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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Middle East’s largest real estate services firm named overall Arabia regional winner in two categories, with five stars for Best Property Consultancy and Best Property Consultancy Marketing in Dubai
Asteco, was recognised at the Africa & Arabia Property Awards during a glittering gala ceremony at the JW Marriott Marquis on Thursday evening (22nd September), as the UAE’s leading real estate firm won Best Property Consultancy Dubai and Best Property Consultancy Marketing Dubai.
The company, nominated as Arabia’s best, will now represent the Middle East competing with other winning entries from Europe, Canada, the Caribbean, USA, Central & South America, the UK and Asia Pacific for the title of the ‘World’s Best’ winner in London on the 12th December.
“This is the first time we have entered these awards and I’m delighted we’ve been recognised ahead of some stiff competition from the best of Dubai’s real estate industry. The award is testament to our ongoing commitment to offering a first class service which has helped us secure AED13 billion of sales and nearly 16 million square feet of leased property over the last 30 years,” said John Stevens, Managing Director, Asteco.
Initiatives contributing to Asteco’s success on the evening included the introduction of the first UAE real estate company franchise offering, which is now practicing in four countries and the Asteco Training Academy, another first of its kind for the real estate industry in the GCC region.
Other exceptional developments include Asteco’s in-house web-based multi-lingual software program for property management called Estateman, custom designed in-house. Asteco still holds a unique position as the UAE’s only company able to offer developers a full range of services across the entire project development value chain, were also contributing factors to their recognition on the evening.
“We’ve built an incredible team at Asteco based on market-leading experience, innovation and embracing new technologies. These professional skills are essential to our ability to plan for the future. We look forward to competing with our international peers in London and being the standard bearer for real estate professionalism throughout the GCC,” added Stevens.
The Arabian Property Awards are part of the long established International Property Awards, recognised as one of the prestigious accolades in the residential and commercial property industries. Following a stringent judging process, held in London, involving a panel of over 80 international experts, Asteco was awarded five-stars in both categories and progressing to the global stage of proceedings.
"The Arabian Property Awards are an internationally recognised mark of excellence in the industry. Competition is intense and becomes more so each year, so any company achieving success in the Awards should be proud of their achievement - it demonstrates an outstanding level of quality and service,” said Stuart Shield, President, International Property Awards.
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Dubai sales market forecasted to bottom out by end 2016; trend towards affordable development persists with increase in single-unit buyers expected in 2017
Government cuts to budgets expected to impact rental rates and sales transaction volumes in Abu Dhabi in H2 2016; 3% drop in rental rates recorded from Jan-June with 2% average decrease in apartment sales prices
Asteco, the Middle East’s largest full service real estate company has released a special Cityscape report on the current status of the UAE real estate market revealing a general slowdown in all emirates, but highlighting marked differences between Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Dubai experienced a slow first six months, but for different reasons, with developers slowing the pace of project completions and handovers due to the forecasted oversupply of residential properties in the market, which prompted a slight decrease of around 2% and 1% respectively on rental rates for apartments and villas.
The cumulative effect of falling oil prices and the resulting cuts to government budgets over the last 18 months has been the catalyst for the slowdown in Abu Dhabi, where resulting job cuts in the last 6-8 months led to H1 2016 residential rental rate declines of 3% on average, with high-end units down by 4%; and a subdued sales market.
“We are seeing two unique pictures emerge for the residential sector in both emirates. What is interesting to note in Dubai is the decision of families to downsize and even send spouses and children home in an effort to save money,” said John Stevens, Managing Director, Asteco.
“We are seeing signs of this in Abu Dhabi with a migration or downsizing mainly from high-end large units, to more affordable developments; which has led to a rise in vacancy rates for larger units and which could prompt an increase in rental rates for smaller units in more desirable buildings,” added Stevens.
Dubai added 2,000 new primarily mid-level and affordable apartments and 200 villas and townhouses in H1 2016, with affordable developments such as Siraj Tower at Arjan and 400 units in Dubai Silicon Oasis; the mid-range Ajmal Sarah Tower and Dubai Sports City, Canal Residence West; and, at the top end, Palm Jumeirah’s Osaimi Apartments.
