Future of Work: A one-stop-shop for real estate is the future of proptech, says NoBroker's Akhil Gupta
NoBroker, which handles $2 billion worth of transactions on its platform every year, claims to have helped save brokerage worth Rs 1,100 crore last year. At Future of Work 2021, Akhil Gupta, Founder and CTO, NoBroker, spoke about how proptech has evolved over the years and what the future looks like.
Traditionally, real estate had a human interface — a broker who connected owners to tenants or buyers and consummated deals. There were no machines, no transparency, and no democratisation of data.
"Back then, everything worked based on how the broker wanted to drive the transaction," he says. This, unintentionally, led to a lot of issues. While dealing with brokers with limited inventory, consumers were left unaware of better properties that they could access.
Internet leading the way for property classifieds
With technology and smartphone penetration growing in the market, the ecommerce market was booming and this proliferated to the proptech sector, giving birth to property classifieds. They became the face to buy or lend properties and it worked well, but problems still existed.
"It gave you the ability to look for houses, connect with agents, and close the deal. But customers were not getting exactly what they wanted."
The same person who facilitated the transfer offline was the same person you had to deal with online. Customers were restricted to the inventory a broker had and sometimes received wrong information, unclear pictures, and had to settle with a property that wasn't meant for them while paying a hefty brokerage fee.
Soon enough, global marketplaces started creating platforms to replace intermediaries with machines and heuretics with data, thus directly connecting buyers and sellers. This led to the transparency of data and enabled better decision making.
"Platforms like Amazon, eBay proved that you could buy a product online based on images, customer reviews and without speaking to anyone or even going to a shop. And the proptech industry soon followed suit," says Akhil.
Building on data insights from the marketplace
NoBroker removed intermediaries, creating a win-win for both buyers and sellers. Owners can post their property details directly. They get database insights on the ideal rent, demand estimations, and so on.
On the other hand, buyers get fresh inventory, accurate property data, data-based insights for personalised property recommendations, and home delivery of desired services.
Once you start giving a service that is democratised and unbiased, you gain the trust of customers and also get free marketers, which snowballs into a high-trust ecosystem and opens up umpteen opportunities.
NoBroker started as a rental platform, but slowly built on the opportunities based on feedback from their ecosystem.
"When we closed deals, people would ask if they knew any movers and packers. And when rental leases expired, owners would come to us asking if we knew anyone who could paint their homes. This trust enabled us to add more services to our portfolio. This way, we also help small business owners sell their services to our customers" says Akhil.
He adds that the beauty of proptech marketplaces is the data and insights it generates. High-quality data enables unbiased recommendations, matchmaking, price estimations, inventory classification, lead generation, and so on.
"We use ML and AI extensively to tell you if you can rent a house at your desired price at the given timeframe, whether your current rent is higher or if you can find a better deal. In simple terms, there is an equilibrium to get the right price for both demand and supply," he says.
Creating a platform for everything real estate
Akhil believes a lot more can be done in the proptech industry with demand and data aggregation playing a huge role. Group buying is one concept that will help developers sell properties faster and buyers get a better deal.
Portal-led property buying will enable buyers to view the property of their choice by filtering their preferences, from budget to location to value-added services, and more. He added that blockchain can help bring property records online, reducing forgery and fraud to a large extent.
Today, NoBroker is one of the leading platforms in real estate payments, a marketplace for movers and packers in India, and serves as a great example of how to build more business around your core offering.
"There has to be a one-stop-shop for everything related to house or land — that is the future of proptech for me," says Akhil.
A big shout out to our Future of Work 2021 Co-presenting Sponsors Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Unique Solutions; Digital Excellence Partner, Google Cloud; Associate Sponsor HP and Intel; and Sponsors: Atlassian, Freight Tiger, Archon I Cohesity, TeamViewer, and Pocket Aces.
Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta