Saad Arshed is an entrepreneur who has been working with Lamudi since 2013. He is currently the Managing Director of Lamudi in Pakistan and during his time Lamudi has grown and signed exclusive partnership agreements with Pakistan’s leading real estate agencies and developers.
Prior to joining Lamudi, Saad worked with Transworld, Zong and WorldCall Broadband Limited, all leading corporate companies in Pakistan. He also founded Evistabpo, where he collaborated with numerous US and EU based clients as a service provider of top notch software, web and app development. Saad himself graduated as an engineer from Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute (GIKI) and later went to Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) to pursue his MBA.
In an exclusive talk with IBEX, he shares an insight on Lamudi and the online real estate business.
What can you tell us about Lamudi, its operations and services?
Lamudi is an online real estate portal currently operating in 34 countries across the world covering Asia, Africa and Latin America and aims to become the leading global property portal. It is a real estate marketplace that strategically connects property buyers, sellers and renters. It was launched in Pakistan by Rocket Internet in 2013 and has since worked diligently with committed and qualified professionals to revolutionize real estate trading by employing innovation driven methods to empower consumers and bring transparency in the industry.
Our vision is to help individuals find their ideal properties by imparting latest information about real estate inventory, developments and trends both locally and internationally. With international technology expertise and empirical knowledge of the local market, we aim to reshape the real estate industry to benefit the property buyers and sellers alike.
Can you share number of transactions that took place through Lamudi last year?
Lamudi functions on a classified business model hence we do not record any transactions.
Our model connects property traders and our KPIs include but are not limited to lead generation, traffic, number of agencies on board, number of listings online, number of areas covered and conversion rates. We have performed exceedingly well on those metrics.
What is the current situation of real estate market in Pakistan? How do you compare Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad/Rawalpindi markets?
Real estate sector of Pakistan has been performing well with an overall increase in average rental and price trends for houses and plots across major cities and rare instances of stagnant prices otherwise, leaving little cause of worry for investors. The real estate market in Lahore has performed good as new developments are being planned on its terrain. DHA is the most desired area for investment in houses and plots in Lahore. Bahria Enclave, along with sectors G-11, F-11 and E-11 have maintained popular property search rankings in Islamabad as developmental work continues with full speed. Price trends in Islamabad have shown an upward trend overall with only negligible dips in plot prices in few regions.
In Karachi, Bahria Town and DHA City are popularly searched for plots while Gulistan-e-Johar and Gulshan-e-Iqbal are the most sought after localities for houses for sale and rent. Moreover, as security situation has now returned to normalcy and scope of foreign and local real estate investment increases with the flexibility of government policies, the future of this sector remains bright.
In your opinion, what percentage of real estate transactions has emerged online? What are the challenges and opportunities for Lamudi?
A small percentage of real estate transactions have emerged online but the trend is increasing exponentially and we are confident that it will continue to soar in the future as well. We have received a fairly welcoming response since our establishment. Top most players in the country and the number of agency and builder partners signed up with Lamudi is a verification to this claim. Our real challenge is to bring online the entire offline real estate community. With the help of our real estate empowerment programs, we are revolutionizing the real estate sector and working towards meeting this challenge. The steadily growing rate of internet penetration, number of internet and smart phone users, 3G and 4G users and demand for online services are incredible opportunities for us to grow.
Most of the real estate players in Pakistan are not very educated about e-commerce. In your opinion, should there be any awareness campaign? How are you going to educate buyers and sellers?
We have frequently launched awareness campaigns since the beginning of our operations. Lamudi’s Agency Empowerment Programs and Builders and Developers Conferences are few examples of our educational drives where decision makers of all agencies and developers are brought under one roof and they are allowed an opportunity to learn about the digital revolution, its effectiveness and the dire need to adopt it in the era of technological modernization. In these events, we guide the real estate community about the changing trends of online marketing and social media and discuss how innovative marketing techniques will be cost effective for their businesses. The initiatives have turned out constructive for our partners and we will continue to invest aggressively into the likes of such programs in the future as well.
What edge does Lamudi offer over its competitors?
Lamudi is a global organization with its head office based in Berlin, Germany. Berlin is also noted as the Silicon Valley of Europe and our global team comprises of a talented pool of human resource and technology specialists working vigorously to drive commendable results. They are experienced and qualified professionals with sound technical expertise in the domains of online marketing, innovative technological solutions, business development, business intelligence and communications. On top of that, our services and products are unique with great results and are currently not being offered by our competitors in Pakistan, hence providing us with a cutting edge in the market.
To calculate the market size of online sale/purchase of real estate, is the method same as offline market OR other factors are also involved like internet users, areas which have internet access, real estate agents with awareness of e-commerce etc.?
The methods used to measure the online real estate market size definitely differ from the ones used for offline markets because of the difference in market dynamics. Factors including but not limited to internet penetration rate, smart phone and desktop users, internet access in the bigger cities come into play when measuring the size of online real estate market.
Where do you see the real estate sector of Pakistan in next 3 years?
The future of real estate in Pakistan will be fairly positive for several reasons. As 3G and 4G technologies have made a breakthrough in the market and internet penetration rate will continue to increase owing to these innovations, the trends of online market browsing, searching and connecting will shoot upwards. With the advent of cheaper smartphones venturing into the mobile market, this trend is further likely to rise sharply. Moreover, there is currently quite a huge heap of housing backlog that needs to be catered to. The demand for real estate is huge and even though new developments making a mark in Pakistan’s landscape are trying to meet those ever increasing demands, it is expected that a large percentage of the backlog will still remain, thus portraying the need for more developments to come to life in the longer term.
What are your future plans?
We plan to continue to be the fastest growing online portal by covering more cities and areas in Pakistan. We seek continuous improvements and innovations in our products to achieve high levels of customer convenience and a laudable user experience. We will also strive to foster good working relationships with our current signed partners and attract new ones by tailoring our offerings to fully benefit their business needs. Lamudi seeks to capitalize on opportunities provided by the world of technology and internet to become the number one global property portal.