Data Explosion – Three Tectonic Shifts in Indian Real Estate

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By : Ramesh Nair – CEO & Country Head, JLL India

In today’s technology-driven market environment, data rules – and for India’s real estate market, the importance of data was underlined in bold strokes by the implementation of RERA. No longer are we talking about ‘my data vs. your data’ – now, the most pertinent data related to real estate projects will be available to all.

As more and more projects are registered under RERA, there will be a lot more data on real estate projects and markets – earlier classified or confidential with developers or real estate consultants – available in the public domain.

The data now being made available provides granular insights on projects as well as their promoters. It includes previously vague or completely hidden information of great pertinence to end-users, investors and market watchers, such as project construction status, the number of apartments completed, booking status, proposed date of project completion, project infrastructure status in terms of water supply, internal roads, available car parking, etc.

With so much highly pertinent information now available in the public domain, possession of data per se can no longer be a unique selling proposition for any real estate player – the ‘data monopoly’ is finally broken.

There will be fundamental shifts in real estate data and analytics due to RERA ‘forcing’ such data into the public domain. Apart from RERA websites, data is appearing online through new technology tools and social media. We are looking at three fundamental shifts:

  1. New headline numbers and deeper, more accurate insights:

The market will yield ‘headline numbers’ which all major market stakeholders will accept as they will be corroborated by Government data. These will be ‘big picture’ numbers like the aggregate city-wise absorption, upcoming supply and vacancy levels.

Today, we accept the Government’s inflation readings or census survey numbers for population as sacrosanct. Likewise, these ‘big picture’ numbers which emerge for residential markets will be universally accepted. Data discrepancies among existing data owners will be addressed through a new reference point – Government data.

Deeper and more accurate analytics will become the order of the day. With easy data availability, firms will now be able to ‘crack the code’ by analyzing granular data for better business decisions. The analysis and interpretation of this data will become the subject matter of debate at various forums, as major variations in data per se will no longer exist.

This will bring with it increased importance of field surveys, which highlight possible future trends – an input most investors will look for more keenly. Surveyors will be equipped with the right kind of big data to use in on-field surveys to analyze trends in the real estate sector. For the consumer, the availability of such data will obviously mean much better-informed decision making.

  1. Social media analysis will become a major game changer:

The ability to predict human behavior through qualitative data analysis of social media like twitter feeds and ‘likes’ on Facebook and YouTube videos, and similar trends, will be the next big game changer for the real estate sector. Social media data will help in understanding and evaluating data coming from formal sources, and guide researchers towards a more predictive approach.

For example:

  • The average number of tweets originating from a city related to food and entertainment over a specified period can guide F&B operators to build more in this direction
  • A huge interest in sports in another city can provide valuable cues to sports retailers and theme-focused real estate developers.
  • An office building with its own cafeteria generating social media debates between the relative merits and demerits of pizza and sandwich outlets or traditional South Indian fare can help analyze the food preferences of local staff and visitors.

To be effective, intelligent analysis will necessarily require a mix of both social media and conventional stock, occupancy, vacancy and price data. While the retail and FMCG sectors have already become very active in analyzing social media, real estate players will also benefit from getting aggressively into this domain.

  1. Empowerment through information technology-led data:

Google Maps is probably the most widely-used app because it addresses a core need. Similarly, map and satellite images provide 3D, real-time experience of office spaces provided to clients. While ‘walk-throughs’ by developers are now commonplace in India, higher forms of IT-led experience are already available in other countries and will soon make inroads into India.

The ‘look-touch-feel’ factor, currently very much talked about in retail spaces, will soon have a stronger presence in other real estate segments. While drones to capture 3D views and images will gain popularity, CRM tools for capturing data, business development tracking tools for brokers and new apps for capital markets should all become a reality soon. Use of predictive analytics and data science, coupled with modern-day BI tools, will be used more and more to analyze, self-serve and visualize the data.

With new technologies, consumers will be increasingly empowered to experience the spatial dimension of real estate like never before. Between acceptable headline market numbers, more accurate social media analyses and technology-driven real estate ‘experiences’, we are indeed on the verge of a tectonic shift in the market.