Housing Shuting Down Bangalore Office ? Company Denies

Housing has shutdown its Bangalore office and has laid off 65 employees.

housing

Housing.com earlier laid off 200 employees and is also rumored to have laid off 600 employees in August. Most of these layoffs have happened in engineering and operations team (for Bangalore, it was the land property team).

For Housing, the focus is primarily on driving sales and widen its presence in the booming home-buying segment in India. In Nov 2015, Housing appointed Jason Kothari as the new CEO and Silicon Valley veteran, Mani Rangarajan as the new CFO.

Housing is also in talks with Snapdeal and NewsCorp for a potential deal.

Update : Housing has reverted to us that the company is not shutting down its Bangalore office, but has instead moved to a new location.

Housing.com appoints VP for New Real Estate Projects

Housing.com, has announced the appointment of Keerthi Kiran as the Vice President for New Real Estate Projects.

Keerthi will be playing a key role in defining and executing strategy, building and managing the team, ensuring that Housing.com is serving developers and the consumers.

Keerthi has been with Housing.com for almost 2 years now having served in various capacities across the business. He is also an experienced entrepreneur, having co-founded Ziffi.com (formerly known as DocSuggest Healthcare Services Pvt. Ltd).

“The New Real Estates Projects business is a key growth driver for Housing.com, and I am looking forward to leading this division and making Housing.com the defacto strategic technology, marketing and sales partner for developers,” said Keerthi Kiran, Vice President, New Real Estate Projects, Housing.com.  

A Late Night Accident; 1 Dead, Housing.com Founder Booked For Negligence

Housing.com cofounder, Advitiya Sharma has been booked under the Indian Penal Code sections for 279 (rash driving), 304 (A) (causing death by negligence) and 338 (grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) for rash driving which killed one of the colleagues, Siddharth Bhandari (he was the Senior Manager, Business Development and Strategy at Housing).

Advitiya Sharma Of Housing.com
Advitiya Sharma Of Housing.com

The incident occurred around 1.30am when the four injured Advitiya Sharma (25) was driving the car, Nilesh Wani, Kamlesh Mohpal (25) and Siddharth Bhandhary (25) who died—were returning home after dropping their female office colleague at her Mulund residence after work.The mishap occurred when the car jumped a speed breaker on LBS Marg which Sharma did not notice. [source]

We have reached out to Housing.com team for more details. We certainly hope that the police is doing its investigation before reaching any conclusion.
R.I.P Siddharth Bhandari.

Housing Partners With Tata Value Homes; Launches Interactive Home-Buying Feature – Slice View

Online real estate portal Housing.com has launched a new feature Slice View, an interactive home booking platform in partnership with Tata Value Homes to launch an exclusive online-only inventory across 4 projects with a pre-launch up to 10% price appreciation within one week.
Slice view allows users to literally slice through each floor of a building project, select flat and make a booking in just a few clicks. The feature provides an interactive exploration of the house along with easy booking experience.
slice view
Pre-registration opens starting today to make a booking for the apartment of choice from Wednesday, November 26th until Sunday, November 30th by making an online payment of just Rs.30,000 on Housing.com. The four online-exclusive projects on offer cover 3 of the major Real Estate markets in the country: Bangalore, Pune and Chennai, with special pre-launch prices starting at just Rs.29.9 lakh.
Tata Value Homes had earlier made booking available through an exclusive partnership with Snapdeal. Later on, they had launched their own housing website tatavaluehomes.com. This clearly states that TATA had seen good luck with selling homes online.
Housing.com had recently launched customized online rental agreements for its Bangalore users. They had also secured $100 million in funding from SoftBank.
Here is a video to better understand the newly launched feature:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chuRRUQP_lo

Housing Secures $100mn Funding From SoftBank; Wants To Map EVERY House In The Country

housing softbank
Real estate portal housing.com has raised $100mn funding from SoftBank.
Post funding, Softbank has acquired 30% stake in the company. Others participating in the funding round included hedge fund Falcon Edge, DST Global and the existing investors Helion, Nexus and Qualcomm.

