5 KEY QUESTIONS You MUST ASK YOURSELF BEFORE INVESTING!

 

I always recommend that clients consult with a financial advisor prior to embarking upon the purchase of a property. Investing in property requires careful planning and a clear understanding of what it will entail.

How much do you really know about property as an investment?

You must have some knowledge about any investment that you might be considering. Property is no different. The old adage of “Don’t invest in anything you don’t know” applies. You may not be an expert, but you need to be able to communicate intelligently and knowledgeably with the experts.

Do some homework on the industry and gain an understanding of where the industry is now, where it is headed and what is driving its direction and development. “Get a feeling of its composition and what it has to offer you in terms of wealth generation opportunities, how you might be able to engage those opportunities and when you envisage starting your foray into the property investing space.”

It’s difficult for anybody to accurately assess opportunities and the risks associated with those opportunities if they have little knowledge of what it is they are investing in.

 

Are your investment objectives clearly defined and well considered?

As with any investment, investing in property is all about recognizing and capitalizing on opportunities that are consistent and supportive to your overall wealth accumulation objectives.

You must have a clear understanding of what you are trying to achieve and what role your property portfolio will play within a larger diversified investment portfolio. What proportion of your total investment portfolio is allocated towards property? towards stocks or bonds? towards gold or commodities? Etc.

The only person who can determine what you are trying to achieve is you so be sure you know you’re your objectives are before doing anything.

 

What is your source of finance?

Needless to say, investing in property is often a capital intensive exercise and, depending on your strategy, returns can be subject to relatively long lead times. A sufficient and robust finance plan is essential. What is your source of finance and where do the greatest risks lie in the event of an economic downturn or change in circumstances? How liquid might you need to be? How exposed will you be to interest rate increases and or exchange rate fluctuations? What level of gearing or leverage are you comfortable with? Will you be able to preserve capital invested in your property portfolio during cyclical swings in the market or will you need to move capital among portfolios?

All these questions (and many more) need to be addressed and the more skillful you are at conceptualizing your wealth generation schematic, the greater your likelihood of generating successful strategies to grow your wealth.

 

Do you have a financial advisor? (That you trust)

I always recommend that clients consult with a financial advisor prior to embarking upon the purchase of a property. Investing in property requires careful planning and a clear understanding of what it will entail; the effects it will have on lifestyle, the risks it may pose, the stresses that may emerge while, at the same time, the benefits of generating wealth in, what can be, a very lucrative industry . A financial advisor can help you understand and assess all these elements by helping you determine what you actually need to do (or do without) to achieve your objectives.

Ask yourself if you know definitively what you can afford, how best to use available finance, how to accurately assess alternative investment options, how best to utilize your current assets and how investing in real estate is going to enable you to grow your wealth in the future. A financial advisor will view your investment as one part of your overall financial landscape and should be able to guide you into committing the right type and the right amount of resources to acquiring that dream home that everybody aspires to.

As with any investment, investing in property is all about recognizing and capitalizing on opportunities that are consistent and supportive to your overall wealth accumulation objectives.

 

Do you have a team of professionals (that you trust) who can assist you in your quest?

Are you able to identify, engage and work with a professional in the industry? Do you have the skill to select the right agency? Do you know what separates professionals that will provide you with tangible added value rather than simply line their pockets with your money? It’s up to you to choose wisely and remember, cheapest is not always best. Do you know where to find an experienced and passionate team with people who really enjoy what they are doing? An agency that exhibits a breadth and depth of industry knowledge and expertise? This is important. Look for longevity and evidence of good relationships with key industry stakeholders such as the major developers or authorities such as the Dubai Land Department, RERA, DEWA or Economic Department. And finally, look for an agency that has received some form of Industry or peer recognition. These are the hardest plaudits to get! ■

You need a professional property manager

Many people misunderstand the role of the property manager, thinking that the role does not extend beyond the collection and remittance of rental receipts and acting as a buffer between the landlord and the tenant. Little do they realize that a good property manager will generate a greater return from their property portfolio and enable a long term portfolio strategy to be realized. So what should you look for in selecting a professional to manage your property(s)?

Well, first of all, you need a professional who is experienced in the market. Not just any market, but the Dubai market. Typically, if you find somebody with at least 10 years of experience, you would find somebody who has survived the global recession, and that should provide a reasonable indication that they are in the business for a long time and that they had the skills to navigate and survive Dubai’s property slump. Many didn’t.

