If you’re a home buyer, gone are the days when you need to make calls or physically inquire about a developer or a particular project to get more details. Online platforms like Facebook, Twitter and blogs are now your one stop destination to check facts and opinions about the realty market.
Take Twitter for example, it is abuzz with queries seeking information on projects, builder backgrounds and infrastructure in an area. Facebook has hundreds of pages dedicated to specific projects which allow interested parties share information and even band together into buyer groups in order to get better prices from developers. Online forums are filled with regular posts on the pace of construction in projects, giving home buyers timely information on the status of their homes.
Even developers admit that social media today is the go-to platform to check out what is available in the market. Bharat Dhuppar, the CMO of Omkar Realtors and Developers, believes that ‘The online space comes handy when you are looking to gain information about a project, which is key when it comes to shortlisting property.’
A study by Google indicates that 7 out of 10 buyers know the exact brand and model they wish to buy thanks to online research. That may be why developers are rushing to expand their presence on these platforms.
While there is no denying social media’s power and reach, developers need to be aware that this is a double-edged sword. Take the case of Shiraj Kavathar, a digital media marketing personnel by profession, booked a flat with DB Realty back in 2010. While he was promised delivery of the project within 2 years, he quickly came face to face with the infamous delays that Indian developers are known for. Frustrated, he decided to take to social media to fight for his cause. Today, with about 930 members joining in, the community Shiraj created is a formidable force that the builder cannot ignore.
Aside from being used as a marketing tool, social media platforms are increasingly being used by distressed home buyers to name and shame developers who fail to live up to promises. Complaints here can cover a wide variety of problems, from delays in delivery, to quality of the product, to even extortionate demands for money by developers; these sites help home buyers highlight unfair practices and fight against a builder lobby that has so far appeared immune to criticism. Brand consultant Santosh Desai believes that the tables have turned now, says, ‘for so many years developers have been peddling half-truths for consumers and they have had no defense. The shoe is on the other foot now’.
Not every negative report out there need be based on facts, which is why home buyers need to be careful. In the meantime, many top builders are setting in place dedicated teams to monitor online chatter about their brand and take negative reports head on.
Ankita Sinha, Reporter- Mumbai Bureau, The Property Show.