Expert Eye: Office space – the next opportunity?

With Cityscape now a distant memory and all the headlines and hype regarding Dubai’s resurgent real estate scene starting to sound a little repetitive, it’s time to sit back and contemplate where, as a real estate investor, the next untapped opportunity may be.

There is no doubt that most of the focus has been on the residential market, however, despite Dubai’s strengthening economy, investors have been slow to consider office space despite values having bottomed out early in the second quarter of this year. A few points to consider …

• The Dubai economy is doing very well. Economic growth is strong at around 4.5 and is being driven by fundamentals such as tourism and trade, and new projects to expand these important revenue -generating economic sectors are a feature of Dubai’s growth outlook

• Confidence in the emirate is growing rapidly, not only because 6f its regional ‘safe haven’ status, but also because of the regulatory measures and economic framework initiatives that are being implemented

• The amount of infrastructural, development and economic initiatives, culminating in the possible hosting of the World Expo in 2020 are indicative of the government’s determination to compete on the global stage

• Population growth is forecasted to be at least 5 going forward and, by some estimates, is considered to be conservative and the human capital requirements going forward will be enormous

• Business establishment costs, including the cost of capital, have been at their lowest for years, and opportunities exist for real estate investors to benefit accordingly

While office rental returns are in the very early stages of recovery, Dubai office space is still cheap, and with a high, albeit shrinking, vacancy rate of 45 , there are definitely opportunities for value purchases providing strong cash flows increasing with Dubai’s economic momentum over the longer term.

Already, there is a relative shortage of Grade A, large floor plate, single owner space. This type of space is favored by larger, often multinational companies and represents strong investment potential.

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