“We have 3.5 lakh listings across 45 cities in India. We have listed 15000 new projects on the website in the past 3-4 months.
6 months ago we made around 300-400 listing on the website per day, today it has risen to 3000-4000 listings per day. We are expecting it to grow to 12000-13000 listings per day on our website.
Our plan is to map every house in the country as soon as we can.

The company however has declined any comment on the funding news.
Competitor, Commonfloor recently raised $30mn led by Tiger Global and IndiaProperty raised $12mn.
SoftBank has been on an investment spree in India and Housing is latest on the list. Previous investments include listicle website ScoopWoop and cab service provider Ola.

Housing Launches Online Rental Agreements [Disruption]

has launched ‘Online Rental Agreement’ product for its Bangalore users. Housing’s ‘Rental Agreement’ product helps people create and customize an agreement from wherever they are.
All one needs is the internet. Users give inputs like rent, property area, security deposit, facilities available etc. and whenever required can also review the clauses in the background.

Housing Rental Agreements
Housing Rental Agreements
The unique feature of Housing Rental Agreement (link) is that Housing.com pays stamp duty on the behalf of tenants and landlords, and delivers the e-stamped rental agreement at their doorstep within just 48 hours! The platform also has an e-stamp calculator that ensures users pay the correct stamp-duty.
What next? Well, they should enable renting online.
Read : Can Housing.com Disrupt Brokers?
 

Housing Launches Housing Home Loans

Map based online real estate portal has introduced integrated home loan application category ‘Housing Home Loans’. Housing has partnered with various banks and financial institutions like CitiBank, L&T Finance, Axis Bank, DHFL, PNB Housing Finance and Bajaj Finserv for this initiative.
housing home loans
Housing.com claims that while most website advertise housing loans that require further additional calculations, ‘Housing Home Loan’ saves user’s time and effort by incorporating the banks’ policies and terms to give the user an accurate calculation of the Rate of Interest. The newly added feature gives users an option to compare an array of loan offers and also apply for the loan on the platform itself. By controlling the loan amount and tenure, users can compare the total cost of each loan offer and minimize it to find the most suitable offer.


 
– Can Housing Disrupt Brokers?


 
The Housing Loans website also features a Home Loans Guide which consists of various articles to address home loan queries. The Guide takes the user through everything needed to know about the home loan cycle right from choosing the loan to its disbursement, servicing and pay back.

Can Housing.com Disrupt Brokers?

[Editorial notes : The online real estate market is currently going through disruption. The newest kid in the block, Housing has already managed to build a warchest of INR 132 crores. Can they disrupt the broker business? Read this piece by Sandeep Reddy (@hsrdce) analyzing the model.]

Housing Raincoats
Housing Raincoats

A disruptive map-based product with verified inventory has definitely shaken up the market. In 2 years, 20 lac photos+ 2 lac listings + 12 cities covered + 900 staff + Rs 132 crs in funding is testimony to the fact that they are disrupting the real estate marketing space.

The current business model for almost all real estate classified websites is focused on charging the brokers and builders listing fees. However, I see that this business model can potentially be disrupted by Housing.com because it will be difficult for Housing to make money from brokers!

Brokers are not liking Housing.com. Why?

Owner/Landlord postings % increasing and broker postings decreasing. This is making the broker uncomfortable. Remember when Housing started, almost all postings were broker postings and today Housing.com is chasing owners to list their properties. This change in strategy may work well from a user perspective but definitely not from a broker perspective, who would feel that his business is coming under threat.

house broker rates

Markets like Chennai have negligible broker postings! My bet is owner postings are only going to increase in other cities as well..

 – Product making the listings more transparent and diluting the power of broker.

Additionally, getting a share of the broker’s wallet is highly competitive because of presence of many players- 99acres, magicbricks, commonfloor, makaan, indiaproperty, sulekha, quikr, olx!

Lets see Why brokers are needed in the first place in the ecosystem?

– They shortlist options as per the requirement for the seeker and reduce the hassle for the owner in terms of dealing with multiple people

– They show you the options (site visits/ home tours)- biggest value add according to me!

– They help in negotiating the deal

– They help in doing the paper work/registration of agreements

Now for this service, the broker charges 1 month of rent or 2% of the value of the deal in sale transactions. Most people feel this fee is higher-than-the-value a broker delivers.

