Property: Tenancy and Landlord rights in Dubai according to RERA

17 Oct 2017

Your tenancy contract is one of the most important documents to consider while residing in Dubai, and knowing your tenancy rights and obligations are key to ensuring that you have a mutually respectful relationship with your landlord.

The most important thing for both parties to remember is that where a tenancy contract is valid, it may not be unilaterally terminated during its term by the landlord or the tenant. It can only be terminated by mutual consent or in accordance with the provisions of this law

Tenant’s rights

  1. The landlord should not give you a home that is in a bad condition. They are bound by law, to hand over the property in good condition, which allows the tenant full use as stated in the contract.
  2. The landlord should not make you responsible for maintenance. As per the law and during the term of the contract, the landlord should be responsible for the property’s maintenance works and for repairing any defect or damage that may affect the tenant’s intended use of the property.
  3. The landlord may not make any changes to the property or any of its amenities or annexes that would prevent the tenant from full use of the property as intended.
  4. The landlord must provide the tenant with the approvals required to be submitted to the competent official entities in the Emirate whenever and if the tenant wishes to carry out decoration works or any other works that require such approvals, provided that this does not affect the structure of the property and that the tenant has the official documents requesting such approvals.
  5. The landlord cannot threaten to withhold security deposit. If this happens, the tenant can complain to the rent dispute committee which will take a final decision
  6. The landlord is prohibited from disconnecting services to the property or preventing the tenant from benefiting from the property without notice. In the event of occurrence of such incidents, the tenant shall refer to police station in the same area to prove the case or to stop such prevention, and also file a case before the Rent Dispute Committee, enclosing supporting reports, for compensation of any damages.
  7. Rent increase for contract renewal is only allowed as per the RERA rental brackets as seen on the RERA website for different areas and types of properties.

Tenant’s obligations

  1. The tenant must pay agreed-upon rent on due dates and maintain the property in such a manner as any ordinary individuals would maintain their own property.
  2. The tenant cannot make changes to the property without getting permission from the landlord, and subsequently getting approval from competent authorities.
  3. The tenant may be required to pay a security deposit which the landlord agrees to return or refund upon mutually agreed termination or expiry of tenancy.
  4. Upon the expiry of the tenancy contract, the tenant must surrender possession of the property to the landlord in the same condition in which he or she received it at the time of entering into the contract, except for ordinary wear and tear, or for damage due to reasons beyond the tenant’s control.
  5. Unless stated otherwise in the contract, the tenant must pay all fees and taxes due to government authorities for use of the property as well as any fees or taxes prescribed for any sub-lease.
  6. Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, upon vacating and surrendering possession of the property, the tenant may not remove any leasehold improvements made by the tenant.
  7. Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, the tenant may not assign the use of or sub-lease the property to third parties without the written consent of the landlord.

Glossary:

Landlord: The person who owns the home and rents it out

Tenant: The person who enters into a contract to rent the home owned by the landlord

Tenancy Contract: The contract between the tenant and the landlord that details the information of the rental agreement, including rent, payment schedules, inclusions and other details.

 

DAMAC’s Just Cavalli Villas in Record Sell-Out

17 Oct 2017

Damac Properties, a leading luxury real estate developer in the region, has announced the complete sell-out of all units in Phase One of Just Cavalli villas at its golf development, Akoya Oxygen, in Dubai.

Just Cavalli villas were borne out of a recent collaboration between Damac Properties and the Roberto Cavalli Group to launch the world’s first villas to feature interiors with the “Just Cavalli” signature-style, said a statement from the developer.

Located in one of Dubai’s most prestigious golf communities, the luxury villas perfectly embody the designer’s bold and iconic styling and ethos, with exotic and innovative interiors complemented by daring exteriors.

To cater to the strong investor interest, Damac Properties has announced the release of additional units for sale, it stated.

Priced from Dh1.3 million ($353,867) with an easy payment plan over three years, the latest collection of Just Cavalli villas will go on sale on October 21, across all of Damac’s sales offices in Dubai from 10am till 10pm, said the Dubai developer in its statement.

For a limited period only, Damac Properties has made it even more attractive for customers by waiving 50 per cent of the DLD registration fees, with customers set to save Dh26,000 or more, depending on the unit they choose, it added.

Niall McLoughlin, the senior vice-president of Damac Properties, said: “Our unique Just Cavalli product has been a tremendous success, drawing interest from investors and end-users who appreciate the novelty of bespoke products and premium location within a golf community, recognising great value for such properties.”

“Due to popular demand, we are pleased to release new units for those customers who missed the opportunity the first time,” he stated.

Just Cavalli villas are available in a variety of configurations and sizes including three-bedroom options that offer additional choice with rooftop terraces and unique lower ground floors that provide additional recreational or utility space for the family.

A standalone six-bedroom option is also available for larger families who seek additional space. The villas feature separate living/dining area and kitchen and have access to the community’s Just Cavalli gym equipped with modern equipment, kids play area, multi court, barbeque area and outdoor cinema.

“The success of the first phase demonstrates the commitment of Damac to deliver dream homes and unparalleled lifestyles. As the pioneer in the branded real estate space in Dubai, we are proud of the associations we have forged with prestigious global brands to bring aspirational living concepts to customers who seek it,” remarked McLoughlin.

“Not only do they offer a unique and iconic style, Just Cavalli villas also present great value for money and are priced competitively for properties that have signature elements and touches from a major fashion house,” he added.

Set within Akoya Oxygen, these villas will also have access to the many amenities on offer in the master development including nature-inspired facilities, gourmet fare, retail boutiques, its own rainforest and an 18-hole international golf club.

Dubai rents at 3-year low: Time to move to a bigger house?

16 Oct 2017

Average rentals in Dubai continued to decline in the third quarter of the year, with average rents for a studio apartment falling to below Dh50,000 for the first time in three years, fresh data shows.

According to property consultancy CBRE’s MarketView report for the third quarter of 2017, Dubai’s average rentals have declined by 1.5 per cent from the previous quarter even as there were some notable variations in performances at a sub-market level.

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MarketView data shows that average prices for a one-bedroom unit in Dubai are now below Dh70,000, a two-bedroom unit will set you back by less than Dh100,000 while an average three-bedroom now goes for under Dh140,000, all at a three-year low.

A quick scan of PropertyFinder.ae data by Khaleej Times shows that studios in Dubai can be rented for as low as Dh25,000 per year or Dh2,084 per month.

Several studio apartments in Dubai’s International City area being offered for rent for less than Dh30,000 per annum (Dh2,500 per month).

One-bedroom apartments, on the other hand, start at Dh36,000 per annum (Dh3,000 per month) in Dubai’s Barsha South and Al Nahda areas, with some landlords even offering to pay the monthly utility bill as incentives for prospective tenants.

Rentals for two-bedroom apartments in Dubai start at Dh42,000 per annum (Dh3,500 per month) in Muhaisnah and Dh46,000 per year (Dh3,834 per month) in Al Nahda area.

Low rents, however, are not a deterrent for prospective investors as the number of transactions in Dubai’s residential markets is on an upswing.

According to CBRE, data from the Dubai Land Department shows that the total value of residential transactions increased by approximately 11 per cent in H1 over the same period last year, driven by growth in overall transaction numbers, which rose by close to 29 per cent.

However, average sales prices experienced a minor dip, falling by around 1 per cent. “The disparity between rising deal volumes and the performance of the leasing sector, demonstrates how investors appear to be taking a longer-term view on the residential market, looking beyond softening rentals and focusing on the availability of attractive prices and the increased flexibility of payment plans offered across both completed and off-plan projects,” said Mat Green, Head of Research & Consulting UAE, CBRE Middle East.

Future supply levels continue to grow, with an array of new projects announced during the quarter, including a new joint venture between Meydan and Sobha Group, ‘The Residences’ in Mohammed Bin Rashid City, Nakheel’s ‘Palm Residences’, and Wasl’s new flagship development ‘Wasl One’ located in Al Kifaf area.

Dubai home below Dh1 million? I will buy

17 Oct 2017

All the action in the Dubai property sector is transpiring in the under-Dh1 million price market. Not only does this signify an effort by developers to tap the mid-income market segment but also the willingness of banks to finance more end-users.

According to GCP Properties, in terms of expected supply that has been announced, 37 per cent is below the Dh1,000 per square foot while 45 per cent of the property transactions conducted since 2015 have been below the Dh1 million mark.

“This suggests that there has not only been a definitive shift in the part of developers to cater to this latent demand, this shift has also met with success as Dubai moves its focus to cater to the more mid-income segment of the demand curve,” says Hussain Alladin, head of research at GCP Properties.

In terms of new supply, a majority of off-plan units being launched is below Dh1 million, mostly apartments and townhouses.

Most off-plan transactions in this price range is concentrated in areas such as Dubai South, Al Furjan, Town Square, Jumeirah Village Circle, Jumeirah Village Triangle, MBR City, Akoya and Akoya Oxygen. Emaar, Dubai South, Azizi, Damac, Nshama and Danube are only some of the developers offering properties in this price point.

“The most popular off-plan transaction is a 1-bed in Dubai South with an average sale price of Dh583,000, followed very closely by a 2-bed in Dubai South with an average sale price of Dh860,000,” informs Lynnette Abad, partner and head of Property Monitor.

The sub-Dh1 million mark is mostly made up of studios and one bedrooms, and to this extent, there is supply in more upscale areas such as Dubai Marina, Business Bay and Meydan. It is only when you look at two bedrooms and above, does the number of communities shrink.

Meanwhile, if you are looking to buy a ready property on the secondary market below Dh1 million, consider communities such as Discovery Gardens, International City, Dubai Sports City, Silicon Oasis, IMPZ, Dubai Investments Park, Al Khail Heights, Jumeirah Village and areas in Dubailand that include Liwan, Majan, Arjan and Dubai Residential Complex.

“The average apartment sale in Discovery Gardens is Dh706,000 for a 1-bed and Dh494,000 for a studio,” adds Abad.

In areas such as Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Lakes Towers, there are a lot of ready units available below Dh1 million, according to Lewis Allsopp, CEO, Allsopp & Allsopp.

“There are also off-plan options on the Palm Jumeirah that you can buy for under Dh1 million as well as in Dubai Hills, Dubai Creek, Business Bay and JLT,” he adds.

However, anecdotal evidence suggests that it is still mostly investors who are picking up homes below Dh1 million.

“The biggest challenge to date is for an end-user to come up with a 25 per cent down payment. If developers can create a scheme which caters to this group, whether it’s through a rent-to-own option etc, they will capture a very large end-user market which has been yearning to purchase property in Dubai,” observes Abad.

Although end-users are buying properties where the developer offers attractive payment plans, activity is expected to pick up considerably once the properties are handed over and buyers can get banks to finance 75 per cent of the purchase.

“The challenge has always been for end users to obtain financing. Banks have become more willing to provide financing, and this is reflected in the mortgage statistics. Mortgage transactions have risen from 20 per cent of overall activity in 2012 to more than 55 per cent in 2017. Nonetheless, demand will be even higher should financing conditions ease further,” reckons Alladin.

Besides the down payment, end-users must also pay several processing fees during their property purchase.

