Meet Dubai’s own Wolf of Real Estate

By:Binesh Panicker
Published: Property Times
Date: 28 August 2016

Mohanad  Alwadiya is a well-known name in the Dubai real estate market, and he wears many hats. Apart from his professional obligations as the CEO of Harbor Real Estate, he also finds time to contribute to the betterment of the market as Senior Advisor & Instructor at the Dubai Real Estate Institute. He is already a raging hit on social media, not an easy task for someone
from real estate.

Tell us about Memaar. How did the concept take off?
Having a primetime property reality TV show in the Middle East has been a long time coming – whether you’re in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar – practically anywhere in the Middle East, there’s always a new tower, a unique residential project or a new iconic building being launched or unveiled. So MEMAAR simply had to be.

MEMAAR is the brainchild of the Dubai Channels Network (DCN), and we officially went on air for Season 1 in May 2015. We already have a solid audience following comprising millions of viewers from all across the GCC and beyond. When it comes to our guests, we always select real clients from different backgrounds and objectives in order to offer various enriching perspectives.

The show’s objective is to educate, entertain and engage viewers with the real estate sector. I’m overwhelmed with the amount of positive feedback that I receive on a daily basis from viewers from all over the world praising the show and seeking my advice. The show is now broadcasted weekly on Dubai TV every Wednesday at 7pm, Sama Dubai TV every Sunday at 9pm and Dubai One TV (with English subtitles) every Monday at 8pm with multiple repeats on all the 3 channels.

What are the future plans for the show?
After the tremendous success of the first and second seasons, we’re going full-blast on a multimedia level. We have a lot more in store for our ever-growing number of loyal fans.
We are currently shooting for Season 3, with 16 new exciting guests and episodes. The show started broadcasting on Dubai One TV with English subtitles and will continue to run on Dubai TV and Sama Dubai TV. Of course, we want to keep growing and developing, always mindful of the feedback we are getting from our MEMAAR fan base.

You are popularly known as “The Wolf of Real Estate,” which made you a huge hit in social media. Tell us more about your social media presence and its effect.

Thanks to Property Times back in 2014, I got the “Wolf of Real Estate” title given to me which has proven to be a very interesting and strategic form of branding for myself which I have, yes, fully embraced – that is, minus the negative connotation associated with the more famous moniker for Jordan Belfort – “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

However, I believe the moniker emanated from the work of our company, Harbor Real Estate, having been previously referred to as a star that emerged from the last GFC. Beyond having simply survived, it was during the GFC that Harbor Real Estate, in the face of a level of adversity that the industry had never witnessed before, really grew as a real estate enterprise of significant capability and standing in the industry.

In terms of my current social media presence, I do have more than 1,300,000 followers on my public Facebook pages, almost 40,000 followers on my “The Wolf of Real Estate Official” Instagram account, and 515,000 followers on my “Mohanad Alwadiya” official Instagram account. On Twitter, I have a little over 50,000 followers on Snapchat and over 10,000 connections on LinkedIn.
I get all sorts of positive and encouraging comments and messages on different social media platforms, such as those expressing their gratitude for the information and analysis I provide on the TV show, articles I write or social media posts. I also receive a lot of messages from followers asking for my opinion about certain issues or real estate advice. As for the unusual ones and even those which appear negative, I usually just take them with a grain of salt and try to respond positively. In general, I try to answer all the messages I receive as much as I can because I really enjoy the interaction with all my followers, and this allows me to stay in touch with the market and gauge the impact of the various activities I’m involved in.

The response from people via social media has been overwhelming and I am still trying to get used to being referred to as some sort of celebrity in my own right because, frankly, I don’t consider myself a celebrity… just the facilitator of the reality TV show MEMAAR… just doing my job!

What is your ultimate dream?
Well, there’s a lot of things on my mind, and so much that I wish to do! However, the realities imposed by time makes careful prioritization essential.
I’m currently working on a portfolio of development projects and initiatives. Harbor Real Estate continues to expand and is continually developing the capability to provide industry leading service. I call this the “never-ending initiative” as every individual or organization can always improve regardless of past achievements.

From a business growth perspective, there is plenty to be excited about. We have several new projects and unique services that will be launched very soon and we are looking forward to Cityscape to allow us to share these with investors and aspiring homeowners.

Meanwhile, I am also at the final stages of publishing my first bilingual property management book and will be working closely with the Dubai Real Estate Institute on introducing an advanced version of the certification property management course.

There are many other ideas and initiatives that I wish to develop after 2016. I still believe our industry can benefit and better serve our customers by adopting and applying technologies in the areas of product development and communications. The world has become a global marketplace but I still believe that global capital flows in our industry are still hindered somewhat because we do not do a good enough job of putting enough global investors in a position of confidence and certainty. There remains a lot of potential in this space I believe.

Then of course, there’s MEMAAR. As mentioned earlier, we’re all working together and collaborating on how we can keep the show growing and developing, so it only gets better every season.

