Recently our CEO Ryan Mahoney was on air with Property Finder’s CEO and Founder Michael Lahyani to discuss our huge win this year and how we aim to keep pushing the industry forward.
“We’re here for the long term, we’ve been here for a long time. We believe in the market and we believe in the future.”
Property Pulse – the industry insiders’ view of the real estate market
Brandy: This morning on Property Pulse on Dubai 103.8 we’re talking awards and recognition. A bit of a pat on the back for a job well done because last night at the Burj Khalifa was the Property Finder real estate awards. Michael Lahyani the CEO and founder of Property Finder is in with us this morning. Michael it’s lovely to see you.
Michael: Lovely to see you too.
Brandy: Why do we need awards? What are you trying to do with these?
Michael: We want to recognize the best of the best in the industry and this is an opportunity to praise and reward those that take care of our users that come to the site and give them amazing service.
Brandy: Now the most sought-after award as I understand it, the big Oscar of the night, the best picture, if you like, is ‘Best Brokerage.’ How do you even go about judging that?
Michael: So we have a very thorough process, one that I deliberately stay away from in order to be as independent as possible and we use as much data so that we don’t have to put any personal judgment into it and Betterhomes was the winner this year.
Brandy: Of which we have Ryan Mahoney, old friend of the show, CEO of Betterhomes in the studio with us this morning. Ryan well done.
Ryan: Thank you thank you and thanks for having me
Brandy: Michael you raise a really interesting point there. Because all of these people that you’re judging are your partners. So how do you do that without annoying half your partners?
Michael: Well we do end up annoying some of them but this is part of the process and I think that we’ve won that credibility and that our partners believe that we are quite independent in the judging process.
Brandy: So why did Betterhomes scoop it up?
Michael: Well Betterhomes have been around I think for 34 years and they’ve been offering a consistent and amazing service and they are a brand that has led by example and raised the standards of the industry. A lot of our customers and a lot of our brokers are looking up to them and this year they clearly stand out in their operation.
Brandy: So what do you think you guys have done Ryan? 2019, what have you been trying to bring to the industry?
Ryan: Well yeah it’s interesting it’s been… to be honest with you it’s been sort of a wild… over the last couple of years we’ve been putting a lot of energy into the systems that deliver customer service and you know it’s not a perfect science, but we’ve put a lot of energy into training and into recruitment and making sure we’ve got all the KPIs right and driving and motivating and so on. It’s great to win these awards and I’m really appreciative of it because it’s a validation of all that effort and again it’s not perfect, there is still more to do and we constantly want to get better but there is a lot of money and energy that goes into it. Sometimes for businesses that are trying to get their customer service better and improve their customer service in tough markets it’s hard to sometimes make that financial allocation and time allocation so it feels good when it was all worth it.
Richard: Michael said 34 years old, what year was Betterhomes founded?
Richard: By your mum? Linda.
Ryan: By my mum! That’s right.
Richard: Who’s still got her hand in the business, she comes back regularly doesn’t she?
Ryan: She does she’s like the matriarch of the business she’s like the spiritual leader and she comes in and she’s really concerned about customer service and customers.
Richard: I wonder exactly how much that continuity actually has contributed to the success of Betterhomes where you’ve got that and it’s not a constant change of people all the time.
Ryan: I think I mean it’s really interesting because I think for us it’s really helped us. It gives us a consistent path but as businesses age they sometimes can get sort of old so you also have to have this effort to constantly invigorate it with new people, new ideas and constantly be open minded and while we have this constant ‘spiritual direction’ let’s say, or that consistency that we’ve got we’ve brought a lot of people in over the last couple of years and we’ve invigorated the businesses and we’re always trying to move to the next step.
Richard: You’ve got people in, I mean this is a tough time for a lot of property companies here and a lot of companies are letting people go – and you’re bringing people in?
Ryan: Yeah that’s absolutely right and it’s not easy to do that when the market is tough but we’re here for the long term, we’ve been here for a long time. We believe in the market, we believe in the future. And we believe that it’s all worth it to put that energy in for the long term.
Brandy: Real estate brokers get a bit of a bad rep in terms of stereotype. What actually makes a good broker? What do you look for when you’re bringing someone onto your books?
