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Clicks that lead to your house

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Clicks that lead to your house


Looking to buy or sell property? There is a lot of information on the internet to help you home in on just what you want

Decisions relating to real estate, whether buying, selling or renting property, involve time and a lot of legwork. But now, thanks to online realty portals, your work has been cut down. These portals help you save time by arming you with data on a locality, the housing project, developer, floor plan and legal checks.

They are also handy in helping you get acquainted with the neighbourhood and in conducting due diligence.

But before you start thinking that the entire real estate transaction can be accomplished with a click of the mouse, wait. While your job of scouting for the right locality or property has become easier, it is best that you conduct physical checks on the property and hold a face-to-face discussion with the builder before sealing the deal.

Buying a new home

Your first decision point is picking where you want to buy. In this discovery phase, you can research on localities based on your requirements, online. For instance, you may look for areas within a certain radius from your place of work. Or you may want to evaluate connectivity options. And if the purchase is for investment, you may want to know how the prices are trending, supply-demand dynamics and how long it takes to sell a property in various localities. Using these inputs, you may be able to identify areas that match your investment criteria.

The websites also offer blogs and reports on how the market is trending. Be warned, though, that the reports may try to paint the localities in a glowing light. But the information provided on an area based on usage data analytics tends to be more reliable. For example, Housing.com has a detailed data science lab site (housing.com/dsl) to visually see how the areas are trending on different parameters. You can see heat maps on price — both on per sq ft and per bedroom basis, presented on a map; these are based on recent transactions that took place in the neighbourhood.

You may also want to evaluate how liveable the area is based on your yardstick — for instance, where are the parks in the area? Sites such as PropTiger provide a score for these and parameters such as safety; you can use these metrics to rank your location preference.

For select cities, you can also see the city master plan that provides information on highways and metro development plans.

If you are buying in an area that is unfamiliar to you, everyday life information beyond the macro picture can give comfort. IndiaProperty.com provides short videos on many popular localities to give you a feel of life in the area.

Finding a project

Still, while discovering good locations, we also have to stick to our home purchase budget. So, rather than find the best location only to realise that it is unaffordable, you can start with how much loan you can get and what home price may not break your back. You can then look at localities that feature homes that meet your needs — size, number of bedrooms and amenities. At Squareyards.com, you can set a price range and visually see the size of the home in terms of sq ft that lies within your budget. This can be further filtered based on delivery timeline and project amenities.

You also get access to sophisticated search tools to slice and dice the available listings and quickly focus on the ones that are of interest to you. Realtycompass.com lets you search for projects and sort by size of the project and soft specifications, such as homes with a large living room. Nearly all service providers offer some form of fine-grain filtering.

One worry you may have is about how genuine the listing is. Portals such as Housing.com only list projects that meet their listing criteria and are verified by them. Others such as PropTiger, however, list non-curated projects also as investors may prefer to take on risks hoping to earn returns.

So, as a buyer, you must check if the project is verified or not by looking for indications on the website or by talking with the online service.

You can also use the portals to discuss with other potential buyers of a project on any clarifications. These forums are, however, not moderated and you may have to evaluate how authentic the information shared here is. That said, the forums do provide a way for buyers to connect as a group and address common issues.

Rather than take opinions, you may prefer to look at project ratings. Realtycompass.com rates projects on various criteria, including developer reputation. Want to do a side-by-side comparison of projects, similar to how you do on appliances? Squareyards.com and Proptiger.com let you do a detailed feature comparison.

An issue that typically frustrates home buyers is stale listings. For instance, you may find a project that sounds interesting and when you contact the builder, you may find that the type of unit you wanted is not available. Portals such as Roof and Floor remove listings that are unavailable. Housing.com says it has an algorithm to estimate when a listing may become stale — based on typical sale time for similar homes in that area — to verify and remove them.

But what if there is no project that meets your criteria? Don’t worry, the sites let you set your preference and send out alerts when new listings come up. And if you prefer meeting developers and checking out what is on offer at property fairs, Roof and Floor sends you alerts on stalls of interest at the fair based on your preferences.