“We’re talking approximately 32 per cent of the property value, once we consider bank fees also. It’s a lot of money for people to be able to save up

Affordable’ homes still out of bounds for end-users in Dubai

10 Oct 2017

Developers in Dubai are shifting their strategy to affordable housing. However, how much of the announced new supply is actually affordable to end-users in Dubai? Not much.

“Anecdotal evidence suggests a mismatch between affordable stock and the requirements of prospective home owners. While studio and one-bed units appeal to investors, end-user demand is for smaller two-bedroom units at similar entry prices,” according to a new report released by property consultancy Core Savills.

Lower-income occupiers remain hesitant to buy while investors drive demand for off-plan sales, particularly below the Dh1 million price point.

Sales transactions for ready units in the third quarter of 2017 increased modestly at seven per cent, but were overshadowed by the 62 per cent rise in off-plan sales when compared to Q3 2016. Even with this spike in off-plan transactions, the average unit value is 11 per cent lower than last year, reflecting the strategy shift that developers are resorting to by bringing lower entry products to the market while competing on prices.

“Instead of adjusting supply to demand, a few developers are taking the risky route of adjusting prices – by occasionally offsetting quality or shrinking their margins. This brings a significant amount of lower quality stock to the market which may find short-term investor take-up on the back of lucrative payment plans, sometimes aided by the high level of marketing spend. If sales and tenant demand for such products has been overestimated, this may not be sustainable in the long term,” warns David Godchaux, CEO Core Savills.

Burgeoning off-plan activity is also affecting the ready sales market. Individual landlords are trying to keep pace with the overhang of off-plan projects by reducing sales prices, as a result bringing the area average down. This presents opportunities for home buyers.

For instance, in Dubai Marina, due to increasing competition from off-plan apartment deliveries launched at higher entry points, many investors are opting for ready units at lower prices.

The weakest performing villa districts in terms of sales were Jumeirah Islands and Jumeirah Park, both dropping almost six per cent. A two per cent price increase was recorded in Emirates Hills while few large transactions of new or refurbished villas on the Palm Jumeirah have seen average prices in the area decline by 2.5 per cent, according to Core data.

Rental market

The consultancy claims there has been widespread rental contractions across districts in Dubai. As sales prices have not dropped at the same rate, yield compression has been witnessed across most areas and is expected to continue in 2018.

Godchaux explains: “Widespread falls in rents continue to force the market to adjust downwards – an effect that will persist as the next cycles of lease renewals inspire further rent reductions and relocations, particularly among tenants whose rents are yet to reflect the softening market. Although widespread, the magnitude of these drops will likely remain limited.”

According to the report, Dubai Marina and the Palm Jumeirah were the weakest performers, with rents dropping by 10 per cent year on year.

Supply

Core estimates that over 5,950 units were delivered in Q3 and forecasts that 17,800 units will be handed over for the whole year.

Godchaux concludes: “Although actual handovers may vary substantially from expected supply figures and even with stronger regulations in place, we remain very cautious about the possible risk of oversupply in the lower end of the market.”

Sentiment fuelled buoyancy fades in Dubai with property market correction forecast

16 Oct 2017

Dubai’s residential property market has slowed with a correction likely ahead as rents fell in the second quarter of 2017, sales were down to a six year low and vacancies are rising.

Phidar Advisory’s Dubai Real Estate Investment Demand Index (REIDI) increased by 32.6% compared to the first quarter of the year but the firm points out that while this might look positive, it is weak, in relative terms.

Indeed, the apparent improvement in the second quarter of the year is because the in the first quarter of 2017 the index recorded its lowest value since 2002 and the current value is on par with the average last seen in the first three months of 2015.

According to Jesse Downs, managing director of Phidar Advisory, short term gains were driven by exchange rate fluctuations and modest weakening of the US Dollar.

‘We estimate that the residential market is still over valued by around 15% to 20%. “False expectations of a 2017 recovery kept the market temporarily stable, but the fundamentals indicate another phase of correction is required before the market can recover,’ she pointed out.

‘The false start of early 2017 is over and the cracks are starting to show. Sale volumes of completed properties are at a six year low and vacancies are rising across the city,’ she said.

The report also shows that in August, quarterly lease rates declined another 1.1%, while sale prices decreased nominally by 0.2%, pushing yields down slightly to 7.34%, based on a three month moving average.

The consistent, albeit slower, rent declines indicate that sale prices need to adjust downward. The quantitative and qualitative analyses indicate rent declines will continue through 2017 and into 2018 as job growth remains low and new supply is handed over.

‘Rent declines slowed over the summer, but higher vacancies should push rents down faster in the coming real estate season. This is positive because the city will become more affordable for residents, which helps businesses by reducing employment costs. There is a fundamental shift in the demographics of Dubai and the real estate market has not yet adjusted to this new reality,’ added Downs.

Off-plan market transaction volumes remained steady due to developer subsidies in the form of post-handover payment plans. The report says that the result is a shadow financing market, which is creating an unhealthy divide between the primary and secondary markets.

‘Steady off-plan volumes are not an indicator of a healthy residential market. The post-handover payment plans artificially boost demand and will likely lead to overbuilding, compounding the problem in the years to come,’ Downs concluded.

Dubai welcomes over 9m visitors in first seven months

17 Oct 2017

Dubai’s visitor numbers have continued to rise at an impressive rate, recording a total of 9.2 million during the first seven months of 2017, a 7 per cent increase on the 8.4 million travellers received in the same period in 2016, according to a report by the global real estate consultancy CBRE.

This was driven by substantial increases in tourist arrivals from Russia (96 per cent), China (53 per cent), Iran (23 per cent) India (21 per cent) and Jordan (21 per cent). However, declines were noted for some regional markets, including Oman (down 27 per cent) and Saudi Arabia (down 2 per cent), which reflected the ongoing challenges in the Middle East economy at this time.

India remains the emirate’s top international source market, with close to 1.2 million visitors recorded during the first seven months of 2017. This was followed by Saudi Arabia with 904,000 visitors, the UK with 712,000, Oman with 506,000 abd China with 466,000.

Whilst there has been some pressure on hotel revenues, demand levels have actually remained quite robust, with occupancy rates reaching 75.4 per cent for year-to-date August figures, representing a 0.4 per cent increase from the same period in 2016, as per figures from STR.

Around 28,000 hotel keys and 7,500 hotel apartment keys could be delivered by the end of 2019 alone. The sizeable additional room supply will help to keep affordability levels in check, which is important as the emirate tries to reach 20 million visitors by 2020.

If all developments under construction or in the later stages of planning become operational as per current timelines, Dubai could become the fifth largest hospitality (by supply) globally by 2020, according to STR.

Average daily rates (ADR) remain under pressure, making the emirate a more competitive market for international visitors. This trend is being driven by the heightened price competition between the properties during the lower summer season. ADR’s reached Dh668 ($181.8) per room/per night for year-to-date August, versus Dh695 ($189.1) per room/per night for year-to-date 2016, representing a change of 3.9 per cent year-on-year.

Limiting price competition by increasing communication between the properties, as well as offering packages during the low season instead of only competing on rates, are some of the initiatives that have been put forward by the hospitality industry to enable Dubai to continue its positive evolution as one of the world’s key tourism market.

Revealed: Top nationalities looking to buy Dubai properties

16 Oct 2017

Dubai: Wealthy foreign investors have been pouring billions of dirhams into Dubai’s real estate, snapping up apartments that can be rented out for profit or held as investments, and it looks like the trend will continue.

Residents from overseas markets, particularly from India, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, United States and Pakistan are currently the top potential buyers of properties in Dubai. These likely investors are either on the lookout for units in more mature areas or in recently launched, up-and-coming communities.

These are the latest trends revealed by real estate platform dubizzle, which has tracked the activity of foreign users on its site. It found that residents from India, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, United States and Pakistan are currently shopping for a new piece of property to buy in Dubai.

As of the month of August, Indians topped the list of most eager buyers, representing 19 per cent of the searches for property for sale, followed by Saudis (16 per cent), Brits (15 per cent), Americans (13 per cent) and Pakistanis (10 per cent).

Properties in Dubai continue to gain growing interest from buyers, both locally and abroad. In August alone, some Dh2.7 billion worth of homes were snapped up in Dubai, with nearly half of them (40 per cent) located in Dubai Marina and Downtown Dubai.

According to a JLL report, the total value of transactions of existing residential properties increased over 2017, with sales year-to-date in August exceeding Dh13.7 billion, up 28 per cent year-on-year.

buyers-chart

Search data also showed that potential buyers from other countries, such as Ireland, Egypt and Jordan are showing interest to invest in the local property market, with around 8 per cent, 6 per cent and 3 per cent of the visits, respectively. Interested buyers from Kuwait registered around 2.4 per cent of visits, followed by Germany.

There’s also been a notable interest from residents in the UAE and a review of local searches for property for sale showed that UAE nationals, Lebanese and Chinese are looking to buy as well.

The trend coincides with the data supplied by the Dubai Land Department, which recently reported that buyers from India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, UK, Egypt, Jordan, China, Lebanon and US had ploughed Dh151 billion into Dubai realty over an 18-month period.

While UAE nationals emerged as the biggest spenders, with Dh37.4 billion worth of investments, Indian and Pakistani nationals spent more than Dh27 billion in Dubai real estate, while those from Saudi Arabia snapped up properties worth Dh12 billion. Buyers from Jordan and Egypt also spent at least Dh4 billion.

Handover of Dubai’s $350m Onyx complete, says developer

11 Oct 2017

Ishraqah, the company behind the $350 million The Onyx project fronting Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai, has announced the completion of the project’s handover.

The Onyx consists commercial and residential towers along with a four-star hotel, and three podium levels of commercial and food and beverage outlets.

Ishraqah said the mixed-use development has witnessed a surge in demand, with most residential units sold out and many of them already occupied. The offices and commercial space are also in high demand, the developer added.

Ishraqah was established as a strategic alliance between Al Zahran Group and Bin Mahfouz Group, two business groups in the GCC, in 2006 to pursue opportunities in the regional and international property markets.

Ishraqah and its sister companies currently manage a portfolio of real estate developments and investment of over AED5 billion in the US, UAE and Saudi Arabia, with offices in Dubai, Riyadh and Jeddah.

The development will soon host leading brands including Al Maya Supermarket, French Bakery, Costa Coffee, MMI, Papa John’s and 1004 Mart. Many other retail and F&B majors are also expected to open at The Onyx, Ishraqah said.

Sheikh Bader G Al Zahrani, chairman of Ishraqah said: “We are happy to announce the completion and handover of The Onyx… The Onyx was one of the most awaited developments and we are very proud of the way it has turned out.

“The UAE is constantly seeing a surge in demand for state-of-the-art commercial and residential projects and we provide just that with The Onyx.

“The Onyx also has a four-star hotel which will add a great charm to the already stylish development,” he added.

Some Dubai office projects could be delayed, scaled back – JLL

12 Oct 2017

Some commercial property project planned for Dubai may be delayed or scaled back owing to volatile global markets and geopolitical conditions, according to a new report.

JLL’s Q3 2017 Dubai Real Estate Market Overview report said growth plans of corporates in the emirate face “some risk” despite another 35,000 sq m of office space being added during the third quarter of 2017.

