Proptech: Buzzword or opportunity?

The UAE’s real estate sector is mesmerised with a new term ‘PropTech’ and everyone wants to know about it and learn from it. Majority stakeholders, buyers, sellers, brokers and developers are all ready to adapt sector innovation as it offers more security, transparency and efficiency.

What is PropTech? PropTech, or property technology, is the use of information technology (IT) to help individuals and companies research, buy, sell and manage real estate. More and more players are coming to the ever-growing robust UAE property market.

Faisal Ali, chief information officer, Gargash, said the UAE is a leading nation in adoption of PropTech as new solutions emerge, business is nothing like as it was done in previous years.

“Most of the stake holders like the developers, buyers, brokers have realised the importance of innovations in the sector. The entire ecosystem is undergoing a change as it offers security, efficiency, transparency and so on…”

The top technologies that are and will continue to disrupt the realty sector are blockchain, AI, VR, AR, drones, IoT, robotics and 3D printing.

Saurabh Dixit, senior manager- IT Enterprise Solutions, Emaar Properties, said the UAE’s property sector is at the beginning of the technology disruption for whatever we have done in 10-15 years in all probability will be doing more than that in next 2-3 years due to emergence of technology advancements in realty as well as surrounding industries.
“The sector is very rapidly gearing up to adapt to the new changes and we will witness radical growth due to industry innovations,” he said.

The traditional buying and selling via a broker would always be shrouded with a mystery to get right price both buyer or a seller. For instance, Dubai-based Inventally provides property inventory reports pre and post tenancy to save clients the hassle of disputes, financial claims and security deposit misusage. These technologies can redefine how owners, operators, tenants, property developers can manage and operate their businesses more efficiently.

“We at have decided to embark on a journey to provide a simple yet needed service for our partners across the real estate market to serve landlords and tenants better. The property technologies have seen a significant amount of backing in the past couple of years,” said Ahmed Ali Al Hassoni, chief operating officer,

There have been three significant waves of PropTech globally. The first wave witnessed the emergence of numerous online listing portals. Aside from listings, these early players put out a sizeable quantity of content and research on the Internet, making a home seeker’s initial search and discovery a lot easier than before. Information was for the first time, truly democratised.

In the second wave of PropTech that followed, a new breed of tech-enabled brokerages appeared on UAE’s fast changing landscape. These firms saw proptech as an assisted sales process and believed in full-stack and transaction closure capabilities, and not just providing a virtual handshake between the buyer and seller or their agents.
Now, a new third wave of PropTech opportunities is emerging across the region, aiming to further disrupt real estate.

“Real estate is still expensive, highly illiquid and industry stakeholders continue to operate in a legally complex playground. This third, and probably the most exciting phase of PropTech will witness startups that grow the green shoots to challenge these fundamental industry principles and this is where the future probably lies,” said Tanuj Shori, founder and CEO, Square Yards.

Dr Syed Mahsud Ali, chief information officer, Azizi Developments, said the UAE is certainly at the forefront for adopting latest technologies in realty sector and we intend to make most of it. “Our portfolio of projects will soon have an entire project based on smarthomes. Property developers have now began to lookout for incorporating technologies that can help them come out with strategies that help all the stake holders.”

Endorsing a similar positive sentiment, Fadi Nwilati, CEO, Kaizen Asset Management, said Kaizen has been involved in several PropTech initiatives that has seen actual savings in operational costs of properties, thus improving returns for everyone.

“We are starting to see practical applications of PropTech in the UAE. And we are seeing serious progress that PropTech is bringing to improve the tenant and resident experience, improving response times, and removing a lot of the friction caused by the various stakeholders involved in managing and running a property. Proptech should be seen as a serious solution contributing to the happiness of residents in the real estate industry, in line with nation’s vision to make the UAE a happy city.”

The two-day second annual PropTech Middle East event, which concluded on Tuesday was attended by leading real estate developers in the region, such as Sobha Group, Nakheel, Diamond Developers, Aldar Properties, Azizi Developments, and Emaar, amongst others.

“Over the coming 10 years, we will see significant technological change in the real estate industry. Buildings will become more human with IOT and other technological improvements connecting individuals to assets. In this rapidly changing environment, the key to achieving customer satisfaction will be to keep the technology in buildings user friendly and plug and play. just like other utilities,” said Martin Berlin, Global Deals Real Estate Leader at PwC. –


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Published by Khaleej Times | November 5, 2019

Real Estate: The Value Drivers in 2018

At Kaizen Asset Management Services we understand a central consideration in real estate is the analysis of those factors that impact upon value, in particular how value is created in real estate development and asset management. We also understand the importance of understanding how real estate value may be destroyed is equally essential. Real Estate Investors have to have robust risk management models balanced with efficient operations and innovation due to constant change and digitization within the sector. At Kaizen Asset Management Services we focus on ensuring risk elimination and value maximization combined with a robust operational strategy. We have identified the following four value creation factors as critical:

1. Local Knowledge is Key


Dubai Real Estate

Like any investment, real estate investors mainly focus on their end-goals. What is common among almost all investors is the need for local knowledge – even in a global market, local restrictions can make or break an investors’ strategy. Often, the more attractive option is to partner up with a trustful asset management company who brings wealth of knowledge and expertise and who knows the rules of the game as well as major players in the region. Kaizen’s knowledge of the region provides real estate investors with a competitive advantage. Kaizen implements a diligent property management strategy and ensures effective execution of the real estate asset value creation strategy in this particular region.

