If I have to cover all the real estate websites in India, it will take at least a month for me to list them down. Of course it won’t be called complete the very next day as dozen new real estate websites come up every day. Just hit Google with your “city name + property” you will get hundreds of websites like cityproperty.com, cityrealestate.com and so on. Yes, the online retail scenario is as cluttered as the offline scenario. When I was looking for accommodation in Pune someone rightly told me “every second person in Pune is a property dealer”. Not to anger our readers from Pune; the situation is as bad in every major city in India. Given the negligible investment and high payoff in this business there is no dearth of property dealers in India. When looking for real estate in India you will find some 10 property dealers trying to catch your attention but not the real estate.
Same is the case online; you will find 10 different websites but not the information you were looking for. Given the information centric business and the high value of the information one would think online portals would do great business in this space. However; online portals have tapped a very small portion of this market till date. Some of the reasons why real estate websites have failed to capitalize this huge market are:
- Low penetration of Internet in India (7.1%).
- In India property ownership and prices is considered as sensitive information; and they are reluctant to post them online.
- Trust and human touch that a broker generates are some critical features missing online.
- We don’t have a single successful website where all the realtors are hooked in. A single leading website would have given better and faster results.
Let me cover the leading Indian Real estate websites and see how they plan to conquer this space.
The fight is basically between the big four 99acres.com (Infoedge), Indiaproperty (ConsimInfo),Magicbricks.com (Times Group) and Makaan.com (People Interactive). I will also like to mentionin.iproperty.com.
Cubestat (Daily pageviews)
99acres.com: With the early mover’s advantage and after 4 years of its launch the biggest real estate website in India is still in the investment stage. A clear indication of the chaos present in this online space. Info edge ltd (Naukri.com) has left no stone unturned to increase traction on this websites of theirs. From International tie ups with properazzi and secondspace, TV commercials, property search on mobile and recently I received a mailer from 99acres “Professional valuation of real estate a two day training programme”. The websites design is very similar to naukri.com itself which I feel is a bit cluttered. Maybe they can take a hint or two from move.com (America’s leading real estate website).
Magicbricks.com: Running high on investments from the Times group the website is very close to 99acres.com in terms of traction. They had TV ads running on all major channels in India, launched a mobile platform called Magic SMS and also launched an India property fair in Dubai to woo NRI’s in Dubai onto their site. Three years after the launch they have not fared badly but a far cry from a successful Internet venture. I would keep this website into the cluttered category again.
Indiaproperty.com: From the stable of Consim Info pvt Ltd (Bharatmatrimony group) the website has been among the top three for some time now. Running on the profits from Bharatmatrimony.com and investments from Canaan partners and yahoo they also had a TV ad campaign. What they have done different would be the launch of Indiaproperty magazine in U.S since most of the Ads put up by big builders target the NRI’s hooked up on these sites. Lastly the homepage for Indiaproperty is quite clean with minimal cluttering. They would probably need some type of rebranding as the brand recall of 99acres and magicbricks is greater than theirs.
Makaan.com: Makaan.com from the People Interactive Group (shaadi.com group) was a late entrant in this space (Aug 2007). In addition to Tv commercials and mobile integration they also launched a viral with kahanimaintwist.com. As evident from the statistics they are pretty much trailing behind the top three. They will need to pull up their socks and do some rebranding if they want to justify their investments. Well the makaan.com’s homepage is pretty decent and clean without any cluttering.
Ipropoerty.com: Though the website or the traffic is not that impressive I have added this into the list because of the huge investment made by IPGA limited. IPGA limited acquired Realacres.com for a whooping 18.8 crores. With this huge investment they might be an important player to be watched for in the future. Though; their performance since the takeover has not been impressive.
To sum it up this space is still open with no clear leader. Top players can do better if they concentrate on the usability of the website rather than negotiating banner space for big builders. The search box itself is shrinking beneath the advertisements. If they want Indian people to search for real estate online they need to be more user friendly, build more trust and provide more comparative and interactive initiatives.