Why Dream Homes are not bought online?


Online shopping is the new fad! From a dress to a mobile phone to even high-cost products such as TVs and two wheelers, internet is the ultimate thing for them. However, interestingly, the internet has not really worked its magic for one particular sector the real estate!

While, we do see a proliferation of a plethora of online real estate players, and most of them are majorly marketplaces for listing properties. Brokers and owners list their properties and home buyers can then contact them. And despite online portals mushrooming in this space, the real estate sector largely continues to be offline.

“On the surface, this approach to selling and buying real estate seems novel and even logical. What works against it is the manner in which the real estate market actually functions in India,” says Ashwinder Raj Singh, CEO of Residential Services, JLL India.

Industry players have attributed the reluctance to buy a house solely on the basis of their online understanding of the property to the fact that entire home-buying process is an emotional experience. Besides, buying a home is a cost-intensive investment, which is generally done after a lot of due-diligence.

“The home-buying process invariably involves personal inspection of a number of options at close quarters. Each option is examined from various perspectives including affordability, viability of the location, construction quality, legal sanctity of the project and appropriateness of the facilities and amenities available in the project among others,” adds Singh.

Apart from the emotional quotient, real estate transactions are often opaque and murky, which makes it difficult for a home buyer to buy property online. Besides, a typical Indian consumer has a value-for-money mindset; hence, the real value proposition of a property cannot be understood online. Also, buyers expect the power to bargain while buying their dream homes. This is impossible to exercise while buying a home online.

From a developer’s point of view, online purchase of property will not help in forming a personal rapport with the home buyer, which is extremely crucial in this sector.

“In making the final choice at the end of a prolonged selection process, the buyer effectively accords it the highest distinction among all other personally inspected options. The likelihood of a home buyer making such a decision based solely on virtual information is on par with that of an art connoisseur buying a Rembrandt in an online auction,” he notes.

Singh concludes that while times are definitely changing and the world is becoming digitally connected, however, internet can only be an aid to the real estate business but can never fully replace it. While, we agree with his views, we also feel that with the advent of new technologies, it is only a matter of time when people would be confident enough to buy a property online solely based on the virtual information available. Until then, the good old brokers are at our service!

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