2. Smart Data to Add Value

smart buildings

Smart Buildings

The art is knowing how to leverage technology to drive success and avoid failures for your real estate asset. Integrating technology deep into your organization is not only a useful step towards a more efficient, transparent operation, but it is also a necessary step to stay competitive in today’s rapidly shifting real estate industry. At Kaizen Asset Management Services it’s our ultimate goal to create actual value in data for our clients. Future buildings will rely more on advanced Building Management Systems (BMS) connected to a variety of sensors, actuators, and dedicated networks. Kaizen has identified that IoT integrated buildings that can collect and apply data deliver additional value and an improved experience for both real estate owners and occupants.

3. Cost Management and Scale

Real Estate Cost Management is a combination of technical expertise, collaboration, and commercial understanding. It’s crucial to a have proactive management strategy in place. It’s critical to manage at both operational and strategic level. Property Management has evolved over the past few years. Property management concentrates on the day to day operations, whilst Asset Management is centered around financial matters, maximizing the return on investment and the value of the property. At Kaizen, our real estate managers know how to perform both disciplines. Kaizen performs long-term financial forecasts and implements value creation strategies from day one, allowing our clients to grow their portfolios.

4. Expert Team

If you considering investing in real estate, one of the essential partners will be an experienced property management entity. Finding a qualified company or individual agent to manage your property is critical for real estate investors interested in capturing a maximum return on their investment. At Kaizen Asset Management Services our property managers continuously monitor the asset performance, they possess strong negotiation skills to ensure that operating expenses are lowered, and our property managers are educated with the best practices and training within the real estate sector.

As the market changes due to generational and technological shifts, it is essential for investors and real estate professionals to consider how these changes can benefit their portfolios. At Kaizen, we understand that while it may require updates to old processes, it would seem that these advances are opening up real estate to new demographics by providing, data, access, and expertise much more efficiently.

Curious how Kaizen Asset Management Services could help your organisation grow its real estate portfolio? Call us today for a free consultation at +971  4 558 6703 .

How chatbots are revolutionising the real estate industry


How chatbots are revolutionising the real estate industry

Chatbots are changing the way that businesses handle customer service issues. In recent years, chatbot technology has been implemented across a number of popular platforms including Facebook Messenger and Skype. You may have even interacted with a chatbot without even being aware of it. In the real estate industry, chatbots are impacting the way we buy, sell and rent properties, but most noticeably, they are changing the way sellers interact with the end-user.

After the launch of AI-powered chatbots from Facebook, Microsoft, and Google in 2016, the technology began to be implemented rapidly in customer-facing businesses. Already the technology has seen a great deal of success in industries like healthcare and e-commerce, raising the ROI on customer engagement significantly. As chatbot and AI technology progress, businesses are leveraging this emerging technology to enhance their customer services. There are a wealth of queries, particularly in the real estate industry, that is repetitive and do not require human engagement. Here are five reasons why you should welcome chatbot technology into your real estate business model.

Always-on support

Chatbots don’t sleep! They don’t need holidays or take sick days. Having a chatbot to address frequent queries means that your customer service is available 24/7, 365 days per year.

Improve customer satisfaction

Customers these days have incredibly high demands when it comes to response timing. You want to be able to answer your customers’ questions immediately, giving them instant gratification, and reducing stress on both sides. Getting stuck in a phone loop, or having them wait days for a response will do nothing to support your user experience, and may reflect poorly on your business. Real estate chatbots can address frequently asked questions and common concerns immediately. They can process relevant data and perform calculations allowing them to provide support customized to your customers’ issues.

Never overloaded

In the cyclical real estate market, there are times of the year where queries reach a high volume. For the industry that means longer man-hours and rising overhead costs. Chatbots can handle fluctuating loads without increasing labour or training costs.

Seamless integration

This next generation of customers expects their customer service to be as mobile as they are. From emails to social media and message reminders, companies need to meet the customer where they are and have a presence across platforms. Chatbots can help stitch these platforms together seamlessly to integrate the customer experience.

Avoid mistakes

Chatbots take human error and limitations out of the equation. Whereas a human may forget, or calculate something incorrectly, chatbots simply will not. Chatbots have access to libraries of information and can improve their responses as customers interact with them.

