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Company Profile   Habib Bank AG Zurich



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 of Pakistan.

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 USA.

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 nationals?

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.