The real estate sector in Egypt has been one of the sectors hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, and in addition there is an excess of supply against poor demand, according to Ahmed Barakat, founder and CEO of V Expos and organiser of V Estate Expo, the first virtual real estate exhibition in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
However, demand in the first quarter of 2021 has been significantly better than it was in the second half of 2020, Barakat said, adding that this had made developers think about opening new markets for their offerings, with virtual exhibitions being a key solution to achieve this, he added.
The first round of the V Estate Expo was held last October, with the second round scheduled for 22 March this year.
The exhibition uses modern technologies that enable attendees and participants to take part in virtual tours of the projects showcased by developers, Barakat said. Bringing various real estate developers together virtually under one roof also guaranteed a safe and easy way for consumers to acquire in-depth insights into the latest projects, products, and offers by leading developers.
“We believe that now is the right time to organise virtual exhibitions since the lockdowns have led people from all walks of life to use digital solutions for their daily activities,” Barakat said.
In the past, potential customers have usually gone to the sales offices of real estate projects, where representatives show them brochures or videos, he added. “But we thought we could bring this experience to customers in their own homes from anywhere inside or outside the country.”
Barakat said that virtual exhibitions allowed online visitors to engage live with developers, compare products, and save details while benefitting from regular updates throughout the year.
Customers can experience a real estate exhibition through an online platform that allows them to chat live with the information desk, browse the topics of sessions taking place on the sidelines of the exhibition, and request meetings with developers.
According to Barakat, the real estate digital exhibitions were originally planned for 2023, but opportunities for rapid digital transformation had surfaced after the coronavirus pandemic forced many people to stay at home and look for online solutions.
The first round of the V Estate Expo last October succeeded in attracting more than 60,000 participants from eight countries, Barakat said, with 12 participating developers. “We are expecting more than 100,000 participants in the second round,” he added.
The government is currently focusing on digital transformation in all sectors of business and society, and the real estate sector is eager to benefit from the potential of the pandemic’s new reality.
“The development of new roads and a new road network in Egypt is a key part of the important infrastructure that will help the real estate sector to flourish, along with the new technologies that are being adopted,” said Alaa Wagih, head of Al-Masreya Real Estate Development.
He added that effective electronic marketing, in addition to the availability of complete data, would contribute to reaching various customer segments.
Wagih said that the digital transformation of the Egyptian real estate sector was inevitable, especially after Covid-19 had led to customers working from home. Barakat said that major national projects currently being implemented, including the New Administrative Capital, have encouraged investors to pump more investment into real estate development.
“But we still need new markets from the MENA region for local market offerings since local demand is still low,” Wagih said, adding that digital exhibitions were one way of achieving that goal.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 11 March, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly