Kiran Kulkarni noticed that there was a large pool of NRIs who wished to invest in Indian real estate, but could not due to lack of reliable information and sources. So he started working on Propertyloop, in stealth mode, to provide value-added-services (VASs) that would make NRIs more confident of investing in Indian real estate. He officially launched it about five months ago.
What do they do?
Propertyloop acts as the first level of liaison between the buyer and the builder. They act on behalf of the buyer, making sure the builders and properties are legitimate. They also check that the properties have the required approvals from organisations such as BDA, BMRDA, CREDAI and others, and verify the documents as well. Kiran added,
For builders, we enable their properties to be purchased online through our secure platform, and initiate the transactions between buyer and builder.
Propertyloop focuses on residential plots, villas and flats across India. They consider their strength to be their ability to provide accurate and transparent information about properties, through their patent-pending 3D section view, and virtual walkthroughs. Kiran added," We recently added a feature(Link), where by clicking on the wall and cabinets you can change their color. This gives the buyer different color options and allows them to visualize better."
These assist buyers in making educated and well-thought-out decisions about buying/renting properties of their choice. Through their offerings and online listings, buyers of projects (lands, apartments, villas) can virtually walk through the property, using a technology created by Propertyloop's architect team based on builders’ drawings, and book the property online. In addition, Propertyloop also focuses on the livability index of the areas where the properties are located, and aims to improve the same.
The story so far
Kiran Kulkarni is a veteran in the Information Technology industry, having performed various roles in his time. He has spent lot of his time in research and implementation in the field of solid waste management, waste water treatment, and other environmental remediation projects. He is an active environmentalist, fighting on several fronts to save some of Bangalore’s lakes and environmental landmarks. From 2009 to 2011, he was the vice-chairman of ISNT’s Bangalore chapter and also dealt with Aerospace Industries. He is currently a member of CAF (Citizen Action Form).
His entered real estate with Propertyloop.in through his exposure to several established real estate builders in waste management and Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) projects. He has studied the pain points and gaps in real estate portals and wants to address them in a better way, to help both buyers and sellers solve some of the problems in existing real estate listings platforms. He currently has a team of five people across different roles, such as development, design, 3D animation etc. While working in stealth mode, Kiran says,
We first reached out to a few known friends abroad, and then to the Indian ecosystem where they all congregate for social gatherings. During conversations with prospects in North America, feedback our team received from everyone was that we should play an active role in improving the living conditions of the communities that we sell properties in.
To that effect, Propertyloop is developing livability conditions at grass-roots level, by contributing towards lake water cleaning and solid waste management as part of corporate citizenship. Kiran added, "Our first step is the rejuvenation of Yamalur lake. Titan (Tata Enterprises) has partnered with Propertyloop to clean up the lake and thereby create an environment for people to make a purchase."
How does it work
Propertyloop offers a platform for builders to promote their properties through their networks, in national and international markets, and reach out to pre-qualified and educated buyers.They provide for integration with credit verification services, wherein a buyer is verified based on their credit standing in North America. Kiran added,
We also check and certify the feasibility report for the performance of equipment and processes such as lifts, STP, DG set (diesel generator), waste management etc.
For buyers, Propertyloop liaisons, verifies, and authenticates all legal documents and services through their back office.They then verify the actual property onsite, the community ecosystem on the ground, and other buyer-specific needs too. They attain detailed information about the property and the neighborhood.
They consider ‘buyer-driven walkthroughs’ to be one of their main USPs. They have developed a software in-house to generate their 3D-rendered drawings of plots. “We approach builders for 3D drawings of their plots, to generate the 3D-rendered drawings. In some cases, builders only have access to 2D drawings, but we can still generate 3D models from them through our software.”
Business model and marketing
Propertyloop monetizes mainly through B2B channels - by charging builders subscription plans for their services - as well as through ads on the platform. They also aim to earn through roadshows that they conduct at social gatherings at different locations in North America and other parts of the world. Kiran adds, "Different aspects of inventory and sales incentives data are maintained on our platform. We have tight controls and policies defined at every step of the process, in close cooperation with the builders and our team. Our platform can be integrated with builders’ websites to provide integration and branding experience as well."The startup is currently self-funded, and is mainly looking to market themselves through word-of-mouth and referrals. Kiran added, "It is comparatively easier for us to verify the claims of NRIs and provide accurate information to builders, because of the frameworks in place abroad. But, with Digital India and Aadhar picking up in India, we can soon reach that level of credibility here too."
Through surveys, Propertyloop found that their main target audience is IT professionals in the age group of 25-35 who are abroad, or those in India who do not wish to travel to different parts of the city straight off, but want to do their initial research online. Kiran added, "The Indian real estate space is full of many different players, each with different USPs, but the market is big enough for many players."
The real estate sector has witnessed a lot of activity in the recent past. Many platforms have been trying to provide solutions to the consumers through virtual solutions. Housing started of with a map based UI and SliceView, CommonFloor introduced CF Retina. Real estate advisory firm, Square Yards(which had raised $6M) , and online portal, Realizing.in, merged to capture the NRI market. Housing.com acquired Homebuy for $2M, CommonFloor.com had acqui-hired Bakfy at the beginning of 2015, and News Corp has increased its stake in PropTiger.com to 30%.
Propertyloop is looking to further develop their platform and reach out to their target audience through online channels such as social media, and offline channels such as events. They are also considering developing a mobile app to add to their web presence. Kiran added,
We are partnering with major financial institutions to qualify and apply for mortgage services through our platform.