“JLL believes there is some risk with the materialisation of certain projects owing to volatile global markets and geopolitical conditions, which may result in corporates delaying or scaling back future growth plans,” the consultancy said in the report.

It added that another trend noticed recently is the increase in sublease space in Dubai, with tenants seeking to sublease surplus space resulting from previous more ambitious expansion plans.

JLL said office rents have softened across Grade A quality buildings.
It added that favourable renewal terms are being presented to retain tenants throughout the central business district, in the face of increased competition from the next generation of ‘best in class’ projects such as ICD Brookfield Place.

“We believe these soft market conditions will continue into Q4, as landlords compete for fewer requirements, particularly when coupled with the considerable new supply that is coming on line in projects such as One Central,” the report noted.

JLL said office vacancies within the central business district have remained largely stable over the past quarter at around 8 percent.

Dubai among world’s most powerful cities for talent, business

15 Oct 2017

Dubia: Dubai has been ranked for the first time among the world’s most powerful cities for attracting expatriates and businesses.

In the latest Global Power City Index, which rates nearly 50 cities according to their “magnetism” or power to attract enterprises and human capital from around the world, Dubai was ranked the most powerful city in the Middle East and 23rd place globally, ahead of some popular destinations in the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia.

The annual index was first published in 2008 by the Mori Memorial Foundation’s Institute for Urban Strategies, a research body established by urban developer Mori Building.

It ranks major metropolises in the fields of economy, livability, research and development, cultural interaction, environment and accessibility.

To be considered a top city to live in, the cities included in the study were rated on the basis of working environment, cost of living and well-being of residents, among others.

London took the crown as the most powerful city, followed by New York, Tokyo, Paris and Singapore in the top five.

Livability, economy

Dubai was ranked ahead of Washington DC, Vancouver, Geneva, Madrid, Boston, Barcelona, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok.

The city earned the highest score in terms of livability and significant votes for economy.

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However, Dubai scored lowest in environment, which takes into account air quality, natural environment and ecology; as well as in research and development.

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The annual ranking is considered an important benchmark for investors and individuals looking to pursue opportunities abroad, especially since people today are not just on the lookout for destinations with strong economies, but also offer great lifestyles.

Attracting global players

“Global players today are seeking cities not just with a strong business environment, but those additionally offering improved lifestyles: high quality residences, diverse cultural and retail facilities, a stress-free transportation network and rich natural environment,” said Shingo Tsuji, director of the Mori Memorial Foundation and CEO of Mori Building.

“For global cities to thrive, they need to bolster their overall magnetic power: this will help them attract talent and investment from around the world.”

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Benghatti completes 5 projects Dh1b ahead of schedule

15 Oct 2017

Dubai-based property developer Benghatti on Sunday said it delivered 5 projects worth Dh1 billion ahead of schedule in the UAE.

The company said in a statement that its projects range from residential to industrial, including Benghatti Views, Benghatti Horizon, a factory in Dubai Silicon Oasis, Benghatti Court at the Jumeirah Village Circle, as well as the main building of the juice and food factory in Abu Dhabi, which accounts half of the total investments value of Dh500 million.

“We are constantly looking at the best investment opportunities in the local market in Dubai, as our future objectives do not stop at certain limits. We will continue to strive to develop and implement the best practices in all our projects in terms of engineering, designs, quality of finishes, distinguished locations,” said Mohammed Benghatti, CEO, Benghatti Developer.

Benghatti pointed out that the company has started to implement its future plan until 2020. Its portfolio includes 17 new projects in different parts of Dubai. These new projects are distributed among five vital investment areas in the Emirate, namely, Silicon Valley, Business Bay, Al Jaddaf, Dubai Land Residence and Liwan.

The developer, which has 30 projects currently under developments in various locations in Dubai – a is also considering acquiring more development land plots in the same areas to strengthen its land bank, which currently stands at 2 million square feet.

These 30 buildings will add 6,000 housing units and retail spaces to the local market, at a rate of 1,500 to 2,000 units per year.

Mohammed Benghatti stressed that Dubai real estate market has all the fundamentals and bases to keep abreast of all developments in different circumstances and times. “We are always optimistic about the future of this sector during the coming years. There are huge opportunities with high returns on investment. They are feasible and logical”, he added.

Benghatti has recently launched its latest real estate project, Benghatti Stars, with a total investment of Dh250 million.

Dubai Holding says ‘re-evaluating’ $20bn Jumeirah Central

15 Oct 2017

Dubai Holding’s planned $20 billion mixed-use scheme, Jumeirah Central, is being sidelined while the developer works on other projects, it announced on Sunday.

The Dubai real estate developer said in a statement it was “re-evaluating” plans for the huge new neighbourhood unveiled at the Cityscape conference last September, in favour of schemes that would be ready in time for Expo 2020 Dubai.

As part of this, the Dubai Holding executive Morgan Parker – who was recruited as chief operating officer to lead the project’s delivery – has resigned and is expected to leave the company by the end of this year.

Parker said in March that Jumeirah Central was attracting “significant interest” from international investors looking to enter Dubai’s property market.

Jumeirah Central was planned to be built on a 47 million square foot site opposite Mall of the Emirates in prime central Dubai, on land originally earmarked for the stalled Mall of the World project.

The scheme was to comprise 278 buildings, including 2,800 hotel rooms and 3,000 apartments, 9 million sq ft of retail and office space, 40 new entertaiment attractions, 33 parks and more than 44,000 car parking spaces.

But Dubai Holding said that, while the project was not on hold, it was being pushed back in favour of other projects that would be ready in time for Expo 2020 Dubai.

One such project is its $1.7 billion Marsa Al Arab mega-project, an island-based scheme next to the Burj Al Arab intended to boost tourism to the emirate.

A Dubai Holding spokesperson said: “Dubai Holding is prioritising projects that will be ready for Expo 2020 Dubai and those that will help draw tourists to the emirate. As a result, we are currently focusing our resources on projects such as Marsa Al Arab.

“We are still committed to Jumeirah Central but the project is currently being revaluated to meet expected future market demand.

“This decision has resulted in an organisational restructuring that will see Morgan Parker stepping down from his role by the end of this year.”

Parker joined Dubai Holding in 2015 from Rockefeller-owned private equity firm Rose Rock, where he served as CEO.

It is understood that Dubai Holding will still work on plans for Jumeirah Central internally, and the scheme’s components could be revised.

Dubai’s residential development robust but dangers lurk

14 Oct 2017

The supply of residential units in Dubai continued to increase over the quarter, according to Jones Lang LaSalle’s (JLL) Q3 2017 Dubai Real Estate Market Overview report.

JLL data has revealed there are currently more than 480 units in the residential segment, with up to 80,ooo units which could be delivered before the end of 2019. A number of developers launched mew mega residential projects at Cityscape Global in Dubai during September with large-scale developers such as Nakheel and Deyaar announcing projects worth AED3.2 billion and AED1bn respectively.

“This renewed sentiment does however raise the prospect of a potential over supply on the back of sales achieved through more attractive payment terms,” said Craig Plumb, Head of Research, MENA, JLL.

Office

Accessibility will remain a key differentiator in the office sector. The experience of other global cities (eg: New York, London and Singapore) emphasises that accessibility to the transport network is a key factor in determining the attraction of different sub markets. The same applies to Dubai, with the preferred office locations benefiting from access to the metro network.

Connectivity is a key factor in the emergence of new commercial districts and will dictate the timing with which Dubai South will mature from its present focus as a middle-income residential market to a new commercial district, as envisaged in the newly announced plans for District 2020.

The road and metro links required to support this precinct are currently underway and the continued expansion of Al Maktoum airport, will further enhance the future attraction of District 2020 to office occupiers.

The third quarter saw the delivery of approximately 35,000sqm of office gross leasing area (GLA) across Dubai, with the largest completion being The Offices 3 tower in DTCD.

“There is some risk with the materialisation of certain projects owing to volatile global markets and geopolitical conditions, which may result in corporates delaying or scaling back future growth plans. Another trend noticed recently is the increase in sublease space in Dubai, with tenants seeking to sublease surplus space resulting from previous more ambitious expansion plans,” JLL believes.

Office rents have softened across Grade A quality buildings. Favourable renewal terms are being presented to retain tenants throughout the CBD, in the face of increased competition from the next generation of ‘best in class’ projects such as ICD Brookfield Place, which is attracting a lot of attention. We believe these soft market conditions will continue into Q4, as landlords compete for fewer requirements, particularly when coupled with the considerable new supply that is coming on line in projects such as One Central. Office vacancies within the CBD have remained largely stable over the past quarter at around 8 per cent.

Residential

The majority of completions during the third quarter were apartments (with a further 3,300 units delivered). Villas and townhouses contributed 660 and 75 units respectively. The largest completions were Duja Tower in Trade Centre First, adding 679 units and The Polo Residence in Meydan with 598 units. District 1 and Lila in Arabian Ranches 2 contributed 267 and 219 units respectively.

According to Business News for Construction, construction activity across Dubai will increase still further over the next 2 years, with approximately AED350bn worth of contracts likely to be awarded prior to Expo 2020. Developers in Dubai have been particularly active in the residential sector with JLL data suggesting up to 80,000 units could be delivered before the end of 2019.

Sale prices for both villas and apartments remained largely stable over the quarter, while rents continued their low single-digit declines. Anecdotal evidence suggests that numerous residential buildings (even within the prime areas such as Downtown and Marina) are seeing increased vacancies, and as such, tenants have been able to renegotiate their rents downwards by an average of 5 per cent-7 per cent.

The total value of transactions of existing residential properties (excluding land) has also increased over 2017, with sales in the year to August exceeding AED3.7bn, up by 28 per cent from the AED10.7bn recorded in the YT August 2016.

“This is supported by continued strong investor demand from countries like India and Pakistan,” said JLL.

A total of AED2.7bn of sales of existing residential units was recorded in the month of August alone, with 20 per cent of this total occurring in Dubai Marina and a similar total in the Business Bay / Burj Khalifa area.

Hotel

A further 1,800 keys were added to the market in Q3, bringing the total stock of quality hotel rooms in Dubai to almost 82,200 keys. Notable completions include the Rixos JBR (414 keys), and DoubleTree by Hilton (238 keys) located in Bay Square, Business Bay. Another trend in the market is the refurbishment of existing rooms, for example the renovation of the Atlantis (Palm Jumeirah), where 1,539 keys were released back into the market this quarter. Despite the recent push towards mid-scale hotels, the supply remains primarily focused on 4 and 5 star properties.

A potential 4,100 keys could enter the market over the last quarter of the year. Several properties are nearing completion in Business Bay including the Renaissance Dubai Downtown by Marriott (312 keys), and Bay Central by Central Hotels (284 keys).

Hotel performance remains under pressure, with the YT August RevPAR (AED 503) being the lowest level seen in the last decade. Occupancies on that other hand have hovered at a healthy 75 per cent since the beginning of the year.

“The decrease in the Dubai hospitality market performance is perceived as an adjustment of the market rather than an indication of distress. The outlook for Dubai remains positive, especially as the city continues to invest heavily in tourism infrastructure and diversify towards new source markets such as South East Asia”, said JLL.

