Dubai's real estate industry 'at low point'
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Dubai's real estate industry 'at low point'

Dubai's real estate industry 'at low point'

Ryan Mahoney, Managing Director of Dubai's largest estate agency Better Homes, told AME Info that, in his view, the city's property market was close to hitting the bottom of the downturn that has brought the sector to a virtual standstill.

    'We're currently at a low point in terms of pricing,' said Mahoney.

    'In terms of the amount of transactions taking place, it's come to an abrupt slowdown.

    'And I think it took a lot of people by surprise, despite the fact that people have been talking about this for years, it certainly took a lot of developers by surprise.'

    Mahoney told AME Info that sale prices in many of the city's developments and communities were already approaching the lowest that they could conceivably fall to.

    'When I look at prices today I sense that there's not much room for prices to go down further in many areas of the city and across many types of property.

    'In terms of rentals, however, I'd say that there's still a little bit of room for downward movement, but not too much – and of course there's been a lot of segmentation between lots of different areas.'

    Necessary correction

    Despite the lack of forewarning as to the speed and severity of the slump, Mahoney agrees with many analysts that a correction in Dubai's property market had become a necessity.

    'If the city is offering property far above the price that they would pay for the same property elsewhere, particularly another city in the region then businesspeople are going to start asking 'is this the type of thing that I'm looking for?'

    A major part of the draw for many expatriates is the lifestyle and Mahoney feels that what was on offer as the slump kicked in was below what many had expected: 'It means that a person has to buy, or ends up living in a place that's not quite what they want. So those types of prices were affecting the lifestyle offering that Dubai has.

    'It's very important for Dubai to have a competitive offering for people moving here. The good thing from all this is that developers and landlords are now far more conscientious about the quality of what they are putting out there.'

    Agency closures

    The slump in the real estate market has meant that Dubai has witnessed a number of agencies closing as sales dwindle and the businesses are no longer viable.

    This trend is likely to continue, says Mahoney, as smaller or undiversified developers find themselves unable to cope with the downturn.

    'We expect this to be quite a cleansing period. The market is getting smaller and the number of operators is declining dramatically. What we're seeing is that many of those agencies are going out of business and we expect many more to go out of business.

    'Consumers now are in a far better position and we are entering a period where agencies have to deliver far better service. Gone are the days when agencies didn't call people back, gone are the days when agencies sold properties with just a scrappy bit of paper and no details. Buyers are now in a position to demand much more.'

    Better Homes has also felt the pinch as the group's sales suffered in line with the market, and the company has had to make cutbacks to streamline its operations, including downsizing some of its workforce: 'What we've had to do is cut our costs centrally. We have quite a lot of infrastructure so we've had to tighten our belts in terms of support costs.'

    Mahoney is, however, cautiously optimistic that Dubai's real estate market may not have fallen beyond redemption, although there will be no quick fixes: 'In terms of sales, from a low point in December we've seen our figures grow slightly in January and noticeably in February. So it's likely that we will see a very slow gradual growth, but it will take years to get back to the kind of figures that we saw in the last couple of years.'

    See also:
    Watch: Ryan Mahoney examines the state of Dubai's property sector (Part 1)
    Watch: Ryan Mahoney analyses the outlook for Dubai's property sector (Part 2)
    Dubai rental increase law linked to Rera price index
    Residential prices slump by 50% as city becomes a buyers market
    AMEinfo Staff

    AMEinfo staff members report business news and views from across the Middle East and North Africa region, and analyse global events impacting the region today.

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