Asteco, the Middle East’s largest independent full service real estate company, has underscored the success of its licensing division with the inaugural Asteco Franchise Awards, which took place at Towers Rotana in Dubai recently.
There was a total of five awards, each recognising the outstanding contribution each of the franchisees made to Asteco’s sales and leasing figures, which currently sit at over AED13 billion in sales and nearly 16 million square foot in leasing.
The top accolade, Best Franchise, was won by the Asteco Savana Office in Dubai, led by Hashim Ahmed. Criteria included the number of sales completed, residential and office leasing success rate and growth of the franchise.
“Hashim and his team always exceed their targets,” said John Stevens, Managing Director, Asteco. “He is never afraid to reinvest his profits into his business, which culminated in a move from Marina Plaza to Emaar Business Park, marking our first franchisee with a retail unit. As a result, the walk-in trade is excellent. We are confident that it is going to be another great year for Hashim and his first-class team.”
Asteco is the only locally established, full service real estate business in the region offering a bespoke franchise opportunity. As the largest real estate franchise company in the Middle East, Asteco currently has 14 franchises in Dubai, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, which have generated a 75% year-on-year increase in sales and a 50% rise in leasing. Combined, the franchisees employ 141 brokers and 20 administration staff, while the company also has a training academy as part of its value add to the franchises.
Asteco’s Licensing Services division was launched in 2014 to offer franchise opportunities to qualifying real estate companies, independent realtors as well as regional entrepreneurs looking to diversify their existing businesses, or launch a start-up in the property sector.
All franchisees can leverage Asteco’s 30-year brand pedigree and its successful business model. It offers tailored set-up support services, bespoke operating areas, regional brand visibility and access to an enviable sales and leasing portfolio, which currently stands at more than AED2.5 billion worth of property for sale and 1.5 million square feet of leasable space.
Asteco’s franchise model also provides partners with a high value referrals service, access to Asteco’s market research and quarterly reports, dedicated intranet with a comprehensive range of resources, regular communication and updates, as well as use of the industry-leading real estate software and CRM platform.
“All our franchisees have a wealth of experience in real estate and a business pedigree that is in sync with our own approach to market development,” said Stevens. “Gaining access to the Asteco brand offers unrivalled credibility built over three decades and stakeholders can rest assured that we carry out the most stringent due diligence before offering a franchise. This ensures that franchisees will deliver the same exacting levels of service that has been the foundation of our business success.”
Other winners on the day included:
Best Sales Broker – Hussein Al-Safadi from Asteco Astra Plaza, the company’s franchisee in Jordan. Hussein sold more than 150 units in 2016 in tough market conditions.
The Best Leasing Broker - Muhammad Amjad from the Asteco Archers Office, Dubai.
Best Mystery Shop - Asteco Haxxon Office, Dubai managed by Muhammad Ali.
Most Compliant Office - Asteco Archers Office, Dubai managed by Ramzan Shahid
“We would like to congratulate all the winners,” said Stevens. “Our franchisees are passionate, service-oriented and commercially astute. We are looking forward to working with them in 2017 and beyond to grow their own businesses with our brand presence in what is one of the most dynamic, challenging and fastest developing markets in the world.”
According to the latest Q1 2017 Dubai market report from leading real estate consultancy Asteco, tenants remained budget-conscious, taking advantage of additional supply and competitive rates to relocate to new properties or negotiate existing contracts, placing downward pressure on rental rates.
In contrast, sales prices in communities with good infrastructure, amenities and limited future supply potential recorded marginal increases. Villa sales prices in The Meadows and The Springs, for example, were up 8% and 5% respectively from Q1 2016.
“From a sales perspective, apartments witnessed declines across the board. However, it was the upper-end of the market that felt the impact most acutely, with both Downtown Dubai and Dubai Marina seeing year-on-year decreases of 7%. The villa sales market fared better as some of the established communities with good transport links and within proximity to DMCC and Media City, and those with good amenities including shops and restaurants, witnessed increased demand resulting in price growth,” said John Stevens, Managing Director, Asteco.
Overall, Asteco’s research identified a 1% quarter-on-quarter (q-on-q) decline in apartment sales prices in the first 3 months of the year. Since Q1 2016, the market recorded a drop of 3% in rates. “We have, however, noted increased transaction activity in Q1 2017 compared to the same period last year. Developers continued to launch off-plan properties at competitive prices and payment plans indicating healthy investor demand and further promoting movement within this sector,” added Stevens.