A competent property manager will provide a whole host of services for you but the most important is the development of a Property Portfolio Strategy. Your chosen professional must be able to articulate and present his thoughts after conducting a thorough assessment of your personal situation and property portfolio. He must be able to provide you with a credible strategy and activity plan which is designed to harness the true potential of your property and provide you with the maximum rate of total return. It is essential to have a well thought out strategy for your property portfolio if you are to maximize your returns.

Not just anybody can formulate a credible and implementable strategy. It requires years of expertise and a fundamental understanding of what makes Real Estate such a worthwhile and superior investment. A true professional will have a strong knowledge base on topics including industry history, current market factors and trends, risk factors, and the likelihood of relevant future events that will affect the performance of your property investment. This knowledge should span global, regional and local landscapes and will require a good understanding of economic factors, industry knowledge extending to government policy and regulation, finance and market dynamics.

Forming a strategy is one thing, but being able to bring the strategy to life is quite another. You will require an activity plan which will include details of pricing and marketing, customer relationship management and tenant management and policy for the entire portfolio. Essentially, this area of expertise is related to the “topline” or revenue generation and management of the property.

Equally important is the cost management and maintenance supervision of the property. Many times, I have seen excellent “topline” performance being eroded due to poor operational and maintenance cost controls.

Managing your property portfolio will also require proper performance measurement, communications and review schedules, and status reporting and financial statements. You should always seek examples of these elements as transparency and candid performance appraisals are essential for managing your portfolio correctly by addressing shortfalls to objectives, issues requiring addressing and opportunities for performance improvement, in addition to your peace of mind.

You also need to choose a property manager who you can work with and who, you believe, has your best interests at heart. Your property manager must be a customer centered and, unfortunately, in this business, this is not always the case.

There is no point entering a business relationship that is lacking in mutual trust and respect. You must have confidence in his ability to manage a business… your business… which just so happens to be a property portfolio. As with all investments, but especially investments in property, there will be good times and challenging times. There is no such scenario as “set and forget”. It doesn’t exist. If you do not respect the manager you have appointed, the relationship will not survive the challenging times and you will need to go through the whole process of finding a replacement. So take your time but invest your time to your benefit. Be sure to ask for referrals and call some existing clients. Seek out success stories. Ask to see examples of client reports and so you can have an idea of their completeness, continuity and timeliness. Ask your property manager carefully thought out questions to enable you to gauge the depth and breadth of knowledge that he possesses.

Ensure that the organization you are dealing with has the resources to support the manager of your portfolio. In these times of eliminating overheads, individual performance can be inhibited because of a lack of organizational support. You should ask to meet the team.

Finally, remember, it’s your investment, and you need to ensure it’s in good hands providing you with the returns you expect with as little hassle as possible. Once you appoint a property manager, your ultimate return on your investment is largely in his hands. Choose wisely.

 

Managing your property portfolio will also require proper performance measurement, communications and review schedules, and status reporting and financial statements.

2017 … THE YEAR IS ALMOST HALF OVER

It was an interesting first quarter in Dubai’s property market. While prices generally approximated those of the last quarter of 2016, they actually fell by around 8% from the corresponding quarter a full year prior.

Nevertheless, and maybe not too surprisingly, total transaction value jumped by 45% for a total spend of around AED 77 billion on the back of a 7% increase in transactions. Needless to say, there were some pretty big deals done in the 1st quarter.

The 1st quarter industry performance shouldn’t come as a surprise to many. The market has been approaching its cyclical bottom for some time now and it appears that, barring unforeseen events, the decline in property values experienced last year has just about run its course.

So, what does the rest of the year hold? Well, I wouldn’t count on a rapid and sudden turnaround in property values. We are likely to do a bit of bottom-dwelling for a couple of quarters yet.

The headwinds that beset the property market may have lost some of their velocity, but they are still strong enough to make any sudden upturn in values very unlikely.

Nevertheless, the market is offering the best value for some time and will continue to do so for at least the next couple of quarters … but I wouldn’t wait too long.

Affordability has been key to keeping the market bubbling along, and a slew of affordable properties have been launched over the past 2 years and there will be more launched in 2017. First home buyers have never had it so good in Dubai and affordability, or a lack thereof, as a reason to continue to rent is now more of an excuse to justify either procrastination or excessive conservatism.

