Technology is transforming business practices and fortunes in Pakistan's real estate sector
By Namra Mansoor
Real estate agents in Pakistan were once not much more than travelling salesmen, only that they gathered details of probable realty products to sell rather than actually making the sales. The industry has normally been associated with cold callings owners, ringing doorbells to find out if a house was up for sale or lease, numerous dejections and the long wait for clients inside shanty offices.
But technology has offered much redemption to real estate agents in Pakistan, with most now running businesses with a few clicks on the computer.
Gone are the days of putting up banners, ads in print media and then clinging to telephones like bees cling to their hive. A laptop, an internet connection and a camera now make up the Pakistani real estate agent's arsenal, and with smart phones offering even more mobility, he can launch the marketing attack from anywhere he likes.
Hundreds of realtors in Pakistan have shunned their traditional roles of acting as intermediaries between stakeholders and many have used technology to assume entrepreneurial roles like builders and investment advisors.
The Utopian paradigm
In its Global Information Technology report 2015, the World Economic Forum placed Pakistan 97th in a list of 143 countries it evaluated for business and innovation environment, testifying to the impressive performance of IT-based gateways to entrepreneurship in Pakistan.
With digital media becoming the front-runner of marketing strategies, realtors have found it to be the ideal means of promoting their properties and agencies. Rather than passively waiting for clients to notice advertisements for their properties in the print media – a practice having seen a considerable decline –realtors are actively participating in the property market through online platforms.
The cyber world allows them to reach out to a greater number of people than they could with the print media with a far less monetary and physical effort. Their prowess in property affairs is also properly credited and appreciated as the industry becomes more systemized by the day.
While Pakistan has no shortage of workforce skilled in IT, better access mechanisms to this industry are culminating in an environment that boosts innovation and creativity in the business sector as well.
Pakistan's top online property portal Zameen.com is an apt amalgamation of IT and real estate experts. The web portal not only facilitates the meeting of buyers and sellers at a single platform, it also churns out various rankings and indices about various localities to help people make informed decisions.
All hail the computer
As the IT sector of the country continues to increase its contribution to the GDP from the $1,307 mark in 2013, technology has helped the government tackle various problems prevalent in the property market.
Much order has been brought to the property business with the implementation of a computerized land record system (CLRS) across the country. Retrieving power from the 'patwaris', the official record-keeper and accountants of land in every locality, problems like illegal acquisition of land and lengthy litigation over disputes have been considerably minimized with the fully functional Land Records Management Information System (LRMIS). With the new record filing system available to everyone having a desktop and access to the internet, property business has finally received the structural support it has always needed.
Like many other sectors, technology has transformed the way real estate business is conducted across the country. Many have realized its potential and turned their fortunes around. Time is money; technology has certainty allowed real estate agents plenty of both.