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Wed 22 Nov 2000 04:00 AM

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Real estate gets official online stamp

Interactive Ventures has developed the official real estate portal destination for Dubai in conjunction with the Dubai Development Board.

Interactive Ventures, a recently established Internet technology incubator, has announced the launch of the official real estate portal destination for Dubai, Ikaar.com.

The site is supported by the Dubai Development Board and has already enrolled key real estate agents and property landlords in the country as affiliated partners, including Better Homes LLC and Dubai Islamic Bank amongst others.

In addition, the site caters for a peripheral market of real-estate service providers, building communities with companies offering furniture and décor, maintenance, cleaning, and security as well as legal and financing services.

“The site will offer consumers convenience and a vast selection of properties that can only be made available to research on the Net,” said Mr. Ahmed El Matrooshi of Dubai Development Board. “As a government department we would like to lead by example and be early adopters of this new technology. We fully support this project which is open to all professional real estate agents and owners, and call on them to join this online community.”

Whereas the online real estate sector may be flourishing in places like the US, local real estate players have only recently recognised that the Internet offers more opportunities than threats to real estate brokers and developers.

According to Ziad Tassabehji, of Interactive, those who have joined Ikaar.com have recognised that the rapid growth of e-commerce is changing the way the current real estate business is conducted, although others have taken a more skeptical attitude towards the project. In the US for example, only 2 percent of homebuyers went online to try to find their dream home in 1995. In 1999, however, 37% of all those shopping for houses used the Internet in their quest.

Commenting on the role of the real estate brokers with the arrival of such an Internet destination, Mr. Tassabehji explained that ikaar.com recognises the important role that the real estate agent plays as online shopping excursions will in most cases result in an off-line meeting with the realtor. He hopes that the site will add value to the transaction by using the latest web technology to facilitate the process for consumers, and won’t compete for real estate commissions or core services provided by the industry.

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