By Akash Pharande
In the highly competitive real estate marketing space, advertising remains one of developers’s most powerful marketing tools. Even today, with all the buzz around Indian real estate going digital, most new real estate projects get roughly 80% of their sales via ‘offline’ methods – advertisements, hoardings, in-house sales teams and channel partners.
The Rise of Digital Marketing
Digital marketing has become incredibly important for real estate developers. At least 20% of the business of a real estate developer comes via online channels such as real estate portals and search engines. While the hype around Indians suddenly ‘buying homes online’ after the pandemic should be taken with a big pinch of salt, 20% of business generated online is still significant – and the digital share will continue to grow.
More and more Indian home buyers are maturing digitally and conducting online research before making actual home purchases. This was a trend even before Covid-19, but the pandemic definitely boosted ‘digital adoption’. Today, no Indian developer can afford to ignore the power and potential of digital marketing for real estate.
As per available statistics, approx. 30% of the ad revenue paid by a builder is spent on online marketing (70% on print ads). Online advertisement is definitely cheaper and its reach is deeper (though print ads in the right publications are still seen as more effective today). But this will change rapidly in the future. One of the biggest reasons is increased advertisement credibility under RERA.
A Changing Landscape
In previous years, developers and brokers had few, if any, limitations on how they could advertise their projects. The result was an undecipherable mess of online advertisements – endless duplication, often unrealistic and downright deceitful promises, and inaccurate information. Those days will soon be over. Under RERA, both offline and online real estate advertising can only have correct, verifiable information about a project.
This is a significant development. Today, online real estate platforms are legally seen as ‘real estate agents’ as per the RERA policies. The Act makes it mandatory for any company or individual marketing a real estate project to obtain a RERA license from the state where the project is located. This means that these platforms must register themselves under the RERA Act.
Even a contractor or architect looking to market a project via their online network must have their company registered under the respective state RERA. As a result, digital real estate marketing is now becoming increasingly reliable and effective. And, of course, digital marketing is also far more cost-effective than offline marketing.
In short, online information on real estate options is becoming more reliable, and the pandemic has pushed more Indians online than any other single event in remembered history. Apart from digital real estate marketing platforms and developers’ websites, social media has become a major marketing tool that savvy developers learn to use very effectively.
While digital real estate marketing is becoming more effective, there are still issues that need resolution. For example, the online real estate advertisement space is still hugely cluttered. In most cases, both builders and brokers list the same projects on the same online platforms causes overlapping of inventory. In fact, different brokers also list the same project on the same platform.
The result is confusion – and developers, brokers, and real estate platforms must put in efforts to create a more rational online representation of projects. As the trend of digital real estate marketing matures, these problems will need to get resolved. In the future, offline marketing will become less pertinent, and digital marketing will emerge as the more powerful and effective tool in the hands of developers.
(Writer Akash Pharande is Managing Director of ‘Pharande Spaces’)