Apartments on Palm Jumeirah witnessed no change annually, whilst q-on-q sales declines of 3% resulted in prices to drop to between AED1,000 and AED 2,600 per sqft. In Jumeirah Lakes Towers sales prices increased by 5% annually with no movement q-on-q to between AED800 and AED1,700 per sqft.
In the affordable segment, Dubai Sports City witnessed an annual increase of 6% and a quarterly decline of 2% - units were available from AED700 to AED1,100 per sqft.
Villa sales prices recorded a q-on-q decline of 1%, while annually the figures saw little movement. Arabian Ranches and Dubai Sports City noted a softening of 4% annually to between AED950 – AED1,600 per sqft and AED850 – AED1,150 per sqft, respectively. This was attributed to an increase in supply in surrounding neighbourhoods providing greater opportunities at lower prices.
Apartment rental rates declined 3% on average q-on-q and 8% over the year. High-end properties were most affected with Palm Jumeirah witnessing price decreases of 7% q-on-q and 14% annually. In DIFC there was no movement for quarterly prices, however, annually the figure dropped by 9%. Mid-market apartments followed suit, witnessing quarterly and annual declines of 3% and 12% in Business Bay and 2% and 4% in Jumeirah Lakes Towers.
Discovery Gardens was the only area to notch an increase in the affordable sector with an annual rise of 3%.
“A combination of new supply and tenants taking advantage of competitive rates has resulted in landlords offering more flexible terms either by increasing the number of cheques or, in some instances, offering rent free periods. This has been compounded by the addition of 3,600 apartments in Q1, which is expected to top 17,000 by the end of the year, thus putting further pressure on the rental market,” said Stevens.
In the villa rental market the trend was similar to apartments with declines of 3% q-on-q and 8% annually as tenants took advantage of increased availability of competitively priced properties.
Arabian Ranches recorded an annual decline of 14% and a q-on-q drop of 9% with a three-bedroom available from AED125,000 to AED200,000. In Jumeirah, an annual decrease of 15% and a 7% q-on-q drop, resulted in rents for a three-bedroom to range from AED150,000 to AED230,000. The Lakes saw very little price movement with a nominal decline of 1% q-on-q and rents for a three-bedroom ranging from AED170,000 to AED250,000.
Rental rates are expected to decline further as 4,000 villas are scheduled to be delivered by the end of the year, which are likely to be leased below prevailing rates to improve take-up.
“Sales prices in many communities are fluctuating and are not expected to stabilise until rental rates bottom out, which is not expected to happen until later this year or early 2018,” added Stevens.
In the commercial sector, rents and sales both fell by 2% over the quarter. The bulk of business enquiries and transactions were for smaller sized units. However, with current oversupply (further delivery of 2.7 million sqft is expected by the end of 2017), increased pressure has been placed on annual sales and rentals resulting in rates to soften by 3% and 6% respectively.
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Saudi Arabia based Ma’ather for Real Estate Management LLC invests in Asteco’s proven franchise brand, the first in the country
Asteco, the Middle East’s largest independent full-service real estate company, has added its first franchise in Saudi Arabia to its growing integrated network, taking the tally of franchises to 15 in the GCC.
Following the signing of the agreement with Asteco’s licensing division, Ma’ather for Real Estate Management LLC, the main real estate division of the Rabiah & Nasser Group (RANCO), a leader in the Saudi construction, industrial and real estate industry, will now operate under the Asteco brand. The signing ceremony, which took place yesterday at Cityscape Abu Dhabi, was attended by Asteco Managing Director, John Stevens; Asteco Director of Licensing, Sean McCauley; Eng. Raed Al Rabiah, Managing Director and Ahmed Al Bader, General Manager of Ma’ather for Real Estate Management LLC.
Commenting on the announcement, Stevens said: “RANCO has built a solid reputation over the last 60 years as reliable and trustworthy real estate company, with credentials second-to-none. Their extensive knowledge and business acumen makes them a natural fit for the Asteco franchise model and I look forward to working with the team on the international and domestic real estate Saudi market.”