The strengthening AED has been a headwind, no doubt, particularly where those investors purchasing with the pound, euro and yen are concerned. However, for those who have purchased recently or plan to do so imminently, the value of your property will be increasing as the US dollar continues to strengthen in 2017.

The US Federal reserve remains committed to normalizing interest rates in 2017 which is good news for investors who are holding assets denominated in or pegged to the value of the US dollar, while the angst associated with Brexit is only just beginning. Although interest rates will be increasing going forward, they will remain at very affordable levels for quite some time, making financing through mortgages still very attractive.

And the economic environment will improve from this time forward. Put simply, Dubai needs people to support an economy that is expected to grow at an estimated annual average of 5% for the remainder of the decade and to deliver initiatives such as the 2020 World Expo. The Expo alone is expected to generate an additional 270,000 jobs and drive demand for housing and commercial facilities that, by and large, don’t currently exist. Much of the city’s planning comprehends the number of people living in the emirate to grow to 3.4million people by 2020, a 7% annual increase from today’s population of 2.25million.

Meanwhile, oil prices continue to bubble around the USD45 to USD50 per barrel mark. Despite this obvious crimp on revenues, the governments Infrastructural spending continues unabated with the total budget outlay of Dh48.7 billion for 2017 being marginally up from Dh48.55 billion allocated to 2016. Looking at the 5-year budget plan of Dh248 billion, the average annual spending of Dh49.6 billion is higher by 6.5 per cent than Dh46.6 billion spent during 2014 to 2016 inclusive. This is significant as it demonstrates an unwavering commitment to economic and societal development with the investments in development initiatives being supported by revenues to be generated a newly introduced VAT in January 2018.

And despite global nervousness and uncertainty emanating from Brexit, terrorist threats, North Korean recalcitrance and virtually everything under the Trump administration, the global traveler is continuing explore the globe. Dubai’s economy continues to be driven by fundamentals such as tourism and trade and a slew of new projects to grow these important revenue generating economic segments.  Dubai welcomed almost 15 million overnight visitors in 2016 representing a 12% increase over 2015 to continue a trend of approximately 10% per annum since 2010. 2017 is expected to see the trend continue.

While it appears that the market may have been overburdened with a glut of new launches raising the prospect of an oversupply, the structural shift towards more affordable housing will not only serve to accommodate the expected rapid population growth associated with the 2020 expo, but also serve as an important factor in the development of the Dubai economy overall. Every emerging economy needs to develop a strong middle class as its expansion is critical to growing a sustainable economy and developing resilience in the face of external financial and economic shocks.

I stated earlier in the year that 2017 will be remembered as a year of the astute investor. Those that can recognize the headwinds and understand that every headwind eventually dies out, will do very well over the coming 7 years by investing in 2017.

 

propertytimes

Factors that will impact the Real Estate Sector in 2017

Published: Propertytimes, May Edition

With the advent of globalization and the exponential rise of cross border capital flows, the number of factors that affect local economies and the industries that operate within those economies has increased dramatically in both number and complexity. Here are some that we will be considering as we advise our clients in 2017.

Oil. Despite the amount of diversification that has occurred in the Dubai economy and the small proportion of Dubai’s GDP that oil represents, the price of oil still affects liquidity levels, oil dependent economy’s performance and overall investor confidence. There is no doubt that that maintaining oil at or above the $50 / barrel for the duration of 2017 will assist in creating market stability.

Currency rates. With anywhere between 40% and 50% of investment in Dubai property coming from investors who usually deal in currencies that are not pegged to the US dollar, any strengthening of the US dollar makes it more difficult to invest in Dubai for those investors. A recent example is the devaluation of the Russian ruble which resulted in Russian investment declining significantly in Dubai’s property market. The USD is likely to strengthen in 2017 as we see the US Federal Reserve continue to raise interest rates and the effect of Trumpenomics and “America First” protectionist policies begin to take effect.

Political instability. Almost omnipresent for well over a decade, the level of political instability in the world today seems unprecedented. From Middle East conflicts, Chinese actions in the South China sea, North Korean nuclear ambitions, Brexit and even significant dissatisfaction with the US election result and subsequent presidential performance, the world is a very unsettled place which leads to investor nervousness. There are no signs that political instability is going to ease any time soon.

