Photography: Matthew Grady
Mohamed Saâd Alami, 27, is from Casablanca in Morocco and is about to take his APC (Assessment of Professional Competence) – the final step to becoming a chartered member of RICS. He works at his family-owned real estate company leading its valuations department.
Why did you decide to join the property industry?
Real estate is in my family. My grandfather was a developer and my father founded our real estate company, Dexa, 20 years ago. He’s also a chartered surveyor.
What does Dexa do and what is your role there?
We specialise in real estate advisory and the valuation of assets. We work with all the actors of the real estate industry from financial institutions and developers to French banks. I work in specialist valuations and lead the department.
What were your first impressions of the property industry?
I joined the company five years ago when I finished my degree in financial modelling. I only had a financial background, so at the beginning I was lost. It was very difficult. I did a variety of different tasks from visiting assets to calculating areas before I specialised in valuations. Then I did a master’s degree in real estate management from Paris Dauphine [University], which helped me a lot because it gave me the foundation to understand real estate.
Why did you decide to become a chartered surveyor?
I saw the importance of an RICS certification to financial institutions. It’s very important to them. Today in Morocco the structure of real estate has really changed because we have developed a new product: real estate investment trusts (REITs). We can’t perform a REITs valuation if we don’t have an RICS certificate, so we must be a chartered surveyor.
You take your APC very soon. How are you feeling about it?
I’m feeling OK, because my case study is a real-life one and I’ve worked on it from A-Z. Valuation is my daily job so I’m pretty comfortable about it. It will be done online, which I think is a good thing. Before COVID-19, Moroccans who wanted to take their final assessment had to go to Paris. Now, thanks to technology, we can do it from our own offices.
What are your ambitions once you become an MRICS?
My principal ambition is to grow the family office. There are about 20 of us at the moment. My ambition is to create sub companies that specialise in all parts of real estate from brokerage, to asset management, property management and facilities management. I want to have a comprehensive company.
How has COVID-19 impacted you?
In the market, transactions are down by about 50% but prices are stable. In our own company COVID-19 really opened our eyes. Employees had to work from home so we had to make changes – we really needed a digital transformation. I listed what we needed, worked with IT professionals, and in four months we had completely transformed the company.
We don’t need paper anymore – our invoices are digital, our quotations and our reports. Even when we visit assets it’s all digital, on an app, on our phones. Now we can work from anywhere in the world because everything is digitised. It’s been hard work and it’s not perfect, but we are improving all the time.
“Before COVID-19, Moroccans who wanted to take their final assessment had to go to Paris. Now we can do it from our own offices”