This article was originally published in propertyfinder Trends Report 2017 – click here to read online (Adobe Flash required) or click here to download PDF instead. To request a printed Report, please email us on email@example.com
The most common complaints we hear from consumers are that properties are not available, the images are not representative of the property, or the advertised price is inaccurate. As the leading portal in the UAE, our mission has always been to promote best practice in the industry, to drive quality listings on our site and improve transparency in the market. Why? Because that’s what consumers want, plus there are many studies to show that investors gravitate towards transparent property markets and that has to be a good thing for everyone living and working in the UAE.
In October 2016, Dubai’s RERA (Real Estate Regulatory Agency) introduced a new initiative, one of many designed to regulate the industry, by introducing permits for all advertised listings. In January, this rule became mandatory and now real estate companies advertising listings in Dubai cannot advertise any property without a valid permit. We welcome this initiative and any that improve transparency in the market. As a direct result, we have seen a significant reduction in Dubai listings on propertyfinder. In April 2016 there were 165,963 Dubai listings and that figure reduced to 112,791 in April 2017, a reduction of 32%.
So what does that mean for consumers and our customers? Well for consumers, it’s great news – they browse through fewer listings and almost certainly hear “Sorry, that properties not available” a lot less because duplicate or fake listings have dramatically reduced. For the majority of our customers, it’s great news too. Traffic to propertyfinder.ae continues to grow and is currently at an all time high – we had 1.4M sessions in April 2017 which represents an increase of 39% year on year. So the number of people coming to our site continues to increase and that combined with a reduction in listings, means our customers listings appear more often in search results resulting in more leads. We delivered nearly 300,000 leads in April 2017, an increase of 45.6% year on year.
It’s not such good news for some smaller companies, less willing to adhere to regulations or adapt their business – they will undoubtedly suffer. In the first four months of this year we have seen a significant increase in the number of small business closures which is likely to continue. In addition, we have seen a number of mergers and acquisitions which are also likely to continue as the market matures and consolidates.
Dubai transactions in Q1 of 2017 are also +25% on the previous year according to The Land Department. It’s obviously too early to say what effect the Trakheesi permits have had on the market, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction of improved transparency and a more professional industry which have always been a high priority at propertyfinder.
Abu Dhabi Municipality are following RERA’s lead and although progress has been slower, it is attempting to regulate the industry in the capital. The market is extremely tough still – the most recent merger of NBAD with FGB to form First Abu Dhabi Bank is just one example of a large scale merger impacting many employees and having a knock-on effect for the property market. There is undoubtedly a big issue with the distribution of bank stock and lack of regulation, causing large duplication, not least of all the amount of duplicate listings on the portals. The distribution of properties by the banks to most real estate agents has always resulted in a large duplication giving consumers a false sense of supply in turn giving them bargaining power.
A new training program for Real Estate Agents was introduced in February this year. The programme is conducted by the Department of Municipal Affairs And Transport (DMAT), in collaboration with education institute, the Abu Dhabi Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (ACTVET). The course is mandatory for all Brokers (the cost of which must be covered by the company) however the majority of Brokers I’ve spoken to have yet to complete the training. So there are certainly moves to regulate the industry in Abu Dhabi and raise standards, but there’s a long way to go yet.
In established markets like the UK or America, there is full market transparency with transaction data, listing history and price changes all readily available on any property. In the digital age, consumers are smart and usually time poor. They want to know they’re getting a good deal. They spend significant time researching online before engaging with any Real Estate Agent or Developer. When was the last time you walked into a car showroom or booked a holiday without first doing your research online? That’s why it’s so important to present your brand in the best possible way with great quality, available listings and competitive pricing.
Commercial Director, Propertyfinder GROUP