The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has forced both real estate developers and customers to rethink the purpose, design, and sustainability of projects, according to Misr Italia Properties CEO Mohamed Hany El-Assal.
El-Assal added that the crisis led the sector to, from the beginning of the crisis, establish a Business Recovery Plan to ensure business continuity covering three main pillars, namely: people’s health; cost; and cash.
This included revising Misr Italia Properties’ overall budget for 2020, which resulted in readjusting marketing expenses.
He added that the company has revisited its service delivery model, to provide the best customer experience by leveraging on online solutions through digital integration and cost optimisation.
El-Assal said, “As for the workflow, our IT team provided remote access to company systems and data for all functions to ensure full ability to work from home office and maintain business continuity, in addition to providing laptops for those who used desktops in company offices.”
During the crisis, Misr Italia Properties’ marketing team worked on an adjusted plan, shifting its focus more heavily towards digital marketing to enable efficient communication with customers. El-Assal noted that this method meant the company could bring itself closer to customers, particularly with nationwide precautionary measures in place.
“We were keen to leverage the qualities of the digital transformation process which helped us stay strongly present in the market and not go into stagnation mode,” El-Assal said. “This year has witnessed heavier use of digital marketing tools for real estate projects, and it is expected to increase, especially after the Ministry of Housing announced the decision to implement digital transformation plans in all business dealings, including offering lands and units to individuals and investors through an electronic platform owned by the authority.”
El-Assal pointed out that the effects of the pandemic on customers have been various. Not only are customers now seeking more space, including natural spaces, outside of the cities they live in. The pandemic has also released them from their traditional workplaces that are mostly located in downtown or urban areas.
“No one can predict where the market is headed to, however real estate for sure has shifted following the pandemic,” he said, “Both developers and customers are starting to rethink the design, purpose and sustainability of the projects they buy/sell. Additionally, the pandemic has proved that technology has become the key to bringing people together, managing the community and keeping us all safe.”
The pandemic has accelerated the adaptation of technology in everyday living and work, and it is expected that Smart cities will become a priority. It also means that customers will focus on second home ownership, mostly in coastal cities which have now become much more than just a vacation destination.
With the effects of the pandemic forcing customers to undertake a rethink, clients are now expected to look for “the best of both worlds” during the upcoming period, with a mix of technology, nature, and more spaces, El-Assal said.
He explained that this transformation is a result of companies embracing remote working, leading to a phenomenon that the real estate market calls “co-primary” homes.
Holiday homes have become a popular investment and lifestyle choice in Egypt, especially after the outbreak. This shift in consumer habits has given developers an opportunity to create vital community infrastructure that aims to attract not only holiday-makers, but also long-term residents.
“Our projects, like Il Bosco in the New Administrative Capital (NAC) and Il Bosco City in Mostakbal City, have vast green areas and open spaces where residents can immerse in nature, outdoor spaces and serene living,” El-Assal said. “With all top notch facilities and services present at our projects, our customers will have all their needs met at one place.”
El-Assal also highlighted that Misr Italia Properties is delivering the first phase of its Kai Sokhna project this November. With different options between villas and chalets, customers will find what they are looking for in their coastal home.