple buyers at the same time. The process of a site visit required the sales person to organise site visits for each buyer, which resulted in the sales person being able to conduct only one or two site visits. The use of webinars has made the process hassle-free and more productive, as now multiple buyers can be accommodated at the same time. To establish a connection and to provide one-on-one assistance for further process requirements, the buyers are being connected to the sales person through video conferencing.
As per the report, owing to the increasing online buyer traffic, many developers are now advertising their properties through online platforms. Such platforms provide end-to-end assistance for online to offline (O2O) conversions. Even though the connect is being established with buyers using such solutions, economic slowdown has increased the financial woes of buyers, which has made them postpone their decision to buy by 6–12 months.
Hence, developers are also coming up with schemes to make the purchase options more viable, which include a waiver of registration charges and stamp duty, innovative payment schemes, cashback schemes, freebies, refundable bookings and price protection plans. The use of technology in construction, as well as marketing and sales, is at a very nascent stage in India, yet, the on-going pandemic has propelled various stakeholders to upgrade and explore more in this field.