Mark Twain once famously said: “Buy land, they’re not making it anymore”.
Considering the increasing importance given to real estate in any investment portfolio – whether in Pakistan or abroad – the 19th-century American novelist couldn’t have been more right in his observation.
Pakistani people have always vested a lot of faith in the security and dependability offered by a real estate asset. With the advent of digital technology in the sector, the operational mechanisms of the field have correspondingly been altered. Now, we have such things as ‘digital open houses’, ‘artificially intelligent portals’, and end-to-end blockchain integrations that are streamlining the industry by making it more secure and transparent.
Looking back, it seems like only yesterday that people had to scour one site location after another and make time for multiple agents to chance upon a suitable real estate investment opportunity. Buying and selling property today certainly looks a whole lot different from back then; with modern technologies doing most of the work.
Even though this wave of transformation is still making its way into Pakistan’s real estate circles, its impact, nevertheless, is already discernible.
Buying and Selling Property in the Digital Age
Today, anyone searching for a house or plot for either rent or purchase wouldn’t need to exhaust a month’s mobile package to contact agents or expend precious fuel by traveling to an agency office. Rather, the searcher simply takes to Google for sizing up his or her options.
This new-age real estate sifting approach comes with the added advantage of allowing property seekers ample time to do some homework on their shortlisted options before any money changes hands. Modern Pakistani property portals like Zameen.com, as a notable example, offer a simple and freely accessible medium for people to check out real estate listings in the locations that interest them. These digital search platforms, further, offer everything from pricing, area trend and project analyses info to videos and pictures of selected property listings; thereby eliminating the need to visit a site in person.
The same benefits also apply to sellers, who can easily publicize their properties on these portals to attract some instant buyer attention.
In cases where listings aren’t promoted through any sustained realtor interest, a solution is about to come in the form of the aforementioned local real estate company’s innovative Property Bank feature. This feature is designed to address thousands upon thousands of seller leads that are routinely lost just because of market inefficiency.
The role of the middle-man (aka the realtor) has also shifted – now limited in some ways while extended in others. What’s certain is that they, like everyone else, are also dependent on the new tools and marketing channels made available by the internet to generate leads, understand buyer behavior, and boost their marketing outreach.
Zameen.com’s Property Navigation Toolkit
Ever since the company was formed in 2006, Zameen.com has made it its mission to revitalize and push the growth of Pakistan’s real estate sector through the use of cutting-edge tech. Working towards this ideal, it has developed and introduced many useful tools over the years that have all but revolutionized the art of property dealings in the country.
In 2016, the company launched the South Asian region’s first real estate price index, called the Pakistan Real Estate Price Index, to graph property pricing trends in different parts of the country. A somewhat related utility in terms of information output, Zameen Trends offers a comprehensive window for people to retrieve the portal’s meticulously mapped popularity and search trends.
Recently, the company launched Plot Finder, a geo-coded digital maps website utility featuring highly detailed maps of 38 cities and over 2,500 housing schemes (and counting) that allow users to better navigate their preferred real estate projects from the simple comfort of their mobile devices or notebooks.
Then there is the site’s Area Guide feature that offers a comprehensive run-down of the offered property units, communal facilities (communal, recreational, and public) of every prominent housing and commercial project in the country: providing information to aid everyday people in making informed investment and homeownership decisions.
All these Zameen website tools are developed to make the property business simpler and more efficient for all the stakeholders involved.
Now we can all agree that the major hurdles in this industry – faced by both property sellers and purchasers – include lack of transparency, complicated documentation procedures, and abundance of Ponzi schemes. The country’s top property portal, as such, has taken it upon itself to streamline all these concerns; and to work towards ensuring a win-win scenario for everyone engaged in the property transactions workflow.
The Future of Pakistani Real Estate
The amalgamation of technology and Pakistani real estate is still in its initial phase. With the volatility associated with technological advancements, however, it’s hard to predict the possibilities that the future may hold. But in the next few years, at any rate, we can expect significant involvement of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) tech in the country’s real estate market.
Currently, Zameen is the only Pakistani brand that offers exclusive virtual 3D tours of a number of local property projects to allow both local and overseas investors to overcome any distance barriers and make confident investment decisions from afar.
Apart from this, the Internet of Things (IoT), which envisions a world where all electronic devices are connected to one another in a seamless data-sharing arrangement, is also expected to make a regular appearance in the field’s workings and enable better property asset management. Blockchain, still more myth than reality, can significantly enhance the security of all conducted real estate transactions; should the public and private sectors decide to work with it.
Ultimately, this tech-transformation of Pakistan’s real estate industry is only starting, and so the domain’s commercial stakeholders need to keep up with this evolution to stay ahead in the game: facts that only Zameen.com seems to be appreciative of at this point.