Cover: LCRE’s Shitij Kapoor shines the spotlight on the company’s strong foundation

The CEO and founder shares how his company’s success is built on strong developer partnerships, core values and a thriving relationship with investors

I am amazed every day at how Dubai’s stunning urban landscape keeps evolving,” says Shitij Kapoor, founder and CEO of Luxury Concierge Real Estate (LCRE).

Looking at the emirate’s stunning skyline from the vantage point of his office at Opus Tower in Business Bay, Kapoor extols the pace at which the city has been developing, revealing iconic buildings and architectural landmarks that have strategically positioned the emirate among the world’s most cosmopolitan cities such as London, Tokyo, New York and Singapore.

“Dubai’s real estate market continues to achieve outstanding historical performance and sustainable growth, with record transaction values month-over-month in line with expanding investors’ choices and options to invest in the city,” shares Kapoor, a serial entrepreneur and key figure in the emirate’s real estate sector for over a decade and a half.

Kapoor attributes the upward trend seen over the past three years to Dubai’s dynamic economy, vibrant lifestyle, strategic location, favourable tax regime, exceptional infrastructure, world-class healthcare facilities, safe environment and the allure of the Golden Visa programme. “These factors have collectively drawn high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) and wealthy investors to the region, surpassing expectations.”

Their interest is not limited to just luxury real estate, he adds. “Dubai’s real estate market offers compelling investment opportunities, catering to different preferences. From the luxury property market to commercial spaces to hospitality, the range ensures that potential investors can align their choices with their investment objectives.

“I am very optimistic that these trends will not abate anytime soon.”

How LCRE is leveraging Dubai’s property boom

Kapoor’s confidence is not misplaced. Global property consultancy firm, Knight Frank, recently revealed that Dubai’s luxury property prices surged by 48.8 per cent in 12 months to June 2023, maintaining its top ranking for the eighth consecutive quarter.

According to the property consultancy firm, prices in Dubai skyrocketed 225 per cent since hitting a pandemic low during the third quarter of 2020.

This growth promises to continue into Q4 after transaction values hit a record Dhs283bn in the first six months of the year.

LCRE, one of Dubai’s leading real estate agencies, has benefitted from these developments. The company raked in Dhs1.5bn in sales so far this year, building on its stellar record in 2021, when it recorded Dhs1.3bn in sales and achieved even greater success with Dhs1.7bn in sales last year.

“The going has not always been this good,” reminisces Kapoor, who has had a long but interesting road to his current position at the helm of LCRE.

The start of the journey

Kapoor began his career journey in 2002 when he ventured into the hospitality industry back in India, a move that laid the foundation for his interest in business before he moved to Dubai.

“I entered Dubai’s real estate sector in 2007, following which we faced challenging times during the 2008-09 Lehman Brothers crash,” he says.

Undeterred by the global financial crisis, Kapoor founded LCRE in 2010 to establish a high-value company that nurtures strong relationships with prominent developers while cultivating his vision for a luxury brokerage firm.

“LCRE was founded on the ambition to leverage Dubai’s thriving luxury segment and forge strongholds with all major developers that give us and our clients the advantage of exclusive access and early information on upcoming launches,” he says.

LCRE’s growth has been exponential over the years, particularly between 2016 and 2020, when it opened three offices in Dubai’s prime locations to cater to the growing demand from buyers and investors alike.

Premium partners

The company has maintained its position as a top broker for premium developers such as Emaar Properties from 2018 to 2023, DAMAC Properties from 2017 to 2023, and Sobha Realty from 2020 to 2023.

“We are doubling down on our network of developer partnerships while strengthening our position as a top broker in the country to advance customer service and tailor-made solutions to meet the diverse needs of our clients,” says Kapoor.

The partnership with Emaar is the cornerstone of the company’s success. “As the most recognised real estate agency, the collaboration allows us to offer our clients exclusive access to Emaar’s premium developments, ensuring they have access to some of the most sought-after properties in Dubai.”

Kapoor highlights that the partnership bolsters LCRE’s reputation for excellence and reliability while instilling confidence in clients. Furthermore, it enables the company to provide valuable insights into Emaar’s diverse portfolio, allowing investors to make well-informed decisions.

“Ultimately, our collaboration with Emaar cements our position as a trusted and leading agency in the Dubai real estate market,” adds Kapoor.

Kapoor is setting the tone for LCRE’s growth strategy to further elevate the firm’s profile in UAE’s competitive property market.

