More buyers get lawyers to read the fine print

Article from Emirates Business 24-7

Article from Emirates Business 24-7

Property owners are concerned over growing disputes and investment security.

The number of property dispute cases filed in Q1 2009 increased by 55 per cent compared to Q4 2008. (EB FILE)

Increasing real estate disputes and concerns over security of a property investment are prompting buyers to seek legal advice prior to making a transaction, according to agents.

“Clients have serious concerns over the security of their real estate investments. Further, increase in number of real estate disputes is a result of many prospective buyers seeking legal advice prior to making a transaction,” said Mohanad Alwadiya, Managing Director, Harbor Real Estate.

“This was not the case in previous years which also contributed greatly to the problems that clients were facing as proper due diligence was not conducted prior to the sale and purchase of property,” he said.

Speaking to Emirates Business in a round table, Shilpa Guruswamy, Head of Legal and Sales Coordination, Asteco Property Management; Charles Neil, CEO, Landmark Advisory & Landmark Properties and Liz O’Connor, Director – Residential Sales & Leasing, Better Homes, said they were ensuring all correct steps were followed within their companies and ensuring all documentations were in place before a transaction is completed.

Do you have a law firm that advises you on the authenticity of your real estate transactions?

Guruswamy: Yes, we have a legal department, which oversees our transaction details and is also responsible for the compliance and risk mitigation process.

Neil: We have law firms to draw up all our documentation which protects the rights of our clients. Our accounts are audited by one of the four big auditors in order to ensure there is a clear distinction between our funds and our clients’ funds.

Real estate agencies, however, should be careful using companies claiming to be trust companies as they are not regulated, and if they have doubts they should use a reputed company of lawyers instead.

O’Connor: Yes, we do have a lawyer on board who manages our legal procedures and contractual obligations on transactions. Through our in-house lawyer as well as our managers, we ensure that all correct steps are followed and documentation is in place before a transaction is completed.

Alwadiya: In 2009, we joined forces with Prestige Legal Consultants, an international law company, to provide counselling and representation to all our clients in all legal matters concerning real estate in Dubai.

This partnership was started to keep in line with our vision to evolve our services from traditional real estate brokerage of merely bringing buyers and sellers together to world-class end-to-end real estate services. The holistic real estate legal services will complement our diverse line of services and govern all the activities and transactions of our clients.

The combined real estate experience of our firms enable us to provide clear candid counsel and guidance to our clients at all times to ensure that their rights are always protected.

Is this a new trend due to the downturn in the real estate sector?

Guruswamy: Real estate transactions, whether sales, lease, or appointment of sub-agents, are all essentially structured through legal contracts. Therefore, all these underlying documents need to be verified to ensure compliance to statutes and contract laws.

It is not a new trend but as the market matures there is greater emphasis on regulation and transparency. Therefore, there is increased need to have people with necessary legal background and expertise to scrutinise or draft documents. It is in no way related to the downturn because we had a legal department in place and operational long before the onset of the downturn.

Neil: We feel there should be laws allowing the setting up of trust accounts, but in our case customers trust us as we have strong finances and strong shareholders.

O’Connor: No, for us this is not as a result of the downturn in the real estate sector. We created this position a number of years ago due to volume of transactions and to oversee our international operations.

Alwadiya: Real estate-related enquiries have increased since the 2008 financial downturn. Many of the clients have serious concerns about the security of their real estate investments.

It was estimated that the number of cases filed in the first quarter of 2009 increased by 55 per cent compared to the fourth quarter of 2008. This drastic increase in the number of real estate disputes is a result of many reasons ranging from investors not fulfilling their obligations, sale and purchase agreements containing provisions that contradict the law about developers not delivering projects on time, and many more.

Prospective buyers are also seeking legal advice prior to making a transaction. This was not the case in previous years and also contributed greatly to the problems that clients were facing as proper due diligence was not conducted prior to the sale and purchase of property.

Most of the current legal enquiries that our legal division receives are usually concerned with the real estate regulations and legislations.

The profound perception of the industry and the daily interface with real estate clientele have resulted in the espousal of a fresh innovative legal counselling scheme. According to a recent study conducted by Harbor research division, majority of people perceive legal counseling as an exhorbitant service which leaves them with no alternative other than staying unaided and frustrated.

