Complex Made Simple

Exclusive: UAE’s real estate sector is shockingly thriving and hiring

A surprising look at UAE's real estate activity, a company that is hiring, and front line medical staff getting fee relief for their properties

Opportunistic buyers are very active in this market. Low offers are reflecting the current economic challenges A great number of tenants have signed leases for 2-and 3-year terms, locking in today’s rate for years to come During the last 3 weeks studios sold ranged from AED800,000 to a family villa for AED9,400,000

These are difficult times and any help is welcome.   

When PH Real Estate Brokers recently announced it was offering free services to Frontline Doctors and Nurses in the UAE, AMEinfo offered to interview the company and shed more light on this initiative.

But it was also an opportunity to find out how the real estate sector was faring in this COVID19-induced crisis.

Dubai real-estate experts, PH Real Estate Brokers offer leading, realty based, investment opportunities and exclusive family homes to clients seeking incredible lifestyle experiences.

PH was full of surprises, one of which that it was hiring due to increased commercial activity.

Ok, let’s get straight to it.

Read: Allsopp & Alsopp CEO: Stay calm and look for opportunities now and post COVID-19

Exclusive interview 

We interviewed PH Real Estate’s Managing Director Nick Grassick, and inquired about:

Waiving Ejari fee/tenancy contract renewal to Front line medical staff

“We’re offering to contact their landlords on their behalf and try and renegotiate lease terms and rental values, then complete and sign the tenancy agreement and register the lease with Ejari.

PH is waving the Ejari fees for health workers who are fighting every day to help people with the Coronavirus while putting their own health in danger. 

We wanted to make a gesture to the health sector, and it’s been warmly received.  The company is offering free tenancy contract renewal which varies in cost depending on the property in question.” 

PH Real Estate’s handling of the crisis when it comes to:

a-       Sales, rentals, property management services 

“In terms of sales, we’re able to assist sellers who genuinely need to free up funds but obviously they are having to accept offers much lower than a normal market.  Opportunistic buyers are very active in this market. Low offers are reflecting the current economic challenges.  Tenants are still renting, of course. One of our leasing consultants has already exceeded his monthly target and is on track to set a personal best.  Rental offers are much lower than would normally be considered.  Finally, property management has always been a project management-based service. Provided that contractors are able to secure movement passes, we can assist tenants and landlords.”

b-      Salary cuts, layoffs (if any) 

“Unfortunately, like most players in our sector, we have had to place some salaried staff on unpaid leave, an awful phrase being used far too widely.  We are, however, recruiting for sales and leasing staff, on a commission-only basis. It’s one of the areas where we can continue to grow the company, and perhaps help support driven sales professionals during this difficult time.”

c-      Client relations:

“As mentioned, there are still viable buyers in this market, but they are looking for significant discounts from the market norms, in some cases 30% lower.  A greater number of tenants have signed leases for two- and three-year terms, they’re taking advantage of the current market conditions and by signing for a longer term are able to lock in today’s rate for years to come.”

Read:  Virtual viewings increase for Middle Eastern buyers looking to purchase UK property

Value of average rentals/purchases during COVID19?  

“During the last three weeks we have sold studios from AED800,000 right through to an executive family villa for AED9,400,000.  We’re currently negotiating three offers above AED15,000,000, and provided buyers can see sufficient discount, there is an ongoing appetite for investment.  Our primary role at the moment is identifying the sellers who need our help and need to free up liquidity.”

The discounts rental negotiations are discussing

“This differs vastly and depends on the motivations of the individual landlord.  We have some clients who are not prepared to entertain any form of offer and then we have some owners who have reduced by tens of thousands of dirhams to secure a multiple year tenancy agreement.”

Length of time real estate sector agencies can withstand COVID-19? 

“Like most business owners we have taken multiple steps to streamline our business and are working very closely with all suppliers, most of whom have assisted in offering a payment hiatus.  We’re fortunate that our business has been established for more than 10 years, and we do have cash reserves. I fear the same cannot be said of all real estate brokerages, and it won’t give anyone any pleasure if those businesses fail.  The current economic environment is not too dissimilar to the global crash which happened just over a decade ago. We weathered that storm, and we will survive this one, too.”

Changes competitors should engage in?  

“I think in response to what is being widely reported as the start of a global recession, we will see brokerages partnering sellers to a much greater extent than before.  Sellers are the people who will need our help of our professional services the most, if prices contract further still – from what have already been record lows.”

Read: Dubai residential property demonstrated a resilient start to 2020, says Chestertons

Concerns brokers have that PH can alleviate via advice

“I think everyone has similar fears at the moment: The ability to be able to make money and job security are high on everyone’s agenda.   We have a proven and robust sales methodology we are keeping to, it has been successful over the years and is continuing to be so now. We want to be there to reassure industry players, drawing on our experiences of surviving the 2008 economic crash – and also, we are offering real estate agents real opportunities for a career.”

Virtual real estate tours that deliver sales/rentals/management contracts?

They have helped, although the speed at which the market changed did not allow sufficient time to produce virtual tours to perhaps the standard we would normally work to.   

We have successfully sold and rented properties with the aid of a virtual video ‘walkthrough’ recorded on a mobile phone.  I have never spent so much time speaking to people via my laptop before!”

Level of comfort clients have with virtual property tours?

“I think client, especially those looking at properties for investment or rental income, are increasingly comfortable with a remote viewing. It’s convenient, less costly than a visit in person, and our staff are always on hand to answer any questions or queries.

I think this will be just one of the many ways in which industries will change in the post-COVID era. Technology is playing a greater role than ever in our lives, and in some ways ‘lockdown life’ has led to rapid industry innovation, like our virtual tour offering.”

State of the properties sector as it faces a downturn considering COVID, EXPO 2020 delay, global recession 

“I think every sector is going to be significantly affected by the global recession which is starting now.  But if properties do become more affordable, and prices do continue to decline, there will always be an appetite, the question is: will the sellers be able to sell for those prices?”