A recent report by the Qatar Central Bank (QCB) in the 11th Financial Stability Report projected a positive outlook for the real estate industry. In essence, new investment-friendly laws, the completion and reopening of the Doha Metro and a new moderated supply should allow the real estate sector to stabilise in the upcoming months. While the outlook looks good, there are new considerations that need to be taken into account by the real estate sector in terms of influence on consumer preferences.
The onset of a global pandemic emphasises the need to push harder for shielding the health of tenants. In order to reignite the market, changes in buyer/tenant behaviours must be studied, and property owners must swiftly adapt to the new preferences that have emerged. An immediate and urgent response to the threat of COVID-19 is required to restore consumer confidence across the real estate sector. At the forefront of these restorations is finding ways to ensure a tenant or visitor’s safety across properties to inspire trust, and consequently boost activity in the industry. For instance, Alfardan Properties introduced a set of precautionary measures and sanitisation procedures as a permanent resolve within its structure to ease the mind of tenants’.
Ensuring clean and safe environments
There is an increased need to foster safer environments for tenants and visitors. While the long-term impact in consumer behaviour remains yet to be determined, safety is the immediate concern at the top of any visitor’s mind when entering a property. This creates opportunity for developers like us to explore technology and innovate new solutions as alternative ways to do the same things. For instance, introducing touch-free buttons in elevators, QR codes to retrieve information, or automatic car plate number readers. The pandemic has introduced new concerns in the minds of individuals which are certain to remain long term. The sooner we adapt to these changes, the better. These can be seen as opportunities for property owners to upgrade amenities and enhance the customer’s experience.
Creating bigger and more spacious areas
Inspired by social distancing, there is also a visible preference shift toward bigger spaces. Spacious living rooms or offices are more in demand as tenants are conscious of the increased risks of transmission in smaller or cramped areas. Big alterations to the premises may be required across properties if developers are to fully implement government-based regulations. In some cases, this has already necessitated properties to undergo alterations to their current design. Accounting for these new changes in design, we could be looking at reversing open-plan layouts in offices and creating more spacious areas when developing properties moving forward.
Strengthening open communication channels
As the country navigates the first stage of Phase 4 of easing COVID-19 restrictions, individuals have returned to commercial properties. Following the September 1st resumption of the Doha Metro and an increase in visitors across major commercial centres, it is crucial to protect these areas from transmission or infection.
To implement precautions effectively, developers must adopt open and clear communication channels. This is a key strategy which can restore a feeling of security. Transparency and accountability can be created within B2B relationships as retailers and property owners work closer together and engage with visitors and tenants with uniform policies. Immediate action on part of retailers that wastes no time to implement government directives can nurture trust. Visitors at commercial hotspots will appreciate the efforts and proceed with ease into the premises of properties they can rely on.
The intricacies of every new procedure and process fall under the scope of leaders whose engagement with every decision helps ensure that every step is taken with care. This approach has been a guiding philosophy for Alfardan Properties and can even be regarded as the underlying principle in developing an effective model for managing properties to success.
Ensuring cleanliness in our environments, adapting to bigger spaces, and relying on strong communication channels, have proven successful for inspiring tenants’ trust at Alfardan Properties, and these learnings can be adapted elsewhere. Most importantly, they help the real estate sector to keep in line with the core pillars of the Qatar National Vision 2030 – towards economic, social, environmental, and human capital development – focused on providing a high standard of living for the population of the country, and future generations. By working together in the industry, real estate players can ascertain confidence in the minds of the population at large and help the sector get the boost it needs.
Regional Head of Leasing at Alfardan Properties