RANCO is recognised as one of the key driving forces behind Saudi Arabia’s positive urban development. Projects developed include residential and compound properties in Riyadh and Al Khobar, as well as commercial office complexes in Riyadh, Al Khobar and Jeddah.
Several government initiatives put in place to increase housing supply in Saudi Arabia through partnerships with the private sector in 2016 have resulted in a confident outlook for 2017, offsetting the reduction in both government and consumer spending. The introduction of Real Estate Investments Funds (REITs) is also expected to have a positive impact on the real estate industry in the Kingdom.
“This new franchise subsidiary is in line with our group vision in residential development and complements our real estate property management portfolio,” said Eng. Raed Al Rabiah, Managing Director, Ma’ather for Real Estate Management LLC. “The backing of a real estate firm of Asteco’s standing and its plus 30 years of experience will undoubtedly play a major role in supporting us during the launch phase and beyond. The gravitas of the Asteco brand combined with our local knowledge and expertise means we can look forward to business growth and success in the future.”
Asteco’s franchise model provides partners with a high value referrals service, access to Asteco’s market research and quarterly reports, dedicated intranet with a comprehensive range of resources, regular communication and updates, as well as use of the industry-leading real estate software and CRM platform.
As the only locally established, full service real estate business in the region offering a bespoke franchise opportunity, Asteco provides independent market analysis, design development consultancy and valuation services, sales and leasing services, as well as asset and property management services.
Its licencing division, established in 2014, was created specially to offer franchise opportunities to qualifying real estate companies, independent realtors and regional entrepreneurs looking to diversify their existing businesses, or launch a start-up in the property sector.
Currently, Asteco has 14 franchises across four different countries in the GCC, including Livington Properties, Asset Value Real Estate Brokerage and Savana Real Estate in Dubai, as well as Bahrain-based RightWay. All franchisees enjoy 100% of the commission and benefit from more than three decades of real estate experience earned by Asteco. Franchisees can also capitalise on tailored set-up support services, bespoke operating areas and regional brand visibility while tapping into an enviable sales and leasing portfolio.
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According to the latest Q1 2017 Abu Dhabi market report from leading real estate consultancy Asteco, a combination of reduced public spending, business contraction, a reduction in staff benefits and the continued delivery of new housing units, have all placed downward pressure on rental rates and sales prices across Abu Dhabi's real estate sectors.
Nonetheless, existing and off-plan developments with unique selling points in desirable locations such as Saadiyat Island, have bucked the trend and recorded particularly healthy demand.
Similarly, rental rates within this master community have proven more resilient due to the limited supply and general appeal of the area.
Overall, Asteco research identified a 3% quarter-on-quarter (q-on-q) decline in apartment rental rates in Q1 this year. Over the last 12 months, the market recorded a drop of 8% in rates.
"In part this was a consequence of tenants negotiating favourable leasing conditions, as budgets were reined in, due to economic uncertainty and overall employment prospects," said John Stevens, Managing Director, Asteco.
Villa rental rates put up a slightly better performance with declines limited to 5% over the last 12 months and a marginal 2% for the first quarter - attributed to low demand and limited availability of quality units.
However, villas in some communities, such as Al Raha Gardens and lower end units on Abu Dhabi Island, recorded decreases of up to 12%.
"The low oil price continues to weigh heavily on the capital's property market, as the government continues to cut spending, at a time when a significant amount of new supply is ready to be delivered. This quarter has underscored the existing trend that 2017 will be challenging," added Stevens.
"We expect to see further corrections, but with a marked increase in demand for good quality and competitively priced products as the appetite for older stock fades. Indeed, we've already witnessed off-plan, well-priced villas with flexible payment plans, such as TDIC's Lagoons project, generating interest from potential investors."
Apartment sales prices decreased by 2% q-on-q and 4% since Q1 2016. Al Muneera, Sun & Sky Towers, The Gate and Saadiyat Beach Residences all experienced declines of AED200 per ft2 to AED1,350 per ft2, AED1,300 per ft2, AED1,250 per ft2 and AED1,400 per ft2, respectively.
Villa sales prices witnessed a quarter-on-quarter decline of 2%, while annually the figures decreased by 5%. Raha Gardens had a quarterly drop of 2%, with a two-bedroom villa averaging AED2.6 million. Al Reef prices softened by 3%, a two-bedroom villa sold for AED1.85 million and Saadiyat Beach Villas, where prices dropped by just 1%, were available for AED5.75 million for a two-bedroom.
