As it nears the 20th anniversary of its establishment, Wonderland Real Estate notes the changing tide of the property market and the sophistication that has altered its marketing mechanisms.
The realty house was founded by Shah Newaz Khan in 1998 and includes agents, Mustaffa Newaz Khan and Merewairita Senivula. Based along Lautoka’s Naviti Street, Wonderland are also registered bailiffs and debt collectors, and have seen the industry through critical developments.
“Social media has really impacted the way properties are marketed by fostering greater connectively between property owners, agents and prospective buyers,” noted Mustaffa Newaz Khan.
“Barely 15 years ago, real estate did not have the exposure it does now. The Internet has really modified how local properties are marketed. This was usually done within the network of a target market or through newspapers and other print media. Now, there are many more portals – websites and Word Press accounts, Facebook and even Instagram and Youtube. There is a large presence online, with consumers also heavily relying on email communication and Viber and Messenger to reach agents or to liaise directly with home owners.
“Before, house hunters had to really drive around or rely on their contacts to find a place, whereas nowadays, places and properties can be found on the Internet, from the comfort of a seat. Digital marketing has really lifted exposure for properties, and in particular, eased the search for rental properties,” Khan added.
Wonderland Real Estate has traditionally centred on selling residential properties in Lautoka, an area whose real estate activity continues to thrive due to its considerable housing stock and active listings for sales. And in the face of a national housing demand that cannot be sufficiently supplied, the city has been a mecca for aspiring home owners.
“We have also noticed greater investment interest from younger buyers. There are many young couples who want to avoid having to pay for rentals over a long period of time, and so choose to obtain a home they can own themselves. This has been made easier with State-sponsored schemes, like the First Home Owners program, and other incentives that young income-earners can access.
“And due to more economic opportunities, there are higher-income earners amongst younger consumers, compared to 20-years ago, and they have the means to purchase property.”
Khan added that the inception of Fiji’s Real Estate Agents Act in 2006 had definitely set a higher benchmark of compliance and regulation for the industry, followed by the establishment of the Real Estate Agents Licensing Board.
“We have also just recently seen the addition of the Fiji Real Estate Agents Associations, which has been a long time coming and a good initiative to give agents a voice and better representation of our concerns and issues.”
Like many of his peers, the entry of foreign agents marketing local properties without obtaining licenses and bogus agents have been a constant thorn but Khan is adamant that efforts by authorities will narrow down illicit real estate activities.
“Compared to when we first opened, there are definitely more avenues for agents to take their grievances to and better regulation of professional conduct and adherence.”
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