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Dubai is a city of possibilities, declares this dynamic real estate consultant and Apeejay Panchsheel Park alumnus

Urban Terrace Co-Founder Vaneesh Manchanda says sitting at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa, the UAE has a lot going for it, including a stable currency, good law and order, ease of doing business, zero income tax and a highly liquid property market



Based at Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, Apeejay School, Panchsheel Park alumnus Vaneesh Manchanda is Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Urban Terrace Real Estate, a leading real estate consultancy. Armed with a degree in Commerce from Delhi University, Vaneesh cut his teeth in the corporate world and worked in a range of eclectic brands such as Microsoft in India and ABN AMRO Bank Dubai and RBS Bank Dubai before venturing into real estate with DAMAC Properties, in the United Arab Emirates. After another few years of learning the nuances of the real estate market, his entrepreneurial dreams took off in the form of Urban Terrace Real Estate, where he is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner. In a wide-ranging interview, he discusses, among other things, the edge that tax-free and low-crime destinations such as UAE enjoy over many other countries, the secrets of being a successful real estate entrepreneur, overcoming the Covid-19 challenge and the profound life lessons that he picked up at Apeejay School, Panchsheel Park. Edited excerpts:

From schooling at Apeejay in New Delhi, to forming your own real estate consultancy firm in the United Arab Emirates. Please tell us about your education and professional journey so far. 

Well you can say it has been an eventful 18-year-old journey. In a nutshell if I have to mention the important milestones after completing school from Apeejay Panchsheel Park, I did my graduation in Commerce from Delhi University. Since then, before getting into real estate, I gained valuable work experience in diverse sectors such as ABN AMRO Bank in Dubai, RBS Bank in Dubai and in Microsoft at Gurgaon. Then in 2012, I received a job offer with DAMAC Properties, one of the biggest real estate Companies in Dubai. This is how my real estate journey began. After having worked in various profiles at different companies, I finally discovered a professional career that I thoroughly enjoyed. Then, in 2018, we started Urban Terrace Real Estate, in Dubai. Today, I have a team of 20 people working with us and we are still growing.

How did you develop an interest in a career in real estate consultancy?

As I’ve mentioned before, after having experienced working in a number of profiles in diverse industries, real estate is the one which I enjoyed the most. The best part about being a real estate consultant is persuading your client to trust you and invest money on your advice. Plus, we meet different people who’ve achieved something in life. Also, helping someone find their first home or their dream home is a really satisfactory feeling that finds few parallels.

What are the special characteristics of the UAE real estate market? How does it stand out from other markets that you have worked in such as India?

Dubai is a city of possibilities and UAE is one of the fastest developing nations in the world today. We have the best of everything in Dubai: whether it is infrastructure, transport system, medical facilities, education or quality of living. Also there are a few other special characteristics that only UAE offers:

  • Strategic Location: Dubai sits on the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa.
  • Highly liquid property market: Some of the highest rental yields in the world, strong capital appreciation, readily-available financing options and zero income tax!
  • Ease of setting up business: Free Zones give companies 100% foreign ownership; exemption from all import duties; 100% repatriation of capital and profits; and freedom from corporate taxation.
  • Safest destination: The UAE is the second safest place in the world in which to live.
  • Stable currency: The UAE Dirham being pegged with US dollars means the value of the currency has enjoyed the balance and growth, as well as the stability to export and import trade.

The UAE’s unique benefits – quality of life, safety and world-class infrastructure– have influenced an increasing number of people to consider investing in the country and relocating there. Some of them believe the economy in UAE coped better with the Covid-19 pandemic than many others. What is your view?

Well, it’s the vision of the leaders of the country to make it the best, happy and safe place to live, which helped us overcome the economic challenges, not only in real estate but in other major sectors as well.

Please share some success tips for those who want to be successful as a real estate consultant and follow your career trajectory. 

My mantra for success is to do what you love. However not everyone is able to find what they love. In order to find it, don’t be scared to take risks and work in different fields or try out new things. You never know where you might find your passion. As a real estate person, persistence is the key. It isn’t an easy game, but if you’re passionate about it, it’s the best game you would want to play.

What are your memories of the time you spent at Apeejay School, Panchsheel Park?

I have numerous memories of my time at Apeejay School, Panchsheel Park, or as it was then known, Apeejay School, Sheikh Sarai, which bring a smile to my face. I fondly remember the faculty members — Girish Magoo Sir, Urvashi Ma’am, Sameera Gulati Ma’am, Ajeet Singh Sir, Virender Pal Sir, Rita Kale Ma’am and Anju Sinha Ma’am — among many others. All of them worked really hard and patiently with all the students, since some of us were quite the mischievous trouble makers in school.

Are there any life lessons which you picked up in school that have helped you in your career?

Of course, school is a place where our base is set, as we say in our industry, if the base is not strong it is impossible for it to support a building. Things such as accountability, hard work, teamwork and developing a positive mindset are the traits that we picked up in school and they have stood the test of time to act as our navigators.

How did the Covid-19 pandemic affect your sector and how did you overcome the challenge?

Covid-19 was a difficult time for everyone around the globe. It took a lot of hard work to overcome the challenges triggered by the pandemic. We had to adopt a lot of new and different ways of approaching clients, plus a positive attitude from the government really helped us bounce back from the crisis, even better than before.

Aasheesh Sharma is a seasoned journalist with an experience of more than 25 years spread over newspapers, news agencies, magazines and television. He has worked in leadership positions in media groups such as Hindustan Times, India Today, Times of India, NDTV, UNI and IANS. He is a published author and his essay on the longest train journey in India was included in an anthology of writings on the railways, brought out by Rupa Publications. As the Editor of Apeejay Newsroom, he is responsible for coverage of the latest news and developments in the Apeejay institutions. He can be reached at [email protected]. He tweets @Aasheesh74