Ganesh Vasudevan, CEO – IndiaProperty.com
Ganesh has over 19 years experience and has handled responsibilities in manufacturing, sales, marketing and business development at middle management and senior leadership levels in industries spanning across consumer durables, consumer banking, insurance, real estate and consumer internet.
In the first few years of this multi industry-multi role journey, he realized that he is cut out for unstructured and ambiguous situations, and sought out opportunities that were new initiatives within the company. In almost all the companies that he has worked with, including Union Carbide, BPL, Standard Chartered Bank or AIG, he has been involved in greenfield projects which require an entrepreneurial approach to working and figuring solutions in unchartered territories. It was the entrepreneurial bug that gave hinm the confidence to take up the online real estate opportunity in 2011 and starting up with IndiaProperty. He had no prior experience in technology or real estate, but went with his instinct that said the time was right to ride the internet and real estate wave in India.
Indiaproperty is a leader in new property marketing in the residential real estate space, with a 40% plus market share in paid builder advertising. Ganesh share some insights with us.
Q: Tell us about the journey of IndiaProperty.com
Ganesh: IndiaProperty.com is the only full-stack player in the industry in India today, offering unique and relevant products on both the demand and supply side of the residential real estate marketplace. For buyers we are a one-stop-shop, providing end to end hand holding in the discover-diligence-transact journey through our Assisted Search services and for sellers, we provide the most comprehensive omni-channel marketing platform across digital, mobile and offline media for marketing real estate.
Real estate is a high involvement purchase decision, with a necessary offline leg leading to the transaction. Hence, it was clear to me that a vanilla classifieds player will never be able to build a dominant business in this space. Only a hybrid online + offline approach would comprehensively address all the pain points of the buyers and sellers. IndiaProperty operates a hybrid classified ++ model, straddling the entire property search value chain starting from discovery (online and offline) to diligence (legal, technical valuation) and transaction (negotiation, financing, insurance and closure). We have several ‘ahead of the curve’ innovations in digital real estate marketing, like online virtual tours, augmented reality search, virtual reality experiences linked to print media, smart terminals based experience centres etc – these have minimized or eliminated the friction involved in the offline leg of the buyer’s purchase journey, bringing in efficiency and transparency in the system. Some of these innovations have become industry benchmarks today.
Our monetization model is robust, with multiple revenue streams from both the demand and supply side of the market place. The numbers speak for themselves- we are the fastest growing player with revenues growing at an annual compounded rate of 45%. We have over 12000 builders and 8000 agents on our platform with over 20000 projects and 700,000 listings across the country. Nearly 70% of our business comes from repeat orders- our client churn is less than 25% despite the challenging macro situation that the real estate industry is going through.
Q: Your thoughts on the changing landscape in the Indian real estate market right now
Ganesh: There is only one big development that everyone is talking about in the real estate circles these days. It is the long pending Real Estate Regulation and Development Act. The Act is everything that the industry had hoped for and more. If the letter and the spirit of the Act are followed in execution, the real estate sector and the buyers stand to gain immensely in the long run. Mechanisms have been put in place to address all the grievances that the buyers had against the industry. It is truly a game changer and it will be interesting to see the industry constituents adapt to the regulations. In the short term, there is bound to be pain, with the cost of compliance being passed on to buyers. Which is not good news in the overall context of slump that the industry has been going through for the last 8 quarters. Having said that, I believe that we are approaching the bottom of a downward cycle in residential real estate and a bounceback is just around the corner- Commercial real estate rentals have started pulling up and this is a lead indicator of a revival in residential demand. We would like to be proactive partners in helping the industry adapt to the new regulatory climate, be it interms of training agents or in helping build communication mechansims for builders.
Q: What are some of the challenges that are unaddressed in Indian Real Estate both from customer & business standpoint?
Ganesh: One of the biggest issues that the real estate industry is facing is the lack of a single window approval system. The red tape around the approval mechanism is causing a lot of hassles for the buyers and builders. If this problem is sorted, a lot of the operational overheads which adds to project costs, will disappear, and will help bring down selling prices across the board. The other issue is the role of the black economy, which will get minimized with the regulations and use of Aadhar for identification of transactions.
The thought process behind the affordable housing scheme is great. Everyone deserves a roof over their head and an affordable one at that. The problem comes with the supply and demand side. There is plenty of demand for affordable housing but not enough supply. If and when this gap is bridged, many in the middle class and lower income group will have a lot to cheer about. But it will not be easy. Rapid urbanization has ensured that only those who have the means can aim for properties. The have-nots are languishing in the peripheries and slums. This has to change. With the Smart Cities Project also coming into the picture one can only hope that urban planning is done taking into consideration the needs of all the sections of the society. Also a combination of financial stimulus and policy changes can make affordable housing for all a reality.
Q: Do you think Indian Realty Sector should adopt or learn from other countries? What are your views?
Ganesh: Absolutely. There are multiple examples of well thought out and executed urban development in emerging and developed economies that India would do well to learn from- Singapore, China, Dubai, and even Jakarta which is ahead of the best Indian cities. The need of the hour is a holistic approach to overall real estate development- balancing development requirements in commercial and residential real estate without compromising on the environment and placing undue stress on natural resources within an overall commercially viable framework. The sector in India needs to be regulated and with the RERA becoming a reality, one hopes that implementation of ambitious initiatives like the Smart Cities Project follows established best practices from other countries.