Amit Agarwal, Co-Founder & CEO, NoBroker

We enabled rent payments and maintenance payments on our platform so that customer could have a contactless way to make payments and mitigate the risk of virus.

Aug 27, 2020 09:08 IST India Infoline News Service

A banking & finance veteran with over 15 years of experience in management consulting and strategy, Amit Kumar Agarwal is the Co-founder and CEO of NoBroker.com, the world’s largest peer-to-peer real estate portal. He is responsible for defining and guiding the overall vision and direction at NoBroker.com and spearheads the company’s corporate strategies. Amit is an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, and IIM, Ahmedabad. He was associated with the Management Consulting division of PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Banking and Financial Services vertical. He worked with many leading Indian and foreign banks during his eight years at PwC, leading consulting teams and working directly with top CXOs on critical aspects such as formulating business strategy and enhancing on-ground profitability.

In an interaction with Shweta Papriwal, Editor, indiainfoline.com Amit Agarwal, Co-Founder & CEO, NoBroker, said, "Other than video walkthroughs, we have also launched property management services for NRI customers and property owners who have a property in a city other than the one they are currently residing in".

What are the latest trends that have emerged when it comes to Digital Landlording?
 
While the current crisis has altered the way we live in many ways, it has also enabled the industry to think out of the box to sustain in the long run. When it comes to realty, the pandemic gave rise to a lot of uncertainties in the way the landlords traditionally used to do transactions. The situation has given a huge impetus to digital ways of conducting business. A lot of market consolidation has started happening in the wake of COVID.
 
Landlords have quickly onboarded to the technological process of uploading property videos which give quite a good estimate of a property size, area, locality and a lot more.  
 
Other than video walkthroughs, we have also launched property management services for NRI customers and property owners who have a property in a city other than the one they are currently residing in. It is a 360 degree service where we guarantee an uninterrupted rental income and half yearly inspections along with taking care of damages and repair. We charge a minimal monthly fee for the same. The unique value proposition of this service is that even if the apartment is vacant for a couple of months, the landlord continues to receive the rent from NoBroker. The response to this has been phenomenal and we are already managing over 1000 apartments within 2 months of the launch.
 
What are the latest development in the pipeline when it comes to property management?
 
Our objective is to execute "world's most affordable property management service". This solves the problem for an owner who could be living out-of-city or out-of-country or simply busy enough and hence requires help in managing his/her property. NoBroker will be conducting full inspection of the property at the time of tenants moving-in, as well as at the time of tenants move-out.

On an actual cost basis, NoBroker will also ensure that all repair and maintenance including painting is done for the benefit of the property owner and the tenant. It will make sure that the rent is collected on time from the tenant and reaches the owner without any delay. Most importantly, NoBroker will look for the tenant for residing in property. This search will be free of cost for both the owner and the tenant.
All this can be availed for less than Rs 500 per month.
 
How exactly does the technology work at Nobroker?  What problems does it solve?
 
Technology is the heart of NoBroker. As we do not have feet on the street model, we solve all customer problems using technology. For instance, when someone is looking for a property, we use our algorithms to find the best property suited to the needs of the user basis the travel time (including traffic condition) which triangulates the best area between the office, their children’s school and their spouse’s office. Our AI applications will continuously learn from new datasets and deliver more accurate results for property owners, home buyers, and tenants.
 
While closing the deals people want to check the right price of the property. The custom algorithm we use predicts rent with 95% accuracy by analyzing historical transaction data, property images, market value, trends, and the neighborhood. Landlords are more likely to attract tenants by setting the right rental price. 
 
We use ML to generate beautiful property descriptions instead of burdening owners to write it. These descriptions are very detailed with nearby schools, hospitals and other information (you cannot know until told that it’s automatically generated).

