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Brick by brick, how Housing.com is rebuilding itself

Realty portal Housing.com has gone through the entire lifecycle of an emerging business—starting as a disruptor in the online realty space, to making a crash landing in 2015, and then picking up pieces to turn itself into a viable business proposition. BestMediaInfo.com speaks with Snehil Gautam, Head of Marketing & Growth at Housing.com, Proptiger.com and Makaan.com to find out what lies ahead for the company

It was once the darling of India’s startup space. Known for its technological innovation in the online realty space and brash founders, Housing.com has gone through an entire circle of ups and downs.

After the founders were removed in 2015 and the new leadership took over, what was left was a solid brand name and a progressive product. However, money was nowhere to be seen for a couple of years till the time Housing.com became a part of Elara Technologies, a Singapore-based technology services company that also owns PropTiger.com, Makaan.com and Fastfox.com, in 2017.

In the last two years, revenue has grown multi-fold, losses have been curtailed and new business plans are afoot.

Rebuilding Housing.com and strengthening other group platforms

While Housing.com is positioned as a superior tech platform making home search smarter, Makaan.com has carved a unique positioning of being a true ‘marketplace’ in real estate, providing credible listings data and real-time intelligence on property search.

PropTiger.com is a leading digital real estate advisory firm offering a one-stop platform for buying residential real estate, Fastfox.com on the other hand is positioned as an online-to-offline (O2O) brokerage firm that works in partnership with other brokers and landlords to list residential properties online for rental purposes.

To find out what lies ahead for the company, BestMediaInfo.com caught up with Snehil Gautam, Head of Marketing & Growth at Housing.com, Proptiger.com and Makaan.com.

Snehil Gautam

Talking about the reason behind launching and forming a brand like Housing.com, and what the journey has been like for the brand in these seven years, Gautam said, “Housing.com was formed with a vision to deliver optimism through technology in the real estate sector.  As a brand, we have always stayed true to our philosophy of ‘Look Up’, where we give our customers the tools, choice and chance to grow with their needs. The idea is to do the hard work as a company so that the customer can look up to better things.”

Reinventing the co-living search for millennials

Being India’s most innovative online real estate portal, Housing.com was the first to introduce verified listings and celebrate women’s participation in the home search process, making it the undisputed thought leader in the category. “This has helped Housing.com emerge as a very strong player through the years and become a brand that our customers could resonate with,” said Gautam.

How has the brand managed to stay relevant through all these years? What is Housing.com’s USP? How does Housing.com make it simpler to buy/sell/rent property? How does the brand get the customer to have a more convenient experience?

“As a technology leader, we always strive to create an unmatched experience for our customers through our robust technology platform. With Smart Search Technology tools like Neighbourhood Map View, Locality Price Trends, Featured Collections and the industry-first-natural language-based search, we enable users to find their dream home by providing in-depth information, in a structured and effortless manner,” Gautam pointed out.

Also, the content site, Housing News, is committed to getting the right information across to home seekers. Keeping this commitment in mind, the news section serves content in six Indian languages, offers content in a voice format and also has 100+ videos on the home-buying process.

“We de-jargonise the information and make it easier for customers to comprehend and take value. All these help establish Housing.com as an innovative, trustworthy and customer-oriented brand,” he said.

How has the property websites market evolved over the years? Any new trends that can be predicted?

Gautam said, “Real estate websites have come a long way. From being just a classified portal, they are now focusing on the emerging trend of consumers moving from search to discovery. Hence, we see a lot of data rich information, innovative AR/VR technology and personalised experiences online. Going forward, there is an opportunity to evolve from being a listings platform to a full-stack online-to-offline service provider.”

Is TV the most effective medium for advertising the brand? What about digital advertising? Which other mediums are utilised?

“For any online player, TV acts as a most powerful medium to create immediate awareness due to its reach/viewership, followed by digital for its benefit of affinity and sharp retargeting,” Gautam emphasised.

Housing.com has utilised the female element in its latest campaign, 'Ghar dhoondhna koi inse seekhe'. Any particular reason for that?

Gautam specified that the recent campaign draws insights from a consumer behaviour study, wherein the trend shows that women participate in equal measure during the home search process and are, in fact, found to be more diligent, rational and practical in their approach than men. The study discovered that the involvement of women between the age group of 18 and 34 (millennials) is growing rapidly, in property-related decisions.

“Hence, a brand campaign was conceptualised to celebrate the increasing participation of women in the home-buying journey and at the same time, to showcase Housing.com’s Smart Search Technology that puts the user in control, not just by making the home search process effortless but also smarter,” he said.

The campaign targeted millennial home-seekers in major cities of India. It was amplified across TV, digital, print, radio, cinema and DTH, with a major thrust on television, followed by digital.

How did the brand move from 'Yeh ghar sirf ghar nahi, yeh ghar meri jaan hai' to 'Jo dikhe vahi mile' and then further to 'Ghar dhoondhna koi inse seekhe'? How and why has the messaging changed over time?

“As a thought leader brand, we have always endeavoured to bring optimism and innovation in home search. As a testimony to this our initial narrative was around verified listings for home-seekers, which was translated into “Yeh ghar meri jaan hai – 100 se bhi zyada checks” and “Jo dikhe wahi miley” campaign,” said Gautam.

The brand recently showcased its pioneering spirit, by reflecting an emerging theme born out of the growing financial independence and enhanced digital footprint of women – not only are they key decision makers in the home-buying process, they’re also showing the world the new way to choose a house through Housing.com’s Smart Search Technology.

 What would be the focus areas for Housing.com in 2019?

“In 2019, our focus will be to continue positioning Housing.com as a superior home search platform and a preferred choice for consumers and partners to buy, sell or rent a property. Also, on the agenda is to reinvent the co-living search for millennials,” Gautam concluded.

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