Demand and supply. As always, economic fundamental will always play a role in any industry performance. 2017 will see a continuation of balancing of the demand / supply situation in the market as the recent pivot towards affordable properties makes up a greater proportion of deliveries and the demand generated by the rapidly approaching 2020 Global Expo accelerates.

Legal framework. The legal framework that has been developed for the property industry in Dubai has is both comprehensive and effective in protecting the rights of tenants and investors and holding developers to account. Developments will continue in 2017 further increasing the already high levels of confidence among investors with regards to their legal protection and risk minimization.

Mortgage market/ regulations. Historically, mortgages have represented no more than 30%-35% of property sales in the emirate. This ratio has now climbed to well over 45% during 2016 and, in some months, levels of 60+% were achieved. This is great news for several reasons.

First, this trend highlights both confidence of lenders and consumers, mostly owner occupiers, in the market. The second reason why this is such good news is because we are witnessing, in real time, the market adapting to legislative changes that were made in early 2014. There is no doubt that the implementation of the mortgage caps earlier in 2014 had affected the demand for many first home buyers who were relying on a mortgage to acquire their dream home

Finally, a growing number of mortgages are being undertaken for properties that are purchased in the more affordable areas of Dubai, which further demonstrates the systemic shift to affordable housing in the Dubai property market is becoming even further entrenched as a long-term characteristic.

Confidence levels/ buyer’s sentiment. Confidence levels of investors globally have been shaken by the global events of the past few years. The levels of uncertainty surrounding economic policies, geo-political turmoil and social discontent in many countries around the world has created an environment of indecision amongst investors. Nevertheless, the property industry has weathered this quite well and showed a maturity and flexibility that wasn’t evident earlier in the decade. Sure, prices have declined since 2014, but this has been more because of a much-needed market correction. While global events have had an effect, the market’s resilience has been impressive.

Performance of other investment instruments (stock markets, gold, equities, bonds). There is a global competition for a greater share of the capital pie. Capital will always follow the best risk adjusted returns and movements can be swift and of great magnitude. They can be so dramatic that some governments will restrict capital flows. For example, China recently announced new restrictions on capital flows out of the country. Observations from property industry pundits all around the globe suggest the new restrictions are already putting the brakes on what has been the biggest global real estate accumulation by any nationality in modern times. While Chinese demand will continue to benefit many markets those who had not previously established off-shore assets will find it significantly more difficult to invest beyond Chinese borders until the restrictions are raised.

Infrastructure development / government spending. The ongoing commitment to economic development and the associated infrastructural spending has been well-chronicled. The continuing preparations for the 2020 World Expo will help the local economy achieve around 3.5% GDP growth for the year which is very healthy by global standards.

Taxes and transaction costs (registration and transfer fees, commissions, NOC fees) The costs of transacting in real estate in Dubai compare well globally and no new costs or fees are expected to be introduced in 2017. Somewhat conversely, we expect the slew of offers in the market place designed to increase affordability to continue. Great news for first home buyers and investors.

Annual service charges and overall cost of ownership (utility fees, maintenance, insurance, PM costs) Similarly, the costs of owning and operating property is expected to remain stable and should not affect buyer’s decisions other than normal calculations regarding yields, cashflow and asset protection.

THINGS THAT SUCCESSFUL INVESTORS DON’T DO!

I have been lucky in my professional life to have met and worked with some very successful investors. While I have found each to be different in personality, style and even investment philosophy, there are some attitudes, traits and perspectives that are shared among the most successful investors I have had the privilege to have met.

Thinking back to many interesting discussions I have had with these people … some of whom are my most loyal and respected clients … there a several things that I have not seen from this group of achievers. This is what separates them from the rest.

Never sink into negativity!!

I have rarely heard my successful investors project a negative stance about anything in their professional life. This is not to say that they support every philosophy, concept or idea and they will also not accept an occurrence which is contrary to what they think should have happened.

But instead of expressing such a negative emotion as hate, they continue to think positively and seek positives from a situation or take a positive approach to remedying that which they do not agree with. As a result, the dialogue is always positive, creating an environment positivity, proactivity and energy directed towards progress.

Taking this approach also helps to create a pleasant, purposeful and fruitful environment in which to work and helps to maintain or even build esteem and confidence among those that can contribute to achieving exceptional results. It promotes objectivity, focus and decisiveness.

Never assume the world is fair!!