For that reason, the legal solution introduced by Harbor & Prestige is viewed as a results-driven method. Customers who seek legal counselling will incur minimal fees and no extra charges will be required in case of not winning the case.

Real Estate Regulatory Agency (Rera) recently proposed a free legal advice service for buyers and sellers, an initiative that we applaud. We believe that this innovative policy will assist in boosting the confidence levels in the real estate industry.

Can you specify which particular transactions are scrutinised by your analysts and lawyers?

Guruswamy: The legal department is involved in overseeing all transactions not limited to primary sales, secondary sales, leases, registration at the Land Department verification of power of attorneys etc. Should a party to the transaction be a corporate body, incorporation documents of companies need also to be verified.

Neil: We do use lawyers for more complicated transactions and are working with one firm to do conveyance transactions.

O’Connor: We have standardised processes and procedures that govern every transaction. Our in-house legal advisor oversees all the legalities of these processes to ensure that all parties, wherever possible are secure.

Alwadiya: The legal services introduction is vital as the real estate market matures through the current economic crisis to become a more structured and regulated market. We obtain legal counselling for all our transactional activities in order to ensure providing our clients with a secured transactional experience. Needless to say, the more complex and high-end the transaction is, the more legal involvement we require.

Do you collect a deposit from a client in order to lock-in your clients?

Guruswamy: We generally do not encourage collection of deposits. However, should there be a delay in completion of transaction, a deposit may be collected by the agent to secure buyer’s interest and lock the seller to a commitment. In this case the agent takes up the role of an escrow agent.

In case of default, deposit maybe forfeited and returned to the aggrieved party. On successful closure of the deal, the deposit is adjusted towards the balance sale price of the transaction.

Neil: We only take deposits as part of a transaction and to secure the rights of the parties involved in a transaction, we don’t take it in to lock in a client. If the deal falls through, then the deposit is returned in the manner agreed upon by the parties at the time of signing the agreement. Sellers can no longer demand deposits and hold on to them.

O’Connor: We have now begun to encourage our customers to hold their deposit with a Rera-approved escrow facility, but in the absence of an escrow we take a deposit from the buyer as security for the seller.

Alwadiya: Accepting deposits from potential buyers or tenants is a common practice in the property market which is usually used as a closing technique or a gesture to test the seriousness of the potential client. More sellers and landlords are starting to ask for deposits as well in order to secure their interest in the transaction, especially when the closing date of the transaction is delayed for justified reasons such as releasing a property mortgage or finalising the transaction contracts or obtaining a date to conduct the transfer at the developer’s office or the Land Department.

We try to avoid retaining any deposits at our end as this is an added liability on us and it can place us in a conflict of interest situation as we usually represent only one part in the transaction. Having said that, we usually recommend that deposits are usually handed by a financial or legal third party entity with neutral position in relation to the parties involved in the transaction.

Do you maintain a separate account to receive agents’ commissions?

Guruswamy: Commission fees are payable to the agent by the parties involved and shall not form a part of the purchase consideration.

Normally, the purchase consideration is exchanged between the buyer and seller and the commission is paid to the agent. Therefore, there is no possibility of both of them being booked into the same account. However, should the agent be involved in collecting the booking deposit, it is booked separately into a designated account, which is distinct from all other operational accounts. Such payments are held on behalf of the buyer and seller and do not form part of the operational funds of the agent.

Neil: No comment.

O’Connor: We have an accounts department and we run a series of profit centres, most of which have commissions as the primary revenue source.

Alwadiya: Our company’s bank account is supervised by an independent certified accounting and auditing firm. Our internal accounting and finance resources follow the processes and guidelines set by this consultant/firm in order to ensure complete compliance with the best financial and accounting standards.

Occupancy levels close to 75% on The Palm

Article from Emirates Business 24-7

Article from Emirates Business 24-7

Apartment prices remain flat due to new stock entering the market.

