Published 6 days ago · Updated 6 days ago

Time to be Creative

by Marc Prager Director International Business

We hear a lot about how these last 100 days have affected life forever for many people. This crisis has impacted people’s daily routine, their work, their exercise habits, their family organization and generally how they look at life, the future, the environment, black lives, you name it. Not a day goes by without an article or webinar discussing how to adapt to the new normal, how to remain actively involved, how to reach out to your customers, your staff, your network and so on.

During one of these webinars, I heard something that got my attention, and it came from no other people than our Chairman, Mr Fakhreddin Mohammad Minnoeifar. He was replying to the moderator’s question about what is next for real estate owners and investors. He replied with these straightforward words: IT’s TIME TO BE CREATIVE.

What he meant, he explained it is that from the moment people are born to the moment they die, people use some form of real estate as a place to sleep, learn, work, entertain, heal, store, manufacture and retire and this that fact is not going to change anytime soon. So, the underlying need is still there, but it is people’s habits and behaviours that are changing at a pace never seen before. Since buildings can hardly be moved elsewhere, what we have to do is take a fresh look at all existing real estate assets and see how we can reshape them and adapt their use to fit the user’s news habits better and also how we can make the use flexible. In other words, it’s time to be creative to bring back value in those inefficient and obsolete assets.

The Nikau Design Group, in Singapore, for example, is engaged in doing precisely that at the moment. They are involved in converting large department stores in prime locations for residential use or indoor arenas for children in destinations with a hot climate like Dubai. They are also working on converting office buildings for student housing and changing hotels to serve multiple purposes. 

The issue is that amongst real estate specialists, there is a lot of rear-view mirror piloting or, at best, going with the flow of the consensus of opinions. If everyone goes after the same market niche, it may lead to market cannibalization. What we, at Mallorca, instead recommend, is taking a leaf out of the book of Hadi Al Alawi, Chairman of Al Hayat Group family office in Bahrain for whom it is often better to go against the trend.

In practice, what they do at Al Hayat is start by focusing on the end user’s needs and not the building before coming up with an original idea of offering that brings real benefit to them. The next step is to see if any similar approach has been tested anywhere else and fine-tune their plan before implementing. One final ingredient to their process is to check how they can hedge their risk by either partnering with someone with specific expertise or including secondary uses in the design in case their idea does not perform as forecasted. So like them, we believe success in the post-Covid-19 real estate world is about being creative but also being bold and being smart.