At the event, under the theme Beyond Uncertainty: Towards Optimizing Real Estate, Thierry Delvaux, CEO of JLL MEA, Dana Salbak, Head of Research and Ben Jackson, Head of Project and Development Services, among others, provided an overview of how investors, developers and occupiers can adapt as the property markets adjust to a period of ‘normalisation’.
Delvaux commented, “Real estate markets are clearly influenced by shorter term cyclical factors impacted by global geopolitics and subdued market conditions. Given this, we want to ensure the short-term trends are being adapted to, with a view on longer term structural trends. We strongly believe that 2020 will be characterised by opportunities to optimize the usage and performance of existing real estate as the market continues to evolve and mature.”
The event brought together industry leaders across the real estate sector and built on conversations from last year’s session which focused on how to navigate the market during a time of uncertainty, amid new regulations and trends such as digitalization, alternative real assets, REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts), among others.
“As conditions remained soft across most sectors of the UAE real estate market in 2019, we are keen for entities to now focus on rising above it and making the most of the opportunities that are ahead this year,” said Salbak.
“Our aim is to look beyond the uncertainty and start adapting more long-term and sustainable strategies in order to successfully pursue a period of stabilization, and ensure the best utilization of real estate assets.”
The core insights shared by JLL to help entities optimize their real estate assets in 2020 included:
Life-cycle and costing
Experts at JLL recommend estimating ahead of time, at the very start of the project, the funds required to cover the ageing-related costs of buildings, to ensure the property lasts for a long period of time.
Sustainability practices and retrofitting
Finding ways to make buildings – from offices to homes – run more efficiently can make a big difference when it comes to sustainability. From retrofitting, smart windows that minimise energy usage to microgridgenerated renewable power, everadvancing technology is coming up with innovative solutions.
Buildings today must make use of sensors for real-time energy monitoring to better understand their carbon footprint and how it can be improved, says JLL. There is increased evidence that more sustainable buildings not only reduce operating costs, particularly if these are accounted for across the entire life cycle of the building, but they may also achieve rental and value premiums. JLL recommends developers, occupiers and investors put more importance on the sustainability and environmental impact of their projects in 2020.
Co-working and other changes in the way that occupiers utilise their office space has resulted in rapid growth in the amount of flexible office space being delivered across the Middle East. While the UAE has also experienced rapid growth in the demand for such space, it currently accounts for less than one percent of the total office supply in Dubai (compared to more than six percent in London). 2020 may well prove to be the year when flexible offices come of age in the UAE, according to JLL.