Emad Al-Masoudi, the founder of real estate search engine Aqarmap, expressed his optimism in an interview with Daily News Egypt regarding the construction sector and discusses what is needed to overcome challenges confronting the market.
As a search engine, Aqarmap allows users to search thousands of properties from real estate companies and private owners.
Aqarmap features properties from 35 companies, including Amar, Peter Home, and Abraj Misr. The search engine receives 1m visitors per month.
The real estate market has faced many challenges over the past five years. How can the sector restore its growth and activity?
The real estate sector does not need any further incentives. All I think it needs is more security, stability, and visibility in the market. For example, the tourism real estate sector in Red Sea cities that targets only foreigners and not Egyptians is suffering; buyers and investors from Russia, Italy, Germany, the UK, and other European countries were snapping up real estate units as vacation homes in Egypt. Nowadays, this segment of the market is almost non-existent due to the security situation. Security and stability of the market are the only way to make this segment return to the Egyptian market, bringing more hard currency that is desperately needed in this difficult time.
How did Aqarmap succeed in overcoming the previous recession from which we are still suffering the repercussions?
There is no doubt that the most difficult years in my company’s history were 2012 and 2013 as Aqarmap was still in its founding phase. The Egyptian market was suffering from security threats and economic turmoil, and this turmoil further increased the difficulty of building the company and its expansion. We passed through this period like many other companies: we relied on long-term policy and sustainability, looking to achieve our goals further into the future rather than a shorter timeline which was no longer appropriate. I believe the Egyptian market is a large and promising market.
Do you think the Egyptian real estate market price index will continue to rise by 20-30% annually?
There is a correlation between the increase in real estate prices and the value of Egyptian pound, and we expect real estate prices to increase rapidly if the Egyptian pound value continues to decline against the US dollar.
Do you think the current Egyptian property prices are suitable?
This issue is relative and depends on the buyer status and the targeted segment. So the price of luxury property is considered suitable for its target of Egyptians working in multinational companies, whereas medium-level property price remains relatively high for its target demographic: those working in public and private sector companies in Egypt. As for economic housing, unfortunately the price is too high for its target demographic who suffer from a lack of financial resources and financing options.
Which segment was considered the most in demand during the last period? Do you think the demand for luxury housing will decline?
Medium-level housing is the most in demand currently; in fact, the demand exceeds supply which has caused an increase in prices. Regarding luxury housing, the demand is proportional to supply, so the price of luxury housing is stable and will not decline.
As for the economic housing segment, demand notably exceeds supply, so the prices are often beyond the reach of the average buyer in this demographic.
What is the best investment opportunity in Egypt, and how can one take advantage of it?
Residential projects that target the middle-class are a winner in the Egyptian market, whether these projects are in Cairo, Alexandria, or in other governorates.
Do you think Egyptian laws help to achieve the greatest sales or create obstacles?
The Egyptian Investment Law is smooth, practical, and helped us to work in the market easily. However the recent changes in banking transactions regarding the US dollar have created some obstacles, but we are working to find practical solutions to solve these obstacles.
Do you intend to establish a real estate development company or to be listed in the Egyptian stock exchange in the future?
We do not plan to establish neither a real estate development company nor a real estate marketing company; we are providing an advertising platform for real estate development and marketing. We do not have any plans to be listed in the stock market at this time.