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Louise Heatley & Zarah Evans | Owner | EXCLUSIVE LINKS

Exclusive Links – Offering A Complete Property Experience

Customer satisfaction is paramount to the long-term success of a real estate business. Companies that ensure every effort and assistance in fulfilling customers’ requirements to the best of their ability, not only gain strong approval ratings but also build an unbreakable reputation in the market.

This is the success story of one such real estate company, Exclusive Links Real Estate, which is continuously excelling in the UAE’s real estate sector. The acclaimed and well-recognized real estate company provides one-stop solutions including sales, leasing, property management, and short-term vacation homes.

Driving Exclusive Links to the top position in the UAE’s real estate market are its visionary and acclaimed leaders, Louise Heatley, Owner & Managing Director, and Zarah Evans, Owner & Managing Partner.

As business owners, Louise and Zarah are known for their commitment to the industry and their unique style of management, winning combination, and open-door policy. They are always thinking of innovative and exciting developments to keep the company evolving as a fresh and e xciting community.

Supported by the UAE go vernment initiative for 100% foreign-owned companies to be established and operate in Dubai, Exclusive Links took advantage of this and became the first fully expat, female-owned real estate company in the UAE. As a company and two leading ladies, they never jumped on any bandwagon. They fight their own battles, make calculated decisions, and, above all, remain dignified and positive.

We had the exclusive opportunity to interview Louise and Zarah, where they spoke in detail about their company’s journey and how it rose to become one of the leading real estate services and solutions providers in the UAE market.

Below are the highlights from the interview:

Kindly brief us about Exclusive Links and its inception story.

Exclusive Links Real Estate was founded in March 2011 by Louise Heatley and Zarah Evans. The company came into existence with the merger of two companies that they were running independently and were both established separately in 2005: Exclusive Real Estate and Links Gulf Real Estate.

Both companies were very healthy and strong in their own right, and then the market came to a halt post the global financial crisis. The freehold sales market was crippled, and it had a clear impact on brokerage firms and saw Links Gulf Real Estate, whose strength was in freehold sales, dwindle down from 64 to 15 salespeople. Although Exclusive Real Estate also experienced a similar downturn in sales and leasing, their property management division had a 30% growth between 2009 and 2011.

Louise and Zarah both shared a vision of recovery and a better industry, and since the two partners were dealing in different segments, the merger didn’t pose any major conflict of interest or opinion. A similar management style allowed the ladies to collaborate naturally, and the business immediately started to grow from strength to strength as Exclusive Links Real Estate. The transition was smooth for all stakeholders, and no staff were lost in the collaboration.

Zarah and Louise were both very proud of their own brands and it was important that they kept the identity of both Exclusive and Links Gulf Real Estates moving forward. The whole company was rebranded within two to three months, and no one has looked back since.

What are the key services provided by Exclusive Links and how is it revolutionizing the Real Estate Market?

Exclusive Links offers a complete property experience from our two locations in Dubai Marina and Motor City, servicing both the apartment and villa market segments in Dubai. The office in Motor City covers the communities in and around Dubailand. Our office in Dubai Marina services more of the high-rise areas of the Marina, JBR, and JLT, together with Blue Waters and Palm Jumeirah. They come together to service the Downtown and Business Bay areas. We also have a partnership with Henry Wiltshire International in Abu Dhabi that has been in place since 2018 and allows us to service customers in both emirates.

Exclusive Links has a unique end-to-end approach, delivered by an experienced team of real estate professionals. Our complete property experience includes sales, leasing, property management, and short-term vacation homes. We engage in the support of value-added partners to complete the professional services offered and compliment these by also providing international investment options and a high-end luxury property portfolio, The Elite Collection.

Exclusive Links is not looking to revolutionize the real estate market in Dubai, but we are always looking at how to do things better and stay ahead of the game.

How are you driving the company to achieve its mission and vision statement? What are the core values that the company operates upon?

Exclusive Links Real Estate is one of the most respected companies in the sector. Our commitment to both impeccably high standards and attention to detail is the driving force behind the success of our brand.

As a company, we have invested heavily in continuing our efforts to maintain our strong profile in the local market. Employing a team of loyal, experienced professionals along with our brand awareness, we continually drive the business with the following key features:

  • Our complete property experience
  • Our relationships and reputation
  • Our leadership and teams
  • Our focus and drive

Exclusive Links is recognized and respected by our peers in the industry as a strong name and force. We are consistent in all that we do and deliver but we remain adaptable to everyday impacts and influences. We hold a position as a strong and stylish company, where we stand by our people, and they stand by us. Our people are the essence of Exclusive Links. They are the total experience, the brand’s main attribute and point of differentiation. Exclusive Links is in an enviable position since we have experienced agents in the industry that are wanting and waiting to join us – we are a name that is associated with trust.

The Exclusive Links experience is the connection between our customers and the product, and our superior service is the result of a common view and drive for success. Our core value is working for the benefit of our customers. This represents our dedication to customer service delivery on all levels and to contributing to the sustainable development of the market. To live up to this philosophy, all employees continue to work together to propel the company forward.

