HomeShikari, the real estate startup of the TTK Group that started out initially with a listing model, has now decided to focus on home rentals and property management. The startup has several innovations to its credit including being the first to introduce physically verified listings to the market in 2012, to ensure accurate and reliable information that searchers could bank on. This eliminated unnecessary visits to properties that didn't match customers' needs.
"The real estate market was opaque and had a huge 'trust' deficit. We tried changing this by initially attempting a brokerage-free, advertising-free listing model, along with the right services to boot. But not everything went as per plan. Along the way, we learnt that mere information is not enough and that real estate requires hand-holding," said
Sunder P, Director, HomeShikari.
Unlike in the US, where one can create a data-based predictive pricing model, here, it is not possible because the true value of each transaction never gets reported. Given this situation, many startups that have been attempting to solve this problem merely with technology and no services, have met with little success even after burning through loads of money.
So, HomeShikari that started off as an advertisement-free, brokerage-free model, is now entering into 'brokerage services'.Explaining the rationale behind this, Sunder said, "We did start off in 2012 thinking that the DIY (Do-it-Yourself) model is the right one for the market once you provide information. However, over time, we realized that it was still a game of chance and it didn't remove the hassle out of handling a real estate transaction for the customer.Information was improving but the last mile services were not. So, we were forced to rethink this aspect."
He further added, "We decided to create a brokerage service for home owners because we found that most required assistance to conclude a transaction or didn't have the time to deal with it. And where services can save time and effort for consumers while bridging the trust deficit, there is a clear value proposition.
Over the last year, HomeShikari has been experimenting with the brokerage model on its home turf, Bangalore. It has seen an encouraging 30+% success rate on brokerage and this figure is expected to improve with time and better focus. It has also served more than 2500 clients on various real estate services in the last year and that number includes a significant proportion from the NRI segment. After getting the pilot right, it is now expanding its operations to Chennai and Hyderabad.
The firm has an established presence in the NRI segment through its service,YourManInIndia since the year 2000. YourManInIndia has successfully helped NRIs manage rentals, monitor vacant properties, handle paperwork and end-to-end transaction assistance, while they were thousands of miles away. "Our domain expertise and experience in making things happen, not just providing information, was the key to our success," said Sunder P.
The firm intends to leverage technology to provide every kind of transaction-enabling service that may be required by a homeowner during the lifecycle of a property asset. And unlike the typical broker next door, customers can rest assured that HomeShikari will always represent only one party in any transaction and will provide unbiased advice.
And most importantly, the rental brokerage fee for homeowners is disruptively priced at 50% of a month's rent, while it will remain brokerage free for searchers.