The next time you visit a major city like Chicago, New York or Miami, take a look around. Especially around the city’s downtown neighborhoods, and preferably from a place with a broad view. You’ll see a lot of buildings—offices, multifamily, hospitals, shops and more. Someone manages every one of those buildings. Why? Because building owners and investors want to ensure their investments are properly cared for. Tenants and residents who occupy these properties also need to be cared for.
Imagine this landscape duplicated all around the world, but with every city a little different, or maybe a lot different. What they share is the need for skilled property management. And, as the world changes and becomes more complex, with technology bringing us all closer together, the need for these talents grows.
Key factors driving the global growth in demand for professional property managers are increasing urbanization, expansion of the real estate market and technology advancements. In some parts of the world, aging infrastructure and new regulations are also fueling the demand for specialized skills.
The Institute of Real Estate Management has recognized the need for professional property managers outside the U.S. for years, and today offers education and resources through a network of 18 global chapters, with more on the horizon. Real estate organizations around the world recognize IREM’s value and want to work together to develop programs that meet their educational needs. One of the most recent partnerships IREM has established is with ThinkProp Advanced Real Estate Services in the UAE.
Waqar Hasan, president of the Community Associations Institute, Middle East, notes that, “The sheer speed of development in Dubai has left a gap in local best practices. While the Emirate’s buildings are cutting-edge, real estate management remains a relatively new profession for local practitioners, who are predominantly brokers. For this reason, IREM and its members in Dubai are on the frontlines working to craft localized practices that ensure buildings last as long as they can, and their residents are happy.”
IREM’s collaboration with ThinkProp underscores the value that can be added to the real estate management profession when educational partners from around the world come together.
ThinkProp is an educational institute recognized by the UAE government that specializes in training and digital courses for the real estate sector. Together with IREM, the goal is to advance the real estate management profession through the mutual exchange of information and business practices in the UAE, and in the U.S.
Property management practices in Dubai differ from those in the U.S. in several ways because of market dynamics, legal frameworks and cultural factors:
1. Ownership structure: In Dubai, the majority of the real estate market consists of leasehold properties, where the land is owned by the government or a specific authority, and individuals or companies hold long-term leases. This is different from the U.S., where freehold ownership is more common, allowing individuals to own both the land and the property.
2. Market dynamics: Dubai has experienced rapid growth and development in its real estate market over the past few decades, resulting in a larger share of new and modern properties. The demand for property management in Dubai is driven by these high-end residential and commercial properties, which require the specialized skills of professional property managers.
3. Rental market: The rental market in Dubai is significant, with a substantial portion of the population being expatriates who prefer to rent rather than own property. Rental laws in Dubai differ from those in the U.S., with regulations specific to rent increases, eviction procedures and rental disputes.
4. Cultural factors: Dubai's property management industry is influenced by cultural factors, including a service-oriented attitude with an emphasis on hospitality. Property managers in Dubai often provide comprehensive services to residents, including concierge services, maintenance and security.
5. Legal framework: Dubai has specific regulations and authorities, such as the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA), that oversee property management activities, including licensing requirements for property managers and dispute resolution processes.
6. Taxation: Dubai has implemented various tax-free zones and tax incentives to attract real estate investors, while the U.S. has a more complex tax system that includes property taxes and income taxes on rental income.
Obviously, each country and region has their own laws, elevating the importance of specific knowledge. That makes partnering with an organization like Thinkprop critical when bringing in outside educational resources.
Professional real estate management is developing as a global enterprise, and IREM is at the forefront of international growth. Now that the world is open again to travel, there’s tremendous opportunity for real estate organizations to partner with each other to meet this growing need.
Renee M. Savage, CPM, CCIM, is the 2023 president of IREM. She also serves as president of SavageCRE Inc, a consulting company supporting the commercial and multifamily real estate sectors. She has more than 34 years of experience in property and asset management and corporate operations.