Ramdas Shenoy speaks to Amit Agarwal, CEO of NoBroker.com on the real estate landscape and the value that NoBrokers.com, brings to its customers.
The idea of NoBroker
Amit Kumar Agarwal, Akhil Gupta and Sourabh Garg founded the organization. Sourabh had got the name registered even before they had started. All the founders had travelled and worked in different cities, had life experiences of renting houses and found that the entire concept of broker is very painful.
What they saw, was that the brokers came in for earning quick bucks, and their objective was not to help the clients. Their primary objective was to make money. The question they asked themselves was — why should one pay such a high brokerage to a broker, be it 1 month of rent or 2% of sale value. They didn’t see value for this brokerage for a simple connection between 2 parties.
In this new age digital world, they thought of connecting the owner and the tenant, buyer and seller directly with each other. So, an idea germinated from their own experiences and lack of happiness, and the way the brokers treated them, born was the idea of ‘NoBroker.com’
How they see the competition?
NoBrokers see’s their direct competitors as their name suggests—Brokers. As Amit Agarwal puts it, “All other sites and classifieds make money from brokers and encourage brokers. They are advertising platform for brokers. Our competition is with lot of small, small individual brokers”
In principle they are not against brokers. Amit opined that, “If there is a broker who can add value then of course they will survive in the system. Whoever provides value to the customer will win. And people who are not providing value to the customers, anyways he doesn’t deserve the customers”.
“We are in the business of saving money for the customers and our objective is to find house faster and cheaper for customers” added Amit.
Chargeable services — does it defeat the idea of ‘No Broker’?
As Amit puts it, “We are providing huge service by saving lots of money to the customers. We have to make money for survival so that can continue to provide service and making NoBroker bigger and bigger, helping more and more customers save money”. As per him, Broker charges huge fees as a 1 month rent or 2% of flat cost.
“The idea here is to provide a platform, which is basically free with some value-added service. The default platform is free, you can take x number of contacts. You can push the property for free, so basic services are free. Even for premium services, the charges are fraction of what a broker would charge and most importantly it is a flat free structure. So, if you are looking or selling a house for Rs.25000 or 2.5 Lakh Rupees, we will charge the same. A broker will charge a percentage” said Amit. “We want to make it free, and even if we want to charge, it is optional and that too as a flat fee”, he further added.
The Real estate landscape in the present economic scenario
Amit believes real estate market has not stagnated. In the past one year it has been doing amazingly well. The buy and sell market were doing very bad in the past few years, since demonetization, GST etc. Since the COVID time, there is a boom in buy and sell across the country. The main consumers are the end users. As of now the investors who buy and sell property in 6 months or 1 year, those guys are not there, but across the country, across all budgets from low budget to high premium, end customers are doing lot of buying and selling.
“Our main business comes from rental and packers and movers and rental markets are ever green. So, if we have to summarize, real estate rental is doing fine. During last 1 year, it would have not grown because of Covid and lockdown, but in terms of overall revenue we doubled” said Mr. Agarwal.
Vision for NoBrokers
“Our vision is not just in terms of numbers, market leadership or so many properties, or so many customers, or so many crores of brokerage saved, those goals are there but, I would say the biggest goal we have for next 5 years is to become a household name for real estate. The way one knows Flipkart or Amazon for e-commerce, the way in which we know PayTM and Google Pay for Payment services, the way in which you know Uber and Ola for Surface transportation, similarly we hope that in coming years we hope that when it comes to real estate, people should first think about NoBrokers”, said Amit.
The route is to help customers, save money, save brokerage.
How has been the journey so far?
As per Mr. Agarwal,“The journey has been amazing and we have been blessed. We have so much of trust of customers. Of course, the journey had its plus and minuses. It was difficult to convince investors that such a thing can work. Most investors tell us that a ‘No Brokerage platform’ has not been seen anywhere in the world, neither in US nor in China, so it is very difficult to build a very large ‘No Brokerage’ platform in India”.
They were able to convince that the problem is which we as Indians face and that there should be a technology-based solution for it. So, though they were convinced, the investors were not, but slowly when the customer numbers increased, the investors invested and with lot of hard work they have reached where they are today with 400,000 new customers per month and the total customer based has crossed 1.3 crores.
“My inspiration is multiple people. In terms of entrepreneurs there are amazing entrepreneurs like Elon Musk who have built large companies, Even, in India there are entrepreneurs like Vijay Shekhar Sharma of PayTM, The Bansals—they are also inspiration to build large enterprises.
“I also get inspired by my team mates. Many of our people who work with us, they are so passionate about NoBrokers, that inspires me. It is really inspiring to see team mates who joined our journey, they have become so passionate about No Brokers and its mission that it rubs back on me.