Hence I believe that a service that can be potentially disruptive is a one that can deliver the same services of a broker and charge much lesser!

Imagine a business model where Brokerage-as-a- Service is replaced by Logistics-as-a-Service!

Basically I mean replacing a “success-fee” based Brokerage as a service model by a “fixed-fee” based Logistics as a service.

This Logistics as a service model would entail the following

– Show options

– Schedule site visits and actually have people to show the sites

– Tool to negotiate- Bid/Ask or keep it between the buyer and the seller

– Standard services for registration of agreements

Imagine Housing.com now and me looking for a 2 BHK in Thane –

Housing.com already showing me options in Thane:

– They already have a Call center, which can be used to fix site visits <time slot management- which can be built online as well>

– They already have Field staff , which would get to know of the clients who have to be assisted for site visits.

This way the model converts a transaction into a logistics play.

Revenue model ??

Rs 5,000/- for a month to avail these services for both the seller and the buyer, which is far lesser than the existing brokerage payouts!

If in 3 months, you don’t have a deal then provide a 3-month free service.

Lets see if Housing.com is successful in ramping up the broker listing fees or would they take the risk of building a completely new and disruptive business model.

What are your thoughts?

Housing Does Guerrilla Marketing; Sponsors Raincoats of Mumbai Traffic Police

Housing, which recently raised Rs 115 Cr funding has done a great piece of guerrila marketing.

The startup has sponsored Mumbai police’ raincoat (3250 raincoats), as part of its CSR activity. Given Mumbai’s rainy season, Housing just grabbed 3250 moving billboard ads, which is nothing but a great piece of guerrilla marketing.

Housing Raincoats
Housing Raincoats

 

Housing's New Billboard : Mumbai Traffic Police
Housing’s New Billboard : Mumbai Traffic Police

Reminds us of Snapdeal Nagar!

» Read: Story : ‘Keep Calm & Keep Shipping’ Has A Whole New Meaning When You Have 12 Co-Founders

Housing Raises Rs 115 cr Funding; Here’s Why They’re Killing It

Real estate classifieds portal has raised Rs 115 cr in a round of investment led by Helion Venture partners & Qualcomm Ventures. Existing investor Nexus Venture Partners also participated in the round.

Housing raised the money over a three month period. Founded by 12 graduates from IIT Bombay, the startup has raised Rs 138 cr in all.

Nexus Venture Partners invested $7 mn, Helion added $8 mn to the round and finally Qualcomm Ventures topped it up with $4 mn to close the round.

Advitiya Sharma & Rahul Yadav, Co-Founders of Housing.com
Advitiya Sharma & Rahul Yadav, Co-Founders of Housing.com
The Housing Team

Advitiya Sharma, one of the co-founders told me that the idea is to map one crore houses over the next 2 years. “3-4 months ago, we were mapping 200 houses a day. Now we are at 2000 a day. With the funding, we are going to do 12000 houses a day,” Sharma said.

Currently, Housing has about 80-85k houses in Mumbai and 50-60k houses in Bangalore. The startup has grown rapidly and employs 950 people now. It is now present in 25 cities including over a dozen tier 2 cities.

“We will map the remaining 30-40 important cities over the next few quarters,” said Sharma.

The company had raised an undisclosed Angel Round from a group of angel investors led by Zishaan Hayath, the co-founder of Toppr. The second round of funding came from former Network 18 CEO Haresh Chawla. Nexus invested $2.5 mn in the company in June 2013.

Companies like Commonfloor and IndiaHomes have also raised venture funding recently. Commonfloor raised Rs 64 crores in a fresh round of funding from existing investors Accel India and Tiger Global in January 2014.  IndiaHomes raised Rs 150 cr from New Enterprise Associates and existing investors Helion and Foundation Capital.

Why Housing will kill it

Housing’s approach is fundamentally different from what others in the market are doing. The startup treats the data it collects as reusable assets. It spends a good lot of effort in collecting nearly 100 data points about a particular property. The next time the owner wants to let out a house, all he has to do is to push a button to have the most accurate posting online.

It gets rid of all the information asymmetry and crappy user generated content. It also creates a sort of permanent relationship with the owner, who won’t really bother listing on other sites progressively. Really, housing’s secret sauce is the data it collects and owns.

