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Real estate: moving the industry from offline to online

Harare: You worked hard in college and it finally pays off: you have secured your first job. The excitement is inexplicable, and just as you had planned, you can finally move out and get a place of your own.

Having lived all your life in your parent’s house, you have no clue where to start searching for your dream apartment. You could perhaps approach a real estate agent, but how do you know which ones to trust? You figure your best bet is to search online.

Traditionally, looking for property involved a search in the newspapers, on the local supermarket notice board or, if you had disposable income, engaging a real estate agent. However, recently there has been a shift from traditional advertising media to emerging online media.

Within the property market, many real estate agencies have seen the value in online advertising and the potential it has. With a mobile penetration rate of over 100 percent in Zimbabwe, many potential home-seekers are able to access these web adverts every day. The e-commerce landscape has improved over the years with many skeptics starting to warm up to the service and many of the challenges such as lack of payment systems within the industry being overcome.

Mustafa Suleimanji, Managing Director of online property portal Lamudi Zimbabwe, said that despite the current economic challenges, the country is a promising market for e-commerce. Zimbabwe has a higher number of estate agents who are using online advertising services than in some other Sub-Saharan countries.

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“Zimbabweans are very entrepreneurial people. The number of property agents that use the internet for business specifically is highest in Zimbabwe. Higher than in Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique,” he stated.

This is particularly evident on the Lamudi website which currently has over 100 registered real estate agencies, including developers, offering properties for sale and rent. Though fairly new to the market, the website is growing fast to reach over 20,000 visits per month.

Lamudi is part of the Africa Internet Group family, supported by Rocket Internet, MTN and Millicom. Lamudi s is currently active in over 32 countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and  Latin America, providing both property sellers and buyers with a platform to access thousands of properties that are available for sale and rent.

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