Selecting a home

You may also be keen to look closer at the floor plan and zero in on the specific unit you want. Thanks to technology, 2-D floor plan diagrams are a thing of the past. You can get 3-D views of the unit of interest and zoom in great detail to know the look and feel of the house. IndiaProperty also has a slice-view feature that lets you pick a level/floor, one unit and get a 3-D view of the unit.

Sure, rendering and modelling do not quite make up for the real thing. So, for completed projects, portals have actual pictures and videos with 360-degree views. You can undertake a virtual walk-through of the property and look at things up close. Many portals offer videos of the drive to the home. This lets you experience a virtual project visit and view the neighbourhood.

Still, nothing beats visiting the location and checking it out in person. You can schedule a visit online or through an app and may also get to cover multiple projects on a single trip. But if you live far away, you can order a professional visit report for a nominal fee of around ₹300.

Signing the deal

You may think that professional help — loan providers, lawyers and accountants — may be beyond the portal’s expertise. Not quite, say the portals which are extending their domain of operations. Some sites offer a lot of advice at this stage and help you connect with experts while others work one-on-one with you. For instance, UdayHomz.com assigns a relationship manager who will assist you at every stage; the charges may be nil to actual cost for services such as legal diligence.

Sites such as Housing.com are also incorporating home loan options with special deals; for example, their users may get a processing fee waiver from some lending institutions. Others, such as Squareyards, also work out special payment structures with developers.

Till you move in

Congrats, you completed the purchase process and started your pre-EMI. You can still benefit by visiting the property portals. For example, IndiaProperty.com offers an insurance scheme in association with Cholamandalam MS General Insurance that provides protection during the course of construction. SquareYards.com has tax experts to help you with tax-related questions.

You can engage with other buyers in the same project through online forums. Construction updates on specific projects are available at sites such as UdayHomz.com. You also get alerts on how infrastructure development is progressing. PropTiger also lets you track all the updates, such as the latest price across your property portfolio.

Commonfloor.com offers online tools of help to apartment communities and home owners’ association. These can be handy even after you move into your home.

Selling a home

The services offered by many portals are primarily useful for those buying a new home.

But many of them also help out with resale property. As a seller, you can list your property — for free or for a fee.

Take the case of sellers in geographies such as NCR, who are facing delays in making a sale at the price they expect. To bridge the price differential between the seller’s and the buyer’s expectations, BroEx, a mobile app, lets you auction your property online.

The home is listed by a seller or a broker and other brokers can place secure bids on behalf of buyers. The seller can pick a bid and the deal is closed with the help of the buyer’s broker. The auction service is new and is free currently. But users may be charged an auction commission of about 0.5 per cent in the future.

How about services for buyers of second-hand homes? You can use the portals to do research to find a locality and search online to quickly find homes that meet your requirements.

One concern you may have with resale property is on the legal side. Indiaproperty.com, for instance, offers legal due diligence service.

While a buyer can do the verification on the property that interests him/her — for a fee — the same can be done by the seller as well. A home seller can reduce the sale time by providing a detailed docket on the home — including legal opinion, photos, and videos. This comes for a fee of ₹15,000.

Another concern may be about how well kept the house is. And rather than settle for regular videos, commonfloor.com lets you do a 360-degree walk-through of completed homes. With this, you get a wall-to-wall and ceiling-to-floor view of the property, aiding you in assessing the property.

Rental service

A home owner who wants to rent out and a prospective tenant will find that portals offer something for them as well. For example, you can get information on rental trends in a locality. A tenant can quickly search on specific requirements, such as rent and amenities and also get information such as hospitals and schools nearby.

Portals also provide detailed property description, photos and 360-degree-view videos. And when you are in the vicinity, location-based apps can highlight homes for rent nearby.

All that said, one issue that plagues online rental listing portals is bogus listings. These are fictional properties listed to hook potential tenants. Sites such as grabhouse.com say they use algorithms and crowd-sourced data to authenticate listings. And if you find a place you like and the terms work out, a rental agreement can be created online. Housing.com helps you create an agreement formatted for the specific city. It is delivered to you in 48 hours.

You can also find shared accommodation and short-term stay places.

You can also check specific ones that focus on a certain segment or local-only listing sites.


- by Meera Siva

Source - The Hindu Business Line

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