Here’s Housing’s startup journey.

Also read

Startup Housing.co.in takes a brilliant data based approach to house hunting

Housing.co.in Buys Housing.com Domain & A Fancy Number For $1 Mn. To Go Global

Housing Launches New Projects Platform; Includes a 3D View of New Projects

Housing.com has a new feature added to its page, and it looks promising. Users can now view upcoming housing projects with Housing.com’s latest feature ‘Housing New Projects’.

Up for viewing are the floor plans of houses, amenities that are located nearby, and price trends in the particular area the projects are located in.

housing 2

Other features included are:

  • Reviews of projects by verified property experts

  • Project lifestyle rating

  • Child friendliness index

Major realty developers Housing has signed on include Mantri Realty, Tata Housing, L&T Realty and Sunteck Realty.

Aerial view

The killer feature however, is the 3D models of new projects that the Housing team has developed. It gives you a complete aerial view of the project and areas surrounding it. Will this prompt other property portals to follow suit?

The new projects feature is currently only available in Mumbai.

Recently, Housing launched its services in Kolkata, and also introduced a PG rental search.

Update: Co-founder & CEO, Rahul Yadav has explained the 3D feature to NextBigWhat.

“We make 3D models of all the projects, now that isometric superimposed image on map, floor-plans, are all derived from that 3D model. So basically that 3D model is kind of a raw material,” he says.

Out with the Old: How Housing is Trying to Reinvent the Hunt for Rentals

From their office in Powai, a suburb in Mumbai, a bunch of engineers are literally plotting world domination. Sample this:

“In the Land section, our goal is very simple – Cut the entire Google Maps into pieces and put price tags on all of them!” says Rahul Yadav, CEO & co-founder,

That’s just a glimpse of how Housing.com deals with the complex Indian realty market. From map-based viewing, broker profiles, price heat maps to lifestyle ratings and finding PGs, the realty portal has made the Housing way of looking for rentals a norm. 

Launched in 2012, Housing.com’s phenomenal growth is not only changing the way people look for rental spaces, but also giving older, more established players, a run for their money. Since its launch, Housing has spread to 11 cities from just 1, grown its team from 12 to 850 people and has collected and verified over 1 lakh properties manually.

Rounding Up The Founders

Their journey began in 2011, when 12 IITians came together to form a venture with just one simple idea in mind – there’s much to be made of Google maps.

Rahul Yadav had just dropped out of IIT Bombay to work on this map related project. Before that, he brought on-board 11 others who were pros at their work to help him with the venture.

The Housing Team
The Housing Team

“I had a strong social network in IIT. I knew that a particular guy was solid at back-end, a particular guy was solid at design and so on. I knew all the famous people in each segment in IIT, so I contacted them and they agreed,” explains Rahul.

Housing still lacked a clear direction on the path their venture should take, yet, they went ahead with all the formalities of the company. Rahul says that the 12 believed that no matter what the path, they would ensure the company succeeded.

“First we registered the company. We wanted to bring all locations online, so that was the aim. Then we started exploring as to what we can do next. We were looking for a space also at the same time, we had done some looking around with a broker,” says Rahul.

This was when the direction of their map-related venture took shape. During their hunt for the office space, they had realised that they would have to pay the real estate agent showing them spaces a month and a half’s rent as brokerage.

“For a 50k apartment in Mumbai, we had to pay 75K as brokerage. It’s a very large amount. That’s when we decided that there’s very good money to be made in this business,” explains Rahul.

Scaling the Business

It took them about one month since ideation to set up the website. The portal was officially launched on June 7 2012, and they soon pivoted their business model.

“We had a broker with the website initially, but the model was not scaling, because to show houses in Bandra, you need expertise in Bandra. So you need to have local people to do this, local experts,” says Rahul.

housing office

Housing had initially began with listings generated from the founders’ own network. Later, to solve the issue of scale, the company decided to bring on board both real estate agents and landlords to supply them with inventory and thereby, revenues.

“We don’t look at landlords and brokers differently. For us, both of them are ‘inventory providers’,” says Rahul who believes that they had tapped into one of the key moneymakers for their business.

The decision to bring on real estate agents, while key to revenue, may not always prove to be best for the users.