The world is not a fair place, never has been and never will be, and successful investors understand, embrace and accept that. This allows them to be immune from the negativity that can arise when an individual feels hard done by or cheated. It also allows them to plan, create contingencies and maintain a positive attitude when a seemingly unfair occurrence occurs resulting in a greater chance to respond to a situation rapidly and appropriately rather than dwelling on the fact that an occurrence was “unfair”.

 Never accept that there is only one solution to any one problem!!

An open mind is essential to development, progress and eventual success. Successful investors will embrace new ideas and innovation. To not realise that progress is created from ingredients consisting of past experience and innovation is too rely too heavily on tried and true practices that gradually lose relevance over time. This form of decay has destroyed entrepreneurs, global corporations and even whole economies and societies. With globalization, the world has become a much smaller place. To not embrace, improve and implement world’s best practice and only holding close what you are comfortable is the biggest threat to creating continued success.

Never believe that you are solely responsible for your own success!!

Nobody has ever made it on their own. It was once thought that the iconic, independent, totally self-sufficient, unchallengeable, silent-type, hard-nosed entrepreneur who left metaphorical bodies in his wake as he doggedly climbed the mountain of success was the role model that should be emulated by all who craved achievement. Many have tried and they all failed.

No-one can achieve success on their own. As a matter of fact, the most successful people I have met have surrounded themselves with successful people and ensured that those people shared in their success. They seek opinions, listen carefully, discuss intelligently, consider alternatives and have their decisions reviewed. They reward those who contribute to their achievements and help them succeed as well for this is also a valuable way to learn and build momentum at the same time.

Never abandon the realm of possibility!!

Successful people know that nothing is impossible and hold the belief that every problem has a solution, some of which just haven’t been thought of yet. Anything is possible as long as there is willingness to explore, question and challenge and imagination is intensely applied and ingenuity is rewarded. Achievers do not complain about obstacles. They embrace them so as to gain an understanding as to how they can be overcome for they truly believe that nothing is insurmountable.

Negative words like “can’t,” “won’t,” and “impossible” are never heard from the mouths of unsuccessful individuals. They know complaining will not help them, but actually doing something about the issue at hand will.

Never look back!!

Could have… would have … should have. We have all heard these expressions of retrospective folly. Experts in hindsight have no place at the table of successful people and regret is a fruitless and pointless emotion. Successful people thrive on opportunities not lost opportunities. If they cannot make one opportunity work to their satisfaction, they move on and find another opportunity. Regret simply slows down the effective pursuit of the next great opportunity.

Never accept the unpalatable as inevitable!!

Victims have no choice. Successful investors create alternative solutions to every problem and will carefully consider all of them. In this way, successful investors are never victims for they create an environment filled with choices. Then it’s just a matter of deciding which choice represents the best way forward.

Successful investors know how to create opportunities where normal people think none seemingly exist. Successful investors believe that opportunities always will exist, but they are hidden in the recesses of our individual and collective imaginations. The reason why there are successful, is largely due to their determination and ability to extract those opportunities, while others are stagnating in the belief that they don’t exist!!

Property investing in 2017… many alternatives

There are many alternatives for the property investor in today’s market. Here are just a few of them and why I think each presents significant opportunities to increase my client’s wealth.

Affordable housing

The affordable housing segment in Dubai has outperformed its more luxurious alternative for some time now and continues to show lots of promise. Affordable properties will continue to be in high demand as Dubai’s population growth gains momentum during a period of expected strong economic growth leading up to the end of the decade.

Examples of affordable projects that are providing good rental returns and expected capital appreciation are the Skycourts project and the adjacent QPoint project. Apartments in Skycourts have proven to be very popular with tenants and investors alike and have historically delivered excellent capital growth with some apartment values growing by 20 to 25% % in the 24 months leading up to the correction and shedding no more than 5% reduction in values during the correction with rental premiums of at least 7% not uncommon. Purchasing an apartment at Skycourts has been made even been made more affordable with the developer offering units, some with existing and reliable tenants, with a very attractive easy payment plan. QPoint is also providing rental yields of 6% to 7% and has also showed strong resilience in losing minimal capital value during the correction.

And while the value is irrefutable, he risks associated with investing in the affordable segments of the industry as opposed to the luxury segments are much lower. Demand for this type of affordable accommodation will continue to grow as Dubai’s population swells in the run up to the Expo and the demand for well-located affