2020, A YEAR OF LESSONS


By: Michael Kfoury

Group Marketing and Communication Director
Regency Group Holding, Al Asmakh

The real estate market is a never-stopping rollercoaster, a sector that’s always an indicator of a healthy nation’s economy and that makes a large portion of individual and business wealth across economic sectors. Away from blockades and politics, facing new challenges is an ongoing process pushing every management to explore new grounds, and marketers for further creativity and innovation while budget meetings turn into the “new trend”.

For the last year or so, Covid-19 was the new kid on the block, causing and triggering all kinds of unexpected changes, and leading to drastic changes in customers’ behavior whilst putting to respite every data previously gathered and analyzed.

The outbreak’s effect on real estate development and management processes was definite, beyond discussion, negatively onto some but quite fruitful for others. Allow me to make it clear… When some were losing market shares and urged to lock down or work from home, real estate operations were bound to change at AREDC in order to cope with the inevitable and flip reality into an opportunity, which. The inception of new policies and precaution measures to protect employees, the travel bans and restrictions on local and overseas tourism are a few of what impacted the number of transactions in real estate or did it?

A bit of insight – Leasing
A month post-lockdown, occupancy rates surged into a staggering 95% across our properties, reaching unprecedented levels… and we weren’t surprised; we predicted the market change and decided to create the need in sight, especially for the seekers of two and three bedroom residences. Communicating opportunities during an outbreak is as serious as the virus itself but we were able to grip a further bigger chunk of the narrowed-down potential market, yet keeping everyone safe thanks to technology, starting from employees and their families to potential clients and visitors.

Obvious reasons
With the whole population being stuck, unable to travel for the summer break, it was foreseeable that clients will be seeking areas with a higher standard… to make it more specific, areas with access to the beach and towers with high standards of healthy-living. With that in sight, a master campaign targeting The Pearl area was put into action and, needless to say, saw our numbers increase during the Covid 19 lockdown, and towers being at full capacity for the first time ever.

A bit of insight – Sales
EXPATS

With the new “eligible for residency” rule being introduced, it was evident that expats would be interested in acquiring real estate; seeing an opportunity that was too good to miss, which is why we shifted gears from renting to selling new and occupied flats with competitive prices.
The demand was staggering for pre-occupied apartments, in which the new buyer would benefit from the generated rent; that in particular is one of our favorite products at the moment. Obviously a new-favorite for investors as well. The introduction of that law, by the government, and at that particular time, is definitely a master’s choice. One, it kept the economy wheel moving, and two, it kept expats in the country, and even more, motivated them to stay.

Areas of interest  Lusail, Umm Ghuwailina and Musheireb all witnessed a high pace as the attention was already on these areas when it came to the ability of buying reasonably-priced apartments and being eligible for residency with either freehold or leasehold over 99 years. The Pearl, being more on the avant-garde side, ranks behind the previously listed areas with new projects coming up, offering an off-plan investment opportunity with no interest or commission and personalized payment plans.

Locals
Unable to travel and spend abroad, locals saw the potential of buying local real estate, both for investment and/or leisure. Specifically speaking, we hosted hundreds of visitors to Paramount Residences tower, inquiring and buying flats in The Pearl’s most luxurious residential tower. Additionally, off-plan investment is starting to take shape, as people expressed interest in our The Garden Gower, The Pearl, a year away from completion.

Spending to fight Covid 19
Social media usage surged as all companies rushed to advertise through online portals, thus, most of the campaigns were chaotic and unorganized, with barely any parameter of targeting or segmentation. Bidding on keywords sky-rocketed into unparalleled prices but that was another reason for us to spend the extra penny and maintain our positioning, repel competition and skim a new layer of the market share.

Macro-economic changes and effects
The unemployment rate is the first thing that comes to mind, having increased, sadly. Tens of millions of employees in all business fields were affected as the world seemed to shut down. The decline in construction activities, followed by locking down food and beverage destinations, tourism, flights offices, companies and many more… all were seen affecting the confidence indices in economies around the world.

With companies laying off employees, companies having to shut down completely, it was a matter of survival for business owners and landlords to fight hand in hand so each can support and retain the other. This being said, companies were given the opportunity to apply for loans, supported by the government, and were also handed an easy plan to settle payments by the landlords who also suggested benefiting from extra grace periods just to support the economic cycle. Malls had their rent fees discounted to a minimum, despite which, a lot of retailers were seen to leave or restructure into less branches across the nation.

This article was published as part of the fifth edition of Property Finder Qatar’s Trends Report