NoBroker has also developed and launched a feature called Touchless Entry (for NoBrokerHood residents) that uses facial recognition to detect residents of a property, including household staff. Two times faster than fingerprint biometrics, Touchless Entry takes just 200 milliseconds to detect a face. Most importantly, it aims to deliver safe, secure, and fast entry. Brought to market in just three weeks, as India went into lockdown due to COVID-19, Touchless Entry aimed to protect residents by helping them reduce physical contact with surfaces where the virus might live. 
 
What were the major learnings from the market while COVID crisis and how did you utilise technology?
 
The impact of COVID-19 can be seen across industries. However, being agile and innovative is the success formula for sustainable businesses. We have managed to bring in both the aspects on the table to make the lives of our customers as seamless and trouble-free as possible. For instance, in a bid to ensure compliance with social distancing guidelines, we helped our customer’s shortlist and finalise properties through video walkthroughs.
 
We enabled rent payments and maintenance payments on our platform so that customer could have a contactless way to make payments and mitigate the risk of virus.
 
On NoBrokerHood, our integrated visitor, society and payment management app, we have also added multiple new features to ensure resident safety and convenient lifestyle.

The response to these features has been so phenomenal that within these 4 months, NoBrokerHOOD has grown from less than 1000 societies to 4500 societies. 

Grocery store on app
When the lockdown was announced, there was a lot of paranoia regarding buying groceries and essentials. Within a matter of days, “grocery store” feature was made available on the NoBrokerHood app in partnership with ITC and BigBasket to help residents procure daily essentials without having to step out.
 
Health Tracker:
There are many apps and news updates on the number of positive cases. But most of them share information at a scale, i.e. at state, city, and national level. NoBrokerHood shares information of the containment zones data to tell residents how many containment zones are near them. This is done at a micro-level using AI and ML. To elucidate, the tracker will tell you if your domestic help is coming from a containment zone so you can choose to permit or refuse entry in the interest of safety. Technology tracks every single person who enters a society.
 
The app is also integrated with Aarogya Setu.
 
Forums and chats:
Earlier people used to gather around to discuss important issues but since that is not an option due to Covid, forum and chat come in extremely handy for residents within a society to stay connected. The forum is for community communications while the chat option is for private conversations.
 
Homechef:
A lot of bachelors do not know how to cook and were in a habit of ordering food or hired a domestic help for the same. But during lockdown, it became difficult to have helps enter the societies. So NoBrokerHood launched the “homechef” feature on the app. People who like cooking can register themselves as chefs and people who want to order food from hygienic environment within the society can order food from them. Ordering food from online food aggregators carries some risk as one cannot be sure whether the cook, the delivery agent, and multiple partners involved in delivery are healthy. But within the society, you would know that the food you’re ordering from is from a person who is not Covid positive.
 
Patrolling:
Committee members and residents can’t personally monitor if their security guards are checking every spot in the building society. With many blocks, many amenities, and many miles to cover, most security guards try to find shortcuts and skip checking certain spots. With NoBrokerHood’s Guard Patrol, residents and MC members can print out unique QR codes for the building society. These QR codes will be created at specific locations in the building society and will be linked to latitudes and longitudes. QR code stickers can then be placed at the matching locations.
 
The security staff or guard on patrol will need to scan each QR code on his beat. The guard’s duty is not complete until each QR code on his beat is scanned. Committee members can check when the guard started his beat, how long he took, what path he took, and when he is done. They can see the time and date of each scan, all from the NoBrokerHood dashboard. Guard Patrol uses geotagging and GPS on the guard devices. This means each scan has to match the geotagged location, and GPS will show if the guard is actually at that spot while taking the QR scan.
 
SOS feature:
The in app SOS button is all you need to keep any emergency at bay. Be it medical, fire or gas leak, theft or lift emergency, tap on the SOS button to alert your building security guards immediately. Tap the ‘SOS Alert’ button, select the type of emergency you are facing. It takes 5 seconds to send out the SOS alert, This button notifies all on-duty security guards and family members.

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