New supply is also steering performance with 2,700 new apartments delivered over the last 15 months, many leased and sold below prevailing rates to facilitate a higher take-up.
In Q1, 1,350 new apartments and 150 new villas were completed across Abu Dhabi. By the end of 2017, it is expected developers in the Emirate will have delivered another 2,550 new apartments and 900 new villas.
Stevens said: "The anticipated delivery of new projects, in the short to medium term, is expected to increase investment opportunities, which in turn will have a positive effect on transaction volume."
In the commercial sector, rents fell 10% compared with Q1 2016 and 2% over the quarter.
In Q1 2017, rental rates in older Grade B buildings ranged from AED650 to AED930 per m2 per annum, whilst fitted space in new prime buildings achieved AED1,800 per m2 per annum on average.
By year end, it is expected that 180,000 sqm of new office space will be delivered across several high-profile office towers, including the ADIB Headquarters building on Airport Road, as well as Leaf Tower and Omega Tower, both located on Reem Island.
The office sales market remained restricted by the limited number of units available for sale.
Stevens commented: "We can attribute the decline in the office market to limited new take-up and virtually no tenants upgrading to larger units or better locations. Tenants are generally looking for smaller units with parking, which resulted in owners of larger office areas to sub-divide space to meet the demand for affordable offices for Small and Medium size Enterprises (SMEs)."
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Prospective buyers in Jordan are taking a cautious approach to investing by seeking out smaller units offering the best value for money, according to the latest report from leading real estate consultancy Asteco.
To motivate buyers, both the government and developers have put several incentives in place to alleviate the oversupply the market witnessed in 2016. In line with these efforts, prices have remained stable throughout the year and over the quarter, but resulted in a reduction in transaction levels, according to the Asteco Jordan Real Estate Q4 2016 report.
“The oversupply in the residential sales market has put pressure on developers to be more competitive to sell their properties while the government has introduced new tax saving measures to help stimulate the market,” said John Stevens, Managing Director, Asteco.
“The new initiative, which waives the registration fee for the first 150 square metres of any home smaller than 180 square metres is feeding the trend for buyers looking for smaller units that are competitively priced – especially in the densely-populated capital city, Amman,” added Stevens.
Sales prices for apartments remained stable across the board during 2016, standing at an average of JOD1,375 (AED7,128) per square metre for units in Abdoun and 4th Circle, JOD1,250 (AED6,480) in Um-Othainah, JOD1,200 (AED6,220) in Der Ghabar, JOD1,188 (AED6,158) in Sweifieh and JOD1,100 (AED5,702) in Al-Rabiah.
The International Monetary Fund has predicted that Jordan’s economy will gradually gather pace over the next few years, with GDP expected to reach 3.3% in 2017 and 4% by 2019 – a momentum that could provide a welcome boost for property sales.
One upcoming project in the spotlight is Al Abdalli, a mixed-use development in Amman that will comprise residential, office, retail and hotel components over a total built-up area of two million square metres.
“Although the market is going through a sluggish phase and transaction levels have reduced, sales are still taking place,” said Stevens. “It is hoped that the climate will improve in 2017 as the economy continues to grow and new developments come online to deepen the breadth of choice.”
The Asteco report also highlights how apartment rental rates in Amman recorded a marginal increase of 1%, on average, over Q4 2016, with year-on-year growth standing at 3%.
“Abdoun and Der Ghabar areas saw the most significant increase of 6% due to the high level of demand for good quality units,” said Stevens.
A three-bedroomed apartment in Abdoun is available for JOD19,250 (AED99,788) and JOD17,750 (AED92,012) in 4th Circle whilst the most affordable options are found in Al-Rabiah for JOD10,750 (AED55,726). Those seeking a smaller space can rent a one-bedroomed apartment in Sweifieh for JOD4,250 (AED22,031) or JOD5,250 (AED27,219) in Der Ghabar.
The office market saw limited activity over the last quarter and rental rates declined by 2%, on average. Areas such as Wadi Saqra and Shemeisani saw the biggest decline of 7% and 3%, respectively, as landlords reduced rental rates to attract tenants and improve occupancy levels.