Chatbots can save time and money for stakeholders across the real estate industry ecosystem. With the ability to address thousands of enquiries, a single chatbot can keep overhead and labor costs down, while improving customer service. In the US, chatbots save USD $23 billion in the customer service industry, and the UAE is making strides to do the same. Customer service AI implementation in the UAE could mean big business for the real estate market. Traditional customer-facing roles will always be there, while chatbots can take care of some of the more tedious tasks so that you can take care of your business.

Words by: Fadi Nwilati, CEO, Kaizen Asset Management Services

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Published by AME Info | March 27, 2019

Riding the Metro wave

As population demographics shift, residents and real estate gravitate towards the Metro

Reasons like mobility and accessibility have been cited by residents who have decided to live close to a Metro station. Despite pricier rents and sales prices, communities around the Dubai Metro will continue to attract more people and consequently encourage more developers to build around these areas, according to analysts.

Rents in residential buildings within a five- to 15-minute walk to a Metro station increased by 1.8 percent on average from Q1 2014 to Q1 2018, according to Knight Frank. Rents in these areas have also outperformed most other locations, despite overall rents falling by 11 percent during the same period.

Meanwhile, sales prices of residential units within a five-minute walk of a Metro station have increased by 51 percent on average from Q1 2010 to Q1 2018. Units within a 10-minute walk have enjoyed a price growth of 58 percent, while those within a 15-minute walk saw prices rise by 33 percent.

“The impact of accessibility through the Metro on property value in Dubai can be specified since we have seen a rise in the middle-income class; they take into account factors like accessibility to public transport and time savings when it comes to commuting,” said Fadi Nwilati, CEO of Kaizen Asset Management Services. “Overall we have seen people pay premium rates to be close to the Metro in areas like Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Dubai Marina and Business Bay.”

While properties in central locations close to a Metro are enjoying a premium, even more remote areas have also felt the boost. “There are locations such as Jebel Ali where there aren’t many residential buildings and predominantly consist of commercial warehousing assets. However, a Metro station adds value to the location and residential buildings, as it provides tenants with greater mobility and efficient access,” said Abdul Kadir Faizal, co-founder of Smart Crowd, a digital real estate investment platform.

Sachin Holden, who has lived near the Sharaf DG Metro station for four years, said he immediately moved to his current residence as soon as the station opened. “Once the Dubai Metro was operational, I vacated my place and shifted into a building right next to the Metro so I could use it as my primary mode of transport,” said Holden.

A real estate broker, Holden said the Metro has been key to his mobility with many of the major real estate companies and developers having offices close to a station. “Cityscape and every international exhibition and conference at Dubai World Trade Centre is available for my consideration because I don’t have to even think about parking or traffic,” he said.

He’s also had more time to read and has even developed his photography skills by traveling via the Metro. “My phone photography and videography improved with experiments with hyper lapses, time lapses and slower shutter speeds. I have finished reading more books on the Metro.”

Maya Itani-Abu Hassan doesn’t use the Metro as often, but living close to it has delivered other benefits. “The Metro makes us feel connected to the whole city,” said Abu Hassan, who lives near the DIFC Metro station with her husband. “It makes it easier for our out-of-town guests to be self-sufficient and for our nanny to be mobile on her weekends. We personally don’t use it too often, but when we do it’s for recreation.”

According to Knight Frank, a change in Dubai’s population demographics has been a major factor in a shift in residential preferences. According to its recent report, there has been a substantial increase in Dubai’s middle-class over the past 10 years to 2017. “Currently, households earning up to $150,000 [Dh550,500] per annum make up 60 percent of households, up from 40 percent a decade earlier. This has meant that there has been a strong level of demand in the affordable to mainstream segments of the market,” Knight Frank stated, noting how a big chunk of residents will gravitate towards more affordable areas close to the Metro.


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Published by Gulf News | December 18, 2018

Co-working spaces are the future for commercial realty

Co-working spaces are the future for commercial realty

The city’s real estate sector must be mindful of the changing demands of working

Millennials – those currently aged between 20 and 37 – are changing the way the world works and are demanding new ways of working. The Dubai real estate sector must be mindful of the changing demands of working and workspaces and react to future needs.

It is very clear that the rising tide of young people entering the workforce are not content with the current status quo. We need to be aware of the shifting trends and ensure we remain agile enough to respond to these changes.

The new way of working to emerge in recent times is using co-working spaces – a shared environment where people doing all kinds of different jobs can work together, and separately, within the same space. The spaces are often very urban, stylish and are far removed from some of the more severe ‘cubicle farms’ of recent times. They allow for freedom, flexibility and a wide range of work environments.

More millennials are joining the workforce, and their presence requires a transformational shift in the workplace perspective. There are 14,000 operational co-working spaces globally, and by the end of this year, some 1.7 million people – mostly millennials – will have taken advantage of the new working conditions offered by co-working spaces.

