Syed S. Haider is the President and CEO of VIP
Haider Estate which has recently acquired Master Franchise of Century
21 of USA. Century 21 is the largest and number one international real
estate brokerage and consulting firm. Earlier, he was 50 per cent
partner and CEO of VIP Estate. He established VIP Estate in 1983 and
made it Pakistan's largest and the best realty agency. He got his
early education in Karachi. He completed Bachelor of Arts in 1964 and
Bachelor of Law in 1970 from University of Karachi. He has attended a
number of certificate courses in Real Estate and other management
disciplines in Pakistan as well as abroad. He is also a member of a
number of associations, particularly representing the real estate
trade. He is Convenor and Founder of 21st Century (VIP) Business Club,
and Overseas Universities Alumni Club. He is also member Harvard Club
By SHABBIR H. KAZMI
Mar 18 - 24, 2002
PAGE: First of all tell us about
franchise system in real estate?
HAIDER: Most of us who live in Pakistan are
now familiar with franchise system. The sector which has experienced
the largest operation under franchise system in Pakistan is food.
However, acquiring a franchise in real estate is a new idea in
Pakistan. I was fascinated by the popularity of franchise system in
real estate business abroad. Therefore, I also chose to go for this in
Pakistan. I started negotiations, about five years back, with a number
of foreign companies and finally concluded the deal with Century 21 of
PAGE: What are the major activities
of Century 21?
HAIDER: Century 21 head office is located in
New Jersey, USA, and it has around 800 offices globally. Its core
activities can be classified into three main areas. These are:
consultancy and brokerage, mortgages and relocation. They also work
with developers and builders to advise on the types of properties
being in demand. As you are aware that buying a residential or
commercial estate is a long-term investment, the next and more
important phase is to arrange mortgage for financing. It may be said
that in the USA divorces are common but mortgages are often life long.
PAGE: What can be the potential
advantages of acquiring the franchise?
HAIDER: In Pakistan, real estate brokerage
business is still not very organized. By this I mean that brokers at
the best act as match makers, bring buyers and seller together to
conclude a transaction. They often lack a comprehensive database of
estates being developed and the type of accommodation being demanded.
While I was managing VIP, I try to develop this database. However,
after becoming part of an international franchise, I will be able to
serve the clients in improvised manner.
PAGE: Do you foresee active buying of
real estate by non-residents, particularly by the Americans or other
HAIDER: Despite acquiring this franchise, we
will still be catering to the needs of local buyers and sellers.
Saying this much, I would like to add that even this brief period we
are receiving a large number of calls, e-mails and faxs from other
countries. Most of the interest is from Pakistanis living abroad. The
reason being that a large number of these people still believe that
one day they have to go back to Pakistan, where they have their roots.
PAGE: Why there is hardly any
interest shown by other nationals?
HAIDER: There are many reasons which include
from the GoP policies to ground realities. There are too many issues
related to a foreigner buying property in Pakistan. Apart from the GoP
policy, one has to explore the reasons for investing in property,
either commercial or residential, in Pakistan. Though, we claim that
the country has exotic tourist attraction, people may come to Pakistan
for a brief stay but are not willing to own and maintain estates in
the country. Therefore, unless we make Pakistan a tourist friendly
country traffic of visitors cannot be increased. The worst being
negative perception about Pakistan. Though, it is often said that law
and order situation in Pakistan is not conducive for the tourist, I
would say that the situation is much better than the conditions
prevailing in other neighbouring countries.
PAGE: Will you be charging a much
higher brokerage commission now?
HAIDER: It is true that the commission being
charged by Century 21 anywhere else is high compared with the
commission charged by Pakistani brokers. However, we have told Century
21 that we would take the commission charged by others. At the same
time we stand committed that quality of services will be as good as
being offered by Century 21 partners globally.
PAGE: Will you open branches in
cities other than Karachi?
HAIDER: We have a commitment to open eight
to ten branch offices in other major cities of Pakistan. We also have
the franchise for Afghanistan. As the situation improve, we will also
open the offices there.