One thing has to be realized that traditional investors always tend to stay near real estate due to familiarity with business

June 04 - 10, 2007

Question: Imtiaz Rafi Butt you have been the leading pioneer concerning real estate for almost three decades now; please explain to us what had occurred during the previous 3 years in real estate Market?

IMTIAZ RAFI BUTT: The Abnormal hype of the real estate market was artificial and had reached absolutely unrealistic proportions, leading to the inevitable collapse which we all recently witnessed.

Question: Then, what is the current state of the Real Estate market?

IMTIAZ RAFI BUTT: The current market is unfortunately saturated with so many different projects that traditional investors can be easily confused and are left, unable to distinguish between the lost projects and great opportunities that can be availed in this slump. Due to the nature of this confusion, investors have become insecure leading to this decline in activity of the market.

Question: When you say 'opportunities' could you please expand on that?

IMTIAZ RAFI BUTT: There has always been a balance between residential and commercial property, look we have to be realistic, the hype that originally caused such chaos in the market was almost completely obsessed with suburban land and then flowed into semi-commercial, commercial land missing commercial plaza all together. Pure land prices skyrocketed exponentially to a point where today there are no buyers and no equilibrium point between supply, demand and prices; although today, you can see that commercial built up property is still under valued. After the dust from the real estate storm settles active commercial plaza will be the logical facet of Real Estate growth and revival.

Question: Traditional investors in real estate who have been left with losses after the collapse, should they stay or seek greener postures else where?

IMTIAZ RAFI BUTT: In answering this question one thing has to be realized that traditional investors always tend to stay near Real Estate due to familiarity with the business, like I said before that when the dust settles commercial property will jump straight into the limelight. I admit that the sheer volume of new plazas being advertised these days overwhelms investors but those investors who can cut through the fog and are able to get property in already completed projects will enjoy great appreciation as commercial Real Estate catches up with its residential counter part as so always happens, in order to maintain the balance in the industry as a whole.

Question: So the sentiment is that completed commercial projects will bring real estate's revival?

IMTIAZ RAFI BUTT: Is not just that as all investors and most people in general have constantly been bombarded with government statements concerning large increases in foreign investments which can be visibly seen by a lot of new Arab investments going into the billions of dollars, add to that the fact that Pakistan currently has a very significant GDP growth rate, all investment has to eventually flow through commercial conduits. It is common sense to invest in commercial property now while it is still undervalued. In today's commercial project you can see a great and let me say unrealistic disparity in the prices of completed and incomplete projects due to unrealistic margins and calculations of project that where envisaged during the hype which forced prices of land to unfeasible proportions, add to that increased construction costs and market expectations, any one who ventures into the market can see that some completed projects offer rates half as much as their incomplete counterparts. A wise investor always seeks activity within a commercial project because that is truly the heart and soul of a commercial project. Location is extremely important but activity is the crucial difference between a dead investment and a thriving one. In my experience investors who buy shops don't know exactly what to do with them, because of the lack of activity they don't get to see proper returns on their investments until many years if ever. When I realized the scope of this problem and the negative effect it has on the market as a whole, the way was clear, instead of going on and keep constructing new projects, Rafi Group took a brave turn into unchatered waters by gearing its entire infrastructure into value added property. We rigorously invested into creating activity in our current projects, for example Defence Shopping Mall has a brilliantly innovative anchor department/super store by the name of new TesMart, which has created unprecedented activity in a new project in just one year of it opening its door for business. Due to new TesMart our flagship Defence Shopping Mall has MashaAllah come to life and our clients who put their investments and trust in us already see returns and rapid appreciation on their investments. It is really worth visiting and seeing. Due to its success, Rafi Group has recently announced a simple yet extremely innovative investment plan designed for small to medium investors who have been bulled out of Real Estate and small retail business, due to chaotic market conditions. The plan will empower smaller investors with Rafi Groups entire infrastructure granting them the benefits of a large corporation while still remaining a small retail business.