What is behind Dubai’s strength as a real estate proposition?

Over 30,000 properties are expected to be added to the market in early 2018.

Dubai’s real estate growth is driven mostly by a combination of overseas investors living all over the world, and foreign nationals living in the UAE.

For 2017, the Dubai Land Department (DLD) recorded a total of 69,069 completed real estate transactions. The combined value of these transactions is more than Dh 285 million ($77.6 billion). This figure breaks down as Dh107 billion ($29.15 billion) invested by 39,480 investors making 52,958 transactions, and more than 65% of this is by foreign investors.

The total value of the land transactions in Dubai in 2017 is worth Dh285 billion. To put this figure into context, this is higher than the GDP of an astonishing 144 countries from the 211 recognised by the United Nations.

Figures show that around 23,000 non-GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) and non-Arab investors completed 30,000 property transactions worth about Dh56 billion. Around 9,790 nationals completed or were involved in just over 14,380 transactions with a combined total of more than Dh37 billion. Almost 7,000 investors from Arab states but non-GCC completed 8,644 real estate transactions worth more than Dh14 billion.

Where are overseas investors from?

The largest number of foreign investors in 2017 came from India, making Dh15.6 billion worth of property transactions in Dubai. Next on the list was Saudi Arabian nationals who collectively invested more than Dh7 billion, then British and Pakistani investors whose investments came to Dh6 million and Dh5 million respectively.

Other nations investing increasingly in Dubai real estate are China, Egypt, Jordan and Canada.

Why is Dubai attracting this amount of investment?

These figures are extraordinary, particularly when it’s considered the total investment is higher than many countries’ GDP (gross domestic product), as mentioned earlier. The reasons behind this phenomenal overseas investment lie within the unique advantages Dubai offers as a global investment region.

The biggest reason for the investment specifically for the real estate sector is the very attractive RoI (Return on Investment) that can be earned by investors. This is a main consideration for any kind of investor before making a decision.

Rental income is an important consideration as part of the RoI as it matures straight away, when compared with capital appreciation that can only be achieved through the sale of the property or by releasing equity through a mortgage.

Average RoI in Dubai

The average amount of RoI earned on apartments in Dubai in 2017 was 7%. Villas achieved 5%, despite a general softening of sales prices and rent amounts. Research shows that for a two-bed apartment costing Dh1 million, an investor could net rental returns of Dh80,000. This is an 8% annual return on investment and would lead the investor to recover the entire investment within just 12.5 years even without inflation.

However, it’s worthwhile taking the post hand-over payment plans that are used by some people. This is where the buyer/investor pays 50% or Dh500,000 when the property is handed over, with the rest due within three to five years. As the rent from the very first day would remain the same, it would mean a RoI of 16% for the investor.

World-leading real estate sector

Dubai leads the real estate sector globally in terms of major cities offering investment hotspots. Returns average between 7 and 8% per year, which is high when compared with other high performing cities.

The sector is also helped with the solid regulatory environment. This reassures investors and ensures protection. During the last decade, the DLD has strengthened the regulatory and legal framework to make sure best practice is in force at every level of property management, from development to sale.

In addition to these positive points, Dubai has an accessible and liberal foreign exchange regime that promotes strong connectivity with investors from overseas. As it allows the free movement of profit and capital with little to no restriction, it’s obviously an attractive proposition for major investors.

This infrastructure is being refined all the time and is consistently improving. The progressive economy, consistent and continuous expansion of major infrastructure and world-class attractions has completely transformed Dubai into the five-star property investment destination it is today.

Aspen Woolf on the recent boost in offplan sales in Dubai

Foreign investment in Dubai property has seen record levels in 2017.

During the last week in May, a seven-day selling spree gave Dubai its best monthly offplan sales in 2018 so far.

According to data from GCP-Reidin, the overall offplan sales during May came to 1,830 units against the previous best number of 1,752 units racked up in January.

Combined value

Collectively, the May offplan deals were worth Dh2.28 billion. This beat April’s combined total of Dh2.05 billion and 1,461 units, despite the widespread assumption that this was the peak.

Usually sales would decrease during Ramadan and continue to do during the summer. However, it seems 2018 will buck this trend.

Seven City success

Much of the high number of sales is down to a developer called Seven Tides, who released 661 units at its high-rise project located in Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT). This development is called ‘Seven City’ and all 661 units were bough over a span of seven days.

