A strong foundation
Porush Jhunjhunwala, CEO of Banke International Properties, showcases his company’s operations and expansion, and talks about UAE’s thriving property sector and how investors can make the most of the current trends
What are the factors that have bolstered the growth of the UAE’s real estate sector in the past two years?
The UAE today embodies the best example of governance. We must understand that nothing here happened overnight; it’s taken decades of supreme effort from the government to create what we are experiencing and enjoying today. Dubai and the UAE have done everything right in the past few years. Be it infrastructure development, trade liberalisation, immigration reforms, the successful staging of Expo 2020 and the swift decisions taken to tackle the impact of the pandemic. These factors have played an important role in the recovery and growth of the real estate sector.
Any key trends that hold promise based on the first quarter’s results?
I see two distinct trends. Consumers are coming in from a wider demography and particularly from countries, which previously did not invest in the UAE’s real estate sector. I’ve also seen an unprecedented increase in consumer confidence, both from new and old residents, not just in the real estate sector, but across all sectors and the overall economy of Dubai and the UAE.
Tell us about your company and how it has leveraged the uptick in the UAE’s property market?
ORO24 Developments is an innovative real estate firm that aims to meet all our clients’ needs. We pride ourselves on creating a unique combination of convenience and lifestyle offerings at attractive price points. We have incorporated next-gen technology in our business, which enables us to deliver unique and innovative solutions. A glimpse of that can be seen in our latest project TORINO By ORO24, which has been successfully received by clients and buyers. TORINO is an exclusive gated, residential community, which is located in Arjan. The project consists of contemporary homes offering excellent amenities that complement modern living.
What is the company’s key USP?
I consider property development a serious business, which must be backed by techno-commercial-legal core competencies to eliminate risks, which otherwise are far too many in this trade. Often, a step taken forward can’t be undone. So, I believe we must focus and carefully plan our progress. It’s also important to clearly understand the objective of one’s business. I value people’s confidence in ORO24 and we want to ensure that every real estate offering we present to the market delivers tremendous value, features a unique consumer-friendly, sustainable design, and is delivered within the promised timeline.
The UAE’s property market has emerged as a safe haven for investors. Tell us about this trend and its impact.
Through its investor-friendly regulations, the country provides great protection for investors and their investments. I see a strong demand in the real estate sector specially for residential assets. Historically, a large volume of expats employed in UAE would prefer investing in their respective home countries. The immigration reforms coupled with the government’s efficient handling of the pandemic has changed the dynamics of how expats consider their residency in the UAE, with many of them choosing to buy homes here now.
How would you define the future of the real estate market and how has technology transformed the sector?
The real estate industry itself is conventional and will evolve slowly. We must ensure that all new methods of building are time-tested and sustainable. However, the use of technology will continue to increase in design, experience, marketing, delivery etc., as part of the segment popularly known as proptech. We incorporate a lot of building information modelling (BIM) data into our design process. We have invested heavily in cybersecurity and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems to create seamless and secure transactions for our consumers. We have also infused artificial intelligence in many segments of our business process for efficiency.
Give us your future outlook for the market.
In my belief, the market and demand will continue on an upward trajectory for a considerable time. There is a high momentum particularly in the off-plan segment and it will only grow, knowing the investor sentiment and attractive commercial offers being provided by developers. The country is among the top three property investment destinations in the world; however, property prices are still way below the global rates, and that’s a big draw for investors.
Tell us about your company and its operations?
Banke International Properties is a fullservice boutique real estate brokerage founded in 2013. Our team, which has over 200 members, has sold more than 10,000 properties, including 200 off-plan projects. We’ve won several awards, including BAYUT’s Agency of the Month for December 2020; Emaar’s Broker Awards 2021; and Best Real Estate Agency of the year 2021 from IRECMS. Sobha Realty awarded us for being its Top Performing Channel Partner in 2021, and we’ve also received the Aldar Honours Award for Best Customer Service in 2021. We’ve recently expanded and opened a new branch office in Abu Dhabi, specialising in residential properties that include ready primary sales and offplan properties across the UAE. We’ve also opened new boutique offices in Dubai Creek Harbour and Al Furjan that handle sales and leasing of residential properties primarily in these areas.
We have a dedicated property management team, who manage over 1,200 units, offering leasing services starting from arranging property viewings for potential tenants, negotiating, preparing tenancy contracts, collecting valid and original documents, to handing over the key to the tenant. We also offer property maintenance and advisory services.
How has technology transformed your business?
Technology has made us far more efficient particularly during the pandemic. We had the opportunity to build our own in-house customer relationship management (CRM) system, which has enabled us to capture leads from all the leading real estate portals as well as other campaign leads. We’ve also built an app for landlords, which helps property owners get access to their real estate portfolio at the click of a button.
Offering virtual property tours have helped the industry, as overseas and domestic buyers can view videos and shortlist the properties they would like to view physically. This has also increased the productivity of our agents.
Technology has also enabled customers to rate us and give feedback online. Currently, we have a Google rating score of 4.6/5. Google reviews offer our business more credibility. To enhance customer experience, we’ve also developed a customised QR code that makes it easier for clients to review us on Google.
Tell us why the secondary market remains a good option for investors.
We mostly know the benefits of buying a ready property that includes being able to physically inspect the property before the potential purchase and to move in just after the paperwork is completed. Other advantages include immediate rental income generation, higher loanto-value (LTV) ratio (when applying for a mortgage from the bank); higher returns when market prices spike and no risks of delay during the handover.
Whether you’re buying an off-plan or ready property, it is important to conduct a competitive market analysis. Also check rental prices of similar properties in the area to give you an idea of the rental revenue you can generate.
What are the benefits of buying off-plan?
Off-plan properties are available at competitive prices compared to ready ones, as developers compete to offer customers the best deal. The market value of an off-plan property also gets a major appreciation upon handover as surrounding areas get better transport links, amenities and retail infrastructure.
The payment plans for off-plan developments are linked to construction which means you don’t have to pay the entire cost upfront but in smaller installments. Many off-plan projects in Dubai have a booking fee of only 10 to 15 per cent and in some cases the DLD fee is also completely or partially waived off, giving the buyer added price benefits. Projects with long term post-handover payment plans let buyers pay for years after getting possession of the property. This is not possible with ready properties unless you’re buying the property on mortgage where a loan interest is applicable.
Buying off-plan property in Dubai is safe. The Dubai Real Estate Regulatory Authority has implemented a system of regulations protecting the buyer against any type of delays or project cancellations. Buyer installments are deposited only in regulated escrow accounts and developers can access them as they meet construction milestones.
Any tips for property investors?
It’s a great time to invest in real estate, as inflation is at an all-time high and real estate investments’ value can hedge against inflation. The returns on your investments are higher due to higher demand. The rental yield is still strong and with the rental prices increasing we see the yield improving.