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The increase in affordable housing in Dubai is having a negative effect on rents in the Northern Emirates, according to the latest report from real estate consultancy Asteco.
The Northern Emirates Real Estate Report Q4 2016 revealed average rent levels declined marginally during Q4 2016 in the Northern Emirates, with Sharjah, Ajman and Fujairah witnessing decreases of 1% on average.
John Stevens, Managing Director, Asteco, said: “We could see further declines in 2017 if the supply of affordable property, continues to stifle demand in the Northern Emirates. Sharjah and Ajman are expected to experience more downward pressure on rates in comparison to Ras Al Khaimah and Umm Al Quwain.”
Over the year (2016), apartment rents in Sharjah fell 3%, on average, with a typical one-bedroom apartment renting for around AED31,000 per annum. This was not helped by the Sharjah Municipality’s decision in Q3 2016, to increase the rent attestation fee from 2% to 4% of the annual rent, which resulted in a reduced number of tenant relocations and upgrades within the Emirate.
“However, to arrest the slide landlords in Sharjah have offered rent-free periods and more flexible payment plans (six to 12 cheques) in order to retain existing tenants and attract new ones. For example, the newly completed Sahara Tower offered rent-free periods in order to increase occupancy levels,” added Stevens.
Apartment rates in Ras Al Khaimah fell, on average, by a nominal 1% year-on-year, although there was a 2% increase in master planned communities such as Al Hamra Village and Mina Al Arab, which outperformed mature apartment units due to enhanced product offerings and facilities.
On a cautionary note, Stevens said: “With the handover of more than 1,400 apartment units on Al Marjan Island, rental rates are expected to decline as better quality options will become available to tenants.”
Apartment rents in Ajman, on average, fell by 2% year-on-year, with a typical one-bedroom property now renting at AED31,000 per annum. Rents in Umm Al Quwain were unchanged year-on-year from 2015.
Meanwhile, the commercial sector in Sharjah remained flat throughout 2016 due to a lack of demand for office space. Rental rates in the newly handed over Al Marzouqi Tower decreased from AED65 per ft2 to AED55 per ft2. This was in addition to rent-free periods of up to three months offered by the landlord to encourage take-up.
Stevens said: “The Sharjah commercial market is expected to remain stable or, in some areas, show marginal rate declines during 2017 due to new supply combined with lacklustre demand for office space.
“On the other hand, the retail market in Sharjah and Ajman is expected to witness improvements with the handover of new supply such as Ajman City Centre, various retail outlets at Al Majaz Waterfront, and Zero 6 Mall.”
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Abu Dhabi Tenants will move for better value in 2017, says latest Asteco report
Average rental rates in Abu Dhabi for apartments and villas fell by 7% and 5% respectively during 2016 and are expected to soften further in 2017, according to the latest Abu Dhabi Real Estate Report Q4 2016 from leading consultancy Asteco.
The decline will be exacerbated by new supply to the market. Approximately 1,400 residential units were handed over during 2016, and around 4,000 units – including 2,700 apartments and 1,360 villas - are expected to be handed over this year.
“Although delays cannot be ruled out, this will definitely put pressure on rental rates for existing stock,” said John Stevens, Managing Director, Asteco.
The continued macroeconomic uncertainty will also negatively affect rents as tenants search for more affordable rates.
“Residential units that were previously able to maintain rental levels due to the reluctance of existing tenants to move, are now more likely to be affected as residents in search of the best value-for-money will become more frequent. High profile corporate mergers in the pipeline are expected to lead to increased job uncertainty and could affect employee benefit packages, including housing allowances over the next few years, raising the potential for softening demand and therefore declines in market rates,” added Stevens.
Average apartment rents fell by 7% over 2016, whilst prime and high-end apartments declined by 6% and 9% respectively year-on-year. The average annual rent of a high-end two-bedroom property on Abu Dhabi Island falling 10% to AED 141,000 in 2016; and a two-bedroom apartment in Khalidya/ Bateen dropping by as much as 13%, on average, to AED 146,000. Mid and lower end apartments experienced a 5% drop, primarily during the second half of last year.
Similar to apartments, villa rents declined by 5% on average in 2016, with the greatest decrease witnessed in the Al Raha Beach area (10%). “Mature villas, which previously recorded high rental rates, have been affected the most, which resulted in an increase in vacancies in some communities,” said Stevens.