The Asteco report highlighted substantial interest in Jumeirah Village from both end users and investors with buyers recognising the potential of the community from a locational point of view in comparison to newer projects launched south of Mohamed Bin Zayed Road.
Apartment prices in most communities continued to be under pressure with an overall price reduction of 3% during H1 2016, however prices are still 64% higher than 2011. For the villa market, rates were broadly stable over the last six months with an average increase of 0.3%, with a trend towards smaller two to four-bedroom homes in communities such as Arabian Ranches, The Springs and Mudon, still prevalent.
“We expect to see further marginal declines in values over the next six months as the market looks likely to bottom out by year end with, at most, a 5% decline. This could be offset by potential increased transaction volume as lower prices unlock demand and stimulate renewed interest from single-unit buyers for soon-to-be-completed buildings.
“From a rentals perspective, demand for studio, one and affordable two-bedroom units is likely to remain strong, with a potential increase in rates in some areas as occupancy levels improve,” said Stevens.
Limited supply of new H1 released supply in Abu Dhabi helped to limit any major reduction in rental rates with just 800 apartments added including Wave Tower on Reem Island, resulting in an overall drop of 3%. This trend was replicated in the villa market, however at a reduced rate of just 1%.
Transaction levels in the capital have been largely quiet with asking rates still relatively high in comparison to other emirates (nominal 2% decline recorded) despite owners putting units back onto the market; and the ongoing lack of affordable units stymying prospective investors with limited budgets.
“We are still seeing good levels of demand for affordable products like the Al Ghadeer and Al Reef townhouses, with no decline in sales prices, which confirms the appeal, and shortage, of this kind of product in the market,” noted Stevens.
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Middle East’s largest real estate services firm reaffirms commitment to talent development and franchisee support
Leading UAE real estate services firm Asteco has reaffirmed its commitment to recognising the importance of its employees and growing franchisee network to its long-term commercial success with a people-first pledge as it looks to future growth despite challenging market conditions.
The company has recently promoted seven individuals to newly created associate director positions, and has also launched the Asteco Academy, a first-of-its-kind training and development facility for brand franchisees.
“These are testing times, not only for the real estate sector, but for businesses in general. While we are seeing an increasing number of lay-offs and company restructuring in response to the bottoming out of the market and current economic challenges, Asteco believes that this exactly the time when we need to invest in our greatest asset – our people,” said John Stevens, Managing Director, Asteco.
Building on almost four decades’ market-leading experience, the run of recent promotions has further strengthened Asteco’s senior executive team with the new associate directors being Tamer Chaaban from the Property Management Department; Anne Marie Shein and Morgan Dalton from the Asset Management Department; James Joughin from Valuations; Julia Knibbs from Research & Consultancy; Melnora Francisco Burayag from Finance; and Nick White from Owners Association Management Services.
All new associate directors will have greater autonomy over budgets and will act as the figurehead within their respective departments while also being responsible for reporting to the Asteco board.
“With close to a cumulative century of industry experience both here and internationally, the team is truly at the vanguard of Asteco’s strategic development and this confidence and acknowledgement of these individual’s professional skills is essential to our ability to plan for the future and maintain our position as the Middle East’s largest real estate consultancy practice.
“The route to associate director has now been clearly defined and we can see the motivation that this given other colleagues in the company who didn’t meet the requirements to be considered for an Associate this year but are working to ensure that they achieve it during the next review process,” added Stevens.
Earlier this year, the Middle East’s largest independent full service real estate company also launched a unique training and development facility for the UAE market and its growing community of internationally licensed brand franchisees, the Asteco Academy.
Headed by leading organisational practitioner and Head of Training & Development, Brian Weaver, the academy is an international standard facility for the region and offers franchisees access to Asteco expertise with the aim of aligning corporate deliverables with franchisee business goals, offering Continuing Professional Development (CPD) opportunities to help franchises maintain a competitive edge; and providing long-term in-house support and advice as franchisees build their businesses.
