Shifts in property preferences pose opportunities

By Karim Adi

… for boutique real estate developers in Dubai

DUBAI 4 November 2017: Real estate transactions are experiencing growth in Dubai with an upward trend reported in the Dubai Land Department H1 Transaction Report.

The report highlights that total real estate transactions amounted to Dh132 billion through 35,571 sales, mortgages and other transactions as of 30 June 2017. This represents a 16.8% increase from Dh113 billion recorded in the first six months of 2016.

These transactions were observed across both popular and upcoming communities and were completed by buyers from various cultural backgrounds and nationalities. While the UAE is a well-established melting pot of cultures, predominant buyers in real estate include investors from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, India, Pakistan, the UK, China and Canada – each with unique expectations and requirements in property.

Boutique developers are therefore starting to explore the increasingly diverse customer demands and selecting niche markets where customized offerings can be created and delivered.

The shift in the Dubai real estate market
The real estate market in Dubai has undergone significant changes over the past decade and one main reason for it is the ever-evolving consumer preferences. As the market matures, developers, both large and small, are increasingly recognizing the need to put the customer at the centre of projects tailoring residential spaces according to their needs at the right price-points. Furthermore, while in the past there has always been an interest in investments in skyscrapers, we are now also witnessing investment demand for more diverse properties at varying price levels and many different personal preferences.

Recently, for example, there has been a rise in the demand for affordable housing in Dubai, especially in communities located farther from the city centres but close to public transport links. In addition to this rising demand, recent approval of the affordable housing policy by Dubai Executive Council has further opened up opportunities in this segment as the government has announced its support for such projects. This new policy aims to cooperate with real estate developers to develop more housing units in the low to mid-priced residential space, which are becoming increasingly attractive to investors and residents alike.

Additionally, we are also seeing that residents with families are looking for housing that provides a community feel, away from the bustling city atmosphere – an urban living environment where residential spaces are modern, rank high on functionality, and have community centers in close proximity. Hence, we are seeing an increase in the number of projects, across different price-points, being launched across newer developments in Jebel Ali, Jumeirah Village, and Silicon Oasis.

Finally, as health awareness increases in the UAE as a result of private and public sector initiatives, more and more individuals are opting for a healthier lifestyle. This has resulted in a surge of new wellness-based developments, such as Dubai Healthcare City II, which are being built around the concept of active living, where elements of health and fitness are a core part of the residential project. Such projects incorporate healthy lifestyle facilities like more pathways, fitness facilities, and jogging tracks.

The future of real estate in Dubai
Dubai will always be a dynamic market, with unique developments being launched across the Emirate from a growing number of developers ranging from the well-established names in the business to new industry disrupters.

With many niche segments still waiting to be identified in the real estate sector, there will always be opportunities for boutique developers; however, in order to succeed in the increasingly competitive market, a thorough understanding of changing consumer preferences is essential. Once a niche market is identified, boutique developers, being smaller and agile, have the opportunity to focus on fewer project at a time and offering more customized options for the ever-discerning customer.

Note: The author is Founder and CEO of Swiss Property