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Keller Williams prides itself for its culture and values. How are those values reflected in your business?
We put our agents first, focus on growing their careers, treat them as stakeholders in the overall business, share the decision making with them and reward them beyond the commission they personally generate. Culture is at the very core of Keller Williams — it’s so deeply entwined that we know our models and systems don’t work without it. Our culture focuses on achieving success through the efforts of the greater team.
What’s the best property deal you’ve made in the past year?
It was for a one-bedroom apartment in Jumeirah Lakes Towers that was owned by an offshore corporation in a trust, with a mountain of paperwork and red tape around it. The purchaser was pregnant and on a time crunch to close. Add some no-objection certificate issues and additional transfer fees, and you’ve got the perfect storm. Our agent really jumped in, stepped up the action and kept the deal going. The result was a very happy buyer and seller — a win-win situation for us.
How many new agents has your firm hired in the past year?
In the past 12 months we’ve grown to 25 brokers and our growth initiative for this year will see a further addition of 50-60 experienced brokers.
What is your outlook for the UAE’s property sector this year?
Cautiously optimistic. After 2015 being a period of uncertainty and 2016 not showing any concrete signs of change so far, it really could go either way. Implications from the energy sector, global currencies and regional political matters are all variables we are watching.
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What are the fundamental weaknesses that you see in the market?
Transparency and availability of real-time transactional data across resale, off-plan and leasing. Accurately advising investors and end users on the Dubai real estate market is challenging as transactional data is limited. Also, many of the portals are flooded with duplicate, fake and bait-and-switch listings. This is largely a function of sellers and landlords listing their property with more than one broker. It gives a false sense of active inventory levels and makes the process for a buyer/renter frustrating to say the least. The lack of a true multiple listing system and the barrier to entry for first-time buyers and end users are the other challenges.
What properties are selling most in the market under the current circumstances?
Those that provide value and/or easier entry requirements. For off-plan it’s definitely those that have payment plans with larger sums due at handover. For ready-built resale, it’s properties that have sellers with realistic expectation and are pricing for today’s market (not yesterday’s or tomorrow’s).
What are the biggest mistakes buyers make?
Waiting to see where the bottom of the market is, which is something that can never be timed. Also, not anticipating the total cost of purchasing a property and not being prepared to move quickly when they find an ideal property.
Are genuine sellers able to attract serious buyers in the present market situation?
The truth is that serious sellers in any market can attract serious buyers. It all comes down to accepting what market conditions are right now. My top tips would be to price to today’s market with the intention of selling within the next 30 days; use a reputable broker that provides pricing analysis using past closed sales; list exclusively with just one broker; and respond to all offers, even if they are under your asking price. Often a first offer is one that starts the negotiation process. Always respond with a counter offer. Understand that when a property is priced right and marketed correctly you will get your best offers.
What would you advise people who want to buy?
Contact a broker who has listings or history working with buyers in the community(ies) that you are interested in. Discuss everything that is important to you in your ideal property with your broker. Work with one broker and make sure the broker is working for you. Speak to a lender and get pre-qualified before searching for a property. Be ready to move quickly when you find a property you like. Use a third party conveyancing company or attorney to review contracts and move the deal from an accepted offer to the transfer.
A son of a successful businessman, Zhann Jochinke’s entrepreneurial instinct was piqued at an early age, but it was not after he read Gary Keller’s The Millionaire Real Estate Agent that he decided to pursue a career as a real estate broker. Having earned his spurs as COO of Keller Williams New York, Jochinke is taking on bigger challenges as he leads Keller Williams’ aggressive expansion in the Middle East. “I’m very competitive,” he tells PW. “To borrow a line from Jimmy Connors, ‘I hate to lose more than I love to win’.”
Keller Williams (KW) was founded in 1983 by Gary Keller and Joe Williams with the mission “to build careers worth having, businesses worth owning and lives worth living for its agents”. The company today has more than 134,000 agents in more than 760 offices across the world. It operates on the premise that if the company focuses its resources on building its agents’ businesses, the agents in turn will build the company beyond all expectations.
In 1991 KW began franchising and in 1998 opened its first international franchise in Canada. The company became the largest real estate company by agent count in the US in 2012, North America (US and Canada) in 2013 and the world in 2015. The company was also recognised last year by Training Magazine as the #1 Training Organisation in the World— not just in real estate but across all industries.
The training and coaching programmes at KW are developed by studying and modelling the behaviours of the company’s most successful agents.
In Dubai Keller Williams is currently fitting out its new headquarters, a 6,000-sq-ft property at Business Central Towers on Shaikh Zayed Road. This will be the organisation’s second location, with the current office at the Palm Jumeirah becoming a branch office.
Source: Jobannie Tabada, Features Editor, Property Weekly