Search-to-Settle: How Homes247.in uses data science & tech solutions to enable home seeking in a post-COVID-19 world
Proptech has the potential to do for Indian real estate whatdid for the taxi business and for the budget hospitality market, particularly at a time when the industry needs a real shot in the arm.
Over the past one decade, there has been a tectonic shift in not just the overall buying pattern, but also in the age of home seekers. Fuelled by rapid urbanisation, increasing disposable incomes and the rising number of dual-income families, the real estate sector in India is expected to reach a market size of $1 trillion by 2030, up from $120 billion in 2017 (According to a report by India Brand Equity Foundation), and contribute 13 percent of the country’s GDP by 2025, providing the much-needed infrastructure for India’s growing needs.
At the heart of this shift is one proptech player that is beginning to garner more square footage in the minds of modern-day homeseekers. Homes247.in is a portal catering to the end-to-end needs of modern-day home seekers. The company was started in 2017 by Priyatham Kumar, who, after a career in spearheading revenue growth for various firms, felt that the mundane real-estate industry needed a breath of fresh air and a shot of tech.
He beganwith the mission of serving the new needs of modern home seekers and enabling them at every step of their journey — from enquiry to fulfillment, covering buying, selling, renting, property management, procuring home loans, interior designing and all home-related services from various trusted partners — all on a digital-first platform. Currently operating out of Bengaluru, they aim to have a presence and onboard inventory in five major cities by 2023.
Why Homes247.in is unlike other proptech players
The proptech player is unique in the fact that it was bootstrapped from day one without any external funding, and went on to be profitable and self-sustaining in less than a year. Being bootstrapped helped them be more efficient and sustain against competition from big players.
Homes247.in has also received numerous awards in the past two years including The CommonFloor Real Estate Excellence Award - Real Estate Website of the year 2018-2019; Quikr Homes - Emerging Realty Marketing Portal of the Year 2018-2019; Purvankara Group- Outstanding Performer of the Year 2019, Assetz - Highest Leads Generator 2019, Sobha Ltd- 5 Year Excellence Award- 2020 and International Brand Equity- Real Estate Portal of the Year 2020 (South India), to name a few.
Homes247.in’s highly awarded performance is primarily because they have the modern customer’s needs at the front and centre of their offerings. Their dedication and understanding of the new-age customer is evident in how they leverage technology across all aspects of their service delivery.
To achieve their ambitions of scale and faster growth in the space, Homes247 is in talks with a few investors, while also simultaneously exploring strategic partnerships with ecosystem players to scale, expand and shore-up their service profile.
Betting big on technology in 2020
When it comes to technology, Homes247.in doesn’t rely on third party tools as most lack flexibility and are restrictive with customisations. They have also announced a new phase of proptech development and additional improvements in their current model which comprises an AI-based platform that works on a prediction model similar to the stock market, giving a whole new meaning for customers looking to buy property primarily for investment. They are even looking to diversify their business model further into real estate buying, selling, renting and property management services which include commercial properties and co-working spaces. The proptech player is also exploring community outreach concepts such as a solution where differently-abled users with vision impairments will also be able to find homes suitable for themselves.
The web portal is built on the latest web technologies to ensure a smooth and safe experience, continuously evolving with its robust backend analytics represented in the simplest user-friendly way to the customer. They use advanced learning algorithms to find the best properties based on the customer’s requirement, search patterns and behavior. Finally, Homes247.in has a proprietary CRM, custom-developed in-house with the online-to-offline business process as its focus. These systems are updated continuously with insights received from data analytics. This ensures in providing exemplary service to the customers and clients. The CRM will in fact go on to become a standalone product under a subscription model, which is a part of their revenue model.
Homes247.in is also one of the first Indian real estate firms to have incorporated the complete end-to- end digital home buying system. While the whole world was battling the COVID-19 crisis, Homes247 introduced its Online Home-buying feature called "BOOK A HOME FROM HOME", where the entire process of house hunting could take place in the digital world, with minimal human interaction. This includes virtual or 3D home tours or walkthroughs as well as virtual negotiations and virtual bookings. Thus, already being a tech-driven company, it played its role as a leader among the smarter start-ups that managed to serve its customers without backing out from the fight of COVID-19.
Being future forward
Homes247 is also looking into the possibilities of 5G to leverage the power of VR to innovate their game. RED-AR (Real Estate Data Analysis and Research), their pilot programme in data analytics and consumer behavioural analysis, deals primarily with data aggregation and prediction of various parameters. Their product pipeline for 2020 also includes a revamped web portal with a never-seen-before UI and UX, and a voice-based search engine, among others.
“We are one of the very few full-stack portals that offer services from search to settle. Other players lack the flexibility that we possess and are often burdened with limitations. Ours is also a zero-service-cost model. And, in the future, we also plan to inculcate data analytics as well as full-scale domestic services models.” says Priyatham Kumar.
Beyond tech, their most important partners are of course, their customers. And while it’s easy to see how personal relationships can be tough in a tech-led dynamic, it's heartening to note that the company has seen quite a few of their relationship managers invited to be a part of their customers’ house warming ceremonies.
Serving the needs of the modern home seeker
The housing needs of the millennial and Gen Z population (expected to account for 77 percent of the overall working population in India by 2030) are slightly unique. They look for convenience, service and a frictionless experience while buying or leasing a residential property. Homes247 is tapping into this unexplored segment to cater to the demand; including professionals looking for co-living situations and students looking for student housing, to expand their horizon, as India’s cities continue to expand with migrant populations of students and professionals. There are now more opportunities in buying, renting, co-living and it opens up many more opportunities in terms of add-on services and rentals. Till date, Homes247 has serviced over 1,000 customers with a gross transaction value of rupees 410 crores.
Homes247’s USP is about the entire buying experience of a customer. Unlike other firms who stop at guiding customers to their new home, they handhold them through the entire home buying journey. “We utilise our customer studies and feedback to continuously optimise our technology offerings. Today’s buyer can become tomorrow’s seller opting for property maintenance and renting, tenant services and household door-to-door services. This ensures that the consumer lifecycle value is higher with us than other players in the market,” adds Priyatham Kumar.
To that end, Homes247.in has also introduced another feature called "Homes on Wheels", from its offline sector, where they bring about a rather literal twist to the term "Home Delivery"!
Homes on Wheels is an on-call task force consisting of the best relationship managers from Homes247.in that will aid a vast customer base, especially the first-time homebuyers in their home buying journey. As there are a lot of intricacies within the sector, many new home buyers would be overwhelmed by the sheer size of decisions and paperwork they have to take up. Here Homes247.in guides the home buyers throughout the maze, helping them brave the odds of bad judgement, complexities of the regulations and even the fraudulent factors prevalent in the system. With its “SEARCH-SELECT- SETTLE” approach, “Homes on Wheels” ensures that the seeker gets the best deal and settles for nothing short of their dream home.
Building strategic value through partnerships
Since their domain primarily deals with shelters, Homes247.in’s ecosystem partnerships are quite fairly extensive, running the gamut of co-working, co-living, PG and rental service providers. They also have tie-ups with reputed manpower service provider firms that focus on domestic service & facility management.The after-sales services are covered via various financial institutions, interior decorators, fitness clubs and other ancillary support systems.
Homes247 is also open to partnering with like-minded, visionary investors and partners to expand their reach and expedite their growth across all domains to help them drive the next revolution in proptech.