How would you like to buy a home on a shopping website?

Just a click away.
Just a click away.
Image: Reuters/Punit Paranjpe
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Buying books and music online is old hat. The battle for dominance in India’s e-commerce space is seeing new and innovative categories selling online.

A home, for one.

eBay-backed online retailer Snapdeal has partnered with real estate developer Tata Value Homes (TVHL) to sell apartments. This is the first time a real estate company has partnered with an online marketplace to sell houses, the companies said. Users will be able to book a home online by paying Rs30,000.

Consumers can own an apartment developed by TVHL in five cities across India–Bangalore, Chennai Pune, Mumbai and Ahmadabad. They range between Rs30 lakh and Rs70 lakh ($50,000-$150,000).

TVHL launched an online booking service for their properties in December and have already sold 600 homes on their website. Pawan Sarda, head of marketing at TVHL, said they have tied up with the online retailer because it reaches a much wider audience all over the world. Snapdeal has over 25 million users and has crossed $1 billion in sales, Snapdeal CEO Kunal Bahl said.

A real estate analyst said this is a good way to reach overseas buyers. Pankaj Kapoor, managing director of realty research firm Liases Foras, said that the real estate market has been sluggish lately and developers want to reach a bigger consumer base—even foreign buyers—via e-commerce websites.

“People who want to live in these houses will not buy them online without seeing the location,” says Kapoor. “This is for real estate investors who live in the UK, US or Dubai.”

Snapdeal also sells bullet proof vehicles online.

Snapdeal’s rival Flipkart also announces an unconventional deal yesterday. They have tied up with the government of India to provide an online marketing platform to handloom weavers, a craft that suffers from lack of market linkages. Local weavers in India are usually based in villages and do not have the financial wherewithal to set up shops in big cities or to travel to market their products. The middlemen involved escalate costs and the price disadvantage has contributed to the steady decline of handloom garments.

“This partnership will connect the artisans directly to the buyer and the hand holding by Flipkart in guiding, packaging, collecting and delivering to the buyer will motivate the artisans in rural India,” said the ministry of textiles in a press release.

Snapdeal has raised more than $350 million in funding from several investors since its launch in 2010. Last month, Flipkart received $1 billion in funding—one of the largest investments raised in a single round globally.