“NoBroker.com eliminating brokers from the value chain of buying, selling or renting houses”
Looking for a property to purchase or rent has mostly been an agonizing experience for Indians. The discovery process is riddled with complexities, unprincipled brokers, and information lop-sidedness. Although the recent proliferation of online property search platforms has brought some respite to the people, NoBroker.com is quite different in its approach and objective. The platform makes extensive use of machine learning algorithms and artificial intelligence to solve the property search problems and has devised several innovative tools to facilitate a seamless, data-driven discovery and decision-making process. Ramesh Kumar Raja talked to Akhil Gupta, CTO & Co-Founder of NoBroker.com, to discuss more about the platform, its functionalities and benefits. Excerpts:
The role of a middleman in the realty sector is very instrumental in connecting house owners and seekers, although it comes with some brokerage charge which may be hefty enough to make sometimes. In such a scenario, what makes NoBroker.com unique in facilitating services?
The real estate sector is crippled by discrepancies such as lack of access to adequate information regarding availability of properties and lack of transparency at each step of the value-chain. Middlemen have been instrumental so far as there is asymmetry of information with regard to available properties. They show home-seekers the slow-moving properties first with little understanding of what the client is looking for. There’s no end to the harassment caused to home-seekers who are asked to revert almost immediately and finalize the property. Their primary motivation is their own financial gain.
NoBroker.com is not only making the process of searching for a house easier and more transparent, but also eliminating brokers from the value chain with the use of AI and machine learning algorithms to deliver massive cost savings. The platform is addressing the issues of information asymmetry by showing real-time price estimates on prospective properties to home-seekers; these properties are curated keeping in mind the specific needs of every user. All this is achieved without the need to pay exorbitant brokerage, thus smoothening the process of buying/selling/renting houses.
What is the current user base of NoBroker and how many customers does it add every month?
NoBroker.com is adding 1.8 lakh customers on a monthly basis and witnessing 10 lakh customer connections every month. In the last financial year, NoBroker helped more than 1.05 lakh people find houses through its platform which led to a saving of INR 650 crores in brokerage. Also, the company has experienced 300% growth in customers in the last two years.
The mobile application launched by you recently might have attracted more traffic. Can you please tell us more about the app and the services it has simplified?
NoBrokerHOOD app is a tech-enabled visitor and community management system aimed at making life more convenient and secure for residents of housing societies and townships starting with Bangalore, Mumbai, and Gurgaon. NoBroker.com aims to add at least 1 lakh residential communities across India onboard by 2020.
The constant movement of service staff (maids, drivers, courier services, delivery personnel, etc.) and guests make security management a hassle. While most apartment buildings and residential complexes do have security measures in place, they are either outdated or rely heavily on manual registration. Large societies render human staff inadequate for day to day tasks. Further, such inadequate management of visitor entry also leads to day-to-day challenges for residents, such as unauthorized visitor entries, vehicle parking and record of service staff attendance. Moreover, residents are required to respond to calls from the society gate to authorize entry which might be troublesome and difficult if people are not available.
It is this need-gap that the NoBrokerHOOD app is addressing through its unique tech-led approach. The platform offers a plethora of services and features which enable users to manage multiple activities inside residential buildings, housing societies, and gated communities, ranging from finding domestic help to monitoring visitor entry and pre-authorizing guest visits with an OTP. It also further strengthens the safety aspect by keeping visual and digital records of all entries and exits –accessible anytime and anywhere – and automates staff entry through biometric processes.
Please tell us about the technology being used and what upgradation we are going to see, especially in wake of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning?
Searching for a property to buy or rent has largely been a painful experience for Indians. The discovery process is riddled with complications, unscrupulous brokers, and information asymmetry. The recent proliferation of online property search platforms has done little to change this, but NoBroker.com has been making major waves for breaking through the clutter and transforming the space through technology. The platform makes extensive use of machine learning algorithms and artificial intelligence to solve the property search problems and has devised several innovative tools to facilitate a seamless, data-driven discovery and decision making process.
Transit & Liveability Score helps users to gauge the connectivity of a property to essential facilities, while Rent-O-Meter uses machine learning to predict current rent prices, based on the attributes of the property listed and the historical data of the property type and locality. NoBroker. com also offers Life Score, an AI-powered savings report which helps users to calculate the savings they can unlock in terms of time, money, and environmental impact by staying at the right place. Enabling hassle-free and swift discovery is a key focus area for NoBroker.com. Its Property Discovery Algorithm utilizes machine learning to sort, select, and list properties, which are then ranked according to their Quality Score, Liveability Score and Commutability Score. It uses a hybrid collaborative filtering algorithm to recommend the most relevant properties to home seekers, and also employs a Decay Algorithm to ensure that only fresh and available properties are listed in the search results. Interested users are also given real-time demand notifications about a particular property, in addition to instant notifications when a new property matching their search parameters is activated on the platform. NoBroker.com also helps homeowners in determining the ideal time to let out a property through its Property Age Algorithm.
How many installs has the NoBrokerHOOD app amassed till date and what is its retention rate on mobile phones?
Since it was launched more recently, within a very short span of time, NoBrokerHOOD has on-boarded around 25 societies in Bangalore, Mumbai and Gurgaon with 7.5k app downloads. With this launch, NoBroker.com aims to onboard at least 1 lakh residential communities across India by 2020.
What is your monetization model and how do you manage fund?
NoBroker.com generates revenue through its multiple streams such as packers & movers, assisting with rental agreement services and house cleaning, in addition to an array of other end-to-end services for all household needs. It works on a fermium business model. The platform suggests nine properties for free to its customers before charging for a minimal subscription. There is subscription model for owners as well who can sit and relax while NoBroker.com relationship manager takes care of the entire on-boarding process.
What value addition you are going to incorporate into the platform to make things easier for housing societies?
Diving deeper into the residential real estate market, we realized the need for a solution which could make home-stay safer and convenient. Technology has the capability to add convenience and comfort and cut down dependency on humans which is the core premise of our company.
NoBroker.com has incorporated services like rent agreement which is ensuring comfort for end-users by getting the license (rent) agreement work done at home. The company has also initiated partnerships to solve customers’ shifting woes and help the users with services post the shift. Additionally, the company keeps publishing blogs on the platform’s blog section to help people understand the real estate space through access to unique solutions and guidance with a no language barrier. After additions of these facilities to the platform, NoBroker has plans to add more value added services and become the one stop- solution for end-to-end household requirements.
Housing societies have been facing so many day today issues like the constant movement of service staff (maids, drivers, courier services, delivery personnel, etc.) and guests. Moreover, most apartment buildings and residential complexes have either outdated systems or rely on heavy manual registration dairies. Additionally, such inadequate management of visitor entry also leads to day-to-day challenges for residents, such as unauthorized visitor entries/vehicle parking and maintaining service staff attendance. NoBroker.com’s new product NoBrokerHOOD is addressing all these society issues for a hassle-free residential experience.
Since the real estate sector has ballooned to a gigantic proportion, what are your future plans to gain traction from different regions of India?
NoBroker.com is currently present across five Indian cities: Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, Pune and Gurugram. Focusing more on business depth than on spread, the platform plans to consolidate its presence within these cities to solve the multiple issues faced by home-seekers, such as those related to rent agreement, amongst others. NoBroker.com has also associated with leading property developers/builders, which will help the company understand the behavior of customers in each city and accordingly devise tech-led solutions which cater to their particular needs.
The company plans to expand to more cities as well. Do you have any plan to make it global? If yes, which country will be your top choice to do the business?
NoBroker.com would look to expand the company’s footprint wherever a similar problem exists.