Just went through some articles on this topic (in newspapers and on-line), thought of sharing few facts from what I could understand:
On-line medium is slowly sinking into Indians mindset; they have started purchasing high value items on-line.This medium seems to bea boon for today's consumers who are so tied up in their professional and personal commitments that it’s almost impossible for them to check things by visiting stores or showrooms, hence they prefer to study, compare and even purchase things on-line, be it a book, grocery or high end jewellery and now of course now its extend to real estate.
Let’s compare benefits and drawbacks for on-line purchase of Real estate. Before we do that let’s understand the real estate sector as a commodity in on-line market;
It involves a built product which is not standardized and varies from developer to developer, area to area ….etc. then there are other factors which influence this decision such as the location of property, the neighbourhood profile, the availability of social infrastructure, accessibility via road rail etc. making this further difficult is to evaluate the developer (his market standing and reputation i.e. brand image) also the cost involved here is much more than as compared to simple on-line transactions of an electronic goods purchases and so on.
What felicitates on-line involvement of customer is of course:
- It does reduce the hassle of visiting the site office of developer physically and the property can be viewed on-line.
- With major property portals giving real time statistical data in terms of demand of the area, the prevalent rates there and availability; it gives consumer an opportunity to evaluate the purchase.
- A developer’s brand image can also be evaluated based on the testimonials available on-line (in other than his website J).
What restricts these decisions not materializing completely on-line is that:
- We Indians still prefer the old formats of buying a home which involves visiting a broker, going to the site and experiencing everything first hand and that to in all the projects in short its lack of trust especially when your life savings are involved.
- There have been incidences especially with NRI customers wherein the company projection on-line was fantastic with no bad publicity at all and later it was realized the developer had changed its name for on-line presence.
- On-line gateway is what we Indians are not very comfortable. We need an immediate receipt for the payment made with an individual hand sign on their company seal.
In short if I have to summarize this debate then it seems that the best for the customer is; do on-line research, short-list property but visit these short-listed property before making any transaction.