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Wellbeing instead of just living

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August 13, 2013

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Entrepreneur Kai Dost talks to Andreas John about exclusive real estate properties, Russian investors, and the past and present state of Mallorca’s property market.

In fact, Kai Dost feels more comfortable on the water than ashore. Until the early ‘90s, Dost, born in Hamburg, was one of the best regatta racing sailors in Germany. In 1985 and 1995 he and his brother won the ‘Princesa Sofia Trophy’, among others, in the bay of Palma de Mallorca. Today Dost works as one of the most successful independent brokers on the Balearic Islands, with a total of six branches on Mallorca and Ibiza, and a portfolio of approximately 750 high-class real estate properties.

How did you come up with the idea of selling houses, being a former yachtsman?
Rather by chance. Sometime during a regatta I eventually landed on Mallorca. I looked for a new challenge here. The real estate industry on the island existed in kind of a gold-rush fever and there were only a few professional brokers. I allowed myself to be carried away by this mood. Back in Hamburg, I trained as a real estate agent and then worked for a large company on the island.

How has the property market on the island changed in the past 20 years?
The offer has grown enormously. In former times brokers had to explain the island to the customer. Nowadays nearly everyone knows Mallorca very well and where they would like to buy a residential property.

The property market on Mallorca is highly competitive. How does Dost & Co. stand out from its competitors?
Our slogan is: Less is more. We deliberately specialized in real estate which offers something special, with a very high recreational value. We do not even try to include properties in our portfolio which, for example, do not have any sea views, are not near a golf course or are not unique properties, thanks to the surrounding countryside or their architectural style. They would only dissipate our focus. Our business philosophy not only creates a special portfolio but also addresses a very particular customer profile. Besides, our average selling price is clearly higher than that of our competitors – by an average of nearly 40 per cent.

So you sell only expensive real estate properties?
No, not at all. Last year, for example, we sold an apartment for 90,000 euros. Our real estate properties must simply be special. We do not sell houses for living, but for wellbeing and to feel at home. That is our credo.

“Dost & Co.” is a company focused on people. Why?
This is very important for us. With regard to our name I do not mean to position myself as a person in the foreground. What we want to show is human beings taking responsibility for what they offer, rather than being an anonymous company. For the same reason we do not want to build a franchise network, which can possibly hide behind a structure of small companies, without taking responsibility.

How does the customer get in touch with you?
In general, at first the client gathers information about the existing offer on the Internet. After shortlisting one or more properties, he contacts us. This is an emotional moment which requires a dedicated salesman, entirely focused on the client. And this is another reason for us to keep the offer limited. There are only a few high-quality brokers on the island.

Has Mallorca’s real estate industry bottomed out of the crisis?
Yes, it has. Demand is increasing. In Germany, England and France prices for high-quality real estate properties are already rising. In Spain they still stagnate, therefore it is a good moment now to invest in real estate here. Even if the situation is not really easy.

Why?
This is related to the local banks’ lack of liquidity. Many sales do not come off because banks do not answer funding requests.

On a long-term basis, what role will Russian real estate investors play on Mallorca?
Undoubtedly, there is an increasing number of Russian real estate buyers on Mallorca. And this involves not just millionaires. Middle-class businessmen, such as consultants, attorneys or doctors, are also increasingly looking for second homes and holiday homes on the island. However, Germans and English will always remain the strongest group of buyers. They account for at least 60 per cent of the market; the Russians will reach a maximum of 12 per cent.

How important is the Internet in selling real estate?
It depends on the market. If you want to work in the upper price range like us, you also need to create a company brand. Then it is not enough to simply have offers, you must also be able to be represented as a company. This is what I need print media for.

How do you explain the price for a property to your customers?
For people who are new on the island, the fact that there is no measurable price list for a property on Mallorca is certainly surprising. In the case of high-class properties, what is crucial is simply its recreational value, and not the number of bedrooms.

The Southwest is still the most attractive location for properties on Mallorca. Will this change at some point?
Proximity to Palma is still crucial. The capital itself still has much potential. Both the old town and the Paseo Marítimo have not been properly discovered yet at all.


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