If we try to analyse the last 1 year of dynamic developments in the real estate sector, one can clearly devise out that the sector is heading towards unprecedented transparency and accountability with sufficient grievance redressal forums. In the era of Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016, Goods and Services Tax, crackdown on Benami property, limiting cash transactions, including linking the bank account with PAN cards for furthering the systems of checks and balances, transparency is the new normal and clear departure from the erstwhile opaqueness. During this transparent and digital age, whether transacting online through digital platforms would usher in a new era in the real estate paradigm?
In the last half a decade, ever since the internet has become a household commodity, digital platforms and websites have crowded up as property aggregators therein creating an interactive interface for necessary interaction between the buyer and the seller. Let us look how the new platforms have shaped up. Earlier real estate platforms only used to offer property listings which are up for sale or purchase, and only purchase options and a contact number used to showcase. But now such portals offer a range of parameters such as data analytics, map based location tagging, e-documents, expert reviews, requisite photos etc.
Through the emergence of these interactive portals, a new era of transparency has ushered in. There are umpteen advantages to such portals. Firstly, one can check the geo-tagged location and authenticate the map and blueprint of his/her property through satellite based location maps. This would also ensure scrutinizing the availability of necessary amnesties and access to critical locations like market or a metro station with getting a clarification of approach to such places. Secondly, options of virtual tours to the property waived the need for buyer to physically be available at the property to merely check the property, which can now be first finalized online and then be ready for physical interaction at only the final stage, thereby saving time and improving the transparency by bringing in expediency. Nowadays, also players like housing.com are offering online verification by experts with grading schemes like offering authentication points. Also, few portals allow online booking interface, which essentially allows people far away from the physical asset especially an NRI or an overseas citizen to assure his property transactions. This surely adds a much needed transparency and expediency in the sector.
Digital platform and digital interaction have been a key stone of Government’s idea of “new India”, hence one can imagine the prospects and growth of this typology of interface and transactions. But one must be cautioned about such transactions, as these purchase portals are not substitute to physical property purchases, and must be necessarily supplemented with physical online research. Moreover, authenticating the documents can be realised by taking help of an expert, which will ensure double scrutiny. Also, check and do due diligence before booking such asset online as booking amount shall be non-refundable in such cases. But surely, this adds transparency, accountability, expediency and ease of transaction within the sector, which was marred with extreme opaqueness and veiled transactions.