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House hunting? Let apps lead your way

House hunting? Let apps lead your way

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If you are a techno-savvy and looking to buy a house, here is some great news. You can now find your dream home on your mobile phone using apps built exclusively to provide real estate information.

With real estate companies developing apps that bring all the alternatives to your fingertips, gone are the days when a property search involved poring over endless reams of classifieds.

"There used to be a time when an entire family came and 5-10 meetings (happened) before a decision was taken. The great thing about an app is when a customer wishes to communicate, she can. So the choice is the customer's," said Dharmesh Jain, chairman and managing director of Nirmal Lifestyle, which has its own app (eponymously named Nirmal).

IndiaProperty, a real estate portal, has an app which serves as one of its building blocks for customer relations. The USP, or unique selling proposition, of the application is augmented reality which helps users find properties by merely pointing their phone in a particular direction.

"The swing in smartphones sales and the increasing adaptation of smartphones recently have made it really possible to put the entire user experience on the phone in your pocket. So it's like accessing seven lakh properties at any point of time, and that is what prompted us to look at how we could leverage mobile technologies and put what we have on the website also on the mobile phone," Ganesh Vasudevan, CEO of Indiaproperty.com, told NDTV.

And the apps are catching on.

"The numbers are speaking... we have seen an increase in the number of downloads of the applications," said Annie Mathew, director of alliance and business development at BlackBerry.

While most of these apps are for free, somewhat adding to their allure, the trend of using paid apps for real estate, seen in Western countries, is fast catching up.

"We do have free applications. But not quite as good as if you pay a couple of dollars to get a better application," an Australian expat said.

Why go for apps in the first place?
For starters, applications have access to the data that sometimes even brokers don't.

Be it an Android, BlackBerry or any other operating system, the apps are available across the board, making your life a lot simpler.

Moreover, apps have come a long way from a single feature to boasting multiple ones like buy or sell results, measurement apps, and augmented reality. The demand is now for a single application encompassing all features that caters to anybody and everybody.

While some developers are also using chat-based operating systems like BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) in their apps, some others are giving people the option to scan the QR or 'quick response' code of their advertisements that takes you to the company's homepage without having to use the commands on a mobile device.

"Developers (have) found us a great opportunity because now they have brought in technology to make the whole thing user friendly, BBM connected. So you have chat integrated into the entire workflow of a real estate application," BlackBerry's Ms Mathew said.

Industry is looking to add more features to such applications.

Mr Vasudevan said an app should ideally have a locality-based feature which can use the mobile phone's GPS location and the previous search history to suggest property options.

"If I am interested in a particular area and have already done a search and not found anything that suits my requirement, and if I am listed on the site, the next time I am in that area, it (should) recognize that and push notifications out," Mr Vasudevan said.

Ms Mathew said the scope of virtual reality needs to be enhanced. "Just imagine... being able to walk outside in the locality where your flat is, virtually, and walk inside an apartment before you buy it. I think it is very exciting," she said.

Story first published on: March 13, 2013 14:45 (IST)

Tags: house, real estate, property, apps


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