Average rents for villas on Saadiyat Island remained relatively stable over the year, which was mainly due to a large percentage of owner occupier properties.
Apartment sales prices, meanwhile, decreased by 4% on average in 2016, with properties in Marina Square and The Gate both experiencing average drops of AED125 per ft2. Apartments in Raha Beach/Al Bandar and Reef Downtown both saw average price increases of AED50 per ft2 compared to 2015 figures.
In terms of average villa sales prices, there was an average 4% decline during 2016. Villas in Raha Gardens fell by AED65 per ft2 and Golf Gardens by AED60 per ft2 on average. Saadiyat Beach Villas (Standard) held their value year-on-year.
Stevens said: “The anticipated delivery of new residential projects is expected to increase investment opportunities, which in turn will have a positive effect on transaction volumes. Off-plan projects offering attractive sales rates and payment plans will continue to achieve good demand levels.”
Office rental rates decreased on average by 7% year-on-year, with a notable slowdown in office take-up and upgrades, particularly for larger space requirements. As a result landlords countered by offering smaller units, lower rental rates and more flexible payment plans.
“Demand for large offices will remain subdued and landlords are expected to continue to subdivide space in order to entice new take-up,” said Stevens. “New prime office projects are expected to be handed over in 2017, including Al Hilal Bank Headquarters and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank Headquarters, which are likely to increase vacancy levels on the back of low demand.”
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Dubai Tenants have the advantage in 2017, says Asteco
Tenants in Dubai could have the upper hand when negotiating rental rates thanks to a significant amount of stock coming to the market in 2017, according to the latest report from leading real estate consultancy Asteco.
There are 31,500 apartments and 12,500 villas and townhouses scheduled to be delivered this year in areas including City Walk by Meraas, Damac’s Akoya, Dubai Wharf by Dubai Properties and Emaar’s Mira. This is in addition to 8,750 apartments and 5,000 villas completed in 2016.
“Tenants will be offered a significant choice of completed properties in 2017 in both established and new communities,” said John Stevens, Managing Director, Asteco.
“The additional supply will continue to put downward pressure on market rates, which will place the negotiating power firmly in the hands of tenants, despite a forecasted increase in population,” he added.
However, the gap between planned delivery and actual handover can be “worlds apart, which could limit the impact of oversupply and generate modest levels of growth in certain popular communities,” he said.
Figures in the Asteco Dubai Real Estate Q4 2016 report support the fact that the balance has been tipped away from landlords and it is the tenants who have the advantage when it comes to negotiating lease terms.
Although average apartment rental rates declined by 5% since the previous quarter and 6% over the year, the individual numbers indicate that the market is becoming increasingly fragmented. Whilst rental rates in certain areas declined, others were more resilient to change and even experienced marginal growth. It is also important to note that buildings within specific communities are showing disparities in terms of the overall offerings and hence rates.
The majority of areas have seen rental rates for one bedroom apartments drop AED 5,000 to AED 15,000. Units in Jumeirah Beach Residence are now available for AED 105,000, Business Bay demands AED 75,000 and International City reports AED 45,000 on average.
As average one bedroom rents in Jumeirah Lakes Towers witnessed declines of AED 15,000 over the year to AED 75,000, rates in Downtown Dubai (AED 115,000), The Greens (AED 95,000) and Al Barsha (AED 75,000) all held their rental levels year-on-year.
Average villa rents fell by 3% over Q4 and 5% year-on-year. Similar to the apartment leasing market, rents in areas such as Al Barsha and The Meadows saw double digit declines over the year as tenants relocated to newer, more affordable areas.
However, average rents for three bedroom villas in popular communities such as Jumeirah (AED 190,000), Jumeirah Village (AED 160,000) and The Springs (AED 180,000) remained unchanged from a year earlier.
Two villa developments have crossed the AED 200,000 mark for three bedroom units including Al Barsha and Arabian Ranches with villas available for AED 175,000 and AED 195,000 on average.
Stevens said: “Landlords, especially corporates, offered incentives such as increasing the number of cheques accepted and longer rent-free periods to entice take-up, especially in newly handed over communities that still lack supporting infrastructure, retail and leisure facilities. Single unit owners (especially those with mortgages) were more inclined to reduce rental rates to increase take-up, rather than undergo prolonged periods without any rental income.”