“As well as supporting in-house talent and capabilities, we know that in order to develop Asteco brand presence and reputation, we need to bring our franchisees into the fold and offer holistic support and advisory services that will allow them to grow their business - and ours,” remarked Stevens.
“An employee or partner should not be viewed as a risk-bound asset that can be discarded at the first sign of weakening market or economy. We consider our teams and franchisees indispensible to our long term commercial viability and we also want to secure our position as a preferred employer or partner of choice,” he added.
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UAE real estate services firm Asteco supports Indy Lights rising star Ed Jones; association part of corporate initiative to back home grown talent
UAE real estate services firm Asteco has agreed to sponsor Dubai-based British racing car driver Ed Jones as he competes on the Indy Light circuit in the US this year. The relationship underscores a fundamental part of Asteco’s CSR programme, to support home grown talent.
“Ed’s personal qualities certainly provide synergy with our own corporate values. Ambition, talent, determination, are just a few of the core values shared between us, so we had no hesitation supporting him when the opportunity arrived,” said John Stevens, Managing Director, Asteco.
The talented 21-year-old, who drives for the Carlin team, finished his 2015 rookie season in third position. This season after eight rounds of racing, he is currently leading the drivers’ championship - 29 points ahead of his nearest rival, with a further 10 rounds to go.
In his most recent race, Jones claimed second place in the Mazda Freedom 100 on May 27th, losing out on victory in the closest ever finish in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. After starting from pole, Jones was a front runner throughout the race that saw plenty of changes for the lead. After a last lap attack, Jones looked to have secured victory, only for the timing screens to show Dean Stoneman 0.00024 seconds ahead at the line.
Jones’ next challenge will be the Mid-Ohio test in Lexington, Ohio on June 7 followed by Round 9 & 10 races at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin on 24th and 26th June. The Indy Lights season wraps-up with Round 18 on September 11th 2016 at Monterey, California.
The Mazda Road to Indy is the only driver development program in the world to feature a champion’s scholarship at every level to advance to the next step on the ladder system. The Indy Lights champion is awarded a US$1 million scholarship which pays toward competing in the Verizon IndyCar Series with three guaranteed races including the Indianapolis 500. Team and driver prize packages total over US$1.9 million.
“We are proud to be supporting such a talented young racing driver who is flying the flag for the UAE in the US. Ed’s performance so far has been very impressive and we hope he can achieve his ultimate goal this year of winning the Indy Lights championship and stepping up to the IndyCar series next season,” added Stevens.
Jones is fast gaining a reputation as one of the best young racing drivers to emerge from the UAE. His first major success came in 2006 where he won the National UAE karting championship. Following a number of title wins, he made the transition to cars in 2011 and worked his way up from the Intersteps Championship to the Formula Renault and Formula 3. In 2014 Jones clinched the European F3 Open Championship and after joining Carlin, competed in the FIA European F3 Championship, prior to his debut season in Indy Lights last year.
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Asteco, the Middle East’s largest full service real estate company has highlighted a continued focus on affordability in the UAE’s residential sales market, with prices in Dubai dropping by 5% year-on-year and transaction levels declining by 17%.
“This market has moved favourably towards the buyer as prices drop and cash investors and end-users find themselves in a strong negotiating position. Buyers are definitely considering their investment options as the market appears to be bottoming out and sellers seem prepared to take a more realistic view on pricing,” said John Stevens, Managing Director, Asteco.
The most transacted areas in value terms were Dubai Marina, Palm Jumeriah and Downtown Dubai however apartment sales prices in those locations were down 6% on the Palm Jumeirah and 4% in both the Marina and Downtown in Q1 2016.
International City had the highest number of transactions recorded in the quarter with a corresponding 1% increase in prices, further underscoring the demand for affordable housing. IMPZ, and Jumeirah Village also notched quarter-on-quarter increases of 4% and 5% respectively.
The villa market experienced a similar trend with sales prices down on average 6%, compared to last year and 2% when compared with Q4 2015. Buyer interest at the higher end of the market was limited and communities such as Jumeirah Golf Estates, The Villa and larger sized villas in Arabian Ranches saw sales prices drop by 14%, 11% and 13% based on last year’s prices.
