Qatar’s online real estate portals
How has online real estate listings changed the industry in Qatar?
The online world of real estate was a slow bloomer in Qatar, and the region compared to other parts of the world such as North America and Europe. What used to be a very difficult and cumbersome process for companies and individuals to find property in Qatar, is now immensely relieved with more real estate brokerages adopting to take their property listings virtual.
In 2008, very few real estate firms had a website, and of those firms that did, the websites did not provide a platform for visitors to view active real estate listings. Prior to that time, soon-to-be Qatari residents needed to be on Qatari soil in order to get a decent sense of what was available in the market place. Even when a person was physically in the country, the process of finding a suitable location (be it a home or office space) was a time consuming process as one had to visit several real estate agents and firms to collect data on listings. As was often the case, a visit to the actual property listings would be necessary, since images were not as frequently catalogued as it is today.
By the time a prudent property seeker would collect the necessary data and visit the properties of interest, there would be a good chance that the inventory collected would be out of date. The local general consensus several years ago was that an online real estate portal could not be justified in our market, especially in light of how quickly properties were turning over in Qatar during that time period.
Qatar’s real estate market has matured significantly in the past five years, especially with regards to the tools being provided to potential renters and buyers in the market. What used to be a market dominated by unregulated freelance real estate agents, Qatar today boasts a number of credible firms that are investing in the customer experience, especially with regards to the web. Coreo’s online real estate platform (www.mycoreo.com) is an example of a website of a real estate brokerage that started, and based its existence on the online real estate movement in Qatar towards the end of 2008. Coreo’s business model was in large part focused on providing users the ability to search online active real estate listings in Qatar, and its success as a firm for its online focus heavily speaks to the need that was present for such a platform. The fact that the majority of residents in Qatar come from abroad, most property seekers will start their property search online before even landing in Qatar.
Furthermore, 20.7 percent of Qatar’s population were Internet users in 2005, which has grown to 86.2 percent in 2012, making the need for firms to adopt online listings more of a business necessity than a customer luxury. Now that renters and buyers can surf the web from the comfort of their living room couch to collect most of the property information they need, they are able to make better and quicker decisions as to how to fulfill their needs. Easier access to property information and imagery also has the positive effect of increasing transparency and instilling confidence in the market. The real estate industry’s adoption of sharing property inventory online is just the beginning of the integration of real estate marketing and technology. Although a late bloomer, Qatar’s real estate firms have rapidly caught up with the West. In an active and up-and-coming real estate market such as Qatar, it is vital that property related information is more readily available to not only streamline the process, but also provide confidence in the market.