Rents, sales and prices record moderate falls in Dubai in first quarter of 2016

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The Dubai residential real estate market is experiencing moderate declines in rents and sales prices and transaction volumes are also down, according to the latest UAE property review. The analysis report from Asteco suggests that a focus on affordability is becoming more prominent in the emirate’s real estate market. Whilst no significant rent reductions were recorded during the first quarter of the year this may have been due to limited supply and the general trend continued to be towards increased competition amongst landlords. Leasing demand was stable in the first two months of 2016, however, a slowdown was recorded from March onwards, especially for more expensive properties where take-up was slower than usual. On average, rental rates stabilised in the affordable segment, and declined by 2% and 3% for mid and high end apartments, respectively. Asteco says that this minimal decrease was due to a combination of landlords trying to retain tenants rather than insisting on higher renewal rates, a decrease in the number of newcomers to the city, and in some sectors, housing allowance cuts and redundancies. Compared to the previous quarter, sales prices remained stable, with the exception of high end apartments and villas where 2% average declines for both markets were recorded. However, according to the Dubai Land Department (DLD), the first quarter of 2016 was considerably worse than the first quarter of 2015 as the overall residential transactions by total value were down by 25%, transaction numbers by 17% and the average sales price by 11%. Leasing activity at the beginning of the year started well, however, enquiry and transaction levels tapered off in March. The report suggests this was partially due to property owners keen to retain their existing tenants, and therefore willing to negotiate rental rates instead of having a property vacant. As a result, fewer tenants were seeking to move to a new unit. Asteco also noted a tendency for the more expensive units in buildings to remain vacant for longer, as tenants became more conscious of their spending habits. Whilst declines were limited over the quarter, year on year comparisons indicated an average of a 4% decline across the board. The most affected areas were those that had seen previous rapid rental increases for a relatively undifferentiated product. For instance, Jumeirah Lake Towers recorded a 12% decline year on year. ‘Indeed, whilst the community is attractive overall, the quality of most residential towers are below the tenant’s expectations considering the high rental levels. We have noted an increase in demand for affordable units. However, rental rates have not fallen far enough to warrant tenants to relocate from the Northern Emirates to Dubai yet,’ the report points out. ‘This is further compounded by the fact that for a similar priced product in the Northern Emirates would equate to a much smaller unit in Dubai. For instance, AED60,000 would mean a two bedroom unit in Sharjah as opposed to a studio or a small… Taylor Scott International

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