“Newly launched properties with more affordable price points and payment plans are attracting investment interest and are selling very well. The reputation of the developer is also playing a major role as investors and end users want to be certain that their properties will be delivered as agreed and the required infrastructure and community facilities completed,” added Stevens.
In Abu Dhabi sales demand for both apartments and villas was stunted. The popular Saadiyat Island and Al Raha Beach recorded price increases of 2% and 6% however these increases can be attributed to the limited available stock.
The other areas within Abu Dhabi to experience decreases in prices were The Gate, Sun & Sky Towers and Marina Square which saw quarter-on-quarter decreases of 6%, 5% and 6% respectively.
Villa transaction levels in Abu Dhabi were limited in Q1 2016, following strong demand throughout 2015, particularly in the more affordable communities in Al Raha Gardens and Al Reef. However new launches on Yas Island by Aldar and Al Saadiyat Island by TDIC are expected to generate reasonable demand due to a lack of suitable mid to upper-end villa communities available on a freehold ownership to all nationalities.
“Sales for new launches, which slowed down in 2015, are expected to pick up once buildings come closer to handover, we anticipate that this will more than likely be a 2017 scenario. The signs are already promising with Yas Acres by Aldar and Saadiyat Lagoons District by TDIC and Al Faya at Bloom Gardens development by Bloom Properties, all launched in Q1 2016,” said Stevens.
The Northern Emirates are also attracting strong interest with a number of significant projects being planned and announced particularly in the tourism and residential sectors.
According to the Ajman Real Estate Regulatory Authority, approximately 4,000 units were sold in 2015, totaling AED 11 billion and representing a 27% increase in transactions taking place in 2014. Good quality, completed developments are attracting investors with developments in Ajman and Ras Al Khaimah, proving popular with Asian and Europeans as well as Kuwaitis, Saudis and Emiratis.
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Remaining 30 one-bedroom units to be released for sale with guaranteed ROI of 10% per annum through to 2018; Asteco will also show DUKES Dubai British-themed project with just 13% of units remaining.
In partnership with Dubai-based luxury property developer Seven Tides, leading regional real estate consultancy firm and appointed sales agent, Asteco, will release the final tranche of units for sale as part of its luxury Anantara Residences hotel rooms collection at this year’s Cityscape Abu Dhabi exhibition.
This year Asteco will be making its Cityscape debut, at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre from 12-14 April 2016, offering 30 one-bedroom hotel room units for sale at the Anantara Residences Hotel Rooms project on The Palm Jumeirah, with sizes ranging from 530 up to 650 square feet, and a starting price of AED 1.3 million.
This follows the successful December 2015 release of phase one of the Anantara hotel rooms project, which saw all 73 units snapped up within days of release.
"The Anantara Residences project, and the hotel rooms' component in particular, have been in high demand from the international investment community since day one of release. The choice between an upmarket second home and hotel rental managed one-bedroom unit has allowed us to reach out to a wider investor base, which when coupled with the extremely attractive ROI potential, has fast-tracked interest and sales," said Abdulla bin Sulayem, CEO, Seven Tides.
A complete lifestyle experience is included with guests enjoying full
access to the hotel's exclusive facilities, which include a 4,000-square
foot state-of-the-art gym, 107,600-square feet of temperature
controlled lagoon pools, six world-class dining and entertainment venues
and the Anantara Spa as well as housekeeping, at-home dining, laundry
and childcare services.
The Anantara Residences North and South buildings, which also come with a three-year developer-backed guarantee of 10% (paid quarterly) will also be on show at Cityscape. Asteco will be presenting the one-bedroom through to penthouse apartments to interested investors.
Asteco statistics show that units have been purchased by investors from across the GCC as well as Russia, and India, reflecting the ongoing attraction of high quality and internationally branded residential projects located in prime Dubai areas to both regional investors and overseas buyers.
"With 10% guaranteed ROI for three years and the cachet of being situated on Palm Jumeirah within a truly unique island community, backed by a luxury global hospitality brand and five-star lifestyle, are compelling reasons why investors are drawn to this project," said John Stevens, Managing Director, Asteco.
