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The real estate industry is often criticised for being late to adopt technological advances, but now the market is ripe for a major proptech disruption. Dony Cyril, director of exhibitions at the International Real Estate and Investment Show, (IREIS) tells Property Weekly what to expect ahead of Expo 2020 Dubai.

What new trends do you see in real estate?

Recent legislation to ease visa regulations and foreign business ownership is likely to drive the UAE’s property market, given that many of the changes in visa regulations are linked to property ownership. In addition, business-investment visas have also been approved. Property developers are waiving registration and transaction fees, offering flexible payment plans from five to 10 years, bundling special offers on maintenance, and are even offering freebies ranging from furniture vouchers and home appliances to holiday packages and cars. Abu Dhabi is also allowing foreign nationals to own freehold property in designated investment zones.

Do you think there is a need for supply control?

Real estate prices depend on the law of supply and demand. When the demand is high, but property is scarce, prices skyrocket and it becomes a seller’s market. Creating more saleable properties takes time and considerable effort. Understanding this basic economic principle can help consumers decide on the best time to buy or sell their properties. Recently, Dubai announced the establishment of a real estate committee that aims to balance supply and demand in the market.

How is technology changing the UAE real estate market?

proptech will be a game changer for the UAE real estate market. The industry is constantly improving and with the help of technology, it will be more accessible to everyone. The only challenge will be the time that users take to understand and adapt to it. Real estate, an asset class worth $217 trillion (Dh796.93 trillion) globally, is one of the last industries to adopt technological change. Now, the market is ripe for disruption, creating a growing demand for proptech innovations through crowdfunding, blockchain, 3D printing, augmented reality, virtual reality, AI, robotics, automation and smart cities.

On the other hand, global marketing trends will be totally disrupted in the real estate landscape over the next few years. Many traditional marketing mediums will be obsolete. IREIS is stretching its hands to support this change by introducing the Startup Expo pavilion and Innovation Hub Awards. Targeting professionals and students, the award will throw the spotlight on innovative ideas across four categories: environment, sustainable future, automation, and investments.

What will be the long-term effects of the Expo on housing?

Expo 2020 has boosted economic activity in Dubai and the UAE, further driving key industries such as real estate. Top finance officials claim that at least $8 billion worth of infrastructure is required to successfully build Expo 2020’s establishment. The event expects 25 million visits and the numbers are increasing each day, which will boost the demand for housing.

What are the highlights of IREIS this year?

The 11th edition of IREIS is set to take place at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre from October 30 to November 1. Organised by Dome Exhibitions, the event will bring under one roof real estate investors, brokers and developers from the Middle East, Europe and Asia-Pacific to showcase their property developments alongside immense investment options, and consultation and financing opportunities.

The International Investment Conference 2019 is one of the high-level associated events, discussing modern investment strategies, prevailing laws and regulations, and the impact of investment trends and developments. IREIS will also host the fifth edition of The International Residency and Citizenship Pavilion to highlight dual citizenship and visa-free travel for major global destinations, and the World Free Zones Expo Pavilion, the first-of-its-kind investor platform in Abu Dhabi.