9 months ago when I had to move out of my apartment in Powai, I went through several days of house-hunting. With furniture and appliances collected over a decade of living, my search was for a semi-furnished/unfurnished accommodation (at least with kitchen cabinets) for a reasonable rent. Searching for properties and evincing interest on some of the Real Estate and Property Search apps meant that your contact number gets shared instantly with either the agent or owner, thereby opening up a channel of communication to discuss/fine tune your requirement. But the actual result of this exercise was that I ended up with a contact list of agents/brokers who worked as a liaison between me and the owner.
Agents/Brokers: The Liaision
These agents organised visits to these properties, gave a tour of the house/amenities and proposed rental charges (for a fee, of course). Besides this, the broker would take care of all paperwork/procedures, including rental agreement, police verification, Housing Society NOC (No Objection Certificate), etc. The underlying condition of engaging an agent/broker meant that I as a tenant would be required to pay a brokerage fee of a month’s rental. After 3 weekends of futile house hunting and answering endless calls with property brokers, I finally decided to ditch all the apps – Magicbricks, 99Acres and Housing.com. Nothing helped, until someone suggested Nobroker.in that allows you to interact directly with the property owners, removing this layer of obfuscated agents. I liked the idea of hearing straight from the horse’s mouth about the rent and terms. And I found my new abode this way.
3 days ago, I went through the house hunting exercise again for my brother. This time we weren’t lucky enough to find a good property on Nobroker, we resorted to the popular property search apps – Magicbricks and 99acres. And again, all the apps did was to facilitate sharing of contact details between the two parties: Tenants and Agents. The owner is nowhere in the picture. It was a repeat of my first experience – visiting properties with agents, checking amenities and societies and discussing rental rates with them.
I have nothing against brokers or their brokerage fee, but why create an app to list properties that shares only contact details of tenants/brokers.
Disclaimer: All the suggestions below are for renting properties only.
How property apps can help
Fine-tune the search – Apps currently allow users to search for type of property (residential/commercial, etc.), size of property (1 BHK – 4 BHK), level of furnishing and budget (rent range agreeable by tenant) in an area/nearby localities.
Only on physically visiting the property does the tenant get to know about the following:
A. Society bylaws – most societies prefer their members to lease to family only and not singles
B. Amenities available and rates applicable to use these
C. Feng Shui/Vaastu compliance – The direction of the front door, orientation of kitchen, wall colours, etc.
List Owner Preferences – This is a must.
Most owners have prejudices regarding eating habits, names and number of people occupying their property. This includes:
A. Some owners prefer their tenants to be vegetarians, but can accommodate meat-eating tenants
B. Some have restrictions on the religion that tenants follow
C. Some have restrictions on the number of people/children on their properties
D. Most importantly, some have restrictions on where their tenants work. They prefer salaried tenants over businessmen or freelancers. Working in show business (read television/movies), keeping odd hours are a strict no no. Don’t ask me why. That is the topic for another blog post. 😦
Collect Feedback – Currently, there is no provision for tenants visiting a place to record any feedback/observations about a property.
While there are pictures and videos/video tours about a particular property, what would help the user immensely is feedback by people who have visited a property.
If you are looking for a quick comparison of property apps, check this.
A refined search, details about the owner and feedback about a property is a first step to help you find your new home on these apps. Until then, it is the network of agents/brokers who will always decide for you.