190917 property
Developers must align their agenda with the needs of buyers. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

In a tough market, how can developers maximise opportunities? Are discounts and long-term payment plans the only option? Research from real estate services firm Chestertons has revealed that innovation continues to be the key for developers to stay relevant in a competitive market. For example, in partnership with Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), a Dubai developer is currently offering buyers of its residential property free three-year renewable business license, free three-year renewable family residency visa, as well as 100 per cent business ownership for some industry sectors.

Adding value

In brief, provide services and solutions that solve real customer needs and add value to the customer to drive business velocity. Begin by giving clients what they want, rather than what you think will be popular or wanted. For example, market research may reveal that a storeroom is an important requirement for families living in compact apartments. So providing storerooms in a project may result in improved sales.

It is also important to deliver true unique selling propositions (USPs) that are difficult to replicate. As an example, developers often state that the USP of their project is its location and views, yet there are other competing projects within proximity with similar, if not better views. Don’t confuse the features of a project with its USPs.

Similarly, products must be true to their target market positioning. You can’t position three-bedroom apartments as ideal for families and then only provide one parking bay. Products that are for-purpose can mean the difference between lost deals and sales success.

Not cookie-cutter floor plans

It is also smart to align the features and benefits of the project with the target audience. End-user occupiers are not necessarily interested in rental returns. They would be more focused on the lifestyle benefits, build quality, proximity of attractions, schools, retail malls, for example.

Give major consideration to improving the overall client journey. Often a salesperson will do an excellent job at turning a client into a strong advocate, only for a rude or insensitive colleague from another department to undo the goodwill that was created.

Build trust

And finally, accept that buyers are maturing at a rapid rate and are asking a range of questions that were not asked before — questions such as who is the contractor, what has the developer built and delivered previously, what guarantee do I have that the project will be delivered on time, who will be the appointed facility managers or what are the specifications of the finishes? Developers need to build trust with the customer and have solutions to buyer concerns that will ensure a high level of confidence.

Sean McCaulay is the CEO of Dubai real estate marketing firm, DevMark. The views expressed here are his own.