DUKES Dubai, which has also performed exceedingly well in the current market environment. Ready for immediate rental from handover, investors are able to quickly realise ROI potential, which will be bolstered by the appeal of the hotel's luxury positioning and exceptional facilities.
Asteco will also be showcasing Seven Tides' latest development, its British-themed DUKES Dubai development, which is almost 90% sold out, with the developer recording unprecedented demand from investors across the region.
"DUKES 'Best of British' lifestyle has clearly resonated with investors and with just a few units remaining, we expect to see strong interest at Cityscape Abu Dhabi in the hotel-managed studio and one-bedroom apartments," said bin Sulayem.
Starting from AED 1.8 million, the DUKES Dubai collection of studio and one-bedroom apartments range in size from 376 to 882 square feet and are being marketed with the added bonus of a developer-backed ROI guarantee of 10% for five years.
"The DUKES units are for investment purposes only, sold on a freehold,
fully furnished basis. As part of the hotel-managed rental scheme,
purchasers have peace of mind from day one plus the added benefit that
for the first five years they are exempt from service charges,
maintenance fees and utility bills," noted Stevens.
Established in 2004, Seven Tides has developed its own portfolio of commercial, residential and resort properties in some of the world’s most desirable locations. Its award-winning flagship hotel, DUKES London, is situated in the fashionable Mayfair district and has been a hospitality icon in the capital for well over a century.
Asteco is exhibiting at Cityscape Abu Dhabi in Hall 6 – stand number E01. For sales enquiries please contact +971 600 54 7773 or email email@example.com.
Dubai property prices fall by 11% in 2015 - affordability key market driver in 2016 says Asteco.
Leading real estate consultancy Asteco has released its latest Dubai report, providing an historic review of last year and 2016 outlook, with affordable communities leading the way in terms of rental demand and investor opportunity against a scenario of significant oversupply looming in the high-end and luxury segments.
The report flags the impact of delayed project delivery in 2015 and a large pipeline for 2016, coupled with the demand slowdown and continued low oil prices, as an indicator of market prospects this year, with both rental rates and sales prices coming under further pressure.
A total of 13,500 apartments and 800 villas were added to Dubai’s residential real estate supply in 2015, and a further 22,000 apartments and 7,700 villas are scheduled to be delivered in 2016, with downward rental rate pressure likely to continue through to 2017, says the report.
"However, if we look to the medium and long-term, the outlook is more positive with demand more than likely to grow in line with the progress of key infrastructure projects currently underway, such as Dubai World Central Airport and Expo 2020," said John Stevens, Managing Director, Asteco.
Residential sales recorded across-the-board declines, with villa sales prices down year-on-year by 11% and apartments by 8%. Villas on Palm Jumeirah recorded price declines of 13% over the year, dropping to AED 2,475 per square foot on average and The Meadows was also down 15% to AED 1,150.
End-users, rather than investors, were the predominant buyers of villas and townhouses, with a clear preference for smaller 2, 3 and 4 bedroom units, rather than large villas. New communities such as Mudon and Arabian Ranches Phase 2 saw improved levels of activity, offering better-priced yet good quality alternatives to some of the more established areas.
At the high end of the apartment market, Jumeirah Beach Residence was down 16% to AED 1,370 per square foot and apartments on the Palm Jumeirah dropped 14% to AED 1,720 per square foot on average.
Villa rentals were down 9% on average year-on-year, but Al Barsha recorded an increase for three-bedroom villas, up 9.2% to AED 213,000 per annum while in Mirdiff similar properties rose 4.2% to AED 138,000.
The biggest falls came in Jumeirah and Umm Suqeim where three-bed villas dropped more than AED 50,000 or 20% on average to hit AED 195,000, while larger four-bedroom homes in Arabian Ranches and Jumeirah Park were also down 19% to AED 243,000 and 15.5% to AED 145,000 respectively.
"With fresh new supply entering the market, this is forcing property owners, especially of older independent villas, to become increasingly competitive on pricing," remarked Stevens.
