Broker Profile: In difficult times, business is easier

PWIseeb Rehman

Tell us about Sherwoods and your role as CEO.

Sherwoods provides a fully integrated, end-to-end solution to property investors. For over 20 years the GCC has been the hub of the Sherwoods enterprise, with supporting offices internationally and affiliates in London, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. We aim to develop a lifelong relationship with our clients.

As CEO I am responsible for the strategic direction of the company, but there is no hierarchy here. I still like to get my hands dirty in the day-to-day activities.

What’s your best property deal in the past year?

Sherwoods has had a tremendously successful 2015, completing many exciting projects. Swarovski Sparkle Tower in Dubai Marina was a highlight. It was fantastic to be involved in such a prestigious project. While the Hempel hotel project in Bayswater, London, is another that fills me with great pride.

How many agents have you hired in the past year?

We have hired six agents in the past year. This is low by industry standards, but we have no intention of hiring more. Our company is based on providing bespoke service to our clients.

What motivated you to work in real estate?

Everyone needs property, whether rich or poor. Real estate has always been in my family. My career started as a legal surveyor in London before establishing my own real estate practice.

How has the industry changed over the years?

The UAE government’s vision and ambition has transformed Dubai from a desert into a metropolis, and now a major capital of the world. This approach has revolutionised the Dubai real estate industry.

What is your outlook for this year?

Returns are shrinking and unless corrections are made across price, products, process and legislation, investors will look elsewhere. I think we will see a reduction in sale prices of 9-11 per cent across the region.

What properties are selling most in the market?

Dubai is currently centred around three- to five-bedroom residential properties bought by owner-occupiers rather than investors.

What challenges are unique to this market?

The regulatory framework and increasing costs, particularly in obtaining a work permit, make running a real estate business quite challenging.

What would you advise those who want to buy?

Understand your long-term goals. If you are looking to be here for three years or longer, buying is your best option and you will make a return in that time. For those here on an ad-hoc basis, it makes sense to rent. Finance, however, is a challenge. You typically need around 30 per cent deposit to secure it.

Any advice to agents who are struggling?

Business is actually easier in difficult times, but you need to educate yourself on the market, products and your client’s expectations. With that knowledge you can place clients where they want to be. Those who understand the market will thrive. Those who don’t will fall by the wayside.

What is your advice to those just starting out?

Real estate is a fantastic industry. It’s constantly evolving, which brings both challenges and rewards. You will make a lot of friends, but it’s important not to get sidetracked. It takes time, commitment and knowledge of the industry to be successful.

How do you train your new agents?

We tend to use a buddy system, where we pair starters with experienced agents. However, we tend to recruit people with some background in the first place.

What are your interests outside of real estate?

The most important part of my life is family. Any time I find outside of work is devoted to them. Watching and participating in sport is my other passion. I love motor sport and I’m a lifelong fan of Chelsea FC. Running is also important to me and I can be found pounding the streets, even when travelling on business!

What helps you stand out from others?

Knowledge of the industry, commitment and genuine passion for real estate.

Up close

Born and raised in London, Iseeb Rehman studied legal surveying at what is now the University of West London. He established Sherwoods International Property in London in the mid-1980s. In 1988, Rehman relocated its headquarters to Dubai. “In those days you couldn’t buy anything in Dubai, so people had to make their investments abroad. One of the most popular places to do so was London, and if anyone knew the market there it was us.” Away from real estate, Rehman is a devoted family man, a life-long Chelsea fan, and a frequent competitor in long-distance running events.

Sherwoods International Property

With a head office in London, Sherwoods International Property is a multinational, independent property consultancy, supporting clients with investments, purchases, sales, tenancy and professional support services.

Iseeb Rehman founded the company in London in the mid-1980s before moving its headquarters to Dubai in 1988. Initially the company looked after the real estate needs of private bankers in London, but has evolved to cater to expatriates from other countries, particularly in the GCC, looking for realty opportunities in London.

For over 20 years, the GCC has been the hub of the Sherwoods enterprise, with supporting offices around the world and affiliates in London, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. The move to Dubai was coincidental, reveals Rehman. “While based in London, one of our main clients, a well-known investment bank, had moved to Dubai, which resulted in very frequent travel. It naturally made sense to open an office here. As Dubai grew, Sherwoods naturally grew with it.”

Sherwoods caters to private clients, institutions and government and private developers. In the GCC, it has offices in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah, Bahrain and Doha, and will open new offices in other locations.

Source: Jobannie Tabada, Features Editor, Property WeeklyPW


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