The Switch From Physical to Digital: Technology Transforming the Real Estate Ecosystem The real estate sector is not only striving to ensure business continuity but also looking to serve customers more seamlessly than ever before

By Amit Agarwal

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Indian realty has undergone a massive digital transformation in the wake of COVID-19. All major physical property transactions have rapidly digitalized and ushered in myriad new possibilities for the sector and necessitated better ways of doing business. The real estate sector is not only striving to ensure business continuity but also looking to serve customers more seamlessly than ever before. But how? Read on to see how all real estate services can be availed under one roof.

Virtual walkthroughs

Looking out for accommodation in the pre-COVID era was a tiresome activity. The entire process, including discovering, shortlisting, and then finally buying/renting a property, involved extensive toiling for both sellers and buyers as it was a manual process comprising many property visits and never-ending negotiations.

But due to COVID-19 breakout and the ensuing lockdowns, when physical meetings and visits became impossible, real estate platform quickly improvised through virtual tours or video walkthroughs. Buyers and tenants could shortlist properties online and book/rent the best suitable option without hopping from property to property.

Since it is both convenient and safe, this trend is here to stay as buyers, sellers and tenants have easily adopted this approach. More than just a necessary step to keep the business going, video walkthroughs have immense potential to transform the real estate sector.

Adding a layer of convenience with cutting-edge technology

While tech innovations such as artificial intelligence, data analytics, and machine learning have transformed several sectors, their intelligent application in the realty space is as novel as it is ground-breaking. For instance, one of the major pain points for customers in the past was scanning thousands of listed properties to find a suitable one. Since customers look for different options keeping various factors in mind, including location, commuting, livability, etc., it wasn't easy to finalize a property aligned with all those criteria.

Today, customers can prioritize their property expectations with the property ranking algorithm deployed by online realty platforms. Whether they are looking for a semi-furnished flat or a full-furnished villa, whether they emphasize commuting options or proximity to entertainment options like malls, technology can help customers zero-in on exactly what they want. If someone is looking for a property, algorithms can find the best property suited to the needs of the user basis the travel time (including traffic condition) which triangulates the best area between the office, school and their spouse's office. Artificial intelligence and machine learning help customers make more informed decisions at their homes' convenience and safety.

Comprehensive property management services

Digitization of the Indian realty space does not end at the discovery of property. Online platforms have launched comprehensive property management services for owners who have a property in a different city and for NRI property owners.

All tasks such as half-yearly inspections, repair, maintenance, finding new tenants, and preparing rent agreements, can now be managed using the online platform. This essentially means that NRI property owners or those with properties in other cities don't have to be present when renting out their property in return for a small fee.

Owners also get a rental guarantee under this offering, where they can continue to receive rents even when the property is vacant until a new tenant signs up. By registering themselves into these services, they can keep all the property-related worries at bay while reaping the gains of their physical assets in a hassle-free manner.

Contactless payments

Rent and maintenance payments have traditionally been done via cash, net banking, and cheques. Although a few platforms allowed online payment of rent, not many people used it until contactless ways of conducting business became an imperative. A lot of tenants now make their rent payments online through these platforms.

Home services under one roof

The assimilation of multiple essential and value-added services to a single platform is another innovation leading the change in the realty space.

Customers can now access a comprehensive range of services such as packers and movers, legal advisory, home cleaning and painting, repairs, sanitization, etc., using one platform.

Online real estate platform can not only help customers find a new home, they also have a plethora of related services that a customer requires in his home journey. Thus, customers can sidestep the added burden of seeking out other service providers for such tasks. Even home-loans can be availed under the same roof. It makes the entire user journey truly immersive and fulfilling, thus saving customers from various hassles that may eventually force them to postpone the transaction.

While these were some of the benefits offered to tenants and property owners, proptech also make lives of society residents convenient and secure by giving them access to a plethora of services under one roof.

Apart from bringing new challenges to the table, COVID-19 has also created new growth opportunities. To leverage these opportunities, being agile, flexible, and adaptable is no longer a philosophy, but a necessity to thrive now and beyond. The forward-looking ideas behind these new methodologies of tackling challenges and serving customers are praiseworthy. These innovations indicate how brands and businesses have reshaped their existing working models and come up with creative and tech-driven solutions to overcome the real estate challenges in the new normal. Digitisation in real estate is poised to change the sector for good. It is just ironic that a pandemic is what it took to show the amazing possibilities that the sector is capable of.

Amit Agarwal

Co-founder and CEO of

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