Brokerage Industry - Adapting to change

“Currently, we do not have the kind of high demand that we had seen in 2012-14. While the market is in a good state and transactions are taking place, customers are not eager to transact promptly. However, whenever the sales price and rentals are set realistically, deals are moving faster. In the current market conditions, agents have to put in extra efforts and they have to be patient and persuasive in order to complete a property deal.

“We have noted that the buyer’s decision-taking time has risen from 1-3 days to 1–5 weeks. They want to understand and evaluate several options before getting to a conclusion. We need to convince them to sell or rent a unit at realistic prices. Therefore, changed market sentiments require the brokerages to constantly train and fine-tune their consultants’ communication skills since they come in direct contact with the customers.” “We’ve seen softening in prices and slightly less transactions in the brokerage markets over the past two years. Small players who are attracted by high margins and high growth figures find it difficult to survive when the market starts  maturing, with the consequent slower growth and lower margins.

During this consolidation, the smaller players are either forced to leave or are acquired by bigger players. This is what we’ve witnessed in Dubai over the past four years. For the larger players, it’s about using this as an opportunity to acquire talent and business.

As we continue to expand, we need to find the best people to fill the right positions in order to grow the business. But there is not a large talent pool to select from. Therefore, we must hire the right people of the highest calibre here and also import the very best from other parts of the world.” “Many brokers are stuck in the mindset of  markets of years gone by and are unwilling to accept change. We interview more than 60 brokers each month and end up hiring fewer than five. I see this across the board — too many agents are passive and wait for, and expect, business to come to them.

“The only way to stay in business and navigate through a shifted market is to proactively focus on generating new business, differentiate yourself from the thousands of other brokers, and providing value to your customer base. With the overall volume of transactions down, both in sales and rentals, and the extended stagnant period, we’ve been driving our agents to keep their focus on the basic fundamentals of real estate brokerage: generating quality personal contacts, building solid relationships, and servicing customers’ needs at a high level.”

“The real estate industry is becoming more regulated by the Dubai Land Department, which means brokerages need to make sure  employees are adequately trained and up to date on trends and regulations. More and more brokerages are investing in training.

“Clients now expect the best customer service and information in this maturing market and do not accept untrained agents as in prefinancial crisis years. They want trained professionals and a customer experience akin to any other mature market. We also see buyers becoming more comfortable with off-plan sales and affordable housing. There is an increase in variety available and developers are becoming more aggressive with their offers to buyers. Developers are easier to hold to account if something goes wrong, payment plans are attractive and the specification is at a high standard.”

“The market is more stable, which is a sign of maturity. At a macroeconomic level, the global economic situation has a strong impact on the sector, while locally, more competition and launches, better property offerings, tighter regulations on transactions and a more aware and selective buyer are the key trends in the market.

“As an established brokerage firm, we have sharpened our marketing, so it is now highly targeted and balanced. Negotiations are now harder to ensure the best price for our buyers/investors.

“Tax-free, attractive rental yield, geographical location, world-class infrastructure and projects and Expo 2020 are some of the key factors that appeal to international clients.

“We believe we are on the upward curve and the increase in the number of transactions indicates the right value of property and an interest to purchase.”

Source: Hina Navin, Special to PW


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