Dubai is a perfect place for co-working spaces. According to the Dubai Statistics Centre, nearly half the population (48 percent) is aged between 25 and 39 – that’s around 1.2 million people – representing the new workforce, with its bold new ideas.

These people bring many challenges and opportunities with them. Logic and a strong rationale must be applied in dealing with them. Millennials embrace networking and mentoring opportunities, and firmly believe in the notion of the shared economy.

The Dubai government has already embraced the co-working concept, with bold new workspaces occupying the ground level between the two Emirates Towers. Where there used to be retail outlets and dining options, there are now wide-open workspaces – youth Hub X and Area 2071 – both standing as testament to the Dubai government’s forward-thinking policies and ability to swiftly adapt to changing market conditions and needs.

The bright, ambitious young population of Dubai wants to work differently – and the commercial real estate sector needs to facilitate their requirements. While London tops the charts for the number of co-working spaces – with the city housing more than 1,100 such sites – there’s no reason why savvy commercial real estate investors and developers can’t swiftly jump on the co-working bandwagon right here in Dubai.

There has been an influx of larger tech firms locating to shared environments in Dubai and the co-working model is increasingly being seen as instrumental to any commercial building’s future success.

Based on empirical evidence and the 2018 Global Co-Working survey, companies need to take a fresh approach to capture the co-working opportunity. Many property management companies and realtors are advising developers and property owners to incorporate the concept of co-working space into commercial leasing models in Dubai.

While the market shifts to this new, more laissez-faire way of working, a number of trends have been identified. More co-working spaces will focus on industry and sector niches and will strive to differ significantly from competitors. In order to attract young talent, more large corporations are expected to use co-working spaces and increase co-operation with them. Stronger competition will lead to consolidation – which will see some co-working spaces driven out of business. To avoid this, co-working spaces should focus more on sustainable community building and organise more (community) events.

As Dubai positions itself at the forefront of innovation globally, one of the first steps large corporations must take is to partner with co-working spaces to support innovation and idea exchanges.

The writer is CEO, Kaizen Asset Management Services. Views expressed are his own and do not reflect the newspaper’s policy.

Author: Fadi Nwilati
Published: November 6, 2018

Waterfront homes are more accessible than ever

Waterfront homes are more accessible than ever

From price to availability, residents are finding more reasons to buy a waterfront property

Waterfront properties around the world are usually limited and exclusive. However, Dubai has changed all that by adding hundreds of kilometers of coastline, artificial lakes and canals. “Being waterfront is predominantly about the views. Whenever we as a developer get a waterfront property, we design the building [in a way that] is conducive to what the plot has to offer,” Niall McLoughlin, senior vice-president of corporate communications at Damac Properties, tells Property Weekly.

Active lifestyle

Apart from the views, waterfront living in Dubai encourages residents to be more socially and physically active. “We can go outside for a walk by the promenade, but we also have a nice TV room, which we can use when we want to stay in and host people for a movie,” says Adel Sheni, who purchased an apartment in Damac Heights, one of the newest additions to Dubai Marina that was completed only in July.

For Anas Abbar, living on the Dubai Marina waterfront means his family of four can spend more time outdoors. “We love the Marina simply because it’s walking distance to everything,” says the Syrian-American. “We can go for a jog in the morning, do our shopping, walk to cafes, restaurants and supermarkets, and that made it very convenient for us.”

Abbar, the cofounder of digital content platform, lived in the US and France for 20 years before relocating to Dubai in 2010. He rented a three-bedder in Emirates Crown for Dh180,000. Over the next 18 months, his rented unit got sold twice, indicating the market was picking up.

“When we noticed that people were starting to buy, we decided to look for an apartment in the same building,” says Abbar. “In late 2011, we bought a three-bedroom unit for just over Dh3 million with all the fees. We love the building. It has a great gym, heated swimming pool, security, professional staff, and overall the facilities are top notch. It’s definitely worth every penny.”

Emirates Crown, a 63-floor tower developed by Bin Shafar Holding, is located across the street from the Dubai International Marine Club and is a popular choice for yachting enthusiasts. But soon, it won’t be the only one. New yachting hubs are emerging, most prominently the 81-berth oyster-shaped marina in Dubai Creek Harbour that’s set to open early next year.

Dubai’s newer waterfront developments are also starting to reflect the look and feel of waterside living in their architecture. This is notably different from the older developments that lacked a beach-style or waterfront finishing, and strikingly different from the inland, more urban feel, says Fadi Nwilati, CEO of Kaizen Asset Management Services, whose clients include Emaar, Nakheel and Meraas.

Newer beachfront projects in areas such as the Palm Jumeirah have a more distinct finishing style

“Some of the new waterfront developments on the Palm and Dubai Marina have a completely different finishing style than anything else we are used to in Dubai,” says Nwilati.