With supply handover slower than anticipated in 2015, apartment rental rates remained broadly stable over the year, dipping just 1% on average, although Asteco recorded disparities between different areas.
Apartment rental rates were down by 4% on average, with Sheikh Zayed Road recording the highest drop of over 12%. Dubai Marina and Palm Jumeirah both saw a year-on-year dip, with a one-bedroom apartment dropping 13.3% to AED 98,000 and 10% to AED 135,000, respectively.
The DIFC area was not immune either in 2015, two-bedroom units have dropped 8.7% to AED 158,000 per annum, as did JBR with the highest average decline for a two-bedroom apartment, dropping 9.2% to AED 148,000.
"For property owners, adjustments in terms of rental expectations and payment flexibility will have to be made. And, as usual in cases of increased supply, better quality, well managed or value-for- money properties will be able to achieve higher occupancy levels than others," noted Stevens.
The commercial office sector fared slightly better despite significant new space of 500,000 square metres coming online in 2015 and 1.1 million square metres set to be delivered in 2016. H1 2015 saw improved levels of demand leading to moderate increases in rental rates in certain areas.
"The majority of new office supply entering the market this year will be strata-owned buildings in popular office areas like Business Bay and Jumeirah Lake Towers. Sales demand is expected to come primarily from SME level end-users," added Stevens.
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Latest Asteco report highlights affordability of Northern Emirates.
Leading real estate consultancy Asteco has released its latest Northern Emirates market update as part of its UAE-wide Real Estate Report, which includes a review of 2015 market activity as well as a 2016 outlook.
According to the report, the residential leasing picture in 2015, with the exception of Fujairah, saw rental rates across the Northern Emirates decline marginally, with Sharjah, Ajman and Ras Al Khaimah recording 2%, 0% and 2% falls, respectively.
"Market activity in Sharjah is historically interlinked with that of Dubai, with the two emirates in such close proximity that the ebb and flow of residents between them usually follows the rental market highs and lows in Dubai," said John Stevens, Managing Director, Asteco.
"But with both emirates investing heavily in infrastructure development and a growing quality-focused residential offering, we are seeing a slow shift towards a more stable environment as investors and tenants consider the quality of life outside of Dubai." He added.
In 2015, Sharjah added a number of residential developments to its existing supply including the Diamond Tower in Al Nahda with 2,105 units, two residential buildings in Al Tawuun (798 units) and a 175-unit block in the Al Khan district. This year could see more stock delivered including 1,520 units in Al Nahda (Rayyan Complex), Al Khan (Pearl Tower) and Al Qasimiyah (CG Mall Residences).
"It's worth noting that the swift take-up of newly handed over supply in Sharjah was in some cases, at higher rates than seen previously. This was due to the improved quality of the properties, convenient car parking availability, better facilities and amenities," remarked Stevens.
This is being driven largely by a rapidly developing tourism product with a number of initiatives launched in 2015 such as the expansion of the Majaz waterfront and the completion of Noor Island. In the Majaz and Al Khan areas, a ‘quality’ three-bedroom apartment commanded AED 95,000 and AED 105,000 respectively per annum, compared to AED 85,000 several months earlier.
Affordable developments in Sharjah attracting investors in 2015 included Al Thuriah’s Sahara Tower 4 in Al Nahda, where two-bedroom units started from AED 765,000 with 50% of payment due post-completion, and two-bedroom apartments at the Al Rayyan complex were available for under AED 1 million.
According to Stevens, although affordability is a key USP for many entry-level investors, the sales environment in Sharjah is expected to stagnate in 2016. This is despite the opening up of the market to foreigners, and is led by concerns about the general lack of regulatory clarity a major issue for prospective investors, further compounded by the increase of affordable and competitive products recently launched in neighbouring Dubai.
"If we consider the bigger picture and look at the Northern Emirates as a whole, only quality projects at truly affordable prices may be able to generate any traction – and only then if proper and transparent property ownership laws and regulations are in place,” said Stevens.
Major projects set to be handed over in 2016 in Ras Al Khaimah include the 1,440-unit Pacific Beachfront development on Marjan Island from the Select Group, with 80% of the apartments already sold according to the developer.
