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UAE expert: Tech disrupting 'gatekeeper' status of real estate agents

Online platforms cannot replace the human aspect of real estate trading, Propertyfinder's Lukman Hajje said

Emerging technologies are disrupting the role of real estate agents as gatekeepers, a Dubai-based expert said [representational image].
Emerging technologies are disrupting the role of real estate agents as gatekeepers, a Dubai-based expert said [representational image].

Emerging technologies are disrupting the role of real estate agents as "gatekeepers of information", a UAE-based expert has said.

Lukman Hajje, chief commercial officer of Propertyfinder Group, said the trend could be expected to continue as "more information moves online".

Earlier this week, Dubai Land Department (DLD) announced plans for the Real Estate Self Transaction (REST), a platform to carry out real estate trading and transactions. Part of DLD's contribution to the Dubai 10X initiative, the platform will ensure the complete digital management of real estate transactions, eliminating paper documents and reducing brokerage procedures.

REST will be fully developed by the first quarter of 2020.

READ: Are Gulf construction firms ready to embrace disruptive tech?

Hajje said initiatives that promote transparency and ease-of-transacting must be encouraged, but such programmes are unlikely to eliminate the human aspect of real estate trading.

“Online platforms cannot conduct inspections, negotiate price and terms, qualify buyers, and haggle with landlords and sellers,” he explained.

“Good brokers add a lot of value and expertise to the experience that more than justify the commission they charge. This expertise and the human element will evolve with technology, but won't be rendered obsolete any time soon.”

‘Disruption’ is gaining traction in the Middle East’s construction sector, where technology is being focused on to encourage greater efficiencies of cost and time.

Earlier this year, Naji Atallah, head of architecture, engineering, construction (AEC) and manufacturing, at Autodesk told Construction Week that Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 “cannot be achieved” without the help of disruptive technology such as 3D printing.

“Vision 2030 cannot be achieved with the technology we have now,” said Atallah.

“The construction sector has to collaborate, innovate, and find new ways of working to make Saudi Vision 2030 a success.”

On the uptake of new technology, Atallah said: “We’ve actually started to see a very high adoption of building information modelling (BIM) in the Middle East and this was driven by a mandate from the Dubai Municipality. We really do see the effect of this on the ground, but we also see some technologies being leapfrogged in the Middle East. For example, there is a massive interest in 3D printing in the construction industry.”

In March 2017, Saudi Arabia rented 100 concrete 3D printers from Chinese construction outfit Winsun in a billion-dollar deal to create 5,000 3D-printed villas.

Away from 3D printing, Atallah said construction firms could explore cloud-based computing, the Internet of Things, and machine learning to find a cutting-edge in the Middle East's building sector.

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Construction Week - Issue 725
Jan 19, 2019