Authored by Ram Raheja
Adapt. Innovate. Accelerate. This is the mantra for any business right now and the real estate sector is no exception. COVID-19 proofing the transaction mode is a must for developers and buyers alike. The one silver lining from this crisis is the rise in need to invest for one’s security – and that is what owning a home provides.
This pandemic has reinforced the importance of financial security and people are considering the merit in purchasing real estate assets. As a new normal emerges out of this pandemic, technology will play a significant role in acting as the first touch-point towards driving real estate sales.
The home-buying process requires customers to see, feel and examine the flat before making a purchase. Traditionally, this used to be the first step of the many during homebuying. But, with the advent of technology, this will now come at a second or third stage.
Health is the new wealth and people will be skeptical of any physical interaction with the ones they don’t know and are not sure about the health factor. This will be a major push for the real estate to go from brick and mortar to ‘click and tap’.
Even after the further easing of the lockdown, social distancing will remain a part of the protocol for everyone. The way to expand our reach to the customers will be via digital platforms. Methods like virtual viewing of the apartments would play a huge role along with video conferencing for interactions.
Over the next few months, as things get back to a semi-normal state, precautions will be taken to organize most of the things via online platforms. We are working on creating 4D walk-throughs, VR and different digital media platforms to reach our customers with the presentation of our projects.
They offer a critical marketing tool in the times of social distancing and allow buyers to browse through the projects and explore the amenities without being physically present at the sites. So the first touchpoint with our customers is via automated mediums.
Avoiding physical contact surface and people is a crucial aspect in the months to come. Sanitation has played and also will still play a huge role in customer service. We are ensuring that sanitation tunnels are in place, the whole site and employees working at the site are healthy.
At the end of the day, real estate is the biggest paycheck that you are cutting in life and emotion plays a big role in that. Human interaction is a key part of sales when it comes to a real estate transaction. So while digital mediums are being adopted and will continue to attract potential customers, the actual closure of the deal will be face to face.
Engagement with customers is another aspect where digital could play an important role. Feedback is crucial and helps with during research and ideation on coming up trends to bring about further value additions in our offerings.
Catering to the diverse needs of homebuyers that ranges from s wellness, amenities and aesthetics is a major part of the planning process and feedback, not only from customers but also the channel partners proves handy in here. Hence, we are open and welcoming feedback and suggestions in a digital format.
One part of real estate selling and marketing that we do not see being replaced by technology are channel partners/agents.
Channel partners are an important cornerstone of the real estate industry. While virtual mediums help filter the process, the closure of the deal would be through physical meetings and conversations.
Luxury real estate is limited to micro markets and the role of agents and channel partners is very different compared to other residential real estate markets. Buyers actually have built trust and relationships which channel partners, and that process of investing in luxury projects is something that is not likely to change going ahead.
It is evident that the approach of conducting business in the real estate sector is undergoing a major infrastructural transformation. Digital tools and mediums have proven to be effective and are the future of the way transactions will be conducted.
One will have to adapt and innovate to inculcate automation in sales and marketing in order to stay effective. Hence, digital will undeniably play an important role in the future of real estate selling and improve customer experience. However, it will not be able to replace its human involvement while negotiating a deal.
Ram Raheja is Director, S Raheja Realty. Views are personal