Apartment prices remain flat due to new stock . Rental rates of villas have stabilised and are similar to 2007 levels . (SUPPLIED)
Occupancy levels are running at between 60 and 75 per cent across The Palm Jumeirah’s villas and apartments, according to realtors.
“Occupancy for villas is about 60 per cent while for the Shoreline Apartments, it is currently about 75 per cent,” said Laura Adams, Manager of Residential Sales and Leasing at the head office of Better Homes. “Only about 30 per cent of the people who were living on the Palm moved out because of the economic crisis.”
Mohanad Alwadiya, Managing Director of Harbor Real Estate, said: “According to our estimates, 70 to 75 per cent of the new handovers that happened last year are occupied. We estimate that about 70 to 75 per cent of all the villas and apartments are occupied as well.”

Villa prices on the man-made island have risen by 17 per cent since the middle of 2009, said realtors.

Adams said: “Villa prices appreciated by about Dh300 per sq ft, a 17 per cent increase from the low point in the middle of 2009. Overall sales have still not reached the levels seen in the third and fourth quarters of 2008. Apartment prices remain flat at best – the new stock in the Golden Mile, Tiara Residences, Oceana and Marina Residences is continuing to keep prices down and will do so for some time.”

She said prices for one-beds averaged about Dh1,100 to Dh1,500 per sq ft, and two-beds were about Dh1,000 to Dh1,700 per sq ft. Three-beds averaged about Dh950 to Dh1,500 per sq ft, while four-bed villas were about Dh1,600 per sq ft. Five to six-bedroom villas cost Dh1,900 per sq ft.

“The figures are broad as they include off-plan units in the Golden Mile and Marina Residences. Generally, completed properties such as Shoreline and the recently handed over Golden Mile units with superior views command higher prices.” she added.

Turning to rentals, Adams said a one-bedroom apartment currently costs between Dh100,000 and Dh150,000 per annum.

“Two-bedroom apartments range from Dh130,000 to Dh180,000 per year while three-bedroom apartments range between Dh160,000 and Dh200,000.

Four-bedroom apartments are available from Dh300,000 to Dh450,000 per annum and five-bedroom apartments range from Dh420,000 to Dh600,000.

Six-bedroom apartments are in the region of Dh600,000 to Dh700,000 per annum. For villas, rentals are about Dh280,000 per annum at Canal Cove, Dh350,000 for a garden home and Dh480,000 for a signature villa. In general, villa rates have stabilised and are similar to 2007 rates.”

Alwadiya said the current rental prices for apartments are about Dh90,000 per year for a one-bed, Dh130,000 for a two-bed, Dh160,000 for a three-bed and Dh250,000 for a four-bed.

“The Palm Jumeirah is one of the few projects in Dubai that managed to weather the economic crisis well, though villa prices witnessed a drastic decrease in the first and second quarters of 2009.

“For example, a garden home that was being sold for about Dh11m in 2008 suddenly fell to Dh7m. But in the third quarter of last year, the prices of villas started to pick up again and now the same garden home would not be offered for less than Dh9m.”

According to Better Homes, the Palm has a mix of end-users and investors, with declining rental yields tilting the balance in favour of the former. Adams said: “High maintenance fees are affecting net rental yields and since there are other options available elsewhere in Dubai this could impact interest in The Palm Jumeirah. Nationalities are mixed, but residents are mainly East European or Asian.”

Alwadiya said: “The buyer profile used to be dominated by GCC nationals, Russians and South Asians but now you find many different nationalities.”
He said that maintenance charges on the Palm apartments were in the range of Dh14 to Dh17 per sq ft.

“Charges for villas on the Palm are among the highest at about Dh4 to Dh5 per sq ft,” he said. “In effect, the owner of a two-bedroom apartment of about 1,800 sq ft will need to pay about Dh28,800 annually, assuming the charges do not increase yearly.”

First monorail in the Middle East

The Palm Monorail, which was inaugurated in April 2009, was the first monorail project to be constructed in the Middle East, says Nakheel.
It was developed by a consortium of leading international companies. The track runs between Gateway Station at the trunk of the Palm and Atlantis Aquaventure Station on the crescent.

It will eventually be linked to the Dubai Metro following the introd-uction of the Roads and Transport Authority’s Al Sufouh tramline, with direct links to Dubai International Airport and other key transport hubs.

