36-hour wait, camping overnight at Dubai property launches: Are long queues still relevant?

Many developers are now opting for digital tokens, expression of interest for a systematic property launch


Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Mon 1 Apr 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Mon 1 Apr 2024, 10:18 PM

As an emerging real estate agent in Dubai, Jeff Kuruvilla recalls standing in a queue, waiting for the launch of the Mudon project in 2016 for a staggering 36 hours. "I got lucky that day because my client bought four properties, but the wait for that project was absolutely agonising," said Kuruvilla.

Even though things have changed a lot since 2016, some property developers keep agents queuing up for several hours outside their offices for prestigious launches. The latest one for the launch of the Dubai Island project villas saw extremely long queues that lasted for hours. Videos shared on social media show how agents rush into the offices once the gates open, resulting in chaos and many failing to secure units.

Now, many experts are calling on developers to do away with long queues and replace them with a more efficient way of doing business. A property agent, who wished to remain anonymous, said that long queues needed to be a thing of the past.

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"In the early 2000s- when I was first started as an agent- these long queues were a way to create hype about a certain project," he said. "It was a signal to the world that Dubai's property market was thriving. However, now, the world recognises Dubai as one of the most desirable property markets. Social media promotes it even further. So, there is no need for any property developer to continue driving this kind of hype."

Negative aspects

Queuing up for long hours has been part and parcel of property launches in the UAE for a very long time. However, many agents say there are better ways to do things in the digital era.

Liam Chase, Senior Developer Property Consultant at Allsopp and Allsopp, said long queues have several negative aspects. "Some buyers will opt to approach multiple agents at these kinds of launches, as they perceive this will improve their chances of securing a desirable unit," he said. "Agents may become hesitant to pitch new projects if they anticipate long queues and low chances of success. This reluctance affects relationships between agents, buyers, and developers. The rushed nature of the process often results in a "take it or leave it" scenario, undermining trust and rapport among the parties involved."

Last year, at the launch of Dubai's waterfront project, the Palm Jebel Ali, agents lined up for more than 13 hours to get their hands on the prestigious project. At the time, several of them had told Khaleej Times that they carried camping chairs, power banks, water bottles and snacks in their cars at all times as they queued up for an average of 12-18 hours at property launches.

Tina Angelo from A1 Properties agreed that the long queues were "unpleasant" for everyone involved. "At the launch of the Dubai Islands properties, I had three agents there starting from 4am," she said. "There has to be a better way of doing this. Queuing up for long hours is very unpleasant. Many people get frustrated on why the organisation is not better."

Making a change

The property market has become more robust, with the UAE attracting more high-net-worth individuals (HNWI) since the Covid pandemic. With this, many developers are switching from the old queuing-up method to more sophisticated ones.

Tina gave the example of Emaar as a developer who had changed things around drastically. "Emaar queues were things of the lore," she recalled. "A lot of times, the police had to be called because of the ruckus they caused. But now, they have a very systematic method of doing business. Property is sold only to their VVIP repeat customers on the first day. There are no agents involved. On the second day, they invite 20 or 30 top-performing agents to sell to their clients. This is also a great incentive for agents to sell their projects."

She said Dubai Properties also had a good system to sell their properties. "We just have to click a registration link and register a client," she said. "Then a digital token is issued. On the launch day, they usually arrange a huge place like the Coca-Cola Arena where everyone can sit and wait comfortably. The digital tokens are then called to pick a unit. So, the sooner you register, the better your chance of getting a good unit."

Liam also gave some case studies of property developers who manage their launches effectively. "Aldar used a token system with time slots for their Haven project launch," he said. "Agents had to book a time slot online and then were allocated a token on arrival for their slot. Ellington uses an expression of interest system where they accept cheques or token payments before a launch. On the day of launch, there is no queuing as the developer contacts the agents to offer units as per the requirements submitted."


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