Real estate portals like Magicbricks.com, 99acres.com, Makaan.com and Housing.com, among others, will now have to register themselves as real estate agents under the state regulator MahaRera.
In a recent order, the regulator has noted that such portals which carry out the functions of a real estate agent should register themselves with the Maharashtra Real Estate Regulatory Authority (MahaRera) within the next two months.
MahaRera said in its judgement, “Portals which carry the function of real estate agent…need registration. Such digital portals are directed to register themselves with MahaRera within the next two months if their activities are spread within the territorial jurisdiction of it.”
In July last year, consumer body Mumbai Grahak Panchayat had written a letter to MahaRera chairman pointing out that the activities of property portals and had sought clarification from the authority on the role of agents.
MahaRera bench, comprising its members Vijay Satbir Singh and BD Kapdnis have in the order, declared that property portals which go beyond mere advertising and actually facilitate and negotiate sale or purchase of properties for developers and home buyers must register themselves as real estate agent.
In the detailed judgement running into 279 pages, the MahaRera has maintained that such portals are carrying on activities which fall within the definition of real estate agent.
The portals had submitted that the activities of the firms are spread over the entire country and it would be difficult for them to register with a particular real estate regulatory authority of a state.
“We find that the portals will have to register themselves with real estate regulatory authority of a state where their activities are going on until the registration at national level is made permissible,” the order said.
The judgement, however, held that the portals whose activities are simply confined to advertisements defined by section 2(b) of RERA, need not register themselves as real estate agents, provided in disclaimer they declare that they are simply advertising agencies and advise the viewers to cross-check the information from other sources including RERA websites.
Commenting on the order, MGP chairman Shirish Despande said, “it is a landmark judgement and we hope all property portals will accept this judgement without demur and register themselves with MahaRera. If Parliament’s intention to regulate the real estate sector is not in doubt, then by no stretch of the imagination the portals, which hugely impact buying decisions of lakhs of home-buyers can escape the net of Rera.”
Elara Technologies, which also owns portals like Proptiger.com, Housing.com, Makaan.com and FastFox.com were not available for comments, while email query sent to Magicbricks.com did not fetch any reply.