Home to 12,000 residents

About 2,150 families are living in the Shoreline Apartments, said Nakheel, the Palm’s master developer. It added: “Around 800 families are living in the villas on the fronds. The villas, Shoreline Apartments and Marina Residences, are the only homes developed by Nakheel on The Palm Jumeirah. The rest of the residential offerings are being developed by third-party developers,” said a company spokesperson.

The Marina Residences complex at the tip of the Palm’s trunk consists of six towers with 940 apartments and penthouses. A further 40 townhouses stand on a marina-fronted promenade.

Mohanad Alwadiya, Managing Director of Harbor Real Estate, said four residential projects were handed over last year – Tiara Residences, Oceana, Marina Residences and the Golden Mile.

He said 644 Tiara apartments and penthouses were delivered last year and six freehold luxury residential buildings with 858 apartments and 12 penthouses were handed over at Marina Residences. The marina development also includes 30 townhouses.

The Golden Mile Residences project comprising 10 waterfront buildings, and 780 freehold apartments – ranging from one-bedroom units to penthouses and townhouses – were delivered last year. Apartments and penthouses at Oceana’s seven buildings are now being handed over.

The Nakheel official said: “The Palm Jumeirah is now home to more than 12,000 residents and this figure is set to rise as more and more take up occupancy at the island’s various residential developments. There are approximately 1,500 villas on the fronds.”

Nakheel says the Palm has attracted buyers from Chile to China and New York to Nepal, with the first residents moving into the 4,000 villas and apartments completed at the end of 2006.

Rera’s colour-coded norms will not impact agent commissions

Article from Emirates Business 24-7

Article from Emirates Business 24-7

Agent commissions will not be impacted under the colour-coded system introduced by Dubai’s Real Estate Regulatory Agency (Rera) whereby brokers are authorised to sell a particular type of property in a specified area, according to realtors.

Natasha Pereira, Area Manager-Dubai, Sherwoods Property Consultants, said: “Areas such as Discovery Gardens, International City and Dubai Silicon Oasis generate lesser revenue than others. For agents who have been assigned these areas, we also give them (parts of) other areas to handle the sales and rentals as well.”

She added: “Our agents are already classified into specific areas and asset classes.” While some real estate consultancies said they were already segregating the functions of a real estate agent based on specific areas and asset classes, others felt now was not an opportune time to introduce the colour-coded system.

Avais Najam, Managing Director, Venture Horizon Real Estate, said: “There is already an oversupply of real estate brokers in the market since business activity is yet to pick up in Dubai. Further, most brokerage firms continue to employ real estate agents on a commission-only basis, rather than enrolling them in their companies.” He added many brokerage firms and agents were unaware of rules that require a colour-coded system and have sought more clarity on the system’s implementation from Rera.

Najam said: “We are already segregating our real estate agents on the basis of the territories they work in. Most of our agents follow a specific territory.”

Mohanad Alwadiya, Managing Director, Harbor Real Estate, said: “At the moment we are not ready for renewals of our agents. However, we have been following our own policies similar to that set out by Rera. All our agents follow the system. For example, for handling Dubai Media City, Internet City and Tecom areas, we have one designated person since these are all free zone areas. We also have a specific division that specialises in office space.”

In September, Rera announced the four-tier broker classification system whereby brokers were granted one of four types of licences authorising them to sell property of a particular type or in a specified area.

Under the new colour-coded classification, tier one brokers, those issued a blue licence by the Department of Economic Development (DED) and registered with Rera, will be allowed to carry out all types of brokerage activities and operate throughout the emirate, including free zones if authorised to do so by the authority. These have the widest sphere of operation.

Tier two or yellow licences will be issued by the appropriate free-zone authorities to carry out the full range of brokerage activities but will be registered to operate only within “designated” freehold areas owned by that authority. The tier three registered brokers, having green licences, will be authorised by the DED and registered by Rera, to sell only properties of specific companies or developers. The last tier of licenced brokers will be issued a red licence to promote, sell or rent time-share units.

This move by Rera is a step towards regulating professional services in the sector and enhancing rights of buyers, sellers and tenants. The agents also called for the “Agent Trust Account” to be put in place at the earliest to help further regulate the brokerage industry.