Acquiring Housing.com

Once their local presence was felt, the company decided to take the first step in going global. They changed their domain name from Housing.co.in, to Housing.com. They acquired the domain for $500k.

Agent Map on Housing.com
Agent Map on Housing.com

“Google maps was initially a private application for Google, and then one guy used Google maps to make a site called housingmaps.com. Google really liked the application, and then they decided to open this up for other developers,” narrates Rahul, “We wanted to acquire housingmaps.com, but we could not.  So we decided to go ahead with housing.co.in but with time we found out that .co.in does not match our global ambitions,” he adds.

They eventually acquired the .com domain in September 2013, and added a fancy number 03-333-333-333 to make the plan a reality. The company is currently in talks with players in other countries to forge a partnership.

Team-building & Hiring

A large part of Housing.com’s success Rahul believes is owed to the his team. The team has grown from the initial 12 to 70 odd members at the Headquarters alone.

“We have a very strong belief that whatever we decide to do, we’ll win. Our team is very,very strong and the DNA of the company is – just do it. And do it very fast,” says Rahul.

housing team

Housing.com’s team is dominated by IITians and over 60 of the team at the Headquarters are below age 24, adding weight to Housing’s bid to hire young.

However, it isn’t easy for a person to come aboard Housing, says Rahul.

“The bar is very high, we have taken 300 interviews for product managers alone. We didn’t like anybody so till date we have zero product managers. We look for whether they are winners or losers, that’s it,” explains Rahul who says that a fifteen minute chat is all it takes to see if a candidate has what it takes to join Housing.

Looking Forward

The company which is currently present in 11 cities wants to take the complex Indian realty market head on. It soon plans to expand into 40 tier-II and 200 tier-III cities within 6-8 months.

Housing also plans on revamping their existing website and mobile applications. The company’s big plan is to scale their product into other developing nations, which they seek to do by the end of 2014.

News Roundup: Fetise To Shut; Mouthshut Un-Blocked; Housing Launches In Kolkota

fetise

Ecommerce apparel portal Fetise.com, by Delhi based Fetise Retail Pvt Ltd, is on the verge of a shutdown due to corporate governance issues, according to a recent report. Seedfund, which had invested $5 million in Fetise two years ago, has written off its investment in the portal.

“We discovered several integrity and governance issues—things that we have zero tolerance for. So, these factors also led to a situation where we felt that choosing to fail and move on was the best course of action,” said Mahesh Murthy, Managing Partner of Seedfund. (via)

mouthshutMouthshut Comes Back Up After ISP Block

Earlier this week, review portal Mouthshut was by Bangalore based ISP ACT Internet and its Hyderabad-based subsidiary Beam Fibre, according to Medianama. The portal later put forward the issue to TRAI and DoT, following which the ISPs have enabled access to Mouthshut, but the reason for the block is still not known.

Housingcoin-logo Launches Service In Kolkotta

Housing and realty portal Housing.com has launched its Kolkota portal to its list of  cities covered, which currently stands at 11 with this new addition. Kolkata was added as part of the portal’s second phase of expansion. Earlier in December 2013, the service had added a feature to help users find paying guest rentals in cities.

Now Search for PGs on Housing

and realty portal Housing.com has launched a new feature to help users find paying guest rentals in cities.

With the new option, the company seeks to cater to the section of people who are looking for low rentals, typically youngsters. Housing.com says that while they currently have only a few thousand listings, they hope to garner over thousands soon. The service caters to both students as well as working professionals, and also have filters for the same. Filters also include listings from those of landlords or realty agents.Housing PG

The paying guest option is a result of analysis from Housing.com’s Data Science Lab which threw light on large pockets of people who search for low rental accommodation in cities, the company said. The service is currently available in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.

The company also provides an ‘analysis panel’ or tools for PG owners to manage inventory as availability of accommodation changes.

Housing had raised $2.5 million in funding from Nexus Venture Partners in June and bought it’s .com domain & dial in number for $1 million in September this year.

Recommended Read: Moving Cities, And How Housing Portals Fail Its Users

Moving Cities, And How Housing Portals Fail Its Users

Real estate search portals in India are of little to no use to people who wish to rent a house in a city. Or maybe it’s just in Bangalore. This is my third week in the city, having moved from CNBC Mumbai to join NextBigWhat. In spite of relentlessly searching, there’s no house in sight for me as yet.