Worthwhile investment

Generally, waterfront properties are priced at the upper end of the spectrum, but buyers are ready to pay more for waterfront views, Ozan Demir, director of operations and research at Reidin, tells Property Weekly.

“We have seen that prices are between Dh1,000 and Dh2,000 per square foot in Meydan, Mohammad Bin Rashid City or Dubai Water Canal projects and rise up to Dh5,000 in Dubai Marina,” says Demir. “Investors have a great chance in selling the property at a prime rate, plus waterfront homes are likely to be rented more quickly.” To cater to demand from buyers with a limited budget, Demir says some developers are also creating artificial lakes to give an urban waterside view to their properties.

Despite the high price tag, waterfront homes continue to garner interest from end users and investors. Damac Heights, which is almost sold out, has seen buyers from Europe, Russia and the GCC. Whereas Emaar Beachfront recorded nearly Dh1 billion in sales at the launch of the first residences earlier this year.

Recently, Chinese investors have taken a keen interest in Dubai’s waterfront projects, notes Abdul Kadir Faizal, co-founder of digital real estate platform Smart Crowd. One company, Fidu Properties, has pumped $103 million (Dh378 million) into the Creek Harbour development.


Additionally, in upscale areas like Dubai Marina, waterfront properties could fetch rental yields of 6-7 percent, depending on which part of the development one purchased the unit, says McLoughlin. “If you benchmark that anywhere globally, it’s a super return.”

According to Abbar, his Emirates Crown home has almost doubled in value since 2011. “We were lucky to purchase the unit at the right time. It paid off,” says Abbar. “But for us it’s not just the financial investment; it’s a home. We’re living in it. I believe in the long run Dubai property value will continue to climb. I do compare Dubai to New York, Paris, London, Tokyo and Seattle where we used to live. And I think it’s still a bargain to acquire a property in Dubai.”

With such strong interest from buyers, developers are constantly on the lookout for waterfront locations. “We’re always looking for prime waterfront developments,” says McLoughlin. “Our most exciting one now is in Oman, where we’re working with the government on the redevelopment of Port Sultan Qaboos.” Damac is also working on several waterfront projects in Dubai, including Maison Privé, a two-tower hospitality project on Dubai Canal that should be completed this year.


According to Reidin, new residential supply is mostly coming from the Dubai Canal, transforming Business Bay into a key waterfront neighborhood with 51 projects comprising 13,000 units. At Dubai Creek Harbour, 10 projects with 3,500 units are coming up.

“Today’s market allows for great offerings of waterfront properties,” says Nwilati. “Compared with other beachfront hubs similar in caliber, Dubai’s waterfront properties remain the most attractive, and in my opinion, they are not overpriced at all. Quite the contrary, when you compare waterfront versus non-waterfront high-end properties, you’re not really paying a premium for the waterfront, however, you are reaping all the benefits.”

New beach destinations

Waterfront living served as one of the main themes of last week’s Cityscape Global in Dubai with top developers announcing various beachfront projects. Meydan Group’s Marsa Meydan in Jebel Ali is by far the most ambitious with a planned climate-controlled boardwalk that will become a year-round outdoor destination.

Marsa Meydan

Dubai Holding also announced Madinat Jumeirah Living, a freehold luxury residential development located opposite the iconic Burj Al Arab in Dubai’s Madinat Jumeirah district. The project offers an opportunity for expat residents to be the first homeowners within the beachfront tourist district. Madinat Jumeirah Living will have a mix of residential clusters and will be directly connected to Souq Madinat Jumeirah via an air-conditioned pedestrian bridge. The project will break ground next year and developer Dubai Holding said the first phase is expected to be completed in 30 months.

Madinat Jumeirah Living

Marsa Meydan will feature a shading device that will cover the marina during the summer months to maximise its tourism potential. It will offer a combination of waterfront townhouses and apartments, with “lifestyle options to complement every budget”, according to Meydan.

AlJurf master plan

AlJurf is a waterfront-themed project within the Sahel Al Emarat master development in Ghantoot between Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Featuring serviced residences and villas, AlJurf will include two marinas, a town center, hotels, retail amenities and a wellness resort. Comprising three districts, AlJurf Gardens, Jiwar Al Qasr and Marsa AlJurf, AlJurf will have 3.4 km of beachfront.



Published by Gulf News | October 10, 2018

Schools in the community

Schools in the community: developers learn the lessons

We ask developers, brokers and parents how schools are an important determinant when house-hunting

For most parents of schoolgoing children, an hour saved on the school run is quality time they’d rather spend with their kids around the breakfast table or on a much-needed weekday lie-in. With neighborhoods and communities in Dubai becoming increasingly self-contained, it’s easy to see why neighborhoods and communities with schools rank high on the list of house-hunters. Most families still factor in aspects such as savings on school transport, less time on the roads and higher property appreciation rates to justify moving to a new house close to schools.