Broker firms in Dubai current employ legal firms to oversee some transactions into the account and help them manage accounts in cases where deposits may have been taken by the agent from the customer.

Najam said: “For us, all the commission earnings go into an account and in cases where we receive a deposit, we take on a solicitor to safeguard the client’s deposit money and see to it that it is secured and the transaction made is accurate.

“We sometimes take a deposit of about five per cent to 10 per cent to lock in a client. The deposit money can either be in cash or cheque. In such a scenario, we usually have a solicitor on board to ensure the transaction is valid.”

According to Alwadiya, Harbor Real Estate has hired a professional legal firm to audit its transactions.

Harbor Real Estate’s first Cedre Villas open house generated great demand

Article from Zawya

Article from Zawya

Demand for Villas and Townhouses is still very strong despite the current economic situation

Harbor Real Estate’s first Cedre Villas open house generated great demand

Harbor Real Estate, an integrated Real Estate Service Provider in Dubai, promoted several fully decorated units in the exclusive Cedre Villas in Dubai Silicon Oasis last Saturday. The open house day paraded Twin villas and Townhouses for sale and rent, and welcomed a large number of clients on the premises.

Clients who visited the project were excited about the quality of the finishing, layouts and architecture, the vast spaces, the overall serenity of the community and vigorously the attractive prices.

Mohanad Alwadiya, Managing Director of Harbor Real Estate, said: “Seeing is believing, presenting an open house is a great promotional methodology to attract potential clients, especially that the advantage is for the buyer nowadays. What we are witnessing here is a sign that economy have stabilized and individuals are confident to invest in well established properties that offer them real value for money”

“The project attracted buyers due to its potential when it comes to offering stable capital gains and above average annual rental yields. The attendees of the open house event included a diverse mix of nationalities. Due to the great results and high demand, we have decided to run another open house event on the 30th of January, where we will continue to offer our special added value package to the Harbor Real Estate clients” Added Alwadiya

Open house buyers will enjoy free maintenance for the first year in addition to 90% pre-approved financing up to 25 years and the option of 1 year in-house payment plan which will be offered to owner-occupiers.

The Cedre Villas project provides its residents uncompromised quality and 40% more space than any other villa in Dubai of the same type. The units entertain all tastes with 3 and 4 bedrooms contributing to multi-vibrant lifestyle amenities and smart homes facilities that answer everyone’s wishes.

Harbor Real Estate services have evolved from traditional real estate brokerage of merely bringing buyers and sellers together to innovative world class end-to-end real estate services. The company services include, Real Estate Tailored Research Services, Integrated Marketing Services, Sales, Leasing & Conversion Management Services, Real Estate Investment Portfolio Management Services and, Holistic Real Estate Legal Services.

For more information about Harbor and the special added value offers on Cedre Villas, please contact Harbor on: info@harbordubai.com

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Harbor Real Estate’s first Cedre Villas open house generated great demand

Article from Eye of Dubai

Article from Eye of Dubai

Demand for Villas and Townhouses is still very strong despite the current economic situation

Harbor Real Estate’s first Cedre Villas open house generated great demand

Harbor Real Estate, an integrated Real Estate Service Provider in Dubai, promoted several fully decorated units in the exclusive Cedre Villas in Dubai Silicon Oasis last Saturday. The open house day paraded Twin villas and Townhouses for sale and rent, and welcomed a large number of clients on the premises.

Clients who visited the project were excited about the quality of the finishing, layouts and architecture, the vast spaces, the overall serenity of the community and vigorously the attractive prices.

Mohanad Alwadiya, Managing Director of Harbor Real Estate, said: “Seeing is believing, presenting an open house is a great promotional methodology to attract potential clients, especially that the advantage is for the buyer nowadays. What we are witnessing here is a sign that economy have stabilized and individuals are confident to invest in well established properties that offer them real value for money”

“The project attracted buyers due to its potential when it comes to offering stable capital gains and above average annual rental yields. The attendees of the open house event included a diverse mix of nationalities. Due to the great results and high demand, we have decided to run another open house event on the 30th of January, where we will continue to offer our special added value package to the Harbor Real Estate clients” Added Alwadiya

Open house buyers will enjoy free maintenance for the first year in addition to 90% pre-approved financing up to 25 years and the option of 1 year in-house payment plan which will be offered to owner-occupiers.

