Do property portals really make life easier? Here is an analysis of three of them
Do you find it boring to rift through property ads, list homes, call brokers, visit sites and so on and on? With property portals, all this work is simplified. So they say. But just how helpful are these portals? We decided to check out the functionality of three such – indiaproperty.com, propertywala.com and 99acres.com – across three main criteria, the home page, target property page, and finally the features on offer. Here are our findings.
The Home Page usually plays the biggest role in diverting traffic; it’s either easy to navigate or you lose the user. Indiaproperty and 99acres appear to have similar homepages, with a search bar on top, where users can look for properties in a chosen city and locality. Below are a series of hot properties, followed by an exhaustive list of available real estate. Propertywala, on the other hand, has a far simpler homepage, with a search and drop-down menu, a few hot properties, numbers of dealers and builders, and information about the site.
Saurabh Gupta, CEO, Propertywala.com, points out that prospective buyers get a unified search form on the homepage without worrying about registration or login. “When required, an account is automatically created for the user.” 99acres allows buyers and sellers to interact. “When someone is interested, they can contact the seller directly or ask fellow users,” says Madhurima Chakraborty, PR manager, 99acres.com.
The Indiaproperty homepage has residential and commercial listings from eight big cities and ten Tier II cities. “We position ourselves as the best place to find new property and concentrate on that,” says Ganesh Vasudevan, vice-president, Indiaproperty. There’s also a quick search panel, where budget-specific searches can be done.
After the initial homepage search, users narrow down to a few properties. Here, instead of the user struggling with numbers and specs of the properties, the websites do it for them. The sites throw up similar properties, help compare amenities and prices, and provide contacts to the builder.
“The drill-down page has some interesting differentiators. While the Indiaproperty site lists target properties with details of rent, built-up area, location map and other details, it also has a metric on the visitors who viewed the property (which country they came from),” says a frequent browser. He adds, “The 99acres site lists target properties with similar details, but also has additional info such as monthly maintenance fees and distance to nearest basic amenities like schools and hospitals."
The Propertywala portal is geo-targeted, that is, pages show local properties, projects, and brokers based on the user’s location. It also has an overview of a property’s geographical advantages and disadvantages. “To prevent duplicate or fake listings, we have contact verifications and checks, leading to a cleaner database and higher quality listings,” says Gupta.
At the 99acres site, users can receive regular alerts that match their needs. The Indiaproperty target page further refines the search, based on number of bedrooms, vasthu compliancy, distance from schools, bank loan approvals and so on.
Property listings are all very well, but what else do these portals offer?
At 99acres, users get updates on price trends and whenever properties matching their requirements come on offer. They get a platform to ask and get responses to questions. Besides, users are classified according to type – NRIs, first home buyers, investors, property agents etc.
Propertywala offers video tours, photographs and layout plans, and a location map with nearby landmarks. “This is just short of an actual site visit,” says Gupta. This site also sends email alerts to users.
Indiaproperty offers an assisted search (a property manager helps you find what you need), legal services (a panel of legal experts), and help with home loans and documentation. These are paid extras but it’s a nominal amount and makes life easier. “For most Indians, buying a home is a one-time investment, so we want to look into everything to help them buy a house,” says Vasudevan.
The site also recently launched a mobile app, a first in the country. This is a ‘visual search’ option where all you do is point your mobile camera in a particular direction and it gives you the nearest properties available, prices and contact details. There is also a push feature, which sends alerts each time you are in an area where you might be interested in buying property.
Buying a property is a time-consuming and tedious task, but portals like these might just be the solution you want.
The portals give you:
Distance chart from amenities
Legal, loan and documentation services
Video tours, layout plans, location maps
Mobile app: point a camera and get alerts
Listings downloadable as PDF docs