When deciding on a new home, good schools are as important as parks, jogging and cycling tracks, recreational facilities and health centres. Developers have also observed such realigning of priorities among homebuyers.

“Generally, as soon as the master development is confirmed, the master developer tries to find the right school for that piece of land,” says Fadi Nwilati, CEO of Kaizen Asset Management Services. “The master developer will usually find an investor who is interested in building a school and the school will then rent that facility.”

Jyotsna Hegde, president of Sobha Group, affirms that the presence of schools within a community is influencing buyer sentiment. “A school is one of the primary things people look into when deciding to live in a high-end community like ours,” says Hegde. “We have two top-notch schools within Sobha Hartland — the Hartland International School and the North London Collegiate School.”

End-user preferences

Seda Tutu, deputy CEO of sales and marketing at Azizi Developments, agrees the proximity to schools is key for any residential project. Five of the developer’s properties in Al Furjan are located close to a new school opening this year.

Dubai’s growing end-user market is also dictating the preferences of prospective buyers. “A lot of end users are families and a major concern for anyone with a child is schooling,” explains Paul Kelly, operations director of Allsopp & Allsopp.

Nwilati also points out another interesting point about young families in search of new homes: “Proximity to nurseries is extremely important. When you are a new parent, you want to be closer to them geographically.”

Still others simply want to be closer to good schools. Ishita Bhattacharya Saha and her husband moved to Dubai Silicon Oasis from Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR), where the couple owned an apartment, so her daughter can be close to the Dubai English Speaking College in Academic City. Saha says the fact that the school bus network did not extend towards JBR was a logistical obstacle.

Apart from the short commute to school for her daughter, Saha says the family has also enjoyed the amenities in the new community. “There are various extracurricular offerings in the neighborhood such as music and dance classes and fitness clubs.”

According to Sally Ann Ghai, associate director of Luxhabitat, when searching for a new home, buyers who prefer locations close to schools also cite a sense of community, well-laid out road systems and the quality of finish in a home as top priorities.

Probing further into the buyer demographic of various communities draw, John Stevens, managing director of Asteco, says some nationalities prefer certain locations than others. “Given that Dubai is home to approximately 200 nationalities, with developers offering a wide selection of living experiences that cater to various groups, income brackets and cultures, there is certainly something out there for everyone,” says Stevens. “For instance, in our experience, GCC clientele prefer to live in Jumeirah, while areas such as Arabian Ranches and Motor City attract European expats. On the other hand, high-rise living in Downtown or Dubai Marina is what most singles and couples without kids prefer.”

What developers want

Developers, too, have various parameters when considering educational institutions for their communities. Mohammad Kaiser Azad, head of community management at Emaar Community Management, says, “Our approach is to develop the concept of the lifestyle development first, and then decide on the schools based on this.”

Damac Properties is following this template for residents in one of its developments. “From the faculty members to the playgrounds, the schools our children attend prepare them to be lifetime contributors to the global community,” says Niall McLoughlin, senior vice-president of Damac. “A recent example is the Jebel Ali School. Damac facilitated the opening of this new campus to ensure families living within our Damac Hills community have convenient access to quality education.”

Among the communities with easy access to schools, Al Barsha, Al Sufouh, Jumeirah, Dubai Silicon Oasis, Nad Al Sheba and Meydan top the list of buyers and renters. Communities that have captured a sizeable market share include Emirates Living, Arabian Ranches, Victory Heights, Jumeirah Golf Estate, Jumeirah Village Circle and Jumeirah Village Triangle. Kelly says the area around Dubailand and communities such as Falcon City and The Villa Project could also be places of interest for couples with schoolgoing children.

Other considerations

Nonetheless, some communities could still be more attractive than others despite having schools nearby. Anoop Bhargava, who is renting in Jumeirah 3, says he considered the close driving distance from both Dubai College and JESS Jumeirah for his two children, but “being located close to a mall, supermarket, parks, play areas within malls and the beach” was also important.

Kelly puts things into perspective when he says, “People will sacrifice what they want themselves if they can get their kids into a good school and get into that neighborhood. What you find then is not just a school, but also all their friends. It’s all about the whole social aspect for the kids when you choose a school that is located close to where you live.”


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Published by Gulf News | September 10, 2018

Alternative financing schemes to fuel property investments

Specialised funds to help create new demand

New financing options could further enhance the attractiveness of Dubai’s property market for both local and foreign investors. The Mortgage Law recently proposed by the Dubai Land Department (DLD) will be a key instrument that will bring in more specialised funds and create alternative financing beyond standard funding from banks. The new law could, for instance, allow institutions other than banks to take mortgage security over property, which, according to Daniel Le Moeligou, sales director at Home Matters, will open the market to private financing from domestic and international sources.

