A CONSORTIUM of premier real estate companies has joined forces to create a new property portal, houza.com, as the market bounces back from a testing six months.
houza – the UAE’s new home for buying, selling and renting property – has brought together a strong collective of brokerages in an unlikely alliance to offer all real estate agencies in the UAE more choice when selecting a portal on which to list their properties.
The business model offers the first agency-backed, full-scale property portal for property seekers across the UAE, for buying, renting and selling, and its conception was motivated by the lack of options and autonomy for agencies.
Heading up the operation is Barry Judge, former CEO of dubizzle and CEO of OLX Group MENA. He has formed a world-class team with extensive marketplace experience, including specialists in sales, user experience and engineering.
Judge explained that the project, developed in response to tough market conditions, has gained momentum quickly as attention turned towards finding new, more cost-effective routes to market.
“It has been well-documented that it’s been a difficult year for the industry. We wanted to provide greater choice for agencies and as a result, deliver more leads and revenue opportunities.”
Judge continued, stating that “this turbulent period was a moment of realisation for many agencies and seeing them align with our vision to build a solution together has been overwhelming.”
The portal boasts support from top consumer-facing agencies in the UAE, such as Allsopp & Allsopp, Betterhomes, Driven Properties, D&B Properties and Espace, as well as leading segment-specific agencies, CORE Real Estate and CRC in commercial property, and LuxuryProperty.com in high-end residential units. Recently launched Linda’s Real Estate has also come on board.
So, why would agencies choose to list on houza?
On the surface, the nature of adding competition in the portal market can lead to reduced marketing costs, while increasing exposure for listings.
Agencies signing up to be part of the houza Network will gain a host of benefits, which will allow smaller or independent brokers access to free PropTech tools and competitive rates for software, that will drive cost and business optimisation for everyone.
“There is a high demand from agencies region-wide so we’re forecasting significant growth over the coming months and urge anyone interested in hearing more to get in touch now,” Judge said. “As a collective voice, we can negotiate the best rates for partners that they may not usually be able to on a standalone basis.”
And what are benefits for the consumer?
The immediate value is clear to see for the brokerages involved, but the consumer will also benefit from a mobile-first, seamless browsing experience and complete transparency of their data usage, highlights Judge.
“The broker-owned model means we are able to leverage our joint bargaining power to agency advantage; however the whole design and flow of the website is customer-centric,” he added. “Our vision is to achieve an e-commerce platform that solves buyer and seller pain-points, incorporates intelligent technology and consistently strives for high quality and accurate content.
“There is a huge emphasis on defeating the scourge of fake listings. Visitors to houza.com can expect all of the properties they view to be 100% genuine and available.
”We also anticipate houza having a level of exclusive content for consumers with some properties appearing on the portal before they reach the wider market, giving buyers and tenants the chance to get in to high demand properties before others.
“We are passionate about delivering a transparent and enjoyable customer journey from start to finish.”
Lewis Allsopp, CEO of Allsopp & Allsopp, said: “In the ever-evolving world of technology, we are constantly refining our customer journey. With houza, we believe we can add value for homeowners and buyers by giving them full live data from some of the biggest property companies in the UAE, for a clear picture of the dual market of activity – with no jargon.”
Betterhomes Group CEO Ryan Mahoney, said: “All of the content on portals originates from agencies so in order to offer a more comprehensive service to the consumer, there needs to be integration between agencies and portals. By bridging this gap, houza can optimise the customer journey, bringing the latest listings and unique insights direct to home seekers and sellers.”
Abdullah Alajaji, founder of Driven Properties, said: “Driven Properties has always had the ambition to advance the level of service in the Dubai real estate market and we believe that competition is the best way to do just that. Opening up this competition, houza addresses a fundamental flaw in the current market: the lack of flexibility and involvement from agencies in the main marketing channels they use to list properties.
“There is a duty of care instilled in the model, which safeguards the interests of the agencies listing on the platform. We’re excited to be driving this change in the market.”
Andrew Cummings, co-founder and managing director of LuxuryProperty.com, said: “At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, hundreds of brokerages successfully rallied together to call for improvements in the industry. The subsequent arrival of houza seeks to build on that unprecedented collaboration, taking it forward by harnessing the agencies’ united strength to revolutionise the way we do things long term.”
D&B Properties CEO and founder Husni Al Bayari said: “The impact of recent events has been felt by all of us but it has taught us that resilience and efficiency lie in turning obstacles into opportunity. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, just improve it so when it comes to property, who better than the industry experts – the best minds with a united objective – to improve the portal business?”
CRC director Behnam Bargh said: “The business of commercial real estate requires a different set of skills to handling residential deals; therefore, having a portal with an in-depth understanding of it is crucial in presenting our product effectively. We feel that houza gives us a channel from which to sustainably market to our local and international client base when it comes to selling, leasing or investing in commercial property.”
Linda’s Real Estate director Noa Wardman said: “As a new agency to market, it is really exciting to have joined forces with some of the most established names in the industry. Linda’s represents professional women and working parents so it was an easy decision to choose houza from the beginning to spread the word of our unique proposition wider.”
houza is the UAE's new home for buying, selling and renting property. A portal with a difference, it hosts an extensive selection of residential and commercial properties, exclusively from the top agencies in the UAE.
Launched in September 2020, houza is the product of an agent-backed, full-scale property portal that offers property seekers a simple search solution comprising all the latest listings, and enhanced with community exposés and unique, personalised content.
With some of the largest consumer and commercial real estate agencies as partners, houza is committed to the highest standards on quality content – minimising fake listings and common pain points – and delivering a data-driven experience to help visitors to houza.com make the most informed decision when buying, selling or renting their property.