EMPG has grown rapidly over the last three years to become the largest real estate group in the Greater Middle East region with over 1,200 employees across United Arab Emirates, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The Group’s websites draw 5.5 million visits and over 40 million page views every month.
EMPG had over 100% Y-o-Y growth in revenue in 2016, and closed H1 2017 124% ahead of the corresponding period in the previous year. In the UAE, Bayut has overtaken the leader in some key metrics and regions, and aims to overtake it across the board. Growth in the UAE in H1 2017 was 112% ahead of the corresponding period in 2016.
In Pakistan, Zameen has established itself as the clear leader without any significant challengers.
Khan will be a guest speaker at the Property Portal Watch Conference in Lisbon which will focus on the theme of getting closer to the transaction. A topic the CEO is well-placed to talk about.
The way that property portals get closer to the transaction can vary from market to market. In an established and regulated market like Australia, portals are inclined to chase ancillary/associated transactions; revenue streams that come from mortgages, utility switching services and insurance. If they were to chase property transactions, it would mean they would have to go after the business of their advertising customers – the agents and developers.
However, in the less regulated emerging markets, the model differs.
Primary property transactions in an emerging market
“In UAE, Bayut operates on a traditional advertising model, but Pakistan and Bangladesh present a huge opportunity for transactions,” Khan admits.
“In Pakistan and Bangladesh, there’s a disconnect between primary and secondary sales. When I say secondary, it’s the agency and in primary it’s the new-builds. Agencies who are operating in the secondary segment (ready properties) don’t go after the primary segment (off plan or newly built). So we can go after that opportunity more actively than portals in more mature markets.“
Khan says in Pakistan they have been going after primary transactions for the past two years; selling newly built properties to end-users and getting a percentage of the sale.
When EMPG first started pursuing primary transactions, it was a challenge because they had to change the way they ordinarily did business.
“We struggled initially because we thought of it as selling a service, which we were accustomed to selling to agents or developers. But, when you come to selling properties, it’s a different business; you really need to wipe the slate clean and learn everything from scratch,” he says.
Portals climbing the value chain
“Across the board I think portals want to climb up the value chain,” Khan explains.
“If you think about it, in a typical transaction done by agencies; an agency will make 2 per cent commission. If it was a $100,000 transaction, the agency would make $2,000 in commission. They would typically allocate 15% to 20% of their revenue to marketing, which would be $300 to $400 in this example. So, in effect portals are chasing less than half a percent of the property value whereas in less defined markets portals could grab up to $10,000 instead of $300 ad spend,” he says.
“A lot of portals in developed markets want to climb up the value chain, but they are unable to step into the transactions stream. Some are providing ancillary services to increase the size of the pie. However, given their limitations, property portal 3.0 models are taking root in less defined markets instead, where opportunities to become part of the transaction are present.”