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REIDIN - UAE MediaWatch

Daily, Dubai
Media monitoring services compiling news from the major news providers in the UAE

Estate agents prepare for a busy summer schedule

May 11, 2012
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Some community clusters are regaining lustre among buyers and stability for their values but concerns abound on the excess supply

Dubai It will be a busy summer for Dubai's real estate broker fraternity.

Some of the leading agencies are adding more personnel and, in some instances, expanding their office premises. There has also been an instance of a new estate agency being formed.

Obviously, these agencies — and the personnel within — are seeing an upturn, however incremental it may be, in transaction volumes and using the time they have now to shore up their resources further.

Vineet Kumar, associate director for agency at Asteco Property Management, paints an even more vibrant picture about short-term prospects. "Real estate agencies are experiencing buoyant levels of business currently and the outlook is still very bullish," he said.

While "I don't think there has been an inordinate amount of personnel change, a number of organisations after the consolidation of previous years have started to grow [their] employee numbers steadily once again."

At odds

Even then, it is still at odds with the broader trends in Dubai's real estate space. For sure, some community clusters are regaining their lustre among buyers and in terms of stability for their values. But concerns abound on the excess supply that continues to wash into the market with each new high-rise being completed.

None of this has dissuaded Jayant Dholakia to launch a brand new agency going by the fanciful title of "[Current] buyers are looking at value for money and that is what we hope to provide," he said. "There are quite a good number of investors who are looking at the Dh1 million to Dh1.5 million bracket.

"In the market scenario, it's not a big figure and moreover buyers can also get a good deal in this price range."

Some of the brokerage firms have taken the cue from a strong first quarter deal flows. One firm recorded a 55 per cent increase in the number of viewings it conducted in the first three months compared to the fourth quarter of 2011. Both sales and rentals doubled during this period.

Apart from enquiries coming from within the country's resident base, a steady pipeline of interest has been struck from investors based in Egypt, Syria and Lebanon. It's been there since the summer of 2011, spiked during the third quarter and has been holding steady ever since.

But agencies are not about to take their eyes off the expenses while firming up their broker numbers. Any increase, however, will be done strictly on a need-to basis.

A revival

"Top firms are witnessing new employment opportunities in parallel with the expanding local economy, which means more jobs are created and, therefore, more accommodation is required," said Kumar. "That sentiment would underscore that, in general, leasing portfolios are achieving higher occupancy rates while enquiries and conversion rates for sales have also improved."

But can a headcount expansion be done exclusive of higher costs? "The ideal situation is to operate the business with a mid-size staff strength with all the required sales and back office support and gradually increasing it with the progress," said Dholakia. "The market is seeing a revival and we believe the time is just right for us to accelerate the brokerage activities."

The post-summer weeks will confirm whether this rally can be sustained. But brokers are not looking that far ahead.

For now, they will make do with a busy summer and lots of sunscreen.