Building Search

Gone are the days of websites that were no different from newspaper classified advertisement pages. New property sites offer a host of value-added services apart from listings.
Pritam P Hans        Print Edition: April 2013

Housing is a basic requirement. Just like food and clothes, more and more people are depending on the Internet to buy their dream house . Entrepreneurs realised this many years ago and started propertysearch websites. Now, they are evolving to meet the newer and ever-changing needs.

After classifieds portals which offered just listing services, the Web now has sites with offerings like group-buying deals and niche listings such as foreclosed properties.

Over the past few years, there has been a marked increase in the number of property websites. One of the main drivers is the high brokerage fee and demand for properties.

"In our country, most real estate agents are driven by the margins (commissions) involved. Many tech-savvy guys like me are excited by the same margins and so are angel investors and venture capital firms that invest in such online ventures," says Biju Ashokan, chief executive of, an online property advisory.

"In our country, most real estate agents are driven by the margins (commissions) involved. Many tech-savvy guys like me are excited by the same margins and so are angel investors and venture capital firms that invest in such online ventures," says Biju Ashokan, chief executive of, an online property advisory.

Not all sites are successful. Many languish and get sucked into the Web's black hole. But that's how entrepreneurship works.

A few notable property sites that have emerged during the last few years are,,,, and

With a neatly-designed interface, is a fullservice online advisory that was started in 2009 as a website for new residential properties. It lists new properties, gives recommendations and helps clients acquire properties, including financing

"Over the years, we have added many features and verticals such as home loans, group deals, etc. We are constantly working to improve our online features to stay one step ahead of the rest," says chief executive Ashokan. He wants to provide the level of transparency and ease of search he experienced in the US during his employment there.

"I want to bring about that change here, but transparency in this industry will take some time as things are very different here," he says.

To meet the requirements of its clients, alters its strategy based on location. For instance, for clients from the Delhi-National Capital Region, it factors in the market's speculative nature and lays stress on discounts and group deals.

Ashokan says promotes properties that it deems are good investment for clients. It does not base recommendations on commissions offered by developers.

Going through property listings on classifieds sites can be a daunting task due to the lack of sufficient information. A large number of entries are by brick-and-mortar property dealers who provide limited/wrong information as their aim is just to ensure that prospective buyers call them.

Though most established classifieds sites support images and videos, there is not much emphasis on visual presentation of information. tries to change this. It was founded by a group of students from Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, in June 2012. They wanted to make selling and renting of properties online as simple as buying books/groceries. lists properties submitted by users (who can be brokers or owners) on an interactive map. When you open the site, you find a map which has dots with numbers and a sidebar with entries. Use your mouse to zoom in on the desired location and you will see flags for listings. Clicking on a flag will lead to a pop-up window with images and details of the property along with information about the neighbourhood such as distance from schools, gyms, banks and cinemas. You can also base your search on parameters such as distance from office or school. The site also tells you how long it will take to walk to the nearby bus stops or drive to the nearest railway station.

" has its own team for data collection. This ensures accuracy and authenticity of data. The team visits every flat that is to be listed on the website, geo-codes them and collects pictures and other relevant details before uploading the entries," says Advitiya Sharma, one of the 12 founders of

"We are maintaining a strong foothold in Mumbai and have chalked out plans for our next destinations. Some Indian and foreign venture capitalists have expressed interest in investing in our website. We have already received funding from two investors," says Sharma. The website also has Android and iOS applications to enable property hunting on the go.

You get a flood of calls from brokers after placing just one enquiry about a property. You live with it because you do need to talk to a number of brokers to find the best offer. gives people the option to get the best offers from developers directly through its tie-ups with them. The website has a system that is similar to group buying. It lists properties whose developers have agreed to give discounts. The deals are based on the number of buyers showing interest in the property.

"Instead of buyers going for negotiation to get the best deals, we provide them and developers the tools to negotiate online. We assure property buyers the best discount on booking without involving any credit note," says managing director Raj Sharma.

Through the site, buyers can ask for the best price for up to five projects at a time. They get the best rate depending upon the number of interested people. Once the deal is closed, buyers have the option to walk into the builder's office and use the voucher provided by the site to avail of the discount.

Taking property brokerage online is one more portal,, started in 2012. The four founders of the site, passouts from prestigious institutes such as Indian Institutes of Technology and Indian Institutes of Management, lived abroad before venturing out in the Indian real estate market to make the process of buying, selling and renting properties easier. Operating mainly in Gurgaon, Noida, Bangalore and Mumbai, the website conducts due diligence before listing properties.

"Buying a house is one of the most important decisions that you make in your life. We are trying to make this process simpler and transparent," says Manish Sinha, chief executive office,

The website gives detailed information along with ratings so that you can make an informed decision. If you are still not able to take a call, you can seek help of the website's executives to narrow down the choices based on your budget and requirements.

Maps are integral to the user interface of, a website started by Natarajan Subbiah, who works with Microsoft as a programme manager for the Bing search engine, and Anish Dharmakkam, an Australia-based developer.

This idea for the website came from Subbiah's personal experience. "I attempted to buy a property in Mumbai and the first step in the process was to locate the property on Bing or Google Maps; the whole process was tedious for both me and the seller. This begged for a solution and we ended up with this product that can help other people in similar situations," says Subbiah.

The property classifieds site, which started in 2012, provides information about location, livability, average rent or price and comparison with nearby properties. "Traditional real estate sites have filters optimised for users who have knowledge of the area. This makes it hard for folks who move to a new city or are not geographically gifted. Putting listings on a map enables building of a bunch of new scenarios, which is hard to do with the traditional filters," says Subbiah.

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