Housing companies rely on technology to hook customers after lockdown hits sales
Realty firms have enhanced their online marketing campaign budget and are advertising on their websites as well as on online property classifieds. Representational image: iStock
With housing sales almost coming to a standstill due to the 21-day lockdown imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19, real estate developers and brokers are offering freebies and taking the help of technology, like digital walk-through of projects, to reach out to prospective customers for online bookings of properties.
Builders and brokers are also giving an option to cancel online bookings with no penalty up to 90 days, if customers decide not to buy after doing site visits once the lockdown ends.
Realty firms have enhanced their online marketing campaign budget and are advertising on their websites as well as on online property classifieds. Social media platforms like Facebook, are also being used for marketing purposes.
"Housing sales have been hit badly after the lockdown. But fortunately it has not become zero as we were apprehending. In the first week of the lockdown, we have been able to achieve 10 per cent of our normal sales with the help of digital technologies like virtual reality," said Anuj Puri, Chairman of housing brokerage firm Anarock.
"We are getting good customer leads on our digital platform and we expect sales numbers to increase in the second and third week of the lockdown. The good part is that people have a lot of time to search properties," he told PTI.
Puri said developers have become flexible and encouraging prospective buyers to book their properties online by paying token amount as low as ₹25,000. Assurances like full refund in case of cancellation and freezing of price are also being given, he added.
Hiranandani group MD Niranjan Hiranandani said the lockdown has translated into no walk-ins or personal visits either to a sales office or a project site but it does not stop the communication process.
To replicate the experience of site visits while sitting at home, he said the company is using a combination of various platforms based on the internet of things (IoT) as well as leveraging virtual walk-through and 3D imaging based on artificial intelligence and machine learning.
"Technical specifications and costing details are communicated through text and voice communication, and the customer is given the option of blocking the apartment of choice by making an online banking transfer," he told PTI.
Asked whether technology helps in achieving actual sales, Hiranandani said the end users are blocking apartments by paying token amounts while investors have no difficulty in concluding the transactions.
Dhruv Agarwala, Group CEO, Housing.com and PropTiger.com, said: "To mitigate the impact, we have come out with various innovative schemes for builders and brokers to encourage them to continue advertising on our platform Housing.com."
The company is offering discounted packages and additional days of advertising, so that developers can build their customer pipelines, he said.
Agarwala said brokerage platform PropTiger.com is using future ready digital walk-through technology and slice view technology for providing a 3D view of buildings and apartments while employees are using video calls to connect builders with customers.
The company has initiated a tie-up with a payment gateway, to enable online deal closure by offering booking payments online, he added.
Puravankara group MD Ashish Puravankara said, "Through our robust online/digital system we are able to attend to all leads and manage the customer life cycle seamlessly. Through our online platforms like BookMyHome and MyPinkHomes, customers can select the project, view the available inventory and purchase a unit of their choice."
Ashish said the sales volumes have definitely dropped but it has not come to a standstill.
Ankur Gupta, Joint MD, Ashiana Housing, said the company has sold around 150 units in March.
"Due to COVID-19, everything has been slowed down, however it is a blessing to have technology to our rescue. We have been doing video calls through Skype, Zoom, Google Chats in order to interact on the usual business and seamlessly coordinate sales tasks to ensure our customers are not affected in any way," he added.
Gaurs Group has started a campaign Ghar Baithe Ghar Kharido Knockdown offer, under which a customer can book any residential or commercial unit by paying just ₹1 lakh online. The balance booking amount can be paid over the next 100 days and units can be cancelled without any penalty.
Omaxe CEO Mohit Goel said, "At a time when the entire country is in a lockdown, site visits, sale, recoveries and construction activities have all come to a halt, we are using this period for investor awareness and through webinars we are connecting with potential investors and educating them on issues like real estate as a better asset class for investment."
Mahagun group director Dhiraj Jain said the company is offering a cash back of 5 per cent of the property value to all those who book units during the lockdown period.
Ajnara CMD Ashok Gupta said, " We have tie-up with several leading property tech companies as well as online and digital platforms, we are receiving decent queries, but sales are hampered due to lockdown."
Abhay Kumar, Chief Marketing Officer, JLL India, said, "With developers turning to new age technology solutions to aid the home buyer, aided with innovative marketing campaigns, we see the demand picking up in the near future."
Brokerage firm Investors Clinic founder Honeyy Katyal said the company is using virtual walk-through and other technologies to connect with customers.
It has launched multiple schemes to attract customers, such as Walk in Nahi, Log in Karona where consumers can book digitally just by paying ₹1 lakh.
"The success rate (sales conversion) is slow at the moment. The crisis has impacted market sentiments for both developers and consumers," he said.
Wealth Clinic CMD Amit Raheja said the leads are getting generated through the help of technology but actual conversion of sales would happen once the lockdown is lifted.