The popular Mina Al Arab community will launch phase two of its Flamingo Villas this year, delivering an additional 68 units by the year-end, ranging in size from 2,008 to 2,334 square feet.
Currently, new RAK developments are commanding average annual rental rates of AED 60,000 for a two-bedroom apartment, down from AED 63,000 in 2014, with three-bed units achieving AED 100,000 (down from AED 110,000 in 2014).
Ajman is also working to upgrade its attractiveness with exciting initiatives such as the Al Zorah development adding a golf course to the lifestyle offering. This year will also see the launch of a five-star Oberoi hotel in mid-2016.
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Rates steady in 2016 despite dip in demand for Abu Dhabi property says Asteco report, after modest market gains in 2015.
Leading real estate consultancy Asteco has released its latest UAE Real Estate Report with an in-depth focus on Abu Dhabi, looking back at 2015 and providing a 2016 outlook, with continued low oil prices set to exert ongoing downward pressure on the market despite limited pipeline growth.
Following a slow but overall positive market performance in 2015, which saw apartment rental rates increase, on average, by 5%, with prime projects achieving up to 10% growth, and 3-4% growth for apartment sales prices, Asteco expects a noticeable slowdown in the next 12 months, compounded by a reduction in government spending and stagnant salary levels.
"Expatriates make up around 75% of the population in the capital and are a major demand driver for residential property. So unless there is a significant shift in labour requirements, we feel that the existing supply and demand dynamic will keep the market in equilibrium in the short to medium term. In addition, the new property law – No.3 of 2015 - should boost investor confidence with improved sector regulations across a number of key areas," said Jerry Oates, General Manager, Asteco Abu Dhabi.
A total of 2,000 apartments and 100 villas were delivered last year including 850 units in phase one of Reem Island’s Hydra Avenue project, 160 units at Sea Side Tower, also on Reem Island, and 312 serviced apartments at Saraya’s Creek Tower on the Corniche.
"The temporary removal of the rent cap also helped increase rental rates for mid to low end units in line with market rate as these were previously underpriced. We are also, expecting a slight increase in rental rates for some popular projects, as well as some older buildings inside Abu Dhabi City that didn't increase their rates in 2015," added Oates. At the top end of the market, prime two-bed apartments on Abu Dhabi Island were renting at an average of AED 191,000 in 2015, up from AED 175,000 the previous year, while high-end two-beds in Central Abu Dhabi jumped from AED 145,000 to AED 150,000 and at Al Raha Beach from AED 155,000 to AED 161,000. At the mid and lower end, Reef Downtown increased from AED 100,000 to AED 104,000 and Corniche two-beds from AED 120,000 to AED 125,000.
Abu Dhabi will add 3,000 apartments and 850 villas to its residential supply this year, including Wave Tower with 229 units and Solaris Towers with 600 units on Reem Island, and phase one of Hidd Al Saadiyat (488 villas).
With 4% recorded growth in apartment sales prices, popular Raha Beach communities Al Bandar and Al Zeina moved upwards from AED 1,550 per square foot to AED 1,650 and AED 1,200 to AED 1300 respectively. For villas, 0% growth last year saw per square foot sales prices stuck at AED 1,020 for Golf Gardens, AED 650 for Hydra Village and AED 1,500 for the Saadiyat Beach (standard) Villas.
This year, Asteco is taking a cautious view of prospective market movement with the residential sales market not expected to see any major drop in prices for completed properties due to sustained demand by owner-occupiers and investors. “Sales for new launches, which slowed down in 2015, are also expected to pick up once buildings come closer to handover, but we anticipate that this will more than likely be a 2017 scenario,” noted Oates.
In the commercial sector, the overall office rental market remained stable in 2015 despite low demand due to the decline in oil prices; however, several fitted offices in grade B buildings that had been leased out at lower than market rates increased by 5% to 7% during H2.
"The overall demand for office space in 2016 is expected to be restrained due to the continued decline in oil prices and government spending cuts, which are likely to affect jobs especially in the oil sector," remarked Oates.