Info Edge’s real estate portal 99Acres, which depends on online advertising for half its revenues, reported its revenues 39% year on year to Rs 19 crores for the quarter ending December 31st 2013, and reported a small profit of Rs 44 lakh. Financial year 2014-14 was expected to be bad but in early 2014, competitors started milking a virtual cow which depended solely on advertising. More than 50% of the revenue earned by 99Acres,the groups real estate business, comes from marketing. But since advertising in 2014 was decreased portals were counting on broking business and lead generation. Email broadcasting of projects instead of banner ad revenues were main revenue earner.
Portals were funded for capitalisation but major players like 99acres leads in unique visitors game. Funding was nothing but value proposition and on paper rather than actual revenue source. Although market is limited and content do not vary as far as project listings are concerned, property portals and listing sites deteriorated as far as listing revenue is concern. Hence neither advertising nor listing were working for them. The only revenue source was to convert operations into broking business. ICICI Direct, a share trading portal also jumped in to the foray and started generating leads for its advertisers.
Housing.com raised $2.5 million 7 months ago, it first came into prominence for their usage of maps for real estate listings, and subsequently followed it up with verified listings. They have recently launched an agent Map for agent search as well. Commonfloor has also raised $10 million from its investors. It has an android app with a augmented reality listings. Indiaproperty.com has also raised $12 million from Bertelsmann and others. Times Internet backed MagicBricks, once the market-leader, has introduced a series of products like deals, apart from locality specific pages, and a luxury segment.
But unfortunately, so called research data was out come of copying content from each other and from secondary market. Brokers having listing of even projects, builders listing for projects hence over laping and duplicate entries and unit wise sale of same projects made them claim huge data of one million odd listing. Can a person physically vouch each and every listing? none of the listing portal validated the data for ultimate customer uses.
One thing is certain, after government passes Housing Regulatory Bill and make all projects details mandatory to be listed on govt’s website, these portals will have no relevance as far as authenticity of data is concern. They will be equal on listing and manipulative listing of brokers. The only business revenue model for them is to lure traffic on their site.