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NRIs turn to startup expertise for their real estate investments

NRIs turn to startup expertise for their real estate

HYDERABAD: Startups in the home aggregator and rental space say a growing number of non-resident Indians are seeking their expertise to manage their real estate properties in India, marking a shift from the general practice of entrusting the task with traditional brokers.

India has an estimated 4 million unattended properties listed in the name of NRIs. Startups like NestAway, Grabhouse and No broker cited higher rentals, home insurance and assurance of better management of property as some of the reasons for the increasing footfalls. Trust deficit with traditional brokers is another factor, they said. IDG Ventures, Tiger Global, Ratan Tata and Flipkart are among those who invested in these residential property management startups. Statistics show that nearly 70% of the houses now under the network of home aggregators belong to NRIs.

"As home rental startups generally deliver 20-50% higher returns compared to returns they were receiving from the conventional brokers in the market, the NRIs find us attractive," said Amarendra Sahu, cofounder of NestAway, a Bengaluru-based home aggregator backed by Ratan Tata. "Given our strong customer base and high occupancy ratios, we can assure uninterrupted rent payments to property owners even when some of those properties were vacant for short periods."

NestAway, which currently has 2,300 houses under its portfolio in four cities, is aiming to bring 100,000 tenants and 50,000 houses under its network in 2016, majority of which would be of the NRIs, said Sahu.

The majority of brokers rent out the properties to families and avoid renting them to several individuals in a model similar to the paying guest model, owing to handling issues. However, startups have been renting out the properties under their control on individual bed basis, fetching higher returns on each property. The home aggregator and management startups said they were well aware of the key concerns of the NRIs on maintenance of their properties.

"We work with insurance companies like Tata AIG to compensate for any losses to the property and undertake maintenance tasks as and when required by tying up with local players and home service startups," said Pankhuri Srivastava, cofounder of Sequoia Capital-backed startup Grabhouse.com, which now has 1,300 properties under its network in Bengaluru and Delhi-NCR.

"Along with this, we also cater to the demands of the owners who prefer having tenants from a specific background, like bachelors, married or someone employed in an MNC," said Pankhuri.

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