He adds that in addition to all the steps he’s taken to expand the business, the foundation of the company’s success lies in LCRE’s core values, which are transparency and integrity.

“To uphold these principles, we are leveraging innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning across our portfolio,” says Kapoor. “These technologies enable us to provide clients with data-driven insights, helping them make informed decisions.”

Kapoor, who also has interests in construction, plans to expand LCRE’s footprint across the region while diversifying its offerings to include property management and investment advisory services.

How LCRE is leveraging Dubai’s property boom

The company’s in-depth insights into the city’s real estate sector make it the broker of choice for savvy investors seeking to diversify their portfolios and capitalise on a flourishing market. The firm, which is capitalising on all its hard work and contacts established over the years, now has a HNWI client base from across the globe.

“I always tell my clients to prioritise several key factors before they buy a property,” Kapoor says.

“First, the location is paramount, as it can significantly impact rental yields and potential capital appreciation and secondly, understanding the legal regulations governing property ownership and transactions is crucial to ensure a smooth investment process.”

Kapoor emphasises that assessing the developer’s reputation in the market is vital for quality assurance, adding that, “Investors should also carefully analyse rental yields to gauge income potential and consider an exit strategy”.

A promising future

Kapoor believes that Dubai’s property market has a promising future. “Despite the rapid growth of the past few years, there are several factors that will likely continue to drive the industry forward.

“The hosting of global events such as COP28 and continued infrastructure development will sustain demand for properties while the introduction of new technologies and sustainable practices is revolutionising the market,” he says.

However, Kapoor believes that while the real estate sector will continue to thrive, a balanced approach that addresses evolving challenges will be crucial to sustain growth.

Dubai’s attraction to international companies further bolsters the real estate market. Its prime location provides access to emerging markets in the Middle East and Asia, coupled with world-renowned infrastructure and favourable tax policies.

As a result, demand for both residential and commercial properties continues to rise, fuelled by the influx of international companies seeking to establish their presence in the region.

“There is growing demand for housing and commercial spaces in dynamic markets such as Dubai, and real estate provides a tangible and stable investment that tends to be appreciated over time while rental income offers a consistent stream of cash flow,” says Kapoor.

He adds that real estate investment has moved beyond cyclical headwinds – soaring interest rates, a slowing global economy and sinking deal flows – and remains a reliable asset class in 2023.

Likewise, real estate investments can serve as a hedge against inflation, Kapoor explains while highlighting that property values often increase with rising prices, and the sector’s resilience and potential for long-term returns make it an attractive asset class.

With the combination of accessible financing options and a growing population, Dubai’s real estate market remains robust and poised for further expansion in the fourth quarter of the year. The property market’s luxury or prime segment continues to be a global outlier with prices projected to end 2023 around 50 per cent higher than in 2021.

A sound strategy

The multifaceted property market demands more than just financial capital, it also requires insights, and strategies from trustworthy and established experts. Kapoor highlights that the better value for money varies based on individual investment strategies and risk tolerance.

“Top investment locations in Dubai include Emirates Hills, Dubai Hills, Palm Jumeirah, Bluewaters Island, Mohammed Bin Rashid City, and Downtown Dubai. These locations offer stable and consistent rental yields,” he shares.

Dubai recorded a 43 per cent year-on-year growth in the value of real estate transactions in August to Dhs33.7bn, according to the real estate marketplace as demand in the city’s property market remains strong amid robust economic growth.

How LCRE is leveraging Dubai’s property boom

The growth is reflected in the value of off-plan properties, which reached Dhs17bn during the period. Kapoor says choosing between off-plan and secondary properties in Dubai depends on an investor’s preferences and long-term investment goals.

He highlights that Dubai’s off-plan segment is playing an even more significant role in driving growth in the property market, accounting for 58 per cent of the total sales transactions in August and 50 per cent of the total transaction value.

“Off-plan properties, found in prime locations such as Emaar Beachfront and Palm Jumeirah, often offer competitive prices and the potential for significant capital appreciation upon completion,” adds Kapoor.

Dubai’s prime residential market is set for the world’s strongest growth in 2023, bucking the trend in other markets such as London and Seoul where values are being impacted by inflation and a clouded economic outlook.

Dubai remains a lucrative luxury property market, where proactive government policy has bolstered the city’s safe-haven status fuelling long-term demand from buyers and investors alike.

Kapoor expects the city’s strategic location, economic stability, and investor-friendly policies to continue attracting foreign investments. This also bodes well for his strategic vision for LCRE’s growth and expansion.

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