For years they pumped money into the city. They played a major role in the development of realty sector by grabbing the best spots in the upcoming areas of the city and suburbs. But with uncertainty looming large in the economy and political turmoil back home, Non Resident Indians (NRIs) are shying away from the realty sector in the city. Realtors here are of the opinion that NRIs would come back to the city markets only when the market shows a visible upward movement. “People invest in the housing and realty sector for two reasons. While some buy a house for immediate requirements, others look at it as an investment,” Andhra Pradesh Real Estate Developers Association (APREDA) president, Prem Kumar, explains.

NRIs usually take up a property more as an investment rather than for the housing requirements and because of this not many of them are taking up the real estate in the city, he observes. This observation was echoed by other realtors too. Number of NRIs investing in the city has gone down considerably, PBEL Executive Director Anand Reddy says. NRIs usually invest in bigger projects and because of the uncertainty in the market, not many are coming forward, he points out.

“Our projects are usually priced between Rs. 35 lakh and Rs. 60 lakh. The main chunk of our customer base is made up of people working in IT and ITES sectors along with those working outside the State,” he says. As people in IT and ITES sectors are looking forward for buying homes, it has become compulsory for the realtors to increase their online presence as well, Mr. Reddy said.

Most customers are IT savvy these days and hence they access the details of a project online before they settle on a property and hence the online marketing and brand building has become compulsory for the realtors, he says.

Online marketing has given a wider opportunity to the realtors as they can reach people without any barriers. “A realtor has options of going for online realty portals, take a hitch hike on social media or opt to employ online marketing agencies. Depending upon the target, a realtor should choose his preferred method,” Mr. Reddy said. Though they have options most realtors prefer to go for online realty portals, Mr. Kumar says. “A realtor should have a strong brand recall value to utilise the social media platforms effectively. For this reason online portals are still valuable for us,” he says.

With most builders putting up project details online, customers too have a wider platter to choose from. Unlike consumer goods or services, a prospective buyer cannot be sure about the details of a property unless he visits the place physically. Online presence is mainly used by a developer to create brand awareness among the people Mr. Kumar explains.

“About 25 to 35 per cent of customers approach after checking their project details online. Brand value of a builder plays a bigger role in convincing a customer about a project. Digital marketing agencies too play a key role in this exercise,” he adds.

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