Initially, upon advice from many residents of the city, the internet and portals became my tool to locate a house, and in the absence of that – a good real estate broker – who would find me a decent house. What followed, is chaos that I haven’t seen even in Mumbai, a city of over 11 million people.

House Search Online : A Review
House Search Online : A Review

It began with 99acres, MagicBricks and . Here’s what I liked about them:

  • All three have options to key in multiple areas to search for. That’s helpful, no need to go back and forth to key in different areas.

  • MagicBricks has an ‘Advanced Property Search’ where status of possession, house posted since, floor number etc., are fields. Searches can be streamlined better with these.

And here’s what I didn’t like about them:

  • Pages that are way too cluttered and filled with distracting advertisements. Commonfloor has relatively better interface though.

  • Ads for houses posted by dealers that have are in no way descriptive or helpful.

  • In most cases, the said apartment doesn’t even exist. Once contacted, the agent will most likely tell you that the apartment has already been leased out, but he has other apartments available. And proceed to take you to the dingiest corners of earth and ask for obscene amounts as rent. This point would have been easier to make had they had pictures.

  • So, no pictures or false pictures in most cases, no description, just a number of a dealer/owner/ dealers who know other dealers who know other dealers and so on. It’s as if I’m dying to network with real estate agents.

So I gave up on these websites after I realized that it’s of no use, and moved on to a website called , which people said was way better. And it was, in most aspects.

What I liked about Housing.com

  • Absolutely super interface! A clean map view, and now even has a gridview with pictures of the houses.

  • Yes, pictures are mandatory for any house that is posted. That was a nice change, and you’d at least know whether you want to spend time on taking a look at the house.

  • Has a tool that let’s you increase or decrease the area to search in. But doesn’t allow keying in of multiple areas.

  • Has a variety of filters including lease type, amenities required, but I feel still doesn’t have as many options as MagicBricks’.

  • Gives locality, lifestyle, rent and child friendly area ratings

  • Has a report button to report wrong pictures, misinformation.

  • Shows the nearest atms, banks, hospitals etc near the house.

What I disliked about it:

  • Pictures of some houses are copied from elsewhere, so while there is hope, the houses you see won’t be the same as those posted online.

  • At times, houses have been posted multiple times, at the same address, with the same pictures, the same agent, but at different rents and lifestyle ratings. This particular listing was reported, but no action has been taken so far.

  • No expiry date for houses, so you never know when it’s taken. The website says it has its own method of making a house automatically expire. Don’t know how that works, because a house that was still available as of two days ago, had expired on the website. Instead it should have been made mandatory for real estate agents to shut posts once the house is taken.

  • Which they don’t do. Therefore, as with the other portals, here too the agents end up showing houses you have seen already. That’s if you’re lucky. Worse still, is when you travel all the way, and find out that the house is locked/ taken already, “would you like to see other places?”

  • All four portals have houses listed at rates that seem like they’re within your budget, but are inflated once you catch the bait and visit the house.

In short, after inspecting over 10 agents, co-agents, and 40 houses (no, that’s not made up) later, it’s now obvious what a scam most real estate agents run online especially when it comes to using housing portals.

This is not to say Housing.com is terrible. It sure has made an earnest attempt at making a good website, definitely has an edge over competitors and they do come through on most things. But, their model of relying on real estate agents to increase listings is their single biggest failing.

The real problem actually lies in the deregulated real estate sector in India. A completely unorganised sector, almost anyone can become a real estate agent. This is also why there is a high degree of unprofessionalism in the sector, as agents are not trained, nor are they accountable to anyone unlike the USA where agents are regulated by anti-trust laws and are required to be licensed. Therefore in India, those who buy/get the house on lease, end up renting houses at a premium to the market rate simply because real estate agents want to further their commission and choose to be bad negotiators.

All in all, until the Real Estate Bill 2013 becomes an act, and rules for real estate agents to follow are established, there is little realty websites can do to make their websites perfectly useful.

 Recommended Read : The Broken Online Classified Services in India [And An Opportunity To Create Value]

Image credit: shutterstock