By Neale Petersen
Akbar Hassim is the founder and managing director of Sandton-based residential real estate development company, FutureDev Properties. Akbar is a passionate property developer, leading the charge on quality residential developments in the greater Sandton area. They are currently rolling out prime developments in the dozen, particularly in the Bryanston area.
Akbar grew up in Laudium, Erasmia in Pretoria. He was educated at Laudium Secondary School. His first passion was IT, with the property bug only starting to bite once he moved to Johannesburg in 2007. He became a passionate student of books on building wealth and real estate.
AKBAR’S KEY STATS:
Current position: CEO and Founder of FutureDev Properties
Family: Married for 14 years, with three daughters aged 6, 11 & 13
Hobbies/Sports: Extreme sports, cycling triathlon and hiking
Books currently reading: As a man thinketh by James Allen
Books read: Read Rich Dad Poor Dad; No money down; Think and Grow rich (which he reads every day); The Richest man in Babylon; The Alchemist and The Millionaire next door
Life motto: Zig Ziglar’s philosophy of “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.”
He made his foray into property investing by buying his first property in the CBD of Johannesburg. He invested in a lower end apartment and everything seemed to go wrong: from tenant management to escalating maintenance costs. Looking back, he says that some tough lessons were learnt.
It was also a light-bulb moment, since he realised that he didn’t want to get involved in investing, but rather in creating new property developments. He was more interested in the development process – from demolition, bulk earthworks to development delivery. He says it is like a manufacturing process and he could learn from other people to define exactly what he wanted to do. He did his first stand-alone unit development in Buccleuch: Demolishing an existing property and converting it into four units.
Akbar joined Odoko, a Sandton based civil engineering contractor, as a Director from 2007 to mid 2012. While at Odoko, he was involved in and responsible for numerous developments in all property sectors in South Africa. In total, these projects were worth in excess of R1 billion. These included:
- Civil Engineering Services to the Fleurhof Mixed Use Development for Calgro M3 Holdings;
- Bulk Earthworks to the Park Inn Hotel, in Sandton (Initially Fire & Ice) for New City Group;
- Earthworks to the Landmark KPMG East Campus, in Parktown;
- Upgrade of St Andrews Road Offramp, Parktown, for KPMG;
- Bulk Earthworks for the New Engineering Block & Parkade for University of Pretoria;
- Civil Engineering Services for the Mjejane Private Game Reserve & Lodge for Mjejane Trust, in Mpumalanga;
- Civil Engineering Services for the Baken Park Mixed Use Development in Bethlehem, Free State.
At Odoko he learnt the fundamentals of property development, including the many external factors that the company needs to proactively manage and consider.
From civils and earthworks right through to road construction, a key to ensure continuity for this project was activating a consummate and well-equipped on-site service team for fleet maintenance and repair. The Mejejane Game Reserve project included implementing employee health and safety regulations as well as an environmental management plan and protection of the local fauna and flora.
Through their reclamation project, Odoko was created as a vehicle for job creation and skills transfer that will, in the long term, develop skills and careers. Odoko will create an expected 200 jobs through phase one of the developments.
In 2012 he formed FutureDev Properties and has not turned back. They have been involved in a number of residential and mixed-use developments throughout South Africa in various capacities and roles. The most prestigious one being the Pearls of Umhlanga, which is the largest privately developed residential development in South Africa at the moment, valued at just over R3 billion.
Other major developments of FutureDev include:
- 89 Full Title Homes in Mackenzie Park, Benoni
- 699 Affordable Housing Units in Tongaat, KZN
- Numerous Upmarket Sectional Title Apartment Developments in the Sandton Area
- Various Student Accommodation Developments in the Johannesburg CBD for just over 2000 students
In 2015, the partners took a decision to focus all their development efforts on the northern suburbs of Johannesburg, i.e. Sandton, with a very distinct and clear geographical precinct, and product offering. FutureDev aims at becoming a leader in full title, freehold residential developments in the residential suburbs of Sandton.
Akbar has established FutureDev not only as an independent, but also as a turnkey developer. Essentially, turnkey starts from buying the land at competitive prices, financing the real estate deals, create, control and orchestrating the process of property development from beginning to end, project management and consulting.
He believes in giving investors in his properties more than what they pay for, giving more value for money what they pay for. He warns against staying away from development partnerships. While there are always good and bad partnerships, it’s important to take your time and take advice.
When asked about the impact he’d like to make on the property industry, he emphasises the importance of moving the focus away from making money, towards adding value and providing a service.
He sees a big gap in the affordable housing sector and says there is always an opportunity for it in South Africa. Equating it to the land of milk and honey, Akbar explains that if you can deliver a quality product in a market where there’s a need for it, you’ll be successful.
Akbar’s top investment tips
- Build up your knowledge and educate yourself – stick with what you know
- Educate yourself about sector and product
- Don’t rush into an investment, read about it first
- Don’t buy because it is inexpensive
- Do your due diligence