Overall, average sales prices remained relatively unchanged over Q4 and for the full year, which Stevens believes, “signals the bottoming out of the market”.
Although average sales prices of an apartment in Dubai Marina dropped compared with 2015, rates rose marginally over the quarter. Apartment sale prices in Jumeirah Lakes Towers, on average, held firm at AED 1,150 per square foot.
In line with the apartment sector, average villa sale prices were generally flat over the last quarter, while the overall average annual change was minimal at -2%. Well established communities in prime locations such as Emirates Living and Arabian Ranches saw an average increase of AED 150 per square foot, whilst rates for developments with more supply growth potential, such as Jumeirah Village, dropped by AED 100 per square foot.
Stevens said: “Market sentiment is expected to improve on the back of increased government spending on infrastructure, hospitality and retail projects, which will have a positive effect on demand for real estate in Dubai.”
“The sales market will be increasingly driven by long-term investors and owner-occupiers and the rise in first time buyers will continue throughout 2017 as people take a long-term view to living in Dubai.”
Average office rental rates fell 3% year-on-year, while average sales also suffered a drop, of 5%. “Both office rental rates and sale prices will continue to come under pressure as new developments are handed over whilst demand is expected to remain low. Tenants and buyers will continue to expect attractive rates, incentives and flexible payment terms,” said Stevens.
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Tenants drive value as rents fall across Dubai
The latest Dubai Property Review Q3 2016 report by leading real estate consultancy Asteco has revealed increasing pressure is being placed on landlords as budget conscious tenants continue to place emphasis on downgrading to smaller units or relocating to cheaper communities to get better value for money.
Apartments in Jumeirah Village Circle and Dubai Sports City saw rates increase by 2% and 3% respectively – the latter also recorded the highest growth over the year, averaging 13% as demand for affordable housing increased. The mid to high end segment also saw some movement, with Business Bay recording a 5% decline due to new supply being handed over and budget conscious tenants looking for alternatives.
John Stevens, Managing Director, Asteco, said: “Although rental rates have remained relatively stable this quarter we are seeing a definite shift to more affordable areas such as Jumeirah Village and Dubai Sports City where rents are cheaper and an increasing number of amenities are coming on line as communities reach critical mass.”
Apartment rental rates in Jumeirah Village ranged from AED40,000 to AED55,000 for a studio and from AED125,000 to AED165,000 for a three-bedroom unit. In mid to high end areas such as Jumeirah Lakes Towers studios ranged from AED55,000 to AED75,000 while three bedroom apartments were available from AED120,000 to AED180,000. The high to luxury end of the market with developments such as Downtown Dubai saw studios priced from AED75,000 to AED105,000 while three bedroom units varied from AED175,000 and AED300,000.
In the villa market rents ranged from AED130,000 to AED185,000 for a two-bedroom villa in Arabian Ranches, AED125,000 to AED160,000 for the same size in Jumeirah Village. In the Springs a two-bedroom villa is priced between AED130,000 and AED145,000, for a three bedroom the cost varies from AED165,000 and AED220,000.
Villas in Jumeirah and Umm Suqeim recorded a significant year-on-year decline of 19% and 12% respectively, which was attributed to substantial new supply and an increasing number of budget-conscious tenants.
Stevens said: “Given that tenants have a wide range of options to choose from, they are more likely to negotiate with their landlord; and if their requirements are not met, they will vacate. Whilst this was noticeable in Jumeirah and Umm Suqeim, this trend has spread throughout the wider Dubai market.
“With more handovers expected in the next few months, we anticipate villa rental rates could come under further pressure.”
According to Reidin, sales transactions were down by 22% compared with Q2 2016 and with many off-plan property launches at competitive rates, there is a possibility that developers could face some pressure in the near future. A significant increase in activity in the area closest to the new airport was recorded in the last few months, such as the launch of Emaar’s Urbana at Emaar South and various projects in Dubai South.
Stevens said: “Most of these recent releases had significantly lower asking prices compared with current market prices as developers expand into the affordable segment, by reducing unit sizes and launching projects in secondary locations.”
After dropping nearly 20% year-on-year, sales rates for apartments in Dubai Marina remained stable and it was a similar picture for DIFC, The Greens and JBR.
