The coronavirus pandemic has provided Egypt’s real estate developers with an opportunity to reconsider purchasing trends and the new needs and demands customers have for their properties. It also brings into sharpened focus the role of architects, who now need to think more in terms of converting those needs into actual designs that real estate developers can implement.
A recent round table titled “The future of the real estate product post COVID-19”, organised by the Realty Catalogue magazine, placed a consideration on the effects of the global pandemic on real estate needs. Participants added that the coronavirus crisis was an opportunity for customers to rethink their needs in terms of the type of real estate unit they are looking for, and which meets their ongoing, as well as their future, requirements.
Real estate developers also stressed the importance of real demand and its role in preserving the local real estate market’s high performance during the COVID-19 epidemic compared to many global and regional markets. This features as an essential element to maintain continued sales despite the crisis, even if it is lower, in relative terms, compared to normal times.
Hesham Helal, Founder and CEO of Criteria Design Group (CDG), said that property sustainability is the key solution to face continuous environmental changes that affect the nature of real estate products over time. Because properties are fixed for long periods of time, this requires their continued validity over those long periods. Helal added that the issue of sustainable building has become a key concern recently, as they have proven their ability to withstand and face environmental changes over decades.
The problem with buildings today
The pandemic has revealed several problems in the environmental and architectural design of buildings. Helal stated that the problem lies more with the architect because they are responsible for determining the identity and general shape of the project, as well as facilitating the real estate developer in achieving a balance between cost and return.
Ahmed Gabr, CEO and Principal Architect at GAF Design Studio, said that the recent crisis presented clients with the opportunity to study and reconsider, in-depth, their real estate needs. This meant that clients also took a closer look at their short-term and long-term requirements before making a real estate purchase. Gabr also said that the architects have now had to shift their focus, taking into account the health and environmental standards available at the unit. The available spaces within properties must be reconsidered and redesigned to enable their optimal use and to achieve greater benefit at the lowest cost.
Gabr noted that the post-COVID-19 changes in real estate requirements will also significantly affect medical units. With customers afraid to remain in confined spaces, particularly for potentially extended periods of time, clinics and medical units are set to make their own changes in the coming period. This will see these units take up larger areas, to take into account social distancing measures.
Egypt’s real estate moving forward
El Attal Holding Chairperson Ahmad El Attal confirmed that property remains a safe haven for investment, especially during times of crisis. This has been most succinctly confirmed by the COVID-19 pandemic, with Egypt’s real estate sector successfully maintaining existing sales despite the difficult economic circumstances.
El Attal pointed out that, since the start of the pandemic, the market has seen a 70% decline in sales. Starting from last June, however, there has been a gradual uptick in demand and purchase of various housing units, and face-to-face dealings between customers and developers have resumed.
The importance of technology in developing real estate projects has also come to the forefront in recent months, highlighting just how important this element can be in helping developers overcome crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic.