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    Experts discuss opportunities and challenges in India's online property business

    real estate | IST

    Experts discuss opportunities and challenges in India's online property business

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    Tech-based brokerage-free real estate listing platform NoBroker.com raised $51 million in a series C round led by US-based private equity firm General Atlantic earlier this month. The platform connects flat owners and tenants directly.

    Tech-based brokerage-free real estate listing platform NoBroker.com raised $51 million in a series C round led by US-based private equity firm General Atlantic earlier this month. The platform connects flat owners and tenants directly.
    The investment is significant, as it has come in a tough market for India's residential business. It has come in after a considerable lag in big investments into India's online real estate businesses.
    Talking to CNBC-TV18, Founder and CEO of NoBroker.com Amit Kumar Agarwal, Chairman and Founder of Anarock Property Anuj Puri, CEO and Country Head of JLL India Ramesh Nair and Group COO of Elara Technologies Mani Rangarajan have reviewed the developments and opportunities in the Indian online property business.
    "This investment from General Atlantic shows that there is a huge amount of trust in the online disruption which is happening in real estate. More and more consumers are moving online, so it is the way to go," Agarwal said.
    "Our journey started through residential rental. But our customers wanted to participate in the resale opportunities because many of them want to buy houses and the mood was more towards ready-to-move houses. Once we started doing it, we got thousands of phone calls asking for commercial properties, so we expanded to commercial rental and commercial sale. Now we are expanding to home loan, packers and movers, furniture, the entire full stack," he noted.
    Speaking on business growth, Agarwal said: "We are now adding more than two lakh new customers per month across residential and commercial arena. Our revenue has grown four times in the past one year. More than 30 percent of our revenue is coming from ancillary services which are packers and movers, furniture and home loan."
    Rangarajan said: "I joined housing.com in October 2015 and since then we have grown the business about 60 times. Of course we grew from a very small base but since we merged with PropTiger we have seen a fantastic turnaround story in both housing.com and makaan.com. Last year, for example, we grew about 70 percent across the group. We hope to repeat that over this financial year where we hope to grow the business by about 100 percent."
    According to Anuj Puri, real estate broking is perhaps one of the last few sectors which hadn't been disrupted by technology.  "There are several processes which can be streamlined particularly in the B2C and that can be streamlined by bringing in technology and there is money to be made as you streamline these processes." he observed.
    Ramesh Nair also highlighted the huge potential of the Indian real estate sector. "If you look at the real estate industry in India, the annual turnover is close to $120 billion. A 2 percent of that, and it is like $2.5 billion. Around 60 percent of all deals across the country are brokered, so you are talking of a market opportunity of around $1.5 billion. Out of this, 80 percent is residential and the balance is commercial. This year looks better than 2018, commercial demand is extremely good, retail has clearly bounced back and a lot of newer asset classes are emerging like co-working, data centres, student housing and co-living. So I think the future is quite bright," he opined.
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