In total, the developer took bookings worth Dh300 million and is now gearing up to release another job lot of units at Seven Tides at some point in the future. The CEO of the developer said that… “if you offer investors a compelling proposition, based on ROI (return on investment), location and quality, they will invest irrespective of overall market sentiment and that is essentially, our three-pronged marketing strategy.”

A studio apartment at the development went for Dh354,000, while one-bed apartments went for Dh683,000.

Ready available properties

For properties that are ready and available in the secondary market, overall demand is steady. In May there were 1,028 of these sold, compared with 986 in April and 1,121 in March 2018.
There is a steady allocation of funds to this secondary market, which is something that offplan developers need to keep an eye on. It’s difficult to know how much unsold inventory is backed up from previous offplan launches, as not every developer makes this information available.

Most successful locations

The locations that did well in the May offplan sales are as follows. JLT drew a lot of offplan investor interest in May, but there were also increases for the Medan master-development MBR City. This ended up with total sales of 314 units.

Developers including Azizi and Sobha have launched focussed and sustained campaigns surrounding MBR City. Added to this, steady progress on the Meydan One Mall is also interesting investors.

After Meydan, Jumeirah Village Circle sold156 units, the Downtown sold 119 and Dubai Marina sold 118. In the ready property space sector, Dubai Marina did the best with 170 deals sewn up in May 2018.

Aspen Woolf On The Fluctuations In Dubai’s Property Market Since 2008

Dubai skyline at sunset - Aspen Woolf

It’s been ten years since the economic woes of 2008 that saw the biggest challenge yet for Dubai’s property market. Since then, the market has gone through various transformations as it continues to develop along with the city itself.

What kind of challenges did the imploding of the property bubble bring to Dubai’s market? In this blog, we look at the challenges that have been overcome as well as the biggest achievements of the industry over the last decade.

Sustainable Real Estate Market

While the immediate impact of the property bubble bursting in 2008/2009 were harsh, ten years on we’re looking at a more sustainable real estate market in Dubai. It boasts a more robust regulatory and legal framework and is generally much more mature.

One highlight of the last ten years is the development of the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA), which started in 2007. Since then it’s come a long way in developing a standardised regulatory framework that protects investors and end users alike. It also helped to restore market confidence across the board.

Consumer Protection

The introduction of consumer protection measures has also helped the market to mature. The most notable of these is the introduction of mandatory escrow accounts for all developers involved in selling off-plan.

A significant amount of legislation has been implemented to further clarify the relationship between off-plan investors and developers should either party default. RERA also now has powers to cancel projects and there are guidelines in place concerning the process of liquidation.

A rental index came into force in 2013 and tenancy contracts were standardised in 2017. These are all positive steps forward in terms of tenant protection. Other legislation that legally distinguishes between residential and commercial property leashes is being discussed.

Regulating The Industry

Dubai’s real estate industry was very young prior to the crash, and this has meant regulating it from scratch. When you compare this to the UK’s property industry, which has had centuries to develop and refine legislation, you can see how challenging this is.

The city’s property market is evolving fast and the efforts of RERA and the Dubai Land Department (DLD) are really paying off.

Improving Market Transparency

‘Form A’ has been implanted to help with Dubai’s transparency problem. This is the standard contract mentioned above between broker and seller. The DLD is also planning to provide more up to date information to the market, which will help the drive towards transparency.

Restoring Investor Confidence

The main challenge after the crash of 2008 has been to restore investor confidence in Dubai’s property market. The city has introduced measures to make sure the market cannot overheat in the same way, and these have proven successful so far.

All the steps taken since 2008 have led to a solid foundation for the industry and should help to take the city to the next level over the next decade.

Market Maturity

Dubai’s real estate market in 2018 is much less speculative than it used to be. Investors are making measured decisions through the analysis of annual returns, and there is an increase of end-user demand. There are fewer speculative investors which has led to a more stable market, which means it’s a more attractive market.

The Youth Effect

Over recent years, younger people have settled in Dubai for the long term, meaning that more young people are prepared to invest in property. This is positive for the future of the market, and the city’s economy as a whole.

Future plans including the focus on tourism, developments and infrastructure in the lead up to Expo 2020, will continue to drive demand in the city for property. Despite the slight decrease in rental yields over the last few years, Dubai’s real estate market is widely thought to be one of the most reliable, attractive and sustainable markets in the world.