Exclusive Links Real Estate’s mission is “We commit to excellence in every area of the real estate industry, ensuring that customers’ best interests are always of the utmost importance.”

In what ways is your service of Free Valuation helping customers to make the right decisions regarding a property? How is it aiding real estate buyers to stay informed about the property they are interested in?

Exclusive Links Real Estate has established itself as a name you can trust in the marketplace. Through our complete property experience and preferred partner relationships, it remains a key objective of ours to service the customers completely.

We charge our customers a primary commission based on the buyer’s and seller’s services after we have been appointed as the buyer’s or seller’s agent. A home valuation report is offered as an introduction to our scope of services and an unbiased account of where a property is positioned in the market. It is a useful tool for a comparative market analysis that can be used by both buyers and sellers to achieve their goals. All this data is now more available, transparent, and trusted, which supports us as an agency. It can value areas within Dubai, communities, and towers, as well as specific property types, floors, and views.

It helps buyers and sellers refer to “real deals” and not just the hearsay of a commission-hungry broker or a volatile marketplace. It is a good tool for buyers and sellers to compare the actuals with what is being listed on the portals and agency websites. It enables buyers and sellers to be more educated about their own investments.

According to global estimates, 2020 recorded over eight million tourists to the UAE. How are your Vacation Home services responding to this demand? What unique solutions is it offering to tourists to maximize their tourist satisfaction?

Dubai has many plus points for tourists and accommodation selections – Exclusive Links Vacation Homes was established more to respond to the demands of property owners looking for an alternative to long-term leasing and also to maximize the potential returns on their investments. There is no better time to take advantage of the rapidly growing tourism market and to provide owners, our customers, with an alternative management and revenue stream for their property.

Since 2005, Exclusive Links has provided a property management solution to our customers, and one of the key provisions was long-term leasing. Still, to date, we look after 600+ individually owned properties and their owners, many of whom live overseas. With this established division in place, we decided in April of this year to introduce a new license under the company umbrella, Exclusive Links Vacation Homes. This was not only to take advantage of Dubai’s growing popularity as a leading tourist destination but to offer our managed clients an alternative to long-term leasing and to enhance the company’s services.

The concept of short-term rentals for owners is very appealing for many reasons, and we are witnessing more investors opting for property purchases that are ideal for vacation home opportunities. For owners, short-term rentals provide a higher annual total revenue compared to a long-term tenancy and also avoid the landlord and tenant laws that apply in Dubai to long-term rentals. We were passionate about setting a new standard and entering the market with a difference, and this was not only through the services we offer our owners but the properties we offer our guests. We also can’t ignore the geographical position of Dubai, putting us in an ideal location to capture not only tourism but business travellers – so the properties we have listed short term need to offer various sizes and styles throughout Dubai.

Whether our guests are business travellers, tourists or relocating to Dubai, we offer beautiful spaces, clean and maintained properties, well thought out amenities and exceptional 24/7 hospitality. We want our customers to “discover the difference” with Exclusive Links Vacation Homes.

As experienced leaders, what advice would you like to give to aspiring entrepreneurs and enthusiasts who wish to venture into the competitive industry that you are serving?

You need to have a passion for property and people to work in real estate, anywhere in the world. It is important to join a company that supports an environment where you can excel. Look, listen and learn from the experiences and expertise around you. There are many good names in the industry that set an excellent example of how to conduct business and yourself as a property professional. It is competitive and it is important to spend time building your own personal brand with the support of the company you work with.

Perseverance and consistency are key – not only in how you work but also in the services you provide. Don’t be shy to shout out about your success stories but remain humble and continue learning. Work the market, a good name in the industry can lead to business being delivered to your door through inter agency transactions. Manage your time and never promise what you can’t deliver. Believe in yourself, don’t dwell on the lost deals, and learn from the deals you’ve won. Don’t forget to smile and have some fun and never put off until tomorrow what you can do today – Dubai is fast-paced and very competitive and if you don’t do it – someone else will.

What are the future goals of Exclusive Links? How do you envision scaling its operations and reach in 2022 and beyond?

Exclusive Links is on track to close 2022 on another high. Certainly, all the internal financial investment, hard work and time, continues to produce the desired results and outcomes for Exclusive Links Real Estate. Our major goals for 2022, which were planned at the end of last year, have all been successfully implemented, and the work is ongoing with more initiatives, it never stops.

As a company, we have sharpened our responses with our universal use of data across the business. We are always looking for smarter solutions and improvements with our service delivery and product. We hope that we can leverage technology to improve internal processes, client management, and client experiences. As a company, we will continue to grow.

In terms of beyond 2022, we want to continue winning as leaders. We want to continue to develop our services and build on our alliances within the UAE and internationally. We want to continue to put emphasis on staff development, further recruitment and continue to offer awards and rewards. We want to continue to grow our audience, widen our footprint and increase our market share. We want to continue to grow business growth overall – positions, salaries, and office locations. We want to retain our people, who are our staff, customers and partners and maintain our “people before property” ethos and culture.