The Cedre Villas project provides its residents uncompromised quality and 40% more space than any other villa in Dubai of the same type. The units entertain all tastes with 3 and 4 bedrooms contributing to multi-vibrant lifestyle amenities and smart homes facilities that answer everyone’s wishes.

Harbor Real Estate services have evolved from traditional real estate brokerage of merely bringing buyers and sellers together to innovative world class end-to-end real estate services. The company services include, Real Estate Tailored Research Services, Integrated Marketing Services, Sales, Leasing & Conversion Management Services, Real Estate Investment Portfolio Management Services and, Holistic Real Estate Legal Services.

For More information about Harbor and the special added value offers on Cedre Villas please contact Harbor on info@harbordubai.com

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Dubai’s properties need people

Article from Kippreport

Article from Kippreport

The emirate’s real estate sector can only pick up if Dubai’s population grows, says a new study. Transparency and better customer service are also essentials.

Dubai’s real estate market is facing a massive oversupply, and will need a quick growth in the emirate’s population in order to recover, according to the latest report released by property broker Harbor Real Estate.

“In 2010, oversupply will be an issue in the market. An estimated 60,000 residential units and 30 million square foot of office space are coming on stream by the end of 2011,” the report said, adding that Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Lakes Towers alone were expected to see around 10,200 new units in the next two years.
Dubai’s population declined between 5 percent and 8 percent in 2009; the city will need to see a growth in its population to increase property demand and “kick start the industry again,” the report said.

It’s also not going to be easy to attract existing investors. Demand last year was dampened by the lack of available credit and the tightening of lending rules by mortgage lenders. In 2010, investors are expected to be extremely cautious, the report said.

“Gone are the days of the easy sale to the investor. Simply put, many people have been hurt by the real estate price correction. In effect, they have developed a risk aversion, which will take some time to overcome,” it said.

One of the key things essential to increase the confidence of consumers in the market is to increase transparency, the report said. Currently, laws and regulations about disclosure are limited.

“Investors, especially those from overseas, need to feel that their rights will be protected and, in case a dispute arises, resolution will be equitable, accessible and timely,” the report said.

The timely release of economic data will also help people assess the feasibility of their intended investments.
“Buyers, particularly those with cash are the new kings. This year, real estate professionals will need to serve the customer and serve them well. The main drivers of buyer dissatisfaction have been in the areas of knowledge, consultative ability and empathy. This responsibility does not only lie with brokers but also with developers who must ensure that end-consumer needs are understood,” the report said.

Dubai’s authorities have already started taking measures to regulate the emirate’s property market. Most recently, Dubai’s Real Estate Regulatory Agency (Rera) said on Sunday that it has signed a new deal with the Ministry of Labor to officially recognize real estate brokers as a separate professional category. Labor cards and residency visas issued to brokers will now include their designation, instead of categorizing them as sales staff. The authority said that the move would help to remove bogus brokers from the market.

“This is the first step towards a complete classification of the real estate professions in Dubai,” Marwan bin Ghalita, CEO of RERA, said in a statement, adding that the move will promote “transparency and professionalism” in the property sector.

In 2009, Rera announced that property developers in Dubai will have to pay the complete land price before selling off-plan developments and will also need to inject at least 20 percent of the project’s value before beginning construction.

Late last year, the Dubai Land Department also said that it was planning to introduce a new law to protect the rights of property investors during the first quarter of 2010.

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Brokers Must Adopt Fresh Approach

Article in Emirates Business 24/7

Article in Emirates Business 24/7

Despite the barrage of articles and opinions depicting economic doom and gloom of a mammoth scale, reports of tumbling property values, double-digit percentages losses by developers and property investors (the list goes on), no one is paying attention to the current state of the brokerage industry. The remaining standing companies still believe that, if things are done differently, with a client-centric philosophy, an incisive fact- based approach and a clear set of realistic objectives and values derived from truly objective assessments, the existence of real opportunities in the UAE real estate scene to create and build for the long-term was undeniable.