“This is not necessarily geared towards the traditional home purchase, but rather the non-standard finance market such as developers, corporates or persons with more complicated financial circumstances that cannot access the traditional bank financing market,” explains Le Moeligou. “The alternative financing methods will not necessarily feed money directly into the residential property market, but rather put liquidity into areas of the property market that have challenges getting access to traditional financing from the banks. With wider access for debt issuance against properties, the indirect impact on the UAE market is a greater possibility of significant investment from global institutional money.”

Le Moeligou says there are structural barriers to creating demand for alternative financing, the major one being the ability for the security holder to repossess in the case of default. “Current local banks and lenders can allow for up to two years for any repossession after default and is often a very expensive proposition,” he says. “To get significant take-up in an alternative financing route, it would be beneficial to address issues around being able to enforce the security.”

Current schemes

To attract buyers, many developers currently offer generous payment plans of up to 10 years wherein the bulk of payments are made on or after completion. Other developers also offer guaranteed returns or rental income, usually within three to five years.

The sale and leaseback model is another scheme that has been prevalent in Dubai. “The model has been popular in Dubai, particularly in the education sector, and provides support to the real estate market when traditional direct bank finance is limited,” Alexis Waller, partner and head of real estate at Clyde & Co.

Mortgage cap

As Dubai sees year-on-year growth in mortgage activity, easing the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio on the mortgages will be a significant step that will lower the entry barrier into the Dubai real estate sector, says Fadi Nwilati, CEO of Kaizen Asset Management Services. “Take ready property transaction as an example: a residential unit valued at Dh1 million under today’s mortgage rules indicate that you need to have around 20 percent down payment plus around 7 percent to cover all property transaction fees. That’s Dh270,000, which majority of the market doesn’t have, and hence are priced out,” Nwilati explains. “Increasing the LTV will open the market to a bigger investment pool.”

To prevent abuse, Nwilati says the policy may be readjusted only for first-time buyers. “If it is done for first-time buyers, it would cater for those who need it most.”


Also expected to be a key focus area of the new law is the integration of the real estate and capital markets, analysts say. Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) will play a vital role in this respect, explains Allsopp. “What this means is that an individual can invest into the property market without having actually to buy the property themselves,” says Allsopp. “This can help in many scenarios, whether it is from a cash point of view, the amount of risk you want to take or the amount of exposure you want.”

REITs account for 40 percent of listed real estate in countries such as the UK and Singapore, but they only account for 5 percent of the UAE real estate sector, says Nwilati.


Crowdfunding is another platform that Nwilati describes as a “win-win” solution for both developers and investors.

“It allows developers to target a larger pool of investors through technology and keeps investors updated on fundraising activity,” says Nwilati. “We have seen the launch of crowdfunding platforms like DuRise, Eureeca and Estate-Up in Dubai.”

In June, Dubai saw the first deal of an individual unit sold on a digital crowdfunding platform. Three investors pooled their money to be part owners of a Dh365,000 studio in Remraam. The property will potentially generate a net yield of 8.7 percent, which will be distributed to the investors in proportion to their investment, according to Siddiq Farid, CEO of Smart Crowd, a digital real estate investment platform.


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Published by Gulf News | September 01, 2018

The Rise of the Intelligent Real Estate Asset

Technology is changing the real estate landscape as we know it.

The real estate eco-system and investment landscape involve different layers of decision-making horizons. The life-cycle rotates between the landowner, developers, designers, contractors, brokers, lenders, asset holders, asset managers, property managers, and tenants, each having their factors that impact the decision-making process. Technology is being utilized today at various levels across this ecosystem. Brokers are automating advertising, deal flows and closing. Architectural Consultant’s and contractors began using and testing with virtual reality and drones to aid in construction, with a few contractors incorporating the 3D printing. Property managers benefitting from automating back-end operations and processes; lenders benefiting from the availability of more data to assess risk. The potential is endless. As I explain more into the change that is happening around the world with PropTech, I envision that we are heading towards serious modifications to the present investment landscape and real estate eco-system.

Assets end up with an owner.

More substantial assets end up with institutional investors, Family Offices and REIT’s. These large asset owners today require more sophisticated data analysis to analyze a more competitive market. In conversation with May Khizam from ‘The Grid Initiative’ as part of SmartInvest Series on a panel discussion: I explained the importance of REIT’s evolving intelligently by utilizing technology to have a competitive edge. Today, REIT’s and portfolio managers can utilize technology in site selection, tenant attraction, satisfaction, and retention, brand differentiation and brand enhancement, space design- redesign, operational efficiencies, process improvements, cost savings, impact on positive changes in rentals and occupancy rates, and positive changes to capital and net asset values.

