Realty portal Housing.com will hire about 200 people this fiscal to strengthen its team, besides investing in technology as well as brand promotion to become the clear market leader, its CEO Dhruv Agarwala said.

REA India, part of Australia's REA Group and US-based News Corp, owns three real estate portals — Housing.com, PropTiger and Makaan.com. In an interview with PTI, Agarwala highlighted that the turnover of REA India rose 92 per cent during the 2021-22 fiscal (July-June) to nearly ₹300 crore.

Housing.com — one of the leading real estate classified platforms in India — contributed around 80 per cent to the total revenue, and housing brokerage platform PropTiger.com the balance 20 per cent. Makaan.com's revenue was negligible.

REA India will continue to invest in technology, brand promotion and talent acquisition to grow the Housing.com business. It has already announced a ₹40 crore investment in FY23 for Housing.com and could raise it further looking at competitors.

Big plans ahead

At present, Agarwala said the company has around 1,500 staffers. "We have plans to get to around 1,700 people by the end of FY23. So we are hiring. We have clear ambitions of making Housing.com the clear market leader. We have already achieved audience leadership. We crossed our closest competitor in terms of revenue for the quarter ended June," he said.

Housing.com would primarily be hiring for the product, tech and design teams. On the financial performance in FY22, Agarwala said, "Last (fiscal) year was a very good year for us. We grew our total revenue by 92 per cent and for the first time, on Housing.com, we achieved market leadership in October 2021 and that leadership position has continued."

Agarwala attributed the rise in revenue of both Housing.com and PropTiger.com to a strong revival in housing demand after the second wave of the pandemic. He highlighted that Housing.com's revenue in the quarter ended June was for the first time higher than its closest competitor 99acres.com.

On the outlook for the current financial year, Agarwala said REA India expects high double-digit growth but it would be difficult to match last year's performance of a 92 per cent increase in revenue. Losses will start reducing from 2023-24 fiscal year.

Impact of decisions made during pandemic

He attributed the growth in revenue to the company's "brave" decision to keep investing in business, technology and brand during the pandemic, and that "paid off".

"We never laid off anybody, we, in fact, hired more people. We continued to invest in our product and technology, and also launched a new platform such as Housing Edge, which is doing very well for us. We continue to spend money on our brand and were the leading spender in terms of the brand building during all of Covid," he observed.

Increased digital adoption in the real estate sector also helped Housing.com. "Third thing is, I think, the residential real estate received a big boost in a funny way because of Covid. I think people's relationship and equation with a home changed. Everybody realised that during a time like Covid, the home was their only safe haven. That, I think, gives a renewed lease of life to residential real estate," Agarwala said.

Low-interest rates on home loans and stamp duty cuts in a few states were also major demand drivers for residential properties. In December 2020, Australia's REA Group acquired a controlling stake in Elara Technologies which owned these three portals. Elara Technologies has been renamed REA India, which currently has 17 offices across India.

REA India assists consumers through their entire home-seeking journey from initial search and discovery to financing to the final step of transaction closure.

Housing.com, which was founded in 2012, is a full-stack proptech platform for homeowners/home seekers, landlords, developers, and real estate brokers. It offers listings for new homes, resale homes, rentals, plots, commercial spaces and co-living spaces in India. Founded in 2011, PropTiger.com is a housing brokerage firm. Makaan.com is an advertising platform.

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