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How long have you been in this industry?
I’ve been in the real estate industry for almost 35 years. I started by selling properties to well-known Arab families in the GCC. I came to Dubai for the first time in 1988 and fell in love with this city. I decided to move here 11 years ago. I love properties and cannot imagine doing anything else.
How has the industry changed over the years?
We changed from a market where we only distributed our products to people to a more mature market. The triple LLL rule of real estate — location, location, location — gets a new meaning in Dubai now. Also, quality is one of the most important criteria today. The most significant event was definitely the economic downturn of 2009. It was a huge challenge for all of us, but in the end we survived. And with every slowdown there is a possibility to make changes. And we grabbed the opportunity.
What’s your best property deal in the past year?
After long negotiations with the client and developer, IFA Hotels and Resorts, we sold a penthouse in The 8 on the Palm Jumeirah. We were very happy to close this deal, as the developer had done several changes to the layout of the apartment and the client wanted to step back. But we were able to convince him that he would have a fantastic investment.
How many agents have you hired in the past year?
As we restructured the company and the sales team last year, we didn’t hire. But since January we have hired seven agents already.
What is your outlook for the UAE market this year?
The market is changing and moving again. I don’t believe that we will see a huge progress in sales in the first half of the year, but I am convinced that the Dubai real estate market will be on track again after summer. Dubai is a very attractive place to invest in property. There aren’t so many alternatives in the world, with respect to the high return on investment, good pricing with a very secure legal environment.
What are the challenges unique to this market?
We have to fight every time for our commissions. This is completely different from my home country or the other markets I have worked in, where the clients pay us directly for our work. Here it’s a daily fight, and it consumes a lot of energy.
What’s the biggest mistake when purchasing in a market such as Dubai?
Buyers often call a hundred agents and think they will get the best price, but it’s exactly the opposite. There are not so many very good deals in the market. But when a seller gets a hundred phone calls from different agents, he rethinks his price immediately. So the buyer should appoint only one agency. That gives him more guarantee of a really good deal.
What would you advise people who want to sell and buy in this market?
My first advice to sellers is to check if they can maybe wait half a year longer. We believe that prices will go up again, slowly but surely. But it’s the opposite for buyers. They should buy now for the same reason. They should also get pre-approval for bank financing. Very often buyers give us the green light to buy a property and only then do they start with the finance process. But a seller, who really needs to sell, will need the money as soon as possible and can’t wait for the bank approval, which could take some time.
What is your advice to agents who are struggling to close deals?
Agents have to leave their comfort zone. Many agents are still not ready to do that. They are not ready to assimilate with the new market conditions. But it’s also the responsibility of the company to educate the agents. Every agent needs a lot of support and must be willing to learn. The brokerage business is a 24/7 job. But in the end you can earn really good money. I guess that’s the reason we have so many agents in Dubai. But most agents are only dreaming and not acting despite having good income. It’s really sad that very often the client knows more about the market than the agent.
Do you have your own training programme?
Yes, we have a training system we call Kensington Property Institute. We just implemented a totally new training system and plan for our agents. This starts with the basic training session about the market, selling and ending with specific manager trainings. The basic training we do ourselves; the management trainings will be mostly outsourced to professional training companies. We also offer our agents a clear career system.
What is your greatest strength?
Patience. I think I am a very patient person. That’s helped me a lot to handle all the enquiries of my agents and their clients.
Born in Saarbrücken, Germany, Klaus Hölscher moved to Austria to study Economics and obtain his bachelor’s degree in Real Estate and Finance. He has almost 35 years of experience in real estate and finance, 27 of which in the Middle East property market. Hölscher established Bavarian Real Estate Brokers in 2005 and rebranded it as Kensington Exclusive Properties in 2011 after becoming a licensed partner of Kensington Finest Properties International. He currently sits as CEO of Kensington.
Source: Jobannie Tabada, Features Editor, Property Weekly