Ryan: You’re absolutely right you know, it’s so painful when people have a bad experience. There are a few consistent things that people do wrong and mistake, and some of them are very simple you know, like just not following up. That’s such a key challenge that people have. And misinformation, giving people misinformation. So what we try to do is get the training right, get the people right and what we also do which is really important is when things go wrong – retrain. Make sure we have the feedback in place to let us know when we’re not getting it right. For example we work with Trustpilot which is an independent review service and we’ve got 1,300 5 star reviews which I’m proud to say is the most in the market, so when we get the five star reviews – fantastic, we celebrate it, but when we get a less than five star review we sit down and we see what we did wrong and then we have retraining for people that are having issues.
Michael: If I can add – I think integrity is a big part of the service that they bring. Bringing people in that have real values really makes a difference.
Brandy: We are taking the polls of the property market this morning we’re very pleased to have in the studio with us Michael Lahyani, the CEO and Founder of Property Finder and Ryan Mahoney, the CEO of Betterhomes, who last night swept the top gong away for Best Brokerage at the Property Finder real estate awards. Lots of congratulations are coming in for you Ryan and a lot of people are also asking if the two of you have been to bed yet. Was it a late one?
Michael: It was.
Brandy: Ok let’s take a look then maybe if we’ve got less sleep we might get some raw comments on the state of our property market at the moment. Everyone keeps talking about the bottom. “We’re near the bottom, we’re bottoming out, it’s coming close to the bottom”. I mean you could argue it’s in the interests of real estate people to say it is, because it gets us all thinking ‘Buy now or miss out’ – Property FOMO. Where are we, guys?
Michael: So I think that right now the value proposition is really, really interesting. If you look at some of the areas that have dropped some of the prices, they have great interest and great returns and I think it is a pretty interesting moment to come into the market.
Ryan: It’s the million-dollar question, right? And none of us really know. It’s fundamentally a demand / supply question and everyone’s talked about supply – we know the issues with supply. I think some of the signals right now in terms of setting up this council to look at supply, you know, the price per square foot right now. It’s hard to build property today at the same price you’re able to buy it at so that acts as a natural floor but who knows? We don’t really know.
Richard: You say it’s hard to build property at that price. Does that suggest perhaps the building standards won’t be quite as good as they were a few years ago?
Ryan: I don’t think so I think if anything they’re getting better. There’s more infrastructure to regulate that, between the evolution of RERA and the municipality where it deals with all of these issues and I think the competition itself is driving quality standards. So I don’t think that’s a big issue but if there’s too much supply obviously it’s going to put pressure on prices.
Richard: Well there is that supply at the moment, I’ll probably find a graph that says 40 – 50 thousand coming on in the next year and probably the same next year. You just used the word interesting to describe the time to buy – what did you mean by that? Interesting in what way? You’ve got to have broad shoulders to stomach it or what?
Michael: I think in the ROI that it delivers, right? There are very few markets out there in cities in megapols that are delivering 7-8% yield. I think Dubai has proven that it can sustain volatility over the years and that real estate will come back and hold its prices. That 7-8% is pretty amazing for real estate.
Richard: But if you don’t necessarily want to buy-to-let… to me the prices seem so low at the moment and having sold recently I know the downward pressure we’re talking about here.
Michael: I’m sorry about that.
Richard: If you actually bought today, how long before you think the prices would see a sustainable rise? Are we talking about next year, the year after? What do you reckon?
Ryan: We’ve all seen the cycles and it’s really hard to say and pick the timing. I think you have to look at what your motivation is for buying. If you’re buying because you’re living here and you’re replacing rent then it’s kind of a different equation. As Michael was saying I think there is great value for money but what happens to prices is just too unpredictable, frankly. Overall personally I think the signs are positive in the sense that the government is addressing the supply equation and the price and quality of property is getting to a certain floor. So the optimist in me says we’re not too far off the bottom.
Brandy: What about some of the factors that keep housing prices up? We’ve had the guys from Nakheel in this morning, they’re opening Nakheel Mall in about an hour. Does having a mall in the neighbourhood have an effect on price and rent?
Ryan: I think it does, the better the amenities, the more people will pay for things but it’s just a question about how much. I personally don’t think it will have a massive impact, but it will have some impact.
Brandy: What does though? Schools? Metro?
Ryan: All of the above, and those communities that have better amenities that have more established amenities, that have a stronger community, those obviously attract the higher prices.
Michael: You have to remember 80% of the population in Dubai still rents. Right? So, this is extremely high if you compare to any cities in the world and therefore a lot of those renters want to become owners and they are going to look at where their properties are located in terms of the facilities that they offer.
Brandy: Michael Lahyani, CEO and Founder of Property Finder and Ryan Mahoney, CEO of Betterhomes thank you both for joining us!
Ryan: Thank you.
Michael: Thank you.