REIT’s can utilize technology to enable them to optimize decision-making, make more informed decisions at a faster rate, utilize IoT for operational efficiencies, linking with FinTech products, and studying tenant demographics, providing tenant technology amenities to attract and retain tenants. With the availability of data, algorithms and machine learning will allow for more data-driven portfolios. REIT’s and real estate owners will be able to predict and forecast market cycles and movements, in some cases up to 5-year forecasting. Of course, as I always say, ‘machines can’t predict what humans can’t predict’. Even though machines can analyze far more extensive data than human beings and at a much faster rate. A US-based REIT was able to build a platform that allows predictive real estate market movements, and when the input data from the last two decades into the platform, it was able to predict the previous global crash. Indeed, the factors affecting real estate markets are, to a certain degree, predictable, when you have a machine that is looking at all variables and can connect the dots.

Ability to analyze data faster, and to have a fair amount of forecasted data, at the least, allows feasibility analysis to be conducted much faster than the traditional methods currently utilized, which gives leading tech-enabled REIT’s the advantage of making offers faster and analyzing more properties. In conclusion, giving them a clear position at the time of ‘purchasing.’ The same algorithms can be used to sell and hold decisions.

Smart-technology implementation will assist real-estate assets in attracting and retaining tenants. When looking at two properties, other things being equal, a tenant is more likely to choose a property that has tech amenities such as a building-wide Wi-Fi network, car-charging facility, motion sensors, air quality sensors, app-enabled temperature control, keyless entry locks, and water quality sensors. Tenants will be demanding more comfort and more of a customized experience in the near future. It is expected that by 2020, over 1.3 billion sensors in buildings will be connected. More advanced buildings and fully autonomous BMS systems will be able to gather augmented intelligence about residents’ behaviors and take actions accordingly, i.e., adjusting the temperature based on your habits, rather than your instructions.

*KAIZEN Asset Management Services consults the property sector on PropTech and assists in planning, developing and building tech-enabled platforms and buildings, which will assist in advancing the eco-system into the forward-thinking technological frontier*

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KAIZEN AMS Article | April 26, 2018

Changing Landscape: Dubai Property Developers Adopt New Strategies

Changing Landscape: Dubai Property Developers Adopt New Strategies

By: Fadi Nwilati, CPA, CGMA,

CEO, Kaizen Asset Management Services

Today, Dubai has a new Marina, the Dubai Canal and a BVLGARI hotel located on Jumeirah Bay Island, which is in the final stages of construction and set to open soon.

Dubai is changing and shifting thanks to a multitude of forces. Dubai’s building boom grinded to a halt as the global financial crisis took centre stage in 2008. It was the second half of 2008 when the world economy crashed, walloped by recession, the future of Dubai was unclear at that stage. After a few turbulent years, Dubai bounced back and committed to a remarkable turnaround.

Just take a few minutes and reflect on the dramatic landscape changes that have taken place over the past two years alone. Today, Dubai has a new Marina, the Dubai Canal and a BVLGARI hotel located on Jumeirah Bay Island, which is in the final stages of construction and set to open soon. Bluewaters Island, home to the world’s highest observation wheel the ‘Dubai Eye’ and The Tower which is set to be taller than the Burj Khalifa. In a country where shopping is a favorite pastime for residents with high disposable incomes, there is no shortage of malls, shopping centres and boutiques. We have seen developments like City Walk and Box Park open in the past few years.

The 16th edition of Cityscape Global, the Middle East’s largest, most influential real estate event was yet another clear indication of the Dubai’s innovative vision for future development. The level of investor trust within the market was evident at the event with some Master Developers recording up to Dh 1.3 billion in sales at Cityscape Global. Cityscape this year was indicative that the Dubai property market is stabilizing as the down cycle is nearing its end.

But the question remains, how will the market stability improve? It’s the long-standing property investors that believe in the Arabic saying, one way or another, that real estate may get sick, but never dies. In light with current global instability, one of the most notable property market trends playing out through this cycle is that levels of investor activity that are set to break through unparalleled standards. Millennials in particular are surprisingly drawn to real estate as an investment opportunity. Millennials are also notably much more active in the investment game, but alternative forms, not the traditional forms.

With so many new homes slated to enter the Dubai market, demand is projected to increase rapidly, especially from the millennials who are primed to venture into buying homes instead of renting, according to the organizers of the International Property Show (IPS). Research shows Dubai millennials firmly value the importance of home ownership and its investment benefits. Based on a study conducted by Dubizzle, 44% of millennials in Dubai are looking to buy a home in the next few years. And why not? Dubai offers residents a luxury, tax free lifestyle, with high salaries to afford their own homes. Real Estate Developers in the Dubai have adopted a new strategy to meet the Millennials requirements and to embrace the 21st century of living.

From its humble beginnings as a sleepy fishing port, Dubai has a skyline that has changed beyond recognition. This innovative city has morphed into a global marvel today. It has defied the norms and defined new innovation standards that will captivate the world. Dubai has also recently entered the top five ranking economies in the world, according to American Think Tank Brookings Institution. Uncertainty in the world economy has increased, “but if I had to place my bet on a city, I would place it on the city and country that delivered in the past, and will surely deliver in the future”.

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