Dubai has seen a 55 per cent growth in arrivals from China, following the relaxation of visa regulations at the end of 2016.

Qatar deflation deepens as real estate market weakens

14 Oct 2017

Qatar’s consumer price deflation deepened in September as a downturn in the real estate market deepened because of economic sanctions imposed by other Arab states, official data showed on Saturday.

Consumer prices fell 0.5 percent from a year earlier last month, after a 0.4 percent drop in August that was the first fall since at least early 2015, when the current data series began.

Housing and utility prices sank 4.7 percent from a year ago in September, their biggest drop for at least several years, and fell 0.7 percent from the previous month. In August, prices had slipped 4.0 percent from a year earlier.

Housing prices were already in a downtrend before June, when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism.

But the sanctions have contributed to the slide by hurting investor sentiment, stifling demand among nationals from other Gulf states, and tightening liquidity in the banking system.

Food and beverage prices rose 3.6 percent from a year earlier in September.

What does VAT mean for the UAE’s property seekers?

14 Oct 2017

Everyone with a roof over their head wants to know how the revised VAT law will impact property sales in the UAE.

Since Propertyfinder Group relies on our data and prior performance to provide market insight, even we are thinking, prepare as much as you can, but then we will have to “wait and see”.

It is possible, however, to make some inferences for how a brand-new tax will affect sales. Based on what’s exempt, the five per cent value-added tax on property transactions is expected to impact only large-scale investors and those buying and renting commercial properties in the UAE.

Meanwhile, residential deals, including rentals, will remain tax exempt, and therefore should not be affected.

That’s good news for home-buyers. All residential housing, both for first-time buying and for buy-to-rent, will be subject to VAT at zero per cent.

Residential renters will escape taxation because residential leases are exempt from VAT, and therefore they would not be allowed to add VAT to rent. But landlords may lose out on other expenses they incur with VAT, making rental prices vulnerable to an uptick.

From a developer’s standpoint, VAT will certainly impact the price of construction contracts, since goods and services related to construction are taxable. Since Dubai developers have been ramping up launches of their off-plan projects in the last six months, it’s imperative that they lock down processes so they are prepared to recoup potential losses under the new tax system.

As the sale and purchase of newly constructed real estate is likely to be zero rated (that is, reported on a tax return but taxed at a zero per cent rate), investors in residential property will not be required to pay VAT to the developer or a subsequent seller.

However, investors are likely to have to pay VAT to providers of leasing or management services relating to the property and will not be entitled to recover this VAT. Therefore, large-scale investors and developers are likely to feel a pinch. In addition, developers’ documentation should be sure to clarify that VAT will be payable by investors otherwise they’ll be on the hook. Commercial tenants will be required to pay VAT. For most commercial tenants, this will not be a material issue as they will be able to offset this VAT against VAT that they are collecting on their supplies used for construction.

The initial, first sale of new homes will be taxed at a rate of zero per cent. This means property developers will be able to claim back any VAT they had to pay from the government. Residential tenants’ leases will be exempt from VAT, but commercial tenants – those in offices, shops, etc – can expect to pay VAT at the standard rate of five per cent. Also, sales of commercial property will be subject to VAT at the standard rate of five per cent.

In addition, commercial developers and property buyers may want to consider the one-off costs of setting up shop as a taxpayer. This may include new software and staff training to ensure compliance and reduce the risk of penalties from a VAT audit.

The exciting news for everyone in the UAE is that VAT could generate Dh12 billion in its first year and Dh20 billion in its second year, according to Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, UAE Minister of Economy. This may be reinvested in domestic infrastructure projects that draws more people to the UAE and attracts more end users to the real estate market.

Are you a retired expat? Here’s how you can continue living in UAE

14 Oct 2017

I have been living in the UAE for the past 42 years and will retire from my banking job in November after I turn 60. I bought a property in Dubai Lagoon in 2007 as it was known then that I will be provided with a visa for owning a property in Dubai, a rule which was changed later.

Is there any rule to provide visa for a senior resident who has been staying in the country for 43 years? Can you give some suggestions to continue living here with my family?

Pursuant to the first part of your question, it may be noted that upon cancellation of your employment visa, you will have a grace period of 30 days to exit the country. And, in order to continue to reside in the country, your visa will have to be sponsored by a legal entity, as a partner if you become a partner in any legal entity incorporated in the UAE. Apart from this there are no specific rules of either the Federal Government of UAE or the Government of Dubai, by which a senior resident may be provided with a visa to reside in the UAE.

You have mentioned that you had purchased a property in Dubai Lagoon. Pursuant to this it may be noted that you still may explore the possibility of obtaining a property related residence visa upon its completion, subject to the regulations of the General Directorate of the Residency and Foreigners Affairs.

Alternatively, you may consider establishing or incorporating a corporate entity in the UAE. Pursuant to the same, the entity may sponsor visas for you and your family members. In view of this, you may either consider to incorporate a limited liability company or a professional licence. Otherwise you may also consider incorporating a company in any of the free zones in the UAE.

Ban can be lifted

I have been working as business analyst with an entity in Dubai drawing a monthly salary of Dh10,000 for the last four months. My employment contract is of limited duration and the company does not belong to free-zone. I hold a post-graduate diploma equivalent to Master of Business Administration. Will I be banned if I switch over to a new company before completing my employment contract? How can I avoid the ban?

Pursuant to your question, it may be noted that an employment ban may get imposed on an employee who may terminate his employment with his employer and thereafter seek to take up employment with another mainland entity, before the completion of the employment contract period with his first employer. During the pendency of the labour ban, a new work permit may not be issued to the employee by the Ministry of Labour of UAE for a period of up to six months.

Since you are working under a limited period contract, it may be noted that should you try to take up another employment before the completion of two years of continuous service or before the completion of your employment contract, a labour ban may be imposed on you.

However, it may be noted that if a labour ban gets imposed on an individual, the same may also be lifted in accordance with the provisions of Ministerial Order No. 1186 of 2010 on “Rules and Conditions of Granting a New Work Permit to an Employee after Termination of the Work Relationship in Order to Move from One Establishment to Another” (the “Ministerial Order”).

In view of the provisions of the Ministerial Order, it may be noted that after the completion of two years of continuous service, an employee may not have to face an employment ban in accordance with Article 2 of the Ministerial Order, which states:

“The following two conditions must be met in order to grant the work permit mentioned in Article (1) of this resolution:

1. Agreement between the employee and the employer to conclude the work relationship.

2. The employee must have spent at least two years with the employer.”

Pursuant to the foregoing, if you may secure a no-objection letter from your current employer, no employment ban should be imposed on you.

Further, it may also be noted that employment bans are not imposed, if after termination of an existing employment contract, one is subsequently offered a salary prescribed for one’s professional qualifications. Since you are holding a post-graduate qualification equivalent to the degree of ‘Masters of Business Administration’, the minimum salary that should be offered by your new employer must be at least Dh12,000, so as to lift the employment ban, should it be imposed on you.

Further, it may be noted that employment ban issued by the Ministry of Labour may not be applicable for entities established and operating in free zones of UAE. Also it may be noted that individuals holding certain professional qualifications may not be imposed an employment ban. This is in accordance with the provisions of Article 2 of the “Ministerial Order No (13) of 1991 Resolution: The organisation of the transfer of sponsorships of non-national labours the rules governing same” which states as follows:

“Non-national labourers may be allowed to transfer one job to another and hence the transfer of their sponsorship if they fall under the following categories:

(a) Engineers

(b) Doctors, pharmacists, nurses (male and female)

(c) Agricultural guides

(d) Qualified accountants and account auditors

(e) Qualified administrative officials

(f) Technician operating on electronic equipment and laboratories

(g) Drivers who are licensed to drive heavy vehicles and buses

(in case of transfer of sponsorship from a private firm to another or from a private firm to another or to a government department).”

Among the other professions mentioned above, you may take note of ‘qualified administrative officials’. And pursuant to the same, you may contact the Ministry of Labour, and enquire if your professional and academic qualifications would qualify you as a qualified administrative official. And based on this, you may also enquire if this would suffice to have a labour ban lifted in the event a labour ban is imposed on you.

Checking the pulse of the Dubai real estate market

14 Oct 2017

It would be fair to say that this year’s Cityscape Global, the Gulf region’s largest real estate show, approached amid a mixed forecast.

On the one hand, developers had some reason for optimism. First half figures from Dubai Land Department showed a 16.8 per cent increase in the total value of real estate transactions conducted during the first half of 2017 compared to the same period last year. On the other hand there was the continued pressure on the market highlighted by real estate consultancy firms.

In a second quarter report released days before the conference, Cluttons said residential values in Dubai were down 1.5 per cent in the second quarter and 5.8 per cent year-on-year, marking the 12th consecutive quarter of price declines.

Elsewhere, an annual sentiment survey by Core Savills revealed that only 34 per cent of respondents believed the Dubai property market had shown signs of recovery compared to 50 per cent last year.

Despite this apparent negative outlook there was some degree of optimism among developers, even if Dubai’s biggest name – Emaar Properties – had decided to abandon the conference entirely in favour of digital channels.

Even before the event started, Nakheel announced Dhs4bn ($1.08bn) of projects ranging from the 2,500-apartment Jenan Heights community in Discovery Gardens to a new mall, the 250-unit Palm Beach Residences, 170 villas in Jumeirah Park and a 252-room hotel in Jumeirah Village Circle.

And the launches only continued in the build-up to the show.

The authority behind Dubai Expo 2020 unveiled plans for a district utilising the event site featuring 65,000 square metres of residential space, 10km of bike paths, 44,900 square metres of parkland and 135,000sqm of office space. This was followed by Dubai-based real estate joint venture RKM Durar Properties’ unveiling of the pearl-inspired Dhs650m ($176.9m) J One towers development, and announcements only seemed to get more extravagant as the show entered its first day.

Among the largest was unveiled by Union Properties, which announced a new Dhs8bn ($2.18bn) master plan for MotorCity and a development and construction deal with China State Construction Engineering Corporation.

Union Properties chairman Nasser Butti Omair bin Yousef told Gulf Business the intention was for the community to be a “fully smart city” that has everything including villas right next to the track of Dubai Autodrome.

“If you go to Melbourne, Australia, the most expensive mansions are around the track. “We have to take advantage, you’ll find it not relaxing to be beside the track but other people will love it,” he said.

Then there was of course the unveiling of what was claimed to be the world’s first underwater luxury vessel resort by property developer Kleindienst Group.

Valued at Dhs2.5bn ($680m), The Floating Venice will be located in The World islands, 4km offshore from Dubai and close to the company’s other Heart of Europe Project where it will handover the first three islands next year.

venice-aerial

Josef Kleindienst, CEO of the Kleindienst Group, told Gulf Business that the project was in part inspired by the success of the developer’s Floating Seahorse villas and 180 of the 414 units would be underwater.

He said the project had a “realistic chance” of being ready before in time for Expo 2020 but the company would need to engage boat builders to promply start work on the different sections to be put together on location.

“The Heart of Europe is big enough to stay as a standalone project independent of what neighbours are doing,” he said of the lack of progress by other
owners on the World Islands.

