In conversation with Mark Nosworthy, CEO of Bproperty tells us that the company is remaining committed to being trustworthy property solutions for real estate seekers and investors in these challenging times.
How has the countrywide shutdown affected the real estate industry? What has it been like for Bproperty to shift to a work-from-home model?
While it’s only natural to think that the current situation we’re in would raise a massive stop sign for the real estate market, people continue to surprise. Shopping has become difficult, as has commuting and regular, everyday activities, but the real estate market continues to move forward, albeit at a slightly slower pace. People still have needs and property is a fundamental need for everyone that has not changed.
People are showing resilience to the pandemic, in terms of real estate transactions. Bproperty is still performing transactions on a daily basis for those really looking to sell, buy and rent a property. Given the nature of the industry, there is a need for interaction. Being a leader in using technology to create and engage the market, moving to a work-from-home model was not heavily difficult. Our marketing team probably had the easiest shift as most of their work is achievable in any internet-enabled environment and our Customer Service Representatives have always connected with our patrons through mobile and internet platforms, so their shift was not that difficult – barring the assurance of information security. The biggest perceived challenge was with the sales teams, given the absence of face to face meetings, however, they have proven to be beyond reliable in their shift. Through responsible practices and our platforms offering in-depth and market-leading virtual tours and provision of information, the teams have been steadfast in reaching and guiding clients to achieve the transactions that are right for them. As a whole, Bproperty transitioned to work at home model almost in an entirely natural way, and that’s heavily due to the ownership and commitment of our workforce.
Bproperty is part of the Emerging Markets Property Group which also owns top UAE property portal Bayut, Pakistan’s number one property portal Zameen, Mubawab in Morocco along with Bayut’s Saudi Arabia domain and Bayut’s Jordan domain. What has been the response from Emerging Markets Property Group to keep these portals sustainable in the current crisis?
The Emerging Markets Property Group (EMPG) has steadfastly committed to working with all of our partners, stakeholders and employees through this period. EMPG, in all of its markets, has committed to ensuring that real estate industries in each of its markets develop, for the betterment of the host country, and that commitment will not change even during these periods. We work with all of our partners to ensure that we come out of the present situation firstly together, and secondly, in a strong position.
A core function of the real estate scene — viewing properties — is being impeded. How much will a virtual property viewing prove effective? Will this become a set standard? If so, how do you make the experience for potential buyers, investors, renters more immersive?
Getting a first-hand look at any product, be it real estate or a household fridge, is important to buyers. It provides a sense of perspective but also gives a sense of reliability. What I can see and touch are much easier to comprehend and dissect. In the real estate sector, it is of utmost importance that a property is examined fully before making a purchase decision of such magnitude. Virtual tours are the best possible tool to enable people to still do those things while being at home. The essence of the tour is to provide a looking glass of the property.
Bproperty has been able to create a virtual tour that is both immersive and reliable so that you can be certain that what you see as a potential investor is exactly what you get. And so far, it has proven quite effective in that approach. As we still get plenty of leads, even during this time, we are obligated to aiding people in their hunt for property. As a standard beginning step, we use the virtual tour interface to thoroughly walk them through what might be their next property. This has proven effective in many cases. Our virtual tour setup really helps in setting properties for transactions.
With MFS services deployed to handle disbursement of cash, will it be possible to combine MFS service and virtual viewing to potentially get some winds in the sails of the slowing sector?
Virtual viewing of properties is definitely a strong way to further the process of transacting a property. Being able to sit at home and thoroughly view a property helps in feeling assured about the choice. As for MFS services, though they are of utmost importance in everyday monetary tasks, the limits present render the services void of any benefit when it comes to buying property. Even with the increase in limit recently imposed, it is of little effect in the face of large investment type transactions.
However, MFS services are great for one aspect of real estate. Tenancy concerns such as rent and utilities can be paid quite easily now thanks to the enacted services. This is a great initiative that is saving lots of time and stress on the part of tenants. Even in the case of new tenancies, safely relocating and paying landlords on time are much less of a hassle now thanks to these MFS services. One of the concerns of people has been about how to make monthly payments such as rent. Now with such accessibility to funds, people are more forthcoming with rental property needs.
Has Bproperty been involved in CSR activities to contribute to the relief efforts of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis in the country?
Bproperty as an organization is committed to working to provide solutions for all stakeholders, as well as the industry at all times, including during the current Covid-19 situation. Solutions will be needed both now as well as in the future when the industry and the economy need help to recover. At Bproperty, we really believe in practical solutions and have taken the time to assess what the real needs of the industry and the people of this country are, given the standing situation. As a result, we will be providing practical solutions to our partners and customers, given this understanding, to help people get back on their feet and stay focused on a bright future. We believe that at the moment, it is only right that people stay at home, stay safe and follow the advice given by authorities however when the situation improves, we will be announcing a number of initiatives to assist customers and the people of Bangladesh get back on their feet.