Published: 9th September 2013
There is no doubt that a new era in the UAE's property market is emerging from the world economic crisis. In the wise words of the Regional Managing Director of leading global real estate consultancy, Jones Laing LaSalle, in a buoyant real estate market people are less discerning about the quality of what they are buying, but then as the market shrinks there is a ‘flight to quality’. This statement was made a year ago and how insightful these words were with regards to the Dubai real estate market correction that followed.
Advisory Group have also seconded this statement, pointing out that the region's real estate sector will re-adjust and become a market driven by demand, where need and customer preferences, as opposed to greed from frenzied speculators, will determine market prices.
On this basis, even though the overall price declines are set to continue across most real estate assets in 2009, developers that deliver on the quality they promised will be rewarded, while lower quality units will face the deepest price reductions. An average assumption by leading real estate advisory groups is that sale prices are likely to fall on average by 20% for apartments and 35% for offices. Villa prices, on the other hand, are likely to remain fairly stable.
Stagnating income levels in Dubai, driven by a hurting economy, mean that increased liquidity and widely accessible lending will be the key factors determining how and at what point the region's property market will be back on the ‘road to recovery.’
Maintenance fees are a real cost to investors and one, which unfortunately, many buyers have over looked during the frenzied buying activities of recent years. The ‘double-hit’ to buyers of lower quality units is the fact that maintenance fees and other hidden costs will mount up as the common areas constantly require up-keep and replacements. The disappointment at having been quoted low anticipated maintenance fees by over zealous sales consultants will be rife amongst this investor segment, once the real costs become clear.
At the other end of the market, however, the higher quality units, usually sold by higher quality sales people which a more realistic approach, will be likely to stick within the forecasted maintenance fee estimates.
The Arabian Ranches provides a real life case of true quality prevailing. On final delivery of the early phases, prices rocketed. This was not merely due to the supply/demand equation but was more down to fact that buyers could see, touch and physically experience the quality of the villas. Once they then compared the quality to other ‘ready properties’ the buyers were more prepared to pay a higher price than for inferior quality. This was a very telling period when one considers that investors were paying equal prices off–plan for other villa projects at the same time as the Arabian Ranches project was an off-plan investment.
In summary, this real estate correction has highlighted that an investor serious about a sustained investment which can survive high and low points in the world economy cannot compromise on one particular investment criterion, quality.