“Now we are already building a second project on the World Islands and if there is demand it will not be the last one.”

Off-plan dominates

Among the drivers of many of these new projects has been optimism in the off-plan segment, where attractive sales plans have driven interest.

“There is a bit of a disconnect between how the sales market performs and how the rental market performs,” says Mat Green, head of research and consulting at CBRE Middle East.

“There is a lot of off-plan property still being launched, there is still an appetite for investors for those types of properties. But again there are different mentalities. These kinds of investors, as opposed to up the risk curve, they’re looking for future growth within capital values.”

This interest was clearly on display at Cityscape where developers were allowed to make sales for UAE-based projects on the show floor for the first time in years.

Consultant firm Cavendish Maxwell estimated that there were 107 off-plan units sold on the first day of Cityscape this year from 36 last year thanks in part to attractive payment plans and low starting price points.

Several developers announced significant transactions during the show including Abu Dhabi’s Aldar, which generated Dhs400m ($108.8m) of sales for its Water’s Edge development and sold out the first phase at Cityscape.

Azizi Developments also sold out phase one of its Dhs12bn ($3.26bn) waterfront project Azizi Riviera and said 50 per cent of phase two was also snapped up by investors.

Azizi is an example of one of the newer kids on the block in the Dubai property market that are now competing for sales with the traditional players.

“We have seen a lot of supply of new off-plan products and we’ve seen also good momentum of sales happening. Now, the little bit of challenge or the thing we didn’t see before is having more and more players into the market and more and more supply,” Deyaar CEO Saeed Al Qatami told Gulf Business.

But the CEO insisted the major launches announced at the event, like the company’s Dhs1bn ($272.2m) South Bay tower in Business Bay, would continue so long as there was buyer interest.

“People are buying and believe me we will stop, you will see some of the deliveries stop, only if they don’t get sales. But as long sales are still going you’ll see new products coming up.”

Other developers too appeared to agree with this conclusion.

“Overall we are doing fine,” said Dubai Properties’ executive director for sales Marwan Al Kindi.

“The kids are back to school and people are also back to work and we are very optimistic for this quarter. This year is that chance for all the developers to bring the best and push the market up.”

With this said though, few are expecting a major upturn in conditions next year.

“I think things will stay at the same level, I don’t think it will lower more and I don’t think it will get worse or reduce,” says Deyaar’s Al Qatami.

CBRE’s Green also suggests sale prices are unlikely to show much sign of movement until wider economic conditions improve.

“Honestly, I don’t expect a lot of variation in sales performance over the next 12 months reflective of overall investor sentiment and the health of the regional economy. Any big major event like a sudden increase in oil prices or equivalent positive or negative outlook could obviously swing that.”

But one potential change on the horizon could be a shift back towards the secondary market from a current emphasis on off-plan sales.

motor-city-project

The Motorcity Project

Murray Strang, head of Cluttons Dubai, suggested that even if the headline sales and rentals numbers are contracting there are positive signs ahead, with average apartment prices expected to end the year almost flat on 2016 compared to a 10 per cent decline for villas.

Of the 32 markets the company tracks in Dubai, 25 have seen no change in values in the first six months of the year. Some markets, like Jumeirah Islands and MotorCity are also only a few percentage points off of their previous highs in 2008 even if others like the Palm Jumeirah are still more than 30 per cent lower.

“There are positive signs that softening is reducing and we’re talking about a move back towards the secondary market from what has been a very strong off-plan sales market over the last two to three years,” Strang said.

Cluttons predicts the market will flatten out or see some growth next year but much will depend on expectations for Expo 2020 and whether it will match the hype built up in recent years.

Ahead of the mega event, developers and agents will have other factors to contend with including value added tax, which comes into effect on January 1, 2018.

Much of the impact is expected to be in the commercial segment, where the 5 per cent rate will be paid on all sales and leasing, and Strang believes net sales prices and rents “will need to come down” to match.

Less clear is the forecast for the residential market.

“It will not affect us,” said Union Properties’ Yousef of a potential increase in inflation. “It will not harm the market.”

But others argue there could be consequences for developers making off-plan sales, as they will be able to claim a rebate on construction costs only if they are able to sell the development three years after completion.

“If they fail to do so they can’t claim a rebate so you might see better payment plans coming through extended well into handover,” said Faisal Durrani, head of research at Cluttons.

“It’s a challenging market and convincing people to buy off-plan is difficult and so I expect we’ll see more focus on providing property perceived to be a bit more affordable and developers will have to do better due diligence to understand the market before bringing schemes through.”

Digital dilemma

Another change for developers moving forwards will be an increasing emphasis on digital processes and sales.

Dubai Land Department used this year’s conference to launch a multi-platform application that helps investors and developers track the progress of all real estate development projects in the emirate.

A number of panel sessions also focussed on the use cases for bitcoin database technology blockchain in real estate transactions. Not forgetting of
course Emaar’s absence from the conference altogether “as part of the strategy to move the complete marketing strategy on digital platforms”.

Although the developer does not appear to be encouraging a movement as of yet, with Dubai Properties’ Al Kindi insistent the firm remained committed to the event due to the “good sales, good numbers” it receives, others wondered what the impact would be for the market going forward.

“The way I see it is over time lets face it everything will be digital, everything is moving to binary code,” said Ann Boothelo, senior product marketing manager at listings site dubizzle.com.

“When something gets digitised it grows exponentially but the need for physical interaction will always be there. It just depends at what stage of the purchase process or rent process.”

These and other predictions will be tested as Cityscape returns next year.

 

Solar Cities

11 Oct 2017

Nestled along the waterfront in the Nordhavn neighbourhood of Denmark’s capital city sits a very special building. The Copenhagen International School is coated from top to toe with solar photovoltaic (PV) cells, making it one of the largest buildings of its kind anywhere in the world. Seamlessly integrated into the building’s 6,000 square metre glass facade, the cells produce around 300 megawatt hours per year of electricity, around half the school’s annual power demand. And this in a Northern European city not noted for its sunny climate.

Somewhat surprisingly, while the solar component was made in Switzerland, the 12,000 KromatixTM coloured glass panels used in the building’s construction were manufactured and supplied by Emirates Insolaire, a subsidiary of Dubai Investments in joint venture with SwissINSO Holding. And yet, even though a significant portion of this innovative technology is manufactured in Dubai, Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) has yet to be deployed on a single major project in the emirate despite the optimal solar considtions in this part of the world.

While Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) allows solar panels to be installed on building rooftops under its Shams Dubai initiative, authorities here have yet to finalise the regulations governing the use of BIPV technology. But with the Dubai government’s strong track record of backing sustainability initiatives, experts predict it is only a matter of time before it gets the green light. In fact a number of high profile projects announced over the past year have already been earmarked to pioneer BIPV technology in the region.

Anoop Babu is a BIPV solar expert with Intec, part of Germanybased GOPA -International Energy


“THIS IS GOING TO BE A VERY FAST MOVING INDUSTRY IN THE COMING YEARS”


Consultants. Anoop is also a local representative for the Association of Solar Architects (ASA), an advocacy group for the worldwide deployment of BIPV technology, who has been advising local authorities currently drafting a set of BIPV regulations.

Though DEWA is the main entity charged with forming the regulations, they must also meet requirements laid down by Dubai Municipality and Dubai Civil Defence (DCD).

Meanwhile, other parts of the world, mainly in North America and Europe, have been forging ahead with the deployment of BIPV, even in heavily congested urban environments like New York City. In Europe, by 2020 every building will be mandated to generate some energy of its own, with BIPV offering one obvious solution to that challenge.

IDEAL FOR THE MIDDLE EAST

You might assume that using BIPV technology would multiply the cost of a building facade by a factor of two or three but this is not the case, says Anoop. Integrating the cells into a building’s windows and facades adds around 30-40% to the cost and can pay for itself in as little as two to three years, depending on the electricity tariff system used.

“There’s a misconception that BIPV is more expensive than it really is,” says Anoop. “In the UAE if you go for a normal glass façade the EPC price would be around AED 1,500 – 2,000 per square metre. BIPV will cost around 2,000 – 3,000 per square metre so that’s an additional 30-40%. Many people still assume it is even more expensive, double or triple the cost.”

In some parts of the world, for example in North America, the Feed in Tariff (FiT) for BIPV is higher than for regular rooftop solar in order to encourage developers to roll out the technology. Anoop believes the authorities here should also consider offering incentives to help speed up deployment.

“Next year VAT is coming in and companies might start holding back on investing in solar,” he says. “Solar is exempt from VAT in some parts of the world so we’ve suggested to DEWA implementing a tax benefit that might


“THERE’S A MISCONCEPTION THAT BIPV IS MORE EXPENSIVE THAN IT REALLY IS”


encourage people to invest.”

Architects need to be involved in BIPV projects from the very start which is why using the technology is more practical for buildings at the design stage rather than a retrofitting job, Anoop says. In terms of maintenance BIPV is just like any other window or façade. However building owners opting for integrated PV will need to consider how they keep their facades clean as desert dust can hinder the solar cells from operating at maximum efficiency.

“There are technologies nowadays that have the ability to keep off the soiling, for example pv panels which prevent dust from clinging to the surface,” Anoop says.

THE TIME IS NOW

The region is very much ready for BIPV, Anoop says. There has already been plenty of interest in its potential but developers are waiting for regulations to be announced.

“They have to do this if they want to really get the benefit of alternative energy and renewables because they have so much facade space,” he says. “Tall buildings don’t have much roof space but they have lots of facade space.”

The suitability of a building for BIPV depends on how much sun the west, east and south facades of the building receive. For example, a high rise building in a densely packed city might have other nearby buildings blocking out the sun. For smaller buildings this can also be a problem if there are high rise buildings nearby.

“We do analysis and irradiance mapping and identify which areas of a building should have BIPV,” Anoop says. “In general, it works best for buildings with large areas that can be covered with BIPV. Malls work well because many of them, Mall of the Emirates for example, don’t have any high rise buildings around them.” So how long might it take before BIPV technology is used as standard in this part of the world?

“Once the first two or three projects are live and have proven to be successful it might well become mandated,” Anoop says. “Shams Dubai plays very well with warehouses and carports but many building developers get minimal benefit from Shams Dubai because most of them don’t have that kind of rooftop or parking area. Property developers will get more benefit from BIPV.”

He adds: “This is going to be a very fast moving industry in the coming years. There are many companies with their eyes on this market. They’re just waiting for the regulations.”

In pursuit of perfection

11 Oct 2017

Stephen Atherton, design director at Sobha Group goes back a long way with the company’s founder and chairman, PNC Menon. Based at the time in Muscat overseeing his interior fit out company, Menon recruited the Englishman in 1991 to set up his first office in Dubai. An interior designer by profession, Atherton eventually left to set up his own design studio, but after the pair bumped into each other again in 2012 the entrepreneur persuaded him to return to the fold and help set up a new design outfit.

“When I joined in 2013 the original idea was to set up an interiors company,” says Atherton. “The chairman is very interiors driven, he tends to design things from the inside out. What I do now is work for him at corporate level looking at developing the brief and working with the design teams and the marketing teams, so I’m basically a trouble shooter across all aspects of design within the group.”

