Gathering momentum

Ismail Kamel, Chief Operating Officer of ERA Oman, exudes confidence that the recent surge in the number of commercial and residential properties across the country is poised to give a shot in the arm to the real estate industry. However he feels that the market needs to be regulated properly to keep unethical and unqualified players at bay.

Can you explain about the services ERA Oman is offering currently?

ERA is a leading international real estate services franchise owned by Realogy Holdings Corp, a global leader in real estate franchising. We have currently over 4500 offices the world over. ERA Oman started its operation in 2006 and is currently a leading company offering full-fledged residential and commercial real estate services. Our brokerage division focuses on renting and selling properties and finding investment opportunities. We handle both small properties and bigger properties whether it be lands, commercial and residential properties industrial warehouses etc. Our property management division currently has over 1600 properties under its portfolio. They include retail, individual, corporate, and government properties and the retail outlets of some prestigious hotels. Our property valuation division ERA Appraisal is the market leader in the realm of residential and commercial appraisal offering the most accurate appraisal reports in the market. We also have another division specialising in maintenance and facility management which looks after the regular maintenance of the buildings we manage, and the facility management of bigger complexes and shopping malls.

How did you establish yourself in the Omani market?

When we entered the market there were a lot of well-established players including multinationals and local players. But hardly did they concentrate on proper real estate practices. In 2010, we started doing massive advertisements in the national media to establish our brand equity and promote the services we are offering. We try our best to maximise investment returns to our clients. We introduced a new concept of real estate in Oman focusing on how to give a better exposure to the properties, how to better market them and how to better package them in a way appealing to the customers. We were the first to market the properties with a wide variety of marketing tools at our own costs, and a lot of others followed suit.

What are the challenges real estate industry facing today?

Oman’s is the least regulated real estate market in the region. There is no regulation to prevent unqualified people from entering the market. We have a few specialised multinational and local players who know how to do real estate business in a professional and ethical way. But there are thousands of others who don’t bother about quality and ethics but entered the market considering it a lucrative business to make money. These unlicensed players are actually corrupting the market to the hilt. In some of our neighbouring markets like Dubai, you cannot work until you get licensed and you cannot get license until you get certified by the Dubai Real Estate Institute. In addition, we don’t have the concept of ownership association which makes the upkeep and maintenance of the properties smoother and more professional. What we learned from our experience is that good service, honesty and integrity will definitely pay back in the form of the trust you get back from the clients.

How is the industry going to shape up in the coming years?

There are a lot of new commercial and residential properties coming up in Muscat and across the country. A lot of new luxury villas and apartments are set to change the old way of doing business. The new infrastructure development such as Muscat Highway is boosting the construction and sale of residential and commercial properties inside the city. These all are bound to give a facelift to the industry.

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