Will home buying become online like any other e-commerce product?

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The option of virtual site visits was initially reserved for NRI customers but now is the new normal for the entire customer base. VR technology such as Oculus Rift devices allowed customers to experience the township, key highlights, and amenities on offer.

Will home buying become online like any other e-commerce product?
As the world slowly recovers from COVID-19, there are few industries and sectors that have been hit worse than others, especially the ones which revolve around the “movement of people”. If we look at the economy closely, we can see that market uncertainty was at an all-time high even before the pandemic arrived. Most of us witnessed a series of shut-downs, revised work models, lower increments, unemployment, etc. As per the research conducted by McKinsey Global Institute, one thing that remained constant amongst all this mayhem is the ability of individuals and corporations to learn, adapt and change.
In our developing nation, it comes as no surprise that real estate ranks second in terms of employment generation. It is estimated that by 2040, the real estate market size will grow up to Rs. 65,000 crore ($ 9.30 billion). As per 2019 figures, almost 5.5 crore people are employed in this one sector. The real estate industry also creates demands for approximately 270 other industries- cement and steel to name a few. As per the government estimates, a greater population will be living in urban India by 2050, further confirming the real estate demand in the coming future.
Unfortunately, the entire sector got derailed in the country’s battle with covid over the last two years. With lockdowns, curfews, social distancing, and loss of jobs - it was inevitable that real estate took a backseat. However, as the entire world prepares for the “new normal”, this sector is not far behind. Major trends have emerged in the market from both buyers and sellers. With affordable housing schemes on the rise, millennials constitute a major portion of potential buyers. The traditional “one size fits all” thinking is on the brink of extinction with buyers becoming more particular with their preferences. Moreover, a general increase in consciousness has generated demand for sustainable living solutions such as renewable energy, water harvesting, holistic centers, etc.
With the economy stabilizing and a recovering demand, real estate developers are exploring new technologies to handle this one-of-a-kind challenge. From revamped online market space to AR/VR site visits, everything is now being used to bridge the gap between the buyers and the sellers. Virtual house hunting is the newest trend on the rise. You can explore any property of your choice from the convenience of your bedroom! Virtual reality lets the buyers visit more than one property, exploring both exteriors and interiors within a limited time frame. No need to step out of your homes anymore!
Despite the fact that various digital technologies have been making waves for many years, they have risen to prominence in the aftermath of the pandemic. AR/ VR tours give you the real picture of the property i.e. a digital experience through a VR set. In fact, in recent months, there is an increased demand for such virtual tours by prospective buyers or sometimes even a video call on platforms such as Skype, Zoom, Facetime, or Whatsapp. Karle Infra has been on the digitization journey since 2018 and the pandemic has definitely accelerated these technology adoptions.
The option of virtual site visits was initially reserved for NRI customers but now is the new normal for the entire customer base. VR technology such as Oculus Rift devices allowed customers to experience the township, key highlights, and amenities on offer. Such technology adoptions resulted in the highest ever virtual site visits by clients during the lockdown. The first quarter of FY 2021-22 saw a 3x rise in the number of successful virtual site visits. And for the buyers who can physically visit the site, the entire process was made completely seamless and easy through the Sales Buddy App. The customer information and preferences are quickly collected and this digital information assists the sales team to deliver a more personalized pitch.
Though these digital interventions have proved very useful, a final physical visit is still mandatory before the closure. It won't be long before we see more people accepting this new norm in real estate and begin trusting the developers more. This trust will enable customers to close real estate deals online. This Phygital experience will define the future of real estate.
Is there anything you should keep in mind before going on a virtual tour like this? We propose that you write down your expectations in advance, including the types of residences, amenities, size, and price. Examine the developer's product brochures and catalogues for details such as floor size, plan, design, and location.
The author, Anilcy Verghese, is AVP Sales and Marketing at Karle Infra Pvt. Ltd. The views expressed are personal