PNC Menon’s rags to riches story is well known. He arrived in Oman from Kerala, India in 1976 with pennies in his pocket but eventually succeeded in setting up an interior decoration company, growing it into one of the top contractors in Oman. In the 1990s he saw an opportunity to start up a property development business that today is the third largest in India. Not content with standing still, in 2013 he launched in the Dubai market with two major developments – Sobha Hartland and Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City – District One, a joint venture with Meydan.

A vertically integrated company, Sobha does more or less everything in house. It has its own architecture practice, its own structural and mechanical engineering departments, as well as a huge team of landscape, interior, furniture and graphic designers. Though it sells its units unfurnished, for some of its higher ticket villas the company designed much of the furniture and had it made in Italy. Sobha is currently in the process of setting up a new furniture division that will offer a complete end-to-end interior solution, Atherton reveals. The company expects to open a 1 million sq ft factory in Abu Dhabi’s Kizad freezone in the third quarter of 2019.

“We want to control most things in our world and there’s a very good reason for that,” Atherton says. “We can only pin our flag to the quality of our product if we control it from end to end. That’s why we are a vertically integrated organisation.”


“WE CAN ONLY PIN OUR FLAG TO THE QUALITY OF OUR PRODUCT IF WE CONTROL IT FROM END TO END”


The evolution of Sobha Group into a vertically integrated entity was born out of necessity, Atherton explains. “When the chairman set up the business in India in 1993/94 he wanted to build to international standards. But, for example, the quality of the concrete available wasn’t very good so he decided to set up a concrete company. He couldn’t get materials of the right quality so decided to make them himself. It was really born out of the need to deliver on the promise of quality.”

The quality and attention to detail that Sobha has become known for stems from the company’s origin as in the interior fit out business in Oman.

“We used to do palaces all over the world for people like the Sultan of Brunei, rulers in Turkmenistan, his highness Sultan Qaboos of Oman and the Dubai ruling family, so he’s at the top of the tree when it comes down to doing quality fit out,” Atherton says.

At the 8 million sq ft Sobha Hartland development, quality is assured by a team of 17 German master craftsmen who meticulously check every detail of every job done by the in house contracting teams. “We maintain standards in the business through each and every process,” Atherton says. “For example Sobha Hartland is the first development to have a push fit plumbing system. It’s a Japanese system that doesn’t involve any compression fittings or welding, you just literally push the fittings together and it creates almost a homogenous seal on the pipe so we are going to be leak free.


“THE CHAIRMAN IS VERY INTERIORS DRIVEN, HE TENDS TO DESIGN THINGS FROM THE INSIDE OUT”


It’s expensive but as the chairman says, as property developers water can be our biggest enemy.”

A HIGH-END FINISH

Though Sobha Hartland is a huge project made up of apartments, townhouses and villas of different sizes and price tags, Atherton says the development manages to achieve an overarching design style.

“There’s no theming or pastiche architecture here,” he says. “It’s a very contemporary development by nature. You’ve got third party developers on site, like Gemini and others who are buying tracts of land but we issue very stringent design guidelines. So it does have a strong design identity to it.”

Quality is not a something Sobha compromises on. Whether it’s a studio apartment or a six bedroom mansion, the approach to the project is exactly the same, Atherton says.

“Our smallest and cheapest product has the same detailed checks and quality of installation going into it as our largest product. There are variances in terms of materials because of the size and ticket price, but that’s mainly in the finish. In terms of approach it’s one and the same. There’s only one way to build for us and that’s the best way you can.”

All units at Sobha Hartland are equipped with smart home technology. Buyers have the option of a basic home automation system that enables them to control lighting and air conditioning or they can go for a complete smart home technology system.

“We brought in a team of experts that worked with us for a year to scour the earth to find something that would do what we wanted it to,” says Atherton. “It’s effectively a brain that controls the audio visual, lighting, air conditioning and curtains and it all runs off your iPad or you’re iPhone,” says Atherton. It comes at a cost however. The full package for a two bedroom apartment will set owners back a cool AED 250,000.

One of the striking design features of the Sobha Hartland development is undoubtedly the amount of green space it provides residents. Around 30% of the development has been given back to green areas.


“I WOULD CHALLENGE ANYBODY TO SAY THAT THE LANDSCAPING HERE AT HARTLAND CAN BE TOUCHED”


“I would challenge anybody to say that the landscaping here at Hartland can be touched,” says Atherton. “We have our own in house landscape architects and we work with external landscape architects who we bring in to brainstorm just to make sure we’re getting the best out of our land. We even have our own horticulturalist and an onsite plant nursery.”

He continues: “The spaces in between our buildings are as important as the places we build. I’ve had numerous meetings with our design team and our chairman and we show him landscape designs and he says, ‘not enough trees’. We want greenery, we want the lushness and we’re constantly looking at managing that from a water consumption perspective and how we recycle grey water. We are constantly balancing our responsibility as developers with the environment versus the commercial side.”

When it comes to sustainability Sobha tries to deliver above and beyond minimum requirements, but as Atherton says those efforts must be balanced with the commercial demands of a project.

“As a developer we look at what we must do and what we’re compelled to do by law,” he says. “Things like LED lighting as standard was something that I implemented with Mr Menon early on. Incandescent lights are of the past and not what we want to see moving forward, so we try very hard in terms of our engineering to be as green as we can so we’re probably ahead of the market.

“Are we LEED platinum? No. We’re looking at a signature development at the moment and we’re looking to go LEED platinum with that, but it doesn’t apply itself to every project. So sustainability is considered as much as possible but at the end of the day we’re a commercial entity and it’s got to make sense.”

A maturing market

11 Oct 2017

This time last year many observers predicted that a recovery in Dubai’s property market would be in full swing
by the time we entered the closing stretch of 2017. With less than four months to go before the end of the year,
it’s fair to say we are now in the home straight. So has the widely anticipated rebound materialised?

“A clear direction on recovery is yet to emerge, with only a few locations consistently marking an upward movement on prices, primarily in the mid-market segment in established locations,” says David Godchaux, CEO of real estate firm Core Savills.

“We are cautiously optimistic on midmarket sales prices for the next three years, with some districts that have seen a price recovery of 5-10% over a span of 12-18 months since January 2016. As we had predicted, the prime market performance is still lagging behind with further marginal room for price softening, although we are close to stabilisation.”


17,800 UNITS ARE EXPECTED TO BE DELIVERED THIS YEAR, LESS THAN
HALF THE 36,000 UNITS ANNOUNCED BY DEVELOPERS


Some communities in the lower market segment have witnessed the beginning of stabilisation over the past six months, Godchaux says – although he attributes this more to a mechanical rebound, than the beginning of a healthy recovery.

Rental depreciation since early 2016 is yet to have a significant negative
influence on the sales market, however it does slow the recovery of sale prices. Core Savills concludes that rentals
would need to soften by another 25%- 40% to have a significant negative impact on buyer demand from both investors and end users.

“We are not yet there,” Godchaux says.

“We had predicted further rental drops throughout the summer months, but expect rents to start stabilising in core locations by next year, while predicting potential room for softening in the secondary locations.”

ARE WE BUILDING TOO MUCH?
With new projects announced on a weekly basis, anyone keeping an eye on the Dubai property market might conclude there is an ongoing surge in supply in the residential market. If true this spells good news for the  onstruction sector. But is it really the case? And, if so, is it likely to last or is there a danger of oversupply as
some commentators have predicted, potentially leading to another downturn?

Well, not quite. There are two important elements to remember when discussing this question, Godchaux says. Firstly, actual delivery numbers have typically been very far from the announced numbers, consistently over the past few years. Secondly, there is no single residential market in Dubai. On the contrary, there are different market segments which are reacting to different demand drivers and seeing very different supply figures, he says.

Over 6,600 units were delivered in first half of 2017 while 11,200 units are expected in the second half of the year, making a total of 17,800 units expected to be delivered this year. However this figure is only around half the 36,000 units that were announced by developers for the full year.

“This large discrepancy between the announced and delivered stock has been a historical trend in Dubai,” Godchaux says. “This has in fact helped developers to address oversupply concerns by aligning demand and delivering products at realistic prices, aiding absorption – albeit in the mid and prime segments.


“THE LARGE DISCREPANCY BETWEEN THE ANNOUNCED AND DELIVERED STOCK HAS BEEN A HISTORICAL TREND IN DUBAI”


We expect deliveries to slow down in Q3 and pick up pace again after September.”

The vast majority of units anticipated to be delivered by 2020 will be below the AED 1.2mn ($326.7mn) price point, Godchaux says. While he expects some of these units to be well absorbed, he is concerned about a large share of this stock being acquired primarily by investors looking at achieving high yields and short-term profits on the back of difficult mortgage access for the lower income bracket end users – who are forced to stay in the rental market, and hence contribute to yields that are ‘artificially high’.

“This is paradoxical because this large pool of end users should be the primary target demand for these more affordable units, and would constitute a much healthier and more stable longterm
ownership,” he says.

Another factor that has driven some to comment on oversupply affecting sale prices is the detrimental effect on secondary sales for a few apartment districts. However, this is less an oversupply issue and more the fact that the offplan property market is cannibalising market share from the resale segment.

“Existing owners trying to sell their ready-properties, contend with highly competitive and attractive payment


“WE MAY BE CREATING THE PREMISE FOR SIGNIFICANT PROBLEMS IN A FEW YEARS, IF END USERS ARE BEING KEPT AWAY FROM THE MARKET AND FORCED TO RENT”


plans offered by master developers (for instance, in Downtown Dubai and few properties in Dubai Marina). On the bright side, it demonstrates the market’s high appetite for quality new stock, provided that it is well priced.”

Nevertheless, two other effects could soon become detrimental, Godchaux says. Firstly, attractive entry prices (sometimes below resale values) are decreasing the district average, leading some commentators to misinterpret this statistical bias as a market trend of price drop. Secondly, existing owners have sometimes found themselves having to reduce the asking price in order to compete with cheaper off-plan stock. This effect does actually create a trend of decreasing prices, across the district, in a price war scenario and a no-win situation for developers too in the midterm.

WHERE WILL THE DEMAND COMING FROM?

Clearly there’s no lack of investor appetite for off plan real estate in Dubai right now. But who is going to live in these properties? Is the current tepid level of economic growth really going to attract enough people to live in Dubai and therefore substantially increase the pool of potential occupiers?

The short answer is yes, says Godchaux, because most of the stock is coming in the lower price segment, which appeals to the largest pool of existing (or new as the economy continues to expand) pool of occupiers. Although this also potentially represents a higher systemic risk, as lower income demand is structurally more volatile and likely to overreact to external shocks.

“I think the question is not only about the total size of the occupiers’ pool, but also the structure of it, or the proportion of investors versus owner-occupiers,” he says. “A balance is essential for this more volatile lowerend of the market to be healthy in the long term. And we may potentially be creating the premise for significant problems in a few years, if end users are being kept away from the market and forced to rent.”