Pre-2008 saw all manner of people get into the real estate brokerage industry. The lucrative and easy to make commissions were too attractive to ignore. That is fine since there is nothing wrong in wanting to (legally) better yourself or income. But many thought their skills alone were what brought in results – none more so than the plethora of salespeople, who flocked to the field, many of whom were not familiar with properties.

Now, as the UAE property market matures through its first crisis, the nature of selling and buying realty is changing irreversibly and with it a lot of new industry and consumer trends are emerging, one of which is the lack of satisfaction of customers with real estate brokers. According to a survey conducted by Harbor Real Estate in October 2009, 61 per cent of consumers who bought property in the last two years are dissatisfied with the performance of real estate agents who brokered their purchases. What we have here is an indicator that brokerage companies need to shape up in order to survive during and beyond the financial crisis. The level of proficiency in effective consultancy, based on sound knowledge of the market and an understanding of the buyer’s requirements, appears to be the main shortcoming. Buyers today have choice and are more knowledgeable about the market, and they seek advice from professionals whom they feel they can trust. Unfortunately, in the majority of cases, consumers are left feeling disappointed. This lack of trust is producing a lot of challenges for property brokers, including questioning of their standard commission rates, lack of sole representation or appointment and negative pre-judgment and perceptions.

The main concern is that these problems are not only affecting bad and illegal freelance brokers only but also impacting the professional and experienced brokers and overall reputation of the industry as well.

Traditionally, real estate has been viewed as a sales industry. The scenario is radically different in today’s environment. Customers have evolved to become more educated, better informed, more value conscious and demand more for their dirhams. Their expectations of the companies and the brokers they buy or sell through are much higher. They are no longer willing to be pushed around by unprofessional brokers. In short, they want better customer service. So brokers have to work harder and spend more effort and time to regain the trust of buyers and sellers. They need to realise that true and sustainable success comes from repeat business and word-of-mouth.

Customer service is one of the greatest keys that can help real estate service providers succeed. It can literally make or break a company. This is so because the entire business, marketing, sales, leasing and profits depend on customers.

Great marketing can help brokerage companies acquire new customers, but it is great customer service that ensures that the customers keep coming back. According to our survey, most customers quit dealing with a certain brokerage company because of an indifferent attitude towards them from the business owner, managers and/or employees. A typical brokerage company will only hear from a handful of dissatisfied customers; most of the rest of the customers will just quietly go away and never come back. To further compound the problem, a typical dissatisfied customer will tell an average of seven to 10 people about his problem and the bad service offered by the company.

Study Shows Consumers Dissatisfied With Dubai Real Estate Brokers

Harbor Report on DubaiCityGuide.com

Harbor Report on DubaiCityGuide.com

Harbor Real Estate interviews 178 owners as a way to develop future company benchmarks

Harbor Real Estate Brokerage, an integrated real estate service provider in Dubai, says that 61% of consumers who bought property in the last two years are dissatisfied with the performance of real estate agents who brokered their purchases, according to a recent study conducted by Harbor Real Estate.

The study interviewed 178 property owners over a four month period in a series of face-to-face interviews. Participants evaluated property brokers according to knowledge and skills, ethics and behavior, consultative ability, and empathy. The respondents were asked to rate their individual experiences on a 5 point scale ranging from excellent to very poor. Of those interviewed, 61% of respondents rated their brokers as either poor or very poor.

According to Mohanad Alwadiya, Managing Director of Harbor Real Estate Brokerage:
“What we have here is an indicator of an industry which is still relatively immature. The level of proficiency in effective consultancy, based on sound knowledge of the market and an understanding of the buyer’s requirements, appears to be the main shortcoming. Buyers today have choice and are more knowledgeable about the market, and they seek advice from professionals that they feel they can trust. Unfortunately, in the majority of cases, consumers are left feeling disappointed.”

The research, originally intended to serve as a barometer on service levels in the local industry, has provided Harbor with valuable insights into areas requiring development within its own operations. Harbor has already begun to benchmark and monitor its own service-level performance against those of its overseas affiliates, with the aim of surpassing service levels of established successful operations in mature markets.

