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There is always dispute about the role of a stock broker, a financial advisor or even an insurance agent. But very few doubt the necessity of a good real estate agent – especially when it comes to buying a house. Many people, it seems, find the entire process – the homework, legwork, studying the market, legal hassles, making the right decisions – a tad too much to handle.
However, things are changing slowly. After online banking, e booking of flight and train tickets, the e-bug has spread its tentacles to the real estate industry as well. There are several real estate portals which help individuals to identify the best-suited properties on the click of a finger. But the question is, how good are they to displace the agents?
"The biggest advantage of an online portal is that a customer can get a bird's eye view of what's available in a particular belt of the city or even the whole city. The information is segregated in terms of budget, amenities, proximity to the station or a school etc," says Ganesh Vasudevan, vice-president, IndiaProperty.com.
For instance, if somebody wants to hunt a house in the belt of Indira Nagar to Malleshwaram in Bangalore, an individual has to contact at least 5-6 agents to collate some information. Online portals, on the other hand, can help you make an informed list of properties based on your requirements in a very short time.
If you log onto any of these portals, they ask for basic details such as area requirement, price, location preference, etc. Based on the details keyed in by the investor, the portals throw options that suit your requirement.
Internet, undoubtedly, has become a useful tool in determining the kind of properties available in a certain location and budget segment. In many instances, you can also obtain a certain amount of background of the builder, the project and the locality from various blogs and reviews.
However, despite the proliferation of the internet, the services of real estate agents can scarcely be replaced, say some experts. "In the first place, Internet real estate portals only showcase around 50% of all available properties.
A large segment of properties in the high end and budget range of homes are not listed online at all. In other words, a prospective buyer is severely limited in choice. Also, the buyer loses out on the assistance that a real estate agent provides with regards to the formalities and paperwork involved in buying a property," says Ramesh Nair, managing director – west, Jones Lang LaSalle India.
Need a broker for the last mile
"Once the buyer is clear on his budget and requirements, we will help him/her make an informed short list of the desired properties based on the customer's needs. Once this short list is ready, we can provide the details of local agents to walk the last mile of the purchase," says Vasudevan.
Echoing similar views, Pankaj Mathpal, CFP & managing director, Optima Money Managers, says: "Most of the online real estate portals provide an online platform to local agent, where they can list their property. When a prospective buyer visits the portal, he gets the contact details of local agents who finally help in the process."
A competent real estate agent should ideally understand the client's requirements and impartially list all the available options that meet his or her needs. This is clearly taken care by online portals. On the short listing of properties, however, s/he should help you in the verification of property documents and the registration process.
If you feel you can avoid hiring a traditional broker at this stage, it may get tricky. Real estate market is highly fragmented in nature. If you reside in the Mumbai harbour line, you may be unaware of what is available in the western belt from Bandra to Andheri. Also, there are specific nuances in every city or town. For example, the registration requirements are different in Mumbai from Chennai or Delhi.
But let us not forget that the agent is ultimately a salesman. When it comes to your house, you should do the due diligence of the property. "You should get the documents verified by a legal professional before paying the token amount," says Vasudevan. If you are planning to take a housing loan, anyway, the bank will take care of the documents, title and other aspects of the property.
Source: Economic Times
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February 5, 2012