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LAHORE: Pakistan has huge development potential in its real estate market because of four major drivers: a long list of land developers, a burgeoning middle class, a huge youth bulge and relatively well-off non-resident Pakistanis abroad.

So says Gilles Blanchard – a French investor in Pakistan’s first property websites – while talking to Dawn on his new initiative.

After developing and selling such a website in France, Gilles has turned to the rest of the world – Indonesia, Malaysia, Brazil and Pakistan – to replicate his success.

About property blogging, he says Induction of information technology (blogs, websites, data bases etc) brings transparency in the market and that precisely what “zameen.com” is meant for.

They take connectivity out of human hands as both buyers and sellers can visit such site in the comfort of their homes, narrow down their choice according to their budget and have to make fewer calls, instead of physically running around, to purchase a property.

The real estate spectrum has a development essential i.e. transparency. That is why the world moved to IT because it can create clean data base of commodity, indexation of pricing and take the process out of hands of real estate agents – who behave identically around the world to maximise their profits and mostly lack consumers’ confidence.

In order to win that confidence, the world has brought in information technology. It helps people make better choices: they know the price range in a locality and reasonable margin of bargain as every sale-purchase in that particular area is documented and displayed.

That is what the entire world is moving to online shopping, including properties. There is no reason why should Pakistan not be following the trend.

“Ours was the first initiative, which has encouraged many more to develop such sites and help develop market,” he said. Our site has more than 275,000 registered users, who use it not only for the purchases but also for rentals. Monthly hits are double that number.

The managers are adding more tools to the site to make it user friendly. It is a different world, where every marketable commodity would move to,” he said and insisted: “That is precisely why I selected Pakistan, along with Indonesia, Malaysia and Brazil for investment in the blog.

With huge success in France, where I launched my first portal (SeLoger) in the early 90s, which almost became a monopoly in the next one decade, I decided to explore other areas of the world and Pakistan appeared on the mental map due to huge potential that it represents.

It is going well because all ingredients that brought success in France are there and developing.”