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How Housing.com is beating slowdown to see growth in market share and traffic

The festive season is a make or break period for real estate developers. Last year, 90,000 properties were sold between the months of October and December and property sellers saw a 30 per cent rise in sales YoY, as per data revealed by Housing.com.

Currently, buyers looking for new property might be aware of two key players in this business – Magicbricks and Housing.com – with their aggressive campaign strategy.

Conceptualised by Lowe Lintas

Conceptualised by RK Swamy BBDO

Both the campaigns target young married couples in Tier 1 cities, who are the prime customers of premium real estate developers.

Magicbricks has launched a new brand campaign with their recently appointed brand ambassadors, Ayushmann Khurrana and Kriti Sanon; while Housing.com is repeating last year’s creative.

This year, Housing.com has focused on attracting home buyers with its expanded proposition of ‘Home Utsav’, called ‘Mega Home Utsav’. The platform is going the extra mile to incentivise users by offering cash prizes for bookings registered via its platform.

The revenue of these two platforms is tied to Tier 1 cities, where the journey of home discovery has gone online. Overall, real estate searches on Google have grown by almost 9 per cent YoY leading to one of the two platforms.

With most buyers discovering new homes online, Housing.com has turned its digital communication towards real estate developers, promising high intent buyers through their marketing outreach during the festive season. The objective of the TVC is to raise brand awareness among potential buyers. The campaign is also live on radio.

Snehil Gautam, Head of Marketing and Growth, Housing.com, reveals that due to the economic slowdown, a lot of real estate players are turning to digital.

“What we are seeing is that the contribution of digital is growing because it gives you a very targeted approach. You don’t have to spend a lot to get many users and that’s the benefit that digital gives. Also, because users are moving to digital channels, the digital pie will keep increasing. While the overall marketing pie, which includes print, television and outdoor, might be shrinking, the digital pie is showing growth,” he explains.

The spends factor

PropTiger.com, the transaction arm of Housing.com, found that during Q1 of FY2020, the real estate sector saw an 11 per cent drop in transactions compared to the previous year. New project launches also reduced by a drastic 47 per cent year-on-year (YoY). However, Housing.com is positive that sentiment will turn up during the festive season, with exciting discounts and offers in the real estate sector.

Improvement is expected in the affordable housing segment, with the Government offering a deduction of Rs 3.5 lakh for real estate priced below Rs 45 lakh, besides reducing GST to a marginal 1 per cent under their ‘Housing for all by 2022’ scheme.

Housing.com has allocated 25 per cent of their marketing budget for this festive season, which amounts to $6 million. Most of the spends have been allocated towards performance marketing, as the platform continues to register strong growth.

Gautam reports impressive numbers for FY2019, “Our revenue on Housing.com has grown by 45 per cent YoY, while traffic on Housing.com has grown by 40 per cent YoY. Listings on our platform have grown by 110 per cent YoY. While the sector is going through a difficult time, as a company we are growing our market share and traffic and, therefore, we don’t see any reason why we should cut down on our spends or branding.”

According to media reports, Housing.com registered 50 per cent growth in Q2FY2018 compared to the previous year. While there has been a significant impact of the economic slowdown on the real estate sector, the classifieds sector has been less affected. The universe of buyers in the housing sector is limited each year and Housing.com enables 60 per cent of new property discoveries, claims Gautam.

Housing.com is not just for new home buyers, but also facilitates discoveries for rent and, most recently, paying guests. Rental and PG form a very small segment, but are growing fast. Data shared by Housing.com shows that while home buying is growing in single digits, rental is growing at 15 per cent, while PG is growing at a whopping 25 per cent.

Neither rental nor co-living segments are impacted by economic metrics, rather demand for these services is more seasonal. They register the highest growth during the months of April, May, June and July, when admissions for colleges begin.

Data is a critical part of identifying growth opportunities for the platform. Housing.com relies on Google search data as well as data from its own platform. A study by PropTiger found that co-living has the potential to be a $93 billion market in India, with demand from states like Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Telangana skyrocketing in the near future.

Players like Airbnb, OYO Living and WeLive are driving up investment in this segment.

Housing.com recently launched a new feature on their platform that enables discovery of paying guests. “What we’ve seen from our data is that 30-40 per cent of a rental audience is actually looking for a paying guest,” informs Gautam.

Elara Technologies, which owns Housing.com, Makaan.com and PropTiger.com, recently acquired another realty portal – FastFox.com. With the acquisition, it has entered the online to offline home rentals space that has a market size of over Rs 20,000 crore, according to a report by Economic Times.

“We are really uniquely placed among our competition, because while we have demand aggregators like Housing.com and Makaan.com, where people come to buy homes, on the other hand, we have PropTiger, which is our offline hub where we have agents on our payroll and do transactions on the ground. We want to grow this full stack model in the coming few months. You will see a lot of capabilities being filled to enable this full stack strategy on Housing.com. We would like to integrate Housing.com and PropTiger more and see how this full stack model works,” concludes Gautam.

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