As per World Bank’s estimations for Pakistan, the real estate sector makes up 70 per cent of the national wealth and significantly contributes to GDP. Unfortunately, no indigenous university offers specialisation in real estate management to business graduates. It impedes the way forward for corporate-level research in the sector.

Under universities’ capacity to conduct research, the business graduates could develop the real estate sector manifold. The current market runs on the shoulders of property agents who have either little or defective knowledge of the industry. The investors call for actual assessment and lucrative consultancy but are often entrapped. This is where the financial exploitation of investors holds its roots.

The current market needs researchers in multifarious areas: land allocation for urbanisation, actual property valuation, the aggregate volume of rental property, training and registration of real estate professionals, provision of amenities, the cost-benefit ratio of various locations, mechanism to take real estate companies to the Pakistan Stock Exchange and principles of housing finance.

Moreover, market risk assessment, scam-free property transactions, taxation matters and total volume of residential and commercial property constitute the list of researchable domains. All this requires putting the best talent into action. Universities could establish real estate research centres at a corporate level to impart research papers to propagate infographics and industry knowledge.

Due to the lack of realty specialists in the country, green lands are being converted into brown lands with ultramodern urbanisation

Apart from the national economy, the number of stakeholders of said research would grow stably. Metropolitan development authorities, Punjab Land Record Authority, Federal Board of Revenue, real estate development companies, construction groups and individual investors — all would take advantage of large-scale real estate research.

What lies in this project for universities? Revenues and intellectual legacy obviously. Millions of males and females are already earning their bread and butter in the real estate industry. They would promptly take admissions to grow in line with the changing trends. Only a few Pakistanis know how to buy property in other countries. Research would help reshape the investment attitude of the affluent class.

One of the reasons behind transactional scams in the country’s real estate sector comes from non-professionalism. Specialisation in real estate management would appease the worries of the industry. On the other hand, a range of employment opportunities would welcome the educated class in future. Due to the lack of realty specialists in the country, green lands are being converted into brown lands. This is how the real estate sector replaces agricultural land with ultramodern urbanisation.

In the absence of civic literacy, the operating agents just follow the footprints of the tycoons and no one raises a voice against culprits. Consequently, the realty industry seems to mitigate agriculture’s share of GDP. Passed out from the universities, the young professionals could streamline priorities in the best possible way.

The University of Punjab, being a custodian of the biggest educational setup, could instigate the said matter as a complete project. Research is a lifestyle. Its absence closes the doors that open towards innovation and invention. Only the educational premises could provide research-based infrastructure and fertile brains to carry out this stance.

The graduates must be offered to study global real estate, urban real estate economics, risk analysis, portfolio management, real estate laws, real estate entrepreneurship, property valuation methods, and business communication. An MBA in real estate or MS real estate management would lay foundations of a controlled real estate industry in the country. The specialists thus produced would join the industry as property managers, investment analysts, sales executives and vice presidents.

The tourism industry and real estate sector go side by side. Pakistan needs technocrats to regulate the property segment; otherwise, the fabric of tourism might get weakened. We have civil engineers and construction specialists to build skyscrapers but we lack personnel specialised in real estate management. The recent maladministration in Murree is the result of undermined knowledge about tourism in relation to the real estate industry.

Real estate agents work independently unlike the United Arab Emirates where Real Estate Regulatory Authority registers the agents after proper testing and evaluation. Similarly, the progressive world has got authentic mechanisms to regulate real estate, development and construction sectors.

The General Services Administration of the US government takes every measure for the upkeep of policies, procedures and regulations in the real estate sector. Canadian Real Estate Association is responsible for the effective organisation of the industry. On the same lines, the proposed Pakistan Real Estate Board could emerge only if our universities produce specialist graduates.

Affiliated with Skill Development Council Karachi, the National Institute of Real Estate Management seems to be a good initiative in the private sector but it hardly delivers research-oriented education. The government could set up a national school for nurturing young brains to appear as leaders on the canvas of the real estate industry. Higher Education Commission Pakistan could play its part while instructing the private and public sector universities to offer comprehensive degree qualifications toned with real estate management.

The writer is a socio-economic analyst. waheedmba@gmail.com

Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, January 7th, 2022

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