Real estate portals in India are on a roll, despite the relative slump in the market. Traffic and listings have been rising exponentially, and while mid-sized, moderately priced properties are the staple on sites like 99acres.com, indiaproperty.com and magicbricks.com, increasingly, high-end properties located in plush areas of Delhi and Mumbai are also being listed.
Do an advanced search on any of these portals for apartments, independent houses, farmhouses, put in Rs 1 crore (Rs 10 million) and above as the price criterion, and note the responses you get.
There's a three-bedroom house in Vasant Vihar with Rs 48 crore (Rs 480 million) as listed price, an apartment on Peddar Road, Mumbai going for Rs 30 crore (Rs 300 million), a farmhouse on 2.75 acres at Radhe Mohan Drive in Chhatarpur, Delhi priced Rs 18 crore (Rs 180 million), and many more.
Mostly, these are broker listings. One of them, S K Joshi of Sterling Estates, Lajpat Nagar, has been listing properties costing above Rs 1 crore (Rs 10 million) on the web for the past two years.
"Thirty-40 per cent of my business now comes from the Net. I've got calls from NRIs, who've looked up a property on the Net." Joshi is now trying to broker a deal for a 50,000 sq ft warehouse for a top company, again a contact resulting from his portal listing.
And it is not just the brokers, developers too are using these portals seriously -- Jaypee Greens, Supertech, Grand Mansions. Ansals API has used property portals to market Aqauapolis (Ghaziabad), Orchard County (Chandigarh), Sushant Golf City (Lucknow), for apartments ranging from Rs 20 lakh (Rs 2 million) to Rs 7 crore (Rs 70 million).
Kunal Banerji, vice president marketing, Ansals API, says "The Net is one of the most important marketing tools for us. We've set up a separate division to use the web in a dynamic manner and reach out to an international market." The response -- 14-15 solid enquiries -- has been quite heartening, he says.
Obviously, this phenomenon is the result of the portals' "worldwide reach in the virtual world", as Rajan Sastri, head, research and advisory, indiaproperties.com points out. Another important factor, according to Sastri, is "the fact that with time has come ease in transacting over the Internet".
Deepali Singh, business head, 99acres.com, too sees the listing of crore-plus properties as a natural progression from transactions in low-value properties. "Besides, advertisers have found the responses are more targeted and there's less of junk."
Yash Asher, product manager, indiaproperty.com, is less gung-ho. "Expensive properties are now appearing on portals because unlike, say, a year ago, this is no longer a seller's market, and developers and brokers need to make use of every marketing channel available to them."