The situation has improved since 2016, with more attractive payment plans allowing a portion of occupiers to switch to ownership. But for many renters, switching to ownership still remains a out of reach – and this is illustrated by the paradoxically low level of yield compression in the past 12 months in more affordable districts (coupled with unique rental level resilience in these locations). Although yields have contracted, they are still northwards of 7.5% for most apartment neighbourhoods, and up to 9-10% for some lower-end districts, illustrating that these units are still primarily today investors’ products. Solutions could potentially come from adjusting mortgage regulations to mitigate these effects or creative paths to ownership, like rent-to-own programmes, Godchaux says.

THE EXPO 2020 EFFECT

In anticipation of the event, outer areas of Dubai are seeing the most number of supply deliveries, although only a few buildings in Jumeirah Village Circle, Dubailand and Al Furjan gained traction from price conscious buyers. With the city expanding south/southeastwards toward the Expo 2020 site and the extension of the Dubai Metro, we will continue to see more developments emerge, Godchaux says. However, these may require more time to be established and to reach higher levels of absorption.

Core Savills anticipates a gradual split of the investors market into two main strands. On the one hand there will be longer term investors, looking at core locations such as Dubai Marina, Downtown Dubai, the Palm and Emirates Living, on the back of yields that are still relatively high but likely to continue compressing. On the other side, a growing pool of investors appears to be emerging, one that is looking at less expensive outer areas offering higher short-term returns, particularly in the lower mid-market and affordable segments.

Projects Update

11 Oct 2017

Abu Dhabi-based developer Aldar Properties launched Water’s Edge – a new waterfront residential project on Yas
Island. The AED 2.4bn ($653mn) master planned development will include 2,255 homes across 13 apartment buildings. Early works will commence this December, with the aim of beginning phased handovers between June and December 2020.

RKM Durar Properties plans to build a luxury residential project on the banks of the Dubai Water Canal close to the new Marasi Business Bay project. The striking design for J One consists of a distinct U shape formed by two towers and a curved base. Tower A is made up of 19 floors with 257 units while Tower B is 18 floors with 90 units.

jone

Emaar Properties launched its latest residential project in the heart of Dubai Creek Harbour. The 43-storey 17 Icon Bay will contain 300 apartments featuring 1, 2 and 3 bedrooms. The
project will be located by the Central Park neighbourhood and close to the 4.5 km-long Creek Boardwalk with its retail and leisure options.

Marriott International and Khamas Group of Investment will build a pair of hotels in the Jumeirah Village Circle (JVC) area of Dubai. Scheduled to open in 2020, the 150-room Courtyard by Marriott JVC and 100-room Residence Inn by Marriott JVC will form an interconnected complex and will share facilities. WSW Architects will lead the project and WA International will manage the interior design.

Construction work on the main structure of all buildings at Abu Dhabi’s Mamsha Al Saadiyat waterfront residential project is complete. Situated close to the Saadiyat Cultural District, the project will feature nine medium-rise residential towers with a total of 461 units. A joint venture of San Jose Contracting and Pivot Engineering & General Contracting signed a AED 1.25bn ($340mn) building contract in April 2016.

Al Naboodah Construction Group (ANCG) clinched the contract to build the Creekside 18 residential project for Emaar in Dubai Creek Harbour. Construction on the two 37-storey towers started earlier this year with substructure and concrete superstructure progressing on track.

Bahrain’s stalled Amwaj Gateway development project is to be publicly auctioned, a government committee ruled. Real estate consultant, Cluttons, and Mazad, the Bahrainbased public auction specialist, have been appointed to manage the sale. Amwaj Gateway consists of 20-storey twin towers comprising 384 apartments, a 143-room hotel tower and 93 townhouses.

Invest Group Overseas (IGO) announced plans to build a AED 500mn ($136mn) tower in Dubai that will rise close to 200 metres. Dubbed IGO 101, the project in Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT) will comprise G+39 floors. Construction is due to begin in December 2017 and scheduled for completion in Q4 2020. Located in
Cluster K of JLT, IGO 101 will have 449 apartments.

wasl Asset Management Group appointed Kele Contracting to build the first phase of wasl1, the developer’s freehold master development near Zabeel Park, Dubai. Enabling works
are now underway while Hills & Fort Construction is also on site managing the infrastructure for the development. Phase 1 of the project includes the Park Gate Residences, which comprises 746 units in four residential towers.

Emaar Properties will build a new mall in Dubai Hills Estate with its joint venture partner, Meraas. Scheduled to open in late 2019, Dubai Hills Mall will have a gross leasable area (GLA) of over 2 million sq ft (187,500 sq m) with more than 750 outlets.

Masdar awarded the EPC contract to build the GCC’s first large-scale wind farm. GE will supply 13 wind turbines for the Dhofar Wind Power Project in Oman while Spain’s TSK will handle construction of the plant.

Construction works on the Gate Avenue project at Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) is on track to be ready for an opening in the first half of next year. Thirty five percent of the overall construction is complete, with 85% of the structural concrete work and 75% of the concrete blockwork complete. Critical MEP activities are underway.
KEO International Consultants announced it is providing design and construction supervision services for Expo Village, the residential community being developed by Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) to host visitors and participants for Expo 2020 Dubai. The project, which is expected to be delivered by the fourth quarter of 2019, consists of 11 buildings with 2,273 apartments to be delivered in two phases.

Danube Properties completed construction and commenced handover of its first projects. The developer launched the AED 350mn ($95mn) Glitz I and II in Dubai Studio City two years ago, appointing Naresco General Contracting as the main contractor.

Since 2014, Danube has announced eight projects with a combined development value exceeding AED 3bn.

Developer Miral appointed Currie & Brown as cost manager for its Yas Bay development on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi.
The mixed-use scheme comprises two hotels, a multi-purpose arena and a recreational pier. Phase 1 will open in 2019.

Master developer Nakheel is assessing five proposals, with bids starting at AED 900mn ($245mn), for the construction of Dragon Towers, a twin-building residential complex at Dragon City in Dubai. The project will have 1,140 apartments and be directly linked to Dragon Mart. Nakheel expects to award the contract by the end of 2017, with a view to completing construction by 2020.

Azizi Developments completed construction of the AED 350mn ($95mn) Azizi Royal Bay residential project on Palm Jumeirah. This is the first project on Palm Jumeirah and the sixth in total Azizi has delivered to date. The Dubaibased developer has a huge pipeline of 80 projects due to be handed over by 2020, including the AED 12bn Azizi Riviera development in Meydan One.

Emaar Hospitality announced a new hotel and serviced residence project in Downtown Dubai with a direct link to the Dubai Mall. The development comprises a pair of towers sharing a seven storey podium. A 55-storey tower will have a 195 room hotel and 380 residences and a 38 storey tower will hold 234 residences.

Construction of the three residential towers at Dubai’s Al Habtoor City is more than 70% complete and on track for delivery by the end of the year. The freehold property on the banks of the Dubai Water Canal and Sheikh Zayed Road has 1,427 apartments. The luxury residences consist of two 73-storey towers and one 52-storey tower.

Ellington Properties launched its fourth residential project in Dubai’s Jumeirah Village Circle (JVC) neighbourhood. Construction of Belgravia III is underway with handover scheduled for mid-2019. Ellington’s fifth project comprises two L-shaped buildings, with 224 units overlooking a central courtyard and swimming pool.

Bloom Properties awarded the enabling works contract for Bloom Towers, a residential development located in Jumeirah Village Circle (JVC) in Dubai. National Piling will execute the enabling works for the project which is set to have three towers comprising 944 units. Construction is scheduled for completion in Q4 2020.

Dubai tenants welcome home handovers as rents dip

10 Oct 2017

Rents in Dubai continued to witness single-digit declines in the third quarter of 2017, according to real estate consultancy JLL. This was on the back of more supply – approximately 3,300 homes were delivered in Q3 – which resulted in more vacancies as tenants scouted for better deals.

“Numerous residential buildings, even within prime areas such as Downtown and Duba Marina, are seeing increased vacancies, and as such, tenants have been able to renegotiate their rents downwards by an average of five to seven per cent,” said Craig Plumb, head of research – Mena at JLL.

The majority of completions during Q3 were apartments. Villas and townhouses contributed 660 and 75 units respectively. The largest completions were Duja Tower in Trade Centre First, adding 679 units and The Polo Residence in Meydan with 598 units. District 1 and Lila in Arabian Ranches 2 contributed 267 and 219 units respectively.

Sale prices for both villas and apartments remained largely stable over Q3, according to JLL. The total value of transactions of existing residential properties (excluding land) has gone up, with sales in the year to August exceeding Dh13.7 billion, up by 28 per cent from the Dh10.7 billion recorded in the corresponding period in 2016.

August alone recorded residential unit sales worth Dh2.7 billion, with Marina and Downtown contributing the biggest chunk of value.

Forecasting 80,000 homes to be handed over by the end of 2019, JLL warns that this could result in a potential over-supply situation. However, actual deliveries are likely to be below this level. “While more of these projects are being marketed as ‘middle-income’, the majority remain above the price range that JLL deems affordable [below Dh800,000 for a 2-bedroom unit],” added Plumb.

Emirates Hills villa takes crown with dh95m deal

10 Oct 2017

Dubai: Amidst all the offplan launch and sales spree, an existing villa in Emirates Hills was able to find a buyer for Dh95 million, making it the costliest property purchase in Dubai during the third quarter of 2017. The villa has a built-up area of 22,780 square feet, according to the consultancy Luxhabitat.

Emirates Hills also laid claim to the second biggest deal, with a 19,982 square feet property going for Dh60 million. The buyers have not been identified.

The Palm took up the third and fourth spots, with Dh27.5 million and Dh22.5 million deals, respectively, while the fifth costliest transaction was again for Emirates Hills to claim. (Emirates Hills also landed a Dh101 million deal earlier this year, while a penthouse at Omniyat’s One Palm was sold for Dh102 million.) Between July to end September. The Emirates Hills area alone transacted Dh107 million, according to Luxhabitat. The overall villa market recorded transaction volumes of Dh688 million, with 71 per cent of these from the Emirates Living areas, which includes Emirates Hills, Springs, the Meadows and The Lakes.

On the apartment side, the costliest deal was for Dh25 million, with which the buyer bagged a 12,469 square feet unit at Elite Residence/ In second place was a 5,016 square feet apartment at Palazzo Versace, which commanded Dh15 million. The Palazzo Versace is located in Culture Village.

Another Culture Village landmark, the D1 Tower sold a unit for Dh7.45 million, and claiming the fifth spot among the costliest apartment buys in Q3-17.

An Armani Residence unit went for Dh9.51 million and bagging the third spot, while another at Al Bateen had the previous owner richer by Dh9 million.

Overall volumes in the premium apartment space came to around Dh1.2 billion, with 50 per cent pulled in by the Dubai Marina area.

“It might be worth mentioning that two out of the three top apartment transactions were in “branded developments” – Armani and Palazzo Versace – which continues a trend of increasing demand for globally recognized luxury branded properties,” said Ryan Kasper, Director of Luxury Rentals. One of Luxhabitat’s most notable transactions during the year included a Dh60 million Bvlgari penthouse.

But even in the luxury property space, demand is starting to gradually move into the offplan space. “New locations such as CityWalk, Bluewaters Island, Bvlgari, Dubai Creek Harbour, and Dubai Hills Estate make both investors and end-users very excited about new stock and the promise of new communities,” said Alexander von-Sayn Wittgenstein, Luxury Sales Director at Luxhabitat.

