• Housing.com Raises $90m from Japan’s SoftBank

Real estate portal Housing.com has raised $90 million in a funding round led by Japan’s SoftBank, valuing the two-year-old company at about $250 million. New investors that participated in this round include Falcon Edge and Russian billionaire Yuri Milner’s DST Global.

Housing.com, which has now raised a total of over $121 million, confirmed that existing investors like Nexus Venture, Helion Venture as well as the venture capital arm of telecom company Qualcomm participated in this round.

“The Housing.com team has a deep insight into what it takes to build great products, and transform the way people research and transact in real estate,” Nikesh Arora, vice-chairman at SoftBank Corporation, said in a statement. The Japanese investor has invested $70 million for a 30% stake in Housing.com.

SoftBank earlier backed online marketplace Snapdeal and taxi aggregator Olacabs in October.

The Mumbai-based real estate portal is expected to use the funds to map over 40 million houses across 300 cities in India. It will also allow users to list properties online at the touch of a button, a technology solution that Advitiya Sharma, co-founder of Housing.com, claims is “new to the real estate industry, (both) online and offline”.

Analysts are of the view that the online housing market offers a great opportunity for investors as it transforms from pure classified listings to selling houses. “If successful, it can become a very significant business opportunity and one can do everything from selling insurance to home appliances,” said HV Harish, partner at consultancy Grant Thornton.

Last month, Housing.com entered into an exclusive strategic partnership to sell apartments of TataValue Homes on its website. The company reported that it sold more than 150 apartments with a gross merchandise value of more than Rs 50 crore in less than five days.

It is estimated that the real estate market in the country will reach $180 billion by 2020. In just residential property, the top eight Indian cities will see an additional demand of 2.8 million units in the next five years, according to property consultant Cushman & Wakefield.

The competition in the online real estate industry is heating up with venture funds putting in huge capital in recent weeks. Last month, real estate website PropTiger.com raised $30 million from Rupert Murdoch-controlled New York-based media company News Corp. In September, rival CommonFloor raised $30 million from Tiger Global.

Other contenders in the rapidly-growing market are Magicbricks, owned by the publishers of this newspaper, as well as 99Acres, backed by internet company InfoEdge.

The article appeared in Economic Times . The article can be found here.