Swifter, seamless, secure: How technology continues to disrupt real estate in India
By Akhil Gupta
It will not be an overstatement to say that real estate is one of the biggest drivers of the Indian economy. Currently, the country’s third-largest job creator, the sector is expected to contribute around 13% to the national GDP within the next five years.
Thus, it is safe to say that technology has been leading the way for the sector to achieve its fullest potential.
The past and the present: Understanding real estate’s technological evolution
Real estate in India has undergone several stages of tech-led transformations in the past decade and a half. The advent of online real estate platforms helped fix the end-consumer challenges to a certain extent. They made it possible for customers to access and browse through thousands of listings from the comfort of their homes. This simplified their search and helped fix the information asymmetry quintessential of the sector until then.
This was followed by peer-to-peer real estate portals such as NoBroker that entered the market to fix the problem of brokerage. These platforms leverage AI, machine learning, and data science to remove information asymmetry and create greater trust and transparency across the real estate value chain. By using proprietary algorithms to replace middlemen in real estate transactions, they connect prospective buyers and tenants directly with property owners. This tech-led approach has eliminated the financial burden of brokerage that users have typically borne while making it simpler to find the most genuine and relevant listings as per their needs.
Innovative features such as Rent-o-meter provide prospective tenants with fair and accurate rent estimates basis the property score, locality, and historical trends, etc. so that they can check whether the rent asked for a property is of correct value given all the parameters.
Some of these platforms have gone above and beyond to provide an end-to-end ecosystem to real estate consumers. For instance, tenants can pay their monthly rents and make maintenance-related payments in a hassle-free manner through a secure digital payment route. They can also get instant and affordable quotes for the packing and moving services from a curated list of trusted vendors when moving houses. This ensures that they are not overcharged and under-informed.
The latest chapter in the story of India’s real estate – the COVID-19 edition
In the current pandemic-hit scenario, AI-enabled real estate players are also making it safer for society residents through society management apps. Apps such as NoBrokerHood combine multiple functionalities into a single, integrated interface to facilitate a safe and contactless medium of fulfilling recurring residential requirements.
For instance, society residents can procure everyday essentials through the grocery store on the app.. This feature keeps them from having to step outside the safe confines of their home. Similarly, the touchless entry feature – powered by cutting-edge facial recognition technology – is minimising physical contact and providing a faster and safer alternative to biometric-based systems deployed at residential societies. In times such as these when all aspects of everyday life are increasingly becoming contactless, the touchless entry via facial recognition is a brilliant example of how these new-age apps are making society living secure and safe.
Society management apps are also solving for other integral aspects of urban living, such as meal-related challenges faced by migrant students and professionals stuck in the city during the lockdown. The situation is especially challenging for those who either do not know how to cook or do not have the time to do it. Here, too, technological intervention comes to their rescue, connecting them with home chefs living in the same society. This addresses the hygiene and safety concerns that inhibit people from ordering food from outside while providing them with a trusted local alternative.
Given the current situation, when safety is of paramount importance and senior citizens cannot depend on many people for a lot of things to abide by the norms of social distancing, these apps are extremely handy so that everyday living is as hassle-free as possible.
Even women staying alone feel more secure with safety features such as intercom calling where residents do not have to exchange personal numbers to talk among each other. Moreover, these innovative apps are elevating the privacy and security of their users’ residential experience by enabling more precise monitoring of in-house security staff. To ensure the guards patrol the assigned area everyday for safety aspect, unique QR codes are placed at strategic intervals within the society, linked to the latitude and longitude. Guard devices, equipped with geotagging and GPS, then scan the QR stick to get the match, marking their presence at the assigned location.
Now integrated with Aarogya Setu, such applications also provide users with information about the containment zones in nearby locations. The technology behind it uses AI and ML to track every single person who enters a society. This use-case is significant in minimising the community spread of the novel coronavirus. For instance, the tracker can let the residents know if their domestic help is coming from a containment zone, allowing them to permit or refuse the entry as they deem fit.
Through these services, next-gen real estate players are acknowledging an evolving truth: their relationship with the consumer does not end once a potential buyer has been converted into a resident. Such service offerings have already become key components of smart societies across the world. As India advances towards a digital-first future, it is safe to say that these transformations in the real estate space are here to stay.
(The author is Co-Founder & CTO, NoBroker)
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