Of those interviewed, 73% had purchased their property prior to the recession—set as October 2008—while the remainder had purchased their property after October 2008 (post-recession). About 23% of those interviewed purchased within the last four months.

About 12% of consumers who made their purchase prior to the recession stated that their experience was excellent or good. In the post-recession period, that number fell to about 11%, although satisfactory ratings improved from 25% pre-recession to 31% post-recession. In the post-recession market, 58% of respondents rated their experience as poor or very poor, brining the two year average of dissatisfied customers to 61%. The main causes of buyer dissatisfaction were in the areas of knowledge, consultative ability and empathy.

“What we are seeing globally is a race for improvement,” said Alwadiya. “Real estate has been under tremendous pressure due to the recession, and those who wish to thrive in the market will only do so by identifying and responding to the needs of their clientele. Because we are a service industry, we can benefit greatly from observing and adopting best practices of more established markets around the world.”

More information about Harbor Real Estate Brokerage, including “The Harbor Report”, a quarterly publication on news and trends in the real estate industry, can be found at www.harbordubai.com.

61% Unhappy with UAE Estate Agents – Survey

AmeInfo.com article

Article on AmeInfo.com

A new report has found that 61% of consumers who bought property in the last two years in Dubai are unhappy with the performance of real estate agents who brokered their purchases. The study, conducted by Harbor Real Estate, interviewed 178 property owners over a four month period. Participants evaluated property brokers according to knowledge and skills, ethics and behavior, consultative ability, and empathy. Of those interviewed, 61% of respondents rated their brokers as either poor or very poor.

Property Buyers Dissatisfied with Realty Brokers

Article in Emirates Business 24/7

Article in Emirates Business 24/7

Some 61 per cent of property buyers in the UAE are dissatisfied with the services provided by real estate agents in the market, according to a new study.

The research was conducted across the UAE with a focus on Dubai by real estate broker firm Harbor Real Estate, which talked with 178 property owners over a four-month period in a series of face-to-face interviews.

The research revealed consumers who bought properties in the past two years remained dissatisfied with the performance of real estate agents. “It all boils down to the servicing style of real estate agents, which has not been up to the satisfaction levels of the property buyers in UAE,” said Mohanad Alwadiya, Managing Director, Harbor Real Estate.

“Currently, it is still a buyer’s market and services from realty agents need to be of high quality,” he said.

Alwadiya said the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (Rera) had been proactive to ensure that real estate agents deliver quality service, but the real estate broker market continues to be immature.

The study said Harbor intended to serve as a barometre on service levels in the local real estate market.

“Participants evaluated property brokers according to knowledge and skills, ethics and behaviour, consultative ability, and empathy. The respondents were asked to rate their individual experiences on a five-point scale ranging from excellent to very poor. Of those interviewed, 61 per cent of respondents rated their brokers as either poor or very poor,” said the report.

Of those interviewed, 73 per cent had purchased their property prior to the recession – set as October 2008 – while the remainder had purchased their property after October 2008 (post-recession). About 23 per cent of those interviewed purchased within the last four months.

About 12 per cent of consumers who made their purchase prior to the recession stated that their experience was excellent or good.

In the post-recession period, that number fell to about 11 per cent, although satisfactory ratings improved from 25 per cent pre-recession to 31 per cent post-recession.

In the post-recession market, 58 per cent of respondents rated their experience as poor or very poor, bringing the two-year average of dissatisfied customers to 61 per cent. The buyers objected to the lack of agents’ knowledge, consultative ability and empathy.

Alwadiya said: “What we have here is an indicator of an industry which is still relatively immature. The level of proficiency in effective consultancy, based on sound knowledge of the market and an understanding of the buyer’s requirements, appears to be the main shortcoming. Buyers today have choice and are more knowledgeable about the market, and they seek advice from professionals that they feel they can trust. Unfortunately, in the majority of cases, consumers are left feeling disappointed.”

Harbor Real Estate is also monitoring its service-level performance against those of its affiliates.

“What we are seeing globally is a race for improvement. Realty has been under huge pressure due to the recession, and those who wish to thrive in the market will only do so by identifying and responding to the needs of clients,” it said.