Anacity focusses on its integrated platform to break through into Dubai's OA market. It has since built a portfolio of 20,000 apartments. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The management of home owners associations (OA) in Dubai has always been a tight business to break into. The big OA companies are invariably associated with developers of scale, either directly on indirect.

The rest are made up of businesses that have emerged from leading family-owned groups, who want a stake in the local property marketplace. Of course, there are also some small- to mid-sized OA service providers.

It is into this space that India’s Anarock – a firm that is now one of the high-profile property investors and consultancies – introduced Anacity. The latter has been billed more as a proptech that can oversee the property management services of gated communities.

Since the entry, Anacity has won projects of note, even as the wider OA and FM sector struggles with payment delays, higher overheads and low margins.

Aayush Puri, Head of GCC operations at Anacity. Image Credit: Supplied

Aayush Puri, who is the Head of GCC operations at Anacity, says even as all these challenges exist, Dubai property market is the place to be.

The Dubai OA and FM marketplace is rife with low-margin operators. Isn’t this going to be a difficult one to be in?

Not at all. An innovative product with a track record of driving efficiencies will always trump operators who are only interested in keeping low margins. Ultimately, these margins must be justified via profits derived from cutting corners.

When it comes to community management, it can mean lower efficiency, inflated costs, and unnecessary delays. In contrast, Anacity streamlines community management operations by integrating them on one platform.

More and more OA management Companies (OAMs) now realize that the accrued benefits in cost-savings far outstrip short-term monetary gains of a low-margin operator. We were able to secure 100 new communities and 25 new developers in 2021-22.

Have you got a license for OA operations or just the FM side of things?

Anacity is an OA and FM software. We have been working closely with the Dubai Land Department (DLD) under the Smart Dubai strategy.

Under the initiative, Anacity is integrated with the Mollak smart system to facilitate end-to-end accounting and community management. Mollak is a web-based payment system where unit owners can directly pay service charges without going through any intermediary. It is designed to promote transparency in owners’ associations, enable their registration, and to track their escrow accounts and service charges.

Have you already secured any OA deals? Will you be aligning with any FM company?

Yes, we have secured close to 20,000 apartments through OA deals. We have a partnership with Facilio to further simplify community management operations by integrating different verticals on one platform.

Facilio is an IoT-powered platform that unifies teams, systems, and equipment across multiple facilities on one platform. We have extended our portfolio to include commercial, residential, and hospitality properties.

The Dubai property market also has an issue with owners delaying service charge payments. Any way this issue can be wiped out?

Anacity addresses the challenge of delayed payments through a two-pronged approach that focuses on improving communication and creating a user-friendly platform for payments. For the first, OAMs leverage our platform to raise and issue invoices to owners. This is backed by automated periodic reminders to ensure there are no gaps in communication.

With real-time updates, the accounts team also has a complete list of defaulters which reduces any chances of omission on their part.

For owners, Anacity offers a user-friendly platform where they can make payments through a digital payment gateway. They can make their payments anytime, anywhere and are no longer required to visit the building management/OAM office.

At the end of the day, OA and FM contracts here are still about who quotes least…

The competition to quote the least is just a race to the bottom. The lowest quote can often mean a compromise in quality or hidden costs that lead to inefficiency. A competitively priced product can be far more impactful if it helps in driving cost efficiency in the long-term.

This includes the long-term cost benefits accrued through operational optimization. With the Dubai government mandating tech integration in all buildings, OAMs are now increasingly moving towards digital integration that can drive value. The focus has moved from short-term gains to measurable long-term impact.