“With ample options available in the market, at various prices and attractive payment plans, buyers have significant choice. They also appeared to be better informed compared to previous years, as they researched their options, pricing, payment plans and developers’ track record,” said Stevens.
In terms of villa sales, interest was predominantly for more affordable and mid-priced units, typically priced between AED 2 to AED 5 million. As a result, established communities such as The Springs and Mudon recorded 5% and 1% increases respectively over the quarter.
Apartment sales prices in International City ranged from AED500 and AED900 per square foot, the Greens ranged from AED1,000 and AED1,600 per square foot and in Dubai Marina prices ranged from AED850 and AED2,400.
Villa sales prices varied from AED960 to AED1,380 per square foot in the Meadows, AED750 and AED1,500 per square foot in Jumeirah Park and between AED1,440 and AED3,500 per square foot on the Palm Jumeirah.
The commercial office sector in Dubai saw a 24% reduction in transactions compared to Q2 2016, although this was 12% higher than the corresponding period last year.
On the leasing front, Ibn Battuta continued to perform well with rates from AED 145 per square foot for small units and from AED 85 per square foot for larger shell and core space.
Land sales rates reached as low as AED 60 per square foot on the GFA in areas such as Majan, Jumeirah Village and Arjan.
Stevens said: “With more supply announced and due to enter the market over the next few months, there seems to be little potential for both rental and sales prices growth, except within select developments.”
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Landlords in Abu Dhabi are coming under increasing pressure as tenants look for more affordable rental rates against a backdrop of macroeconomic uncertainty and new supply, according to the Abu Dhabi Property Review Q3 2016 report from leading real estate consultancy, Asteco.
The report revealed the rental gap for high-end apartments between Dubai and Abu Dhabi reduced significantly over the last quarter, as Abu Dhabi recorded further declines – in Q1 2016 the price difference for one and two bedroom apartments between the two Emirates was typically AED 20,000 per annum and this has narrowed to AED 10,000.
In the affordable and mid-range residential segments, Abu Dhabi’s rates have reduced moderately, by AED 5,000 on average, since Q1 2016, whereas Dubai’s rates were marginally down by AED 1,000.
John Stevens, Managing Director, Asteco, said: “The ongoing job cuts across various industry sectors and the reduction of staff housing allowances continues to negatively affect demand with a number of tenants opting to downsize and / or move to more affordable units.”
In the capital, villa rents were down, on average, by 2% from the previous quarter. The highest drop was in Al Raha Gardens (6%) followed by Al Raha Beach Villas (4%). Demand for older villas inside Abu Dhabi City was also down with premium units most affected – the average decline since the same period last year was over 10%.
Saadiyat Beach Villas were the only exception with rates continuing to increase since handover, recording a 7% increase compared with the same period last year.
Prime apartment projects on Saadiyat Island maintained stable rates and close to full occupancy during Q3, while other prime and high quality apartments saw their rates fall by 1% from Q2 2016 and by an average of 6% since Q3 2015. High end units in the Corniche saw rates drop by 9% from the same period last year.
Stevens said: “The majority of vacant apartments, which were offered at reduced rates in Q2, have now been leased out, especially the smaller unit types (studio, one and two bedroom). This indicates that there is demand in the market, but value for money is the most important factor. In comparison, larger and more expensive three and four bedroom duplexes and townhouses recorded over 10% decline since the last quarter, with a high percentage remaining vacant for over six months.”
In terms of apartment sales, there was a 1% average decline during the quarter, with Reem Island affected the most. Projects at Al Raha Beach and Saadiyat Island, as well as Al Reef, recorded higher sales rates of 3% to 5% compared with the same period last year.
Villa sales remained quiet with limited transactions mostly for completed units. Stevens said: “Sales prices decreased by 1% on average, since last quarter and by over 4% since Q3 2015. Only Saadiyat Beach Villas recorded no change this quarter, however, rates were up by 4% compared with last year.”
Low oil prices continue to negatively affect Abu Dhabi’s economy. Office rental rates are currently at their lowest point since market peak in late 2008, with rates, on average, 72% lower. Rents in prime office buildings are now close to AED 1,600 per square metre, representing a 4% decrease over the last three months.
Stevens said: “Large corporate and government entities often form the main tenants of prime office space, and with uncertain economic conditions and low oil prices, demand from these segments has reduced considerably.”
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