“People are now expecting an upgrade in quality since a lot of the existing stock look a bit aged and the price levels are more or less the same as a new stock when upgraded. End-users need to decide if they need something immediate or not.

“Eighty per cent of the offplan luxury market are going to investors who are hoping for capital appreciation. Offplan properties also have the added advantage of flexible payment plans.”

As of Q2-17, the city-wide price per square foot for prime residences was Dh1, 441 a square foot. The prices are at similar levels since Q2-16.

The total transaction volumes in Q3-17 were Dh1.9 billion, with Dubai Marina transacting around Dh363 million, followed by Palm Jumeirah (Dh218 million) and the Downtown (Dh160 million).

More vacancies force Dubai landlords to negotiate on rents

10 Oct 2017

Dubai: Rents in some of Dubai’s busiest residential clusters are under intense pressure, with some landlords willing to cut their demand by 5-7 per cent. For tenants, the best way to access lower rents is seek out locations that have seen more new supply getting delivered or buildings with higher than average vacancy levels.

“Anecdotal evidence suggests that numerous residential buildings — even within the prime areas such as Downtown and Marina — are seeing increased vacancies, and as such, tenants have been able to renegotiate their rents downwards,” states the latest Dubai real estate update from JLL.

The majority of completions during Q3-17 were apartments, with a further 3,300 units delivered. Villas and townhouses contributed 660 and 75 units respectively, the consultancy reports.

The completions include the Duja Tower on Trade Centre First, which added 679 units, and The Polo Residence in Meydan with 598 units. District 1 and Lila in Arabian Ranches 2 contributed 267 and 219 units, respectively.

Up to 80,000 units could be delivered before the end of 2019, going by all the timelines set by ongoing projects and those launched recently. “This renewed sentiment does however raise the prospect of a potential over supply on the back of sales achieved through more attractive payment terms,” said Craig Plumb, Head of Research – MENA at JLL.

Thankfully for developers, sale prices for both villas and apartments remained “largely stable over the quarter”.
Total value of transactions of existing residential properties (excluding land) is on the rise. This includes Dh2.7 billion worth of sales of existing residential units recorded in August, with 20 per cent of this occurring in Dubai Marina and a similar tally from the Business Bay/Burj Khalifa area.

A bit of the give-and-take approach is also visible in the retail space, with shopping centre owners “more willing to negotiate” with existing tenants. “We have therefore seen a further decline in average rental levels during Q3,” the report notes. “Super-regional and regional malls have recorded declines of between 3-5 per cent in headline rents on a quarterly basis, which may understate the extent of effective declines.

“Smaller neighbourhood and community malls have generally recorded greater declines than in the larger centres.

“Vacancy levels have generally increased over the past year and this trend has continued during Q3, placing further pressure on rentals. Rents are expected to remain under pressure over the next 12 months given the large volume of potential new supply due to enter the market.”

Flat rents make Dubai towers a bargain, Knight Frank says

28 Oct 2017

Dubai’s tower rents have remained flat in the first half of this year, making them seven times cheaper than Hong Kong, the world’s most expensive city for leasing offices in buildings more than 30 storeys tall.

The emirate’s tower office rents averaged US$44 per square foot compared with $304 per sq ft rent for a similar space in Hong Kong, says a report from the consultancy Knight Frank. The city ranked at 18 out of 23 cities surveyed.

Dubai’s tall building rents had the sixth most competitive rates in the first half.

“Given the range of striking skyscrapers which Dubai has to offer we do not see a premium paid for higher floors in skyscrapers,” said Matthew Dadd, a partner for commercial agency at Knight Frank. “Occupiers’ priorities are focused on the efficiency of the floor plates as well as the amenities, vertical transportation and location of the building.”

Hong Kong is followed by New York, San Francisco and London, while Toronto’s towers have the highest rental growth rate, increasing 11.9 per cent in the first half of this year.

Dubai is also faring well in terms of cost of office space in the technology and creatives districts.

Rents in Dubai’s Media City free zone are $43.55 per sq ft, less than half of those in London, ranking it at 13 out of 29 districts surveyed. Shoreditch in London was the world’s most expensive tech area at $90.75 per sq ft almost on par with rents in London’s main financial district.

“Dubai continues to grow as a regional hub for tech and media companies looking to service the Arabic regional market,” said Mr Dadd. “Media City and Internet City in Dubai provide a cluster of like-minded companies and a hub for innovation which continues to attract global occupiers mirroring the profile of other global tech hubs.”

Homefront: ‘Suspicious’ tenancy contract concerns new Abu Dhabi resident

4 Oct 2017

I was living in Dubai until my company asked me to move to Abu Dhabi on short notice. Due to lack of time to make a decision, I rented an apartment inside a villa in Khalifa City 15 days ago through a broker. I paid Dh39,000 by cheque and made it clear to the owner I would need a legitimate apartment with tenancy contract. The owner has given me a tenancy contract under my name but belonging to an apartment in another villa. I also realised that he is not the owner of the villa but is renting out the property on behalf of the owner. I find this suspicious, so what needs to be done before it’s too late? RD, Abu Dhabi

I hope that it is not already too late because the information given does not sound too legitimate to me. I suggest you request to see documented proof from the real owner, that he has allowed the subleasing of his property. Sub-leasing is not allowed, unless the owner is aware of it. If he cannot provide this or he is not aware of the subletting, then you may already be in trouble. In case of any difficulties, I also suggest you contact the police because this sounds like it may escalate into fraud, if not already.

I would like to stress that renting from a tenant who is sub-leasing can be fine as long as the actual landlord is aware and is being legitimately paid by the original tenant. The fear here is that the sub tenant (you) pays the original tenant but he doesn’t pay the landlord. To avoid this, get confirmation that everybody is aware of the arrangement; if not demand your money back and look for something else.

I have a problem with the shared flat my family is renting in Dubai. We are not the owners of the apartment and we pay out Dh2,200 rent monthly. We moved in last December and now we are planning to move out. We share this accommodation with another family. My wife is now pregnant with our second baby and we have one son going to school. Our main concern is this: the landlord (owner of the flat) wants us to pay the remaining two months of the shared utility bills, which around Dh800. We are also owed the deposit of Dh2,200; they are telling that the deposit is consumable and that whether we use it or not it’s already with them for whatever purposes. They obviously don’t want to refund it. So my question is, can they not use the deposit to cover the utility bill? What should we do? NT, Dubai

Firstly, the rental deposit is given in case of any damage or for repair of a property in order to bring it back to the same condition it was given when first the tenant moved in. The deposit should not be used for any other reason other than what was mentioned before. Having said this, if money is owed from a tenant that has already vacated, it can sometimes be used to clear debts accrued by the absent tenant. In your case, you are still living in the property therefore you should be able to discharge your outstanding liabilities before vacating. If it is more convenient for you to have your share of the utility paid out of the deposit, so be it, but the remaining monies have to be returned to you by the landlord.

Mario Volpi is the chief sales officer for Kensington Exclusive Properties and has worked in the property industry for over 30 years in London and Dubai. The opinions expressed do not constitute legal advice and are provided for information only. Please send any questions to [email protected]

Business Extra podcast episode 38: London luxury property – the asset class so beloved by Arabian Gulf investors

5 Oct 2017

Host Mustafa Alrawi and Chris Nelson, Assistant Business Editor, talk to Niccolo Barattieri di San Pietro, the chief executive of Northacre, the developer of high-end property in the UK capital.

Dubai rents lower as residential supply increases

10 Oct 2017

Dubai rents fell last quarter as the emirate’s supply of residential units continued to increase, prompting concerns about oversupply, according to a new report from property consultancy JLL, with office and retail rents also softening over the same period.
Rents for apartments and villas experienced “low single-digit declines” during the three months to end-September, JLL said. Vacancies have increased in numerous residential buildings which has enabled residential renters to negotiate contract terms to include more than one cheque as well as lower rates.

Tenants during the quarter have renegotiated rents downward by an average of up to 7 per cent, the report said.

Supply, particularly for residential units, continued to increase over the quarter ending in September. JLL said that there were more than 480 units in the residential segment with up to 80,000 which could be delivered before 2020.

“This renewed sentiment does, however, raise the prospect of a potential oversupply on the back of sales achieved through more attractive payment terms,” said Craig Plumb, JLL Mena head of research.

Much of the new residential supply being brought to the market is being marketed as “middle income”, even though JLL said that the prices remain above what it defines as affordable (below a sale price of Dh800,000).

The drop in market prices is seen in other areas such as commercial and retail property.

Office rents have softened by 1.6 per cent compared to the same time period a year ago, now averaging Dh1,892 per square metre. JLL expects the commercial space to remain weakened for the rest of the year as landlords compete for fewer requirements. However, subleasing in the emirate is on the increase, with commercial tenants looking to sublease surplus space resulting from previous ambitious expansion plans.

“We believe there is some risk with the materialisation of certain projects owing to volatile global markets and geopolitical conditions, which may result in corporates delaying or scaling back future growth plans,” JLL said.

Retail rates fell by up to 5 per cent during the quarter, with smaller community malls reporting the largest drops, owing to an increase in vacancy levels. JLL forecasts rents to remain under pressure over the next year, pushing rent prices down 8 per cent, given the large volume of potential new supply expected to come online.

JLL: Potential oversupply for UAE residential market

10 Oct 2017

According to JLL’s Q3 2017 Dubai Real Estate Market Overview report, the majority of completions during the third quarter were apartments, with a further 3,300 units expected to be delivered so far.

With construction activity likely to accelerate in the next two years, JLL data is suggesting up to 80,000 units could be delivered before the end of 2019, although actual deliveries are likely to be below this level.

In this regards, more than 480 units in the residential segment could be delivered before 2020, fuelled by the upcoming Dubai Expo.

Craig Plumb, head of research, MENA, JLL, said: “This renewed sentiment does however raise the prospect of a potential over supply on the back of sales achieved through more attractive payment terms.”

As for sales prices, villas and apartments remained largely stable over the quarter, with evidence suggesting an increase in the number of vacant apartments in the city, including in prime locations such as Downtown Dubai and Marina.

As a result, tenants have been able to renegotiate their rents downwards by an average of 5% to 7%, the JLL report highlighted.

The total value of transactions of existing residential properties, excluding land, has also increased over 2017, with sales in the year to August exceeding AED3.7bn, up by 28% from the AED10.7bn recorded in the YT August 2016.

Other real estate consultants echo these sentiments, including Core Savills, whose recent survey highlighted a less optimistic market this year as compared to 2016.

Only 34% of the respondents from that survey believed that Dubai’s real estate market has displayed signs of recovery, as compared to 50% in the previous year.

David Godchaux, CEO of Core Savills agreed that oversupply in some segments of the market was evident, explaining that though there will be a lot of supply in the bottom to mid-market segments in the coming years, this in turn raises the question of whether there will be enough occupiers for these units by 2020.

“We’ve seen a recovery that started in some communities in January 2016 for about 12 months, so a year ago when you were asking market players, they were generally more optimistic than today,” he said.

“A lot of the communities that started recovering up to 5% of residential prices are now seeing a double dip, creating an uncertainty in the market,” Godchaux added.

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