Rents to slide, property to bottom out

Dubai Marina, Palm Jumeirah and Burj Downtown are showing signs of stability

Dubai’s real estate market is likely to bottom out in the next one year, while peer Abu Dhabi will at least a much longer time, according to Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) experts.

“The office, retail, residential and hotel sector of Dubai real estate market is likely to bottom out by first quarter of 2012... they are very close to bottom. However, Abu Dhabi will take another 12 to 24 months to reach bottom,” Craig Plumb, Head of Research, JLL Mena, said while releasing a report on the top trends for the UAE real estate in 2011.

Although the experts from the global real estate consultancy did predict a further decline in rents and prices during the year, citing more supply in the market, they believed “property and asset management” would be the differentiating factor for success and failure.

“Although supply will impact the market, asset management will drive the market. Quality will be rewarded while poorly managed buildings will suffer more,“ Jesse Downs, Director of Management Consulting, JLL said.

“About 90 per cent of the office space in Dubai has entered in the last 10 years… and the new office space requires a higher level of maintenance and management,” she added.

According to Plumb, there is increase in leasing activity across the office sector, but it is mostly driven towards quality or grade A office space. Existing occupiers are consolidating or upgrading to better quality space and increased absorption is set to continue. However, transaction levels will remain subdues this year due to shortage of investment grade properties at realistic prices. Vacancy rates across Dubai stand at 40 per cent with CBDs at 20 per cent.

Dubai will have an additional 1.15 million square metre of office space delivered in 2011, while Abu Dhabi will have 508,000 square metre of office space released during the year.

The global consultancy expects sales prices in residential sector to stabilize in selected locations with service charges and quality of management becoming primary drivers of demand and price trends.

“Though rents and prices will continue to fall, locations such as Dubai Marina, Palm Jumeirah and Burj Downtown are showing signs of stability,” Plumb added.

Dubai will have 25,000 new housing units delivered in 2011 compared to 36,000 in 2010, while 25,000 units will come on stream in Abu Dhabi compared to a just 5,600 in 2010.

JLL predicts the “industrial” sector to be the best performing sector in 2011 with the UAE being the favored location for light industrial/logistics occupiers in the MENA region.

The “hotel” sector will be the first to recover with Dubai’s witnessing stability while Abu Dhabi continuing to soften. There is also likely to be repositioning of old 5-star hotels to compete with new flagship properties and increased focus on asset management.

In the hotel sector, Dubai will have only 3,400 rooms added to the supply line in 2011 compared to 7,700 in 2010, while Abu Dhabi will have 3,000 new rooms compared to 1,250 in 2010.

Other predictions are infrastructure investment stimulating growth and jobs in the UAE, thus helping real estate recovery, and all emirates coordinating than competing with each other to strengthen economic integration.

Key predictions

11 Infrastructure is key driver for real estate recover
10 From competition to coordination in UAE
9 Transaction levels to remain subdued in 2011
8 Light industrial/ logistics offers low risk and stable yields
7 From return on ego to return on equity
6 From superior regional malls to community centres
5 Increased office leasing activity
4 Selective stability in residential market
3 Rental market directions - Dubai and Abu Dhabi
2 Lower supply projections than anticipated to help smooth out cycle
1 Property/asset management is No.1 risk for real estate

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