Can you buy a home online? In India, you can!

Diwali festival Offer, Sanjay Puri

Buying a home online is the next thing for Indians perhaps! For Americans, online buying may not work— cultural differences play a big role while buying homes in USA!

Think of a thing you can’t buy online today? It is an interesting juncture for online businesses in India even as e-commerce is booming with success. The Diwali season saw some of the top e-commerce businesses like Snapdeal, Flipkart, Amazon etc. doing better than ever in terms of selling stuff and building a strong customer base of online shoppers. With a rapid increase in Internet shopping and the growing number of mobile users using a host of mobile-friendly shopping apps, there is hardly anything one can’t buy online. Ever wonder about homes? Well, Snapdeal says, you can!

In America, there was a time when the most popular way to find homes and apartments for sale was to hire a real estate agent. The agent would send you appropriate listings and look up for “for sale” signs on a street. Over the last decade, there has been this boom in online real estate listings and it has changed the way Americans search for homes. Home buyers have several options when looking for homes on sale today– websites like Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia, Redfin or your agent’s website, are some other sources. In some cities, the local multiple listing service also involve a consumer website. In India, the ordeal has been pretty much the same, except that one can register on websites like makaan.com, magicbricks etc. to sell/rent/buy an apartment. Both the agents and owners can list their apartments/homes and the buyer can choose between an owner/agent.

Snapdeal has taken a step ahead in the real-estate race and is selling homes online in prime cities like Chennai, Mumbai, Pune, Bhumbaneshwar, Benglaru and Delhi/NCR wherein customers can directly book an apartment in their preferred location by paying a booking amount to Snapdeal. The response it has received speaks for its online success (for home buying) even as nearly 10,000 people  got registered to buy  a home  during Snapdeal Diwali fest (8th & 9th November 2015) . The booking of a home is followed by personal site visit and other formalities etc.

It is interesting to see how cultural nuances impact buying for real estate. Not too many people in the US would buy an apartment online. But in India, with the growing rush of homebuyers in cities and time paucity, online home buying can be a success. I wonder if such offers will also attract the Indian diaspora encouraging their investment in the real-estate sector? What do you think?

Do you prefer buying a home online? Share your reasons with me.

Sanjay Puri has been working on Indian-American issues and facilitating stronger US-India relations through USINPAC (US India Political Action Committee and AUSIB (Alliance for US India Business), two bipartisan organizations that he chairs.

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