All over the world, the internet is changing societies; from how people book their holidays to how they purchase property. In the real estate industry, the internet has already made huge waves. The movement away from traditional methods for searching for property and towards a digital approach is particularly noticeable in the emerging markets. This trend parallels the rise in internet penetration in emerging markets, particularly in Asia and Latin America.
Rising internet penetration levels
In Bangladesh, 30% of the population now use the internet. The number of internet users has grown by 12% since January 2014. 70% of Bangladesh’s web traffic originates from mobile phones and 29% from desktops and laptops (We Are Social Singapore, 2015). In Pakistan, it seems that desktop computers are more popular than in Bangladesh, at least when it comes to searching for property, since 68% of hits on lamudi.pk last year were from desktop computers. Meanwhile in Sri Lanka, internet penetration is still quite low (between 20 and 25%). However, this level is also increasing rapidly. Interestingly, most searches for Sri Lankan property on lamudi.lk actually come from people abroad; mostly from international investors looking to move or invest in property on the increasingly popular island.
Online and transparent
These days, people are looking for a convenient way to find property. Modern house hunters in the digital age value ease of access; they want to be able to buy and sell property anytime, anywhere. People simply don’t have the time or the inclination to list their own properties or trawl through newspapers and paper advertisements themselves. This is why using property apps and websites are becoming much more popular than before. Online security is improving, and people are opting for online property portals more than ever. Lamudi is paving the way to online real estate in many emerging markets.
“What we see now is people using the Lamudi app on their way to work, on their lunch break and whenever they have a free moment,” said Saad Arshed, founder of Lamudi Pakistan—the online property platform. Before, searching for a place to rent or buy was a major ordeal, the shift online means people can look for property very casually, in their own time,” said Arshed
House hunters in emerging markets are keen to use online platforms because they provide them with a transparent way of making transactions. The Lamudi platform is recognized as a trustworthy site, helping people to find and purchase property in a legitimate and transparent way.
A range of devices
In order to access online property portals, it is no longer necessary to turn on your desktop computer and log in. The rise of the smartphone in emerging markets means that increasing numbers of house hunters are using the Lamudi app on their phone. Data from Bangladesh shows that 70% of the country’s web traffic originates from mobile phones and 29% from desktops and laptops. However, in general, desktop property hunting still seems to be ahead of property searches using mobile devices. In Pakistan, only 7% of Lamudi users accessed the site using a tablet. It would not be surprising if this number increased within the years to come, as tablets are likely to become more affordable and usable, and therefore their usage for property searches is likely to increase.
Demographic trends and the future
Generally, young people tend to be more keen to use online methods for house hunting than older people. In Mexico, those between 25 and 34 years old are the most likely to search for property online using Lamudi. A recent survey showed that 60.1% of those who search for property in Mexico were women, but it is unclear whether this trend is common in other countries.
The latest revolutionary technology to make a huge splash in the ocean of real estate is virtual reality (VR). Consumers are now purchasing VR headsets and all the gear they need to enter the exciting world of virtual reality. Digital progress is not set to slow down anytime soon, and it will be fascinating to see the impact that VR will make on real estate in the future.