Living and working in Dubai makes us realise a lot of wonderful things as we continue to call this cosmopolitan metropolis home. When the Emirate of Dubai went into lockdown on 22nd March 2020, all the hustle and bustle the city was famous for came to a standstill. Suddenly, the common public was asked to remain at home and to stay safe due to the raging global pandemic.
While on lockdown, many residents living in apartments were confronted with cramped spaces that are not exactly conducive to working. They haven’t been forced to work from home for days on end before, so the problem had only shown itself a few days into the mandatory lockdown. As weeks turned into months, people found it hard to move around and spend time in their homes. On the other hand, villa residents had the space to breathe and move around given the spacious layout of their homes that were simply not available to residents living in apartments.
Post lockdown, industry experts had seen a surge in tenants and potential homeowners flocking to villa communities to see if they could get a bargain deal. Rents and sales prices had been undergoing a correction phase. On average, both villa and apartment prices have seen a drop of 8 to 10% year on year as illustrated in the chart. Mortgage rates were also at an all-time low. The Dubai Government was quick to respond to the overall market slowdown and rolled out attractive initiatives for investors, such as retirement visas for expatriates and the Golden Visa scheme. These new schemes were designed to attract more foreign professionals to settle in Dubai.
From Q4 2020, the market started witnessing a large number of transactions recorded by the Dubai Land Department. What was interesting to note was the value of villas being sold far outnumbered the value of apartments being sold. One of the reasons behind this trend was the sales of high-value luxury villas in prime areas such as Mohammed bin Rashid City, Palm Jumeirah and Emirates Hills. With the majority of the first world countries still under strict lockdown, many wealthy investors realised how fast Dubai responded to the pandemic. The emirate was able to take control of the situation efficiently and that was what attracted these investors to have their homes in Dubai.
The Mo’asher Dubai House Price Index for July 2020 recorded the highest number of monthly transactions for villas and townhouses. 493 secondary market units were transferred during this period. PropertyFinder.ae search and demand data also showed an increase in consumer search for villas with garden spaces after Dubai eased the restrictions on the lockdown.
Investors were quick to respond to the rental demand being created and low sales price. They started to buy villas and townhouses in popular communities in Dubai to achieve a quick and comparatively higher return on investment (ROI). Attractive payment plans and lower yearly service charges for villas also sweetened the deal and made the decision easier.
Overall, this new trend is catching on and we can expect to see more villa projects being announced in Dubai soon as 8,749 new investors entered the market since January 2021 based on data released by the Dubai Land Department real estate bulletin titled ‘Real Estate Updates.’ We can also look forward to some new flexible payment plans coming our way on new phases of existing preloved villa projects.
The Author, Omair Siddiqi is the Capital Markets Manager at Land Sterling – Dubai. Land Sterling is a market leader in real estate consultancy based in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Riyadh. Land Sterling has a team of experienced consultants with an in-depth knowledge of the Middle East property market at your service.