How Magicbricks Became an Early Mover Of Digitization

Magicbricks started with 5,000 brokers and 25,000 listings in 2006, with the objective to ease the process of buying, selling, renting properties in India

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Operating in the times of hyper-convenience and increasing popularity of 10-minute deliveries, real estate can no longer be an outlier as digitization of services is a business-critical step.

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"Anticipating this tectonic shift in consumer preferences, Magicbricks began to increase its umbrella of offerings to assist customers across search, shortlist, finalize and move-in stages. In fact, prior to the pandemic, 20 per cent of our efforts focused on online touchpoints, which changed dramatically during the pandemic and we focused on removing various frictions to make the entire experience for our customers more seamless," said Sudhir Pai, CEO of Magicbricks.

Traditionally, the real-estate industry has been a seller's market. However, things have changed as customers' expectations are no longer limited. Traditional lead conversion methods such as walk-ins have taken a backseat and there is increased demand for timely, convenient and personalized access to services at the doorstep. The digital savvy customer of today is not shying from consulting a range of online sources before making the decision to invest in a property and demands convenient, transparent and authentic interactions with real estate service providers.

"As the word of mouth moves online, authentic digital interactions are the need of the hour. We are expanding our data, leadership, capabilities and diversifying touchpoints to share the knowledge with our stakeholders. Knowledge assets such as MBTV and propIndex continue to be the go-to repository of information and insights for customers."

Magicbricks started with 5,000 brokers and 25,000 listings in 2006, with the objective to ease the process of buying, selling, renting properties in India. The real estate industry was predicted to grow at a rate as high as 30 per cent then and the platform saw an opportunity to assist buyers and sellers with a dedicated real estate marketplace and become a trusted advisor. "Early on, we identified the pain points of our customers in their journey of searching, shortlisting, finalizing and moving into a home. And for the past 15 years, we have made technological advancements and planned business offerings to solve them. There is also growing interest from NRIs to invest in Indian property and we have a dedicated product catering to them."

Like all industries, real estate was also affected grimly by the pandemic. Apart from the overall standstill, the sector underwent fundamental changes due to restricted physical meetings, cautious travel, office closures and work/learn-from-home mandates. The supply of properties was also disrupted with delayed deliveries and rising price of construction due to the lockdown. The commercial real estate market slowed down considerably, with little promise of recovery during those months. "However, as the lockdown eased and the industry opened up, the residential market saw increasing preference towards large configurations (3BHKs), gated societies with easy access to amenities, peripheral areas of metros and rising demand in tier II and tier III towns due to mass exodus from the major metros. While the rental housing and PG market remained dormant, commercial real estate showed signs of recovery with hybrid working models gaining prominence."

As the real estate sector overcomes the pandemic induced slowdown, most of the segments have reached pre-pandemic levels. With vaccination drives and economic activities picking pace, real estate asset classes including residential, commercial office and retail are expected to show strong signs of recovery in the coming months.

Expedited deliveries by developers and supportive policies by governments have boosted the buyers' confidence. "Our PropIndex Q1 2022 observed that the pan India residential demand increased 4.6 per cent quarter-on-quarter primarily driven by increasing demand in Mumbai, Gurugram, Noida and Delhi. Further, we have observed that peripheral areas of the metro cities are becoming hotspots of residential demand driven by infrastructure development."

After a slowdown, the rental residential market also showed signs of recovery as pan-India rental prices increased 4 per cent QoQ during Q1 2022. With milder than expected COVID-19 waves, increasing vaccinations, hybrid working mandates and schools/colleges reopening, the demand for rental residential spaces has increased. "While the recent RBI announcement on increasing repo rates was anticipated as a short term measure to tackle hyper inflationary circumstances, we believe that demand for residential properties will continue to grow in the long run."

Commercial office demand, including flexible workspaces, is also gaining momentum. Similarly, demand for data centers, retail , industrial and warehousing spaces is also on the upswing. "These trends signal optimism and a stable outlook for the industry for the coming quarters."