A year ago, an untoward incident happened at NoBroker office in Bengaluru. Around 40-50 brokers took a forced entry in the office premises, damaged office property and even assaulted the employees.
“This was clearly an indication of the disruption we were causing in the real estate market, leading to huge savings for the customers and the pinch felt by the brokers,” says Amit Agarwal, CEO and Co-founder, NoBroker. He is a graduate from IIT-Kanpur and has over 10 years of experience with PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting.
NoBroker is a brokerage-free property search portal that connects owners and customers directly with each other by eliminating the middlemen.
Property owners just need to take a picture of their properties and post it on the platform with some information, such as property type (rent, sale, hostel and flatmates), locality, BHK type, expected rent, and contact details.
Once the information is uploaded on the platform, the platform does a background check (as it ensures only property owners are registered with the platform) and releases leads to property seekers.
If a tenant likes a particular property they will request for the contact details. Both parties receive contact information and then a visit is arranged. The owner and tenant meet to close the deal directly. NoBroker also helps create a rental agreement.
NoBroker offers three kinds of tenant plans for property seekers — Freedom, Relax, and Assure Plan. The three plans cost Rs 999, 1,999, and 5,999 respectively.
“Users can pick any of these plans, which have different features and can find leads from our side. In this way, on an average, we save around Rs 60,000 on every property brokerage charges, which both property owners and tenants had to pay to brokers earlier. We are currently helping our customers save more than Rs 20 crore of brokerage every month across four cities — Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune, and Chennai,” says Amit (39).
The platform is also offering 'Click n’ Earn' plan where users can share contact details of the house owner and get rewarded. Alternatively, on clicking and uploading a picture of the 'TO LET' board outside any house in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Pune, and Chennai, it also sends a reward of Rs 100 in the Paytm wallet of the user.
Amit says that it’s been two-and-a-half years since the platform went live and it is growing and expanding.
The concept of starting a real estate portal without brokers came from personal experiences the founders — Amit, Akhil Gupta, and Saurabh Garg — had with brokers.
Akhil (35) is a graduate from IIT-Bombay and has worked with Oracle India where he led the sales team.
Saurabh (37) is also an engineering graduate from IIT-Bombay and holds a management degree from IIM-Ahmedabad. He has over three years of experience with Hindustan Unilever Limited.
The process of hunting properties starts in a particular way all across the country. The brokers begin with showing the worst and non-moving flats in the given rental range, which do not fit the requirement. This results in a complete waste of time and causes great inconvenience as one is unable to find a suitable house quickly. Hence, the founders decided to challenge this inefficiency and enable the customer.
This led to the conceptualisation of idea of NoBroker in late 2013 followed by the launch of the platform in March 2014.
The platform, which started from Bengaluru, is now offering brokerage-free solutions in Mumbai, Chennai, and Pune, and has plans to expand it in other cities like Delhi-NCR, Kolkata, Hyderabad, and Ahmedabad in the next three months.
Amit says that the platform hosts around 40,000-50,000 properties, in four cities, at any point of time. Since the launch, it has hosted around four lakh properties and closed 70,000 transactions .
He adds that they will be able to break-even in the next 18 months.
Since the launch, the platform had also managed to secure the faith of investors. Within a few months of the launch, it raised angel funding from Four Fountains Spa chain.
And this process has been continued throughout the journey.
In February 2015, the platform raised $3 million in its Series A funding from SAIF Partners and Fulcrum Ventures.
This February, NoBroker.com raised $10 million, in a round led by Singapore-based venture capital firm BEENEXT and Digital Garage along with other investors, namely BEENOS, Qualgro, and Mamoru Taniya of Asuka holdings.
According to IBEF, the Indian real-estate market is expected to touch $180 billion by 2020. The housing sector alone contributes five to six percent to the country's GDP.
There are many players who are offering solutions in the realty market — both offline and online.
In the online category, Magicbricks, 99acres, Housing, PropTiger, CommonFloor, Square Yards, Makaan, and many other players are offering selling, buying, and renting facilities.
Earlier this year, online classified major Quikr acquired realty portal CommonFloor for an undisclosed amount.
Last August, Housing acquired cloud-based sales lifecycle management platform HomeBuy360 for $2 million.
Last October, Square Yards announced the acquisition of Ahmedabad-based Oryden Tech Labs, which specialises in 3D architectural and industrial visualisation, 2D animation, and creative design. This week, it raised $12 million from Anil Ambani-led Reliance group.
On the real estate startup market, Mayank Khanduja of SAIF Partners, who is also an investor in NoBroker, says that real estate is one of the largest sectors in the country. The humongous amount of brokerage paid by customers every year to the intermediary represents the inefficiency in the sector. “NoBroker is set out to change this. Their scalable and capital-efficient model will drastically reduce the cost of real-estate transaction.”