The real estate sector in Jammu and Kashmir is experiencing a change for the better in the wake of government efforts to introduce several schemes to attract both sellers and buyers.
There is a belief now in the real estate sector that the property market is on the upswing, especially after the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into three Union Territories (UTs).
Stakeholders like Real Estate Kashmir (REK), the region’s first and largest online property and construction service provider, are taking advantage of ongoing changes to connect buyers and sellers conveniently, as well as constructing modern and beautifully designed homes.
Having entered the construction business in 2009, REK today is a household name among Kashmiris, recording over 100 genuinely priced listings every month.
The group has a team of professionals, equipped with both skills and knowledge, and possessing the confidence to operate as sole traders.
There is a separate team that supports the overall business, providing financial management skills, including relevant accounting and legal experience and cost control measures required for identifying and development of properties.
In its twelve years of existence, REK has believed in and promoted a tradition of excellence, integrity, knowledge and service.
“At REK, you are number one. Whether you are a property owner, or a buyer, we value your business and aim to provide you with the best individual attention and service you deserve. We believe in a strict code of ethics that involves a commitment to professional excellence, while delivering personalised care,” said a company official.
“When you hire REK, you are hiring the best. We are passionate about real estate and construction. We absolutely care about your bottom line and will do everything to live up to our core values and to help you turn your real estate goals into reality,” he added.
“We take care of our customers and bring a positive attitude and energy to everything we do. By working harder and smarter, we always get the job done. We believe that through teamwork and collaboration, we have what it takes to be unstoppable.”
The REK Group was first started by three friends -- Asif Zahoor (Co-Founder), Mohammad Shadab (Director) and Mir Fanoon Rafiq (Director). They initially took up small renovation projects, but had to suspend their activities a year later (2010) because of the uncertain political and socio-economic climate prevailing in Kashmir at that time.
All three decided that they needed to move abroad to get more exposure about the real estate business. While Asif Zahoor travelled to Tanzania to take up a job as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in one of Africa’s leading companies, Shadab joined L&T (Larsen & Toubro) as Chief Administrator, while Fanoon shifted to Muscat, Oman, to expand his family business.
They, however, continued to stay in touch, nursing their dream of running their own company with the help of new ideas and innovations.
The dream of starting a real estate business in Jammu and Kashmir acquired a fresh life in 2015, when Kashmir University MBA student Mohammad Asif Sheikh contacted Asif Zahoor Malik to share some of his ideas on launching real estate services online. Asif Zahoor Malik had already started construction firm in Tanzania.
The exchange of ideas was also shared with Malik’s two friends and partners Shadab and Fanoon. Following several rounds of discussion, all four concluded that the environment was right to return to Kashmir to begin their real estate venture.
“Our main objective was to help people and save them from being defrauded. Realestate Kashmir keeps transparency between the buyer and seller in a very systematic manner and also makes sure that the property papers are authentic,” said Malik.
“In Kashmir, we don’t have a regulatory body to look at market rates. As a result, market rates are unreasonable almost everywhere, and this is a very big and growing problem not only for us, but also for future generations. Real Estate Kashmir only accepts those properties in its portfolio that have a genuine market price and always encourages people to sell or buy property at genuine prices only,” he added.
“The focus of Realestate Kashmir is customer satisfaction at all costs, as we know that most customers do suffer at the hands of unscrupulous contractors and property agents and don’t get what they want. At REK, we have some customer-friendly policies that are transparent and reliable,” said Malik.
Mohammad Asif Sheikh recalls how his family was left shocked and virtually penniless by a fraud committed on them.
“That incident pushed me to start REK. I was literally shocked as to how people can commit such frauds, but when I undertook a survey, I found several cases of fraud, some people had lost everything. There was no accountability, transparency or awareness. I decided that a solution needed to be found where I can help people like myself from being scammed,” said Sheikh.
“In the beginning, it was a very tough road to take. I did surveys across the city and its outskirts and after months of research on the real estate market in Kashmir and meetings with prominent persons in this sector, I framed REK’s policies accordingly,” he added.
“I was the first to conceive and promote online real estate marketing in Kashmir. I decided to use social media as a marketing tool for the listing of properties. In the beginning, people were uncomfortable about sharing their property details, but then when I introduced my own website and application, I got an amazing response from across Kashmir and even from Kashmiris living abroad,” Sheikh said.’
He revealed that he then reached out to Asif Zahoor Malik in Tanzania and “we decided to run this firm on a bigger scale.”
“We normally receive more than 200 calls in a day ( 91-9103072998/ 91-9796970149). We have 70,000-plus followers on Instagram and 31,000-plus subscribers on YouTube, which is the highest number for any business organisation in Kashmir. We have sold 90 percent of our listings so far and handed over more than 100 projects in the last 12 years. We are the only technology-driven real-estate firm in Kashmir; the one-stop solution for all real-estate requirements of Kashmiris,” Sheikh said.
“In 2009, we entered the construction business in Kashmir, but when in 2010, the situation got tough, I left for Africa. I was in Tanzania when I first saw a post of REK.I was amazed to see that thing for the first time in Kashmir. I texted on that and got into an interesting conversation with the founder. He gave me a proposal to be a part of REK and after many discussions with two of my friends, we decided to come back to Kashmir and be a part of REK. We have been embracing new techniques such as property video or social media to differentiate ourselves, but we continue to focus on building relationships of trust with buyers, sellers and business partners,” Asif Zahoor Malik concluded.