The evolution of marketing property in Dubai
Dacha Real Estate was established in 2004, shortly after the Dubai government made it possible for foreigners to buy property in the emirate – and just before the property boom.
Being in the industry for 15 years has allowed me to witness the transformation in how real estate professionals market a property, and the impact of new regulations on advertising.
The switch from traditional print media and face-to-face sales to digital has been colossal, and so has the evolution of property portals. Before portals, the main advertising medium was print media – newspapers, magazines, leaflets and brochures. One of the most well-known real estate papers used to be as thick as an encyclopedia at times!
Property Finder Prestige Magazine - May/June 2019 Issue
Real estate agents would distribute company brochures to various hotels, travel agencies and embassies in order to capture clients. Often, agents waited at the airport arrival section, distributing leaflets to passengers and potential prospects.
No regulations existed as to what could be advertised and what payment plans developers could offer. The Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA), as we know it today, did not exist. Many of the properties on offer were off-plan; buyers and brokers would queue outside developers’ offices just to get a piece of the pie. The sell was easy, in most cases, without the need to show numerous homes to a client, and with minimal buying emotion involved.
Real estate portals began to emerge in 2007, coinciding with the increase of ready freehold property in Dubai. However, they did not gain much popularity or momentum until roughly 2009. At this time, many of the portals were free, or charged nominal fees, and again, advertising on them was not controlled.
Agents were not accustomed to advertising online so the quality of the advert content was poor most of the time, with a single computer-generated image of the property and a few lines description.
When Property Finder began actively trading, selling advertising packages and providing their services to agents, part of their offering and quality control was training brokers throughout Dubai. I still remember our account manager attending our team meetings, encouraging agents to take proper photos of their property and write a detailed description, as was common practice in more developed international markets.
What seems like common sense now was something of a foreign concept back then. Property Finder was the leader in enhancing listing quality, shaping the advertising landscape into what we see today. Nowadays, it is common practice for major brokerages to have in-house professional photographers, and property listings require content which adheres to a specific criteria in order to appear online.
Written by Alessia Sheglova, Managing Director of Dacha Real Estate as a contribution to PropertyFinder Trends Magazine
The regulation of advertising content, both online and in print, has only been enacted quite recently, forcing agents to have certain documents in place in order to be able to market a property at the agreed price with the owner. Previously, it was common for agents to intentionally market properties at low prices (also known as “ghost listings”) for the sole purpose of capturing a client, only to later sell them another property at a higher price. This had a negative impact on consumer expectations, as well as on the agents who were operating with integrity, advertising at correct prices but missing out on the leads.
It was also common practice for agents to advertise properties of other brokers, and in some cases, properties that did not exist, oversaturating property portals with listings that were essentially junk and frustrating consumers.
Today, whilst the system is still not perfect, fewer listings appear online, listings are genuine (most of the time) and the consumer experience has definitely improved.
Aside from property portals, there has been another huge shift to digital via SEO, Google and social media that did not exist in the industry back in the day. It can be said the region is catching up to its Western counterparts and other more developed markets. Companies now allocate a huge amount of their advertising spend to drive traffic to their own website, and to generate leads via different channels, including through Facebook and Instagram.
It is safe to say that over the past fifteen years, technology has changed many aspects of the Dubai real estate market. Searching for property has become much more convenient and less time consuming. Clients no longer waste their time flipping through a multitude of pages in a newspaper and attending viewings blindly without any idea what a property will look like until they walk through the door.
The market has become more regulated and transparent, where the consumer can feel assured that the properties advertised are genuine and priced as per the owners’ instructions. Of course, there is still room for improvement, and the government as well as industry leaders are constantly working on enhancing the experience of all parties involved: agents, clients and owners alike.
Seeing how far we have progressed over the years, I am excited to see what the future holds for the industry, and how new regulations, innovation, and technology will improve best practice.