What is your take on the next few months for Dubai market? There is a general feeling of positivity among agents. What is the reality?
Everyone knows that Dubai real estate has been undergoing correction for quite some time now. We feel that the decline in values associated with that correction has halted or virtually halted in all market segments, or that the market is bottoming out. In Q1 of 2016, we have already witnessed significant growth in investor activity and strong land sales. Both are leading indicators that the market is heading into its next cyclical phase. We at Harbor believe that by the end of 2016, the market will have entered its next phase of growth which is expected to accelerate as we draw ever closer to the Dubai World Expo in 2020.

PROFESSIONALIZING THE REAL ESTATE PRACTICE

By Mohanad Alwadiya
CEO, Harbor Real Estate
Senior Advisor & Instructor, Dubai Real Estate Institute
Published by: Property Time Magzine

During the years marking the last global economic recession, reports on fraudulent business practices and shady dealings in real estate became quite rampant, and people (investors and end-users) realized that those who fail to practice due diligence have nothing to gain in a relatively new and still-emerging albeit rapidly growing property market.

Now, even as the UAE economy as a whole continues to lag from its earlier predicted level of activity, the real estate industry, in spite of the industry-wide slowdown, continues to earn its share of winners and non-gainers in terms of current industry practice.

Some individuals still manage to pose as agents or real estate representatives, produce fake documents, and get away with the money virtually scot-free. And while the government has put in place strict protocols whether it be in professionalizing industry practices or instituting new policies and regulations to guard the best interests of the market, there are still a few unscrupulous individuals who manage to prey on buyers, even tenants.

The term “business ethics” is not something alien or new to us, but some people with careers outside of the real estate realm may view the term with a heavily critical eye, with some perhaps even joking about the incompatible nature of the words “business” and “ethics.”

But we all know that in real estate, a number of professions emerge including, but not limited to: commercial or residential brokerage, appraisal/valuation, property management, real estate counselling, etc. That being said, for a job to be considered a bona fide profession, it would require some commitment to a certain standard of conduct that the general public expects from the practitioner. This is where the real estate code of ethics comes in.

However, some might say: but anyone can become a realtor, so how does this seemingly “open” industry professionalize current practice and regulate the activities of real estate practitioners? What rules or structures are in place to prevent any form of abuse and/or malpractice in an industry where sometimes morally contradictory relationships or grey areas exist such as in the case of open market listings where one seller lists with various agents, and the big question is where would the realtor’s loyalty be – with the seller or the buyer? Or in the case of valuation assignments where the client may indirectly or even expressly makes known to the appraiser the outcome they are expecting.

Another dilemma confronting realtors is their reliance on commission-based remuneration whereby agents’ dependence on said commission may run counter to the best interests of the client. While a good commission structure would evidently motivate realtors to give their best efforts in order to successfully convert a lead and close a deal, the question of whether or not conditions set are for or against the best interests of their client remains – with yes being the answer in some cases, and at other times not so especially in cases of self-dealing in real estate.

Aside from By-law No. 85 “Regulating the Real Estate Brokers Register in the Emirate of Dubai” which expressly states the legal mandate governing the real estate practice, the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA) and the Dubai Real Estate Institute (DREI) established a mandatory certification program for new and experienced agents who wish to work in a real estate brokerage in Dubai. The DREI also organizes license renewal courses and exams along with a very rich variety of career development programs intended to help elevate the standards of professionalism and effectiveness of brokers in Dubai.

All realtors are, therefore, expected to abide by local laws pertaining to the real estate practice as well as to government regulations that are periodically introduced and, at times, go through a series of revisions or reforms in order to address new issues or problems that crop up every once in a while.

But even in the face of such regulation, real estate firms must also take it upon themselves to continuously educate and empower their agents to make the best decisions in order to maintain individual and corporate integrity, professionalism and, ultimately, success in the real estate business.

Investing in training, whether in-house or otherwise, definitely pays a huge dividend. Extensive and tailor-made training programs should include education on the industry and pertinent rules/regulations (especially on current or new legislation), soft skills and specialized training courses that help employees attain a level of mastery in all the macro and micro aspects of their profession.

The ongoing development of the industry’s regulatory framework and implementation of laws and regulations to safeguard both consumer and investor interests, the overall industry and the economy at large from rampant and irresponsible speculative, predatory or unethical practices, all reveal a mature and balanced approach to shaping an industry which exhibits sustainable growth over the long term.

Taken altogether, the laws of the land serve as the primary push for realtors to act in a way that upholds and reflects the greater good while constant education through training, workshops, seminars and the like (whether mandatory or voluntary) help real estate practitioners internalize the values that must inherently pervade the system for the industry to thrive and continue to serve as one of the primary sectors supporting the UAE economy.

The Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA) and the Dubai Real Estate Institute (DREI) have set a mandatory certification program for new and experienced agents who wish to work in a real estate brokerage in Dubai. The Dubai Real Estate Institute also organizes license renewal courses and exams along with a very rich variety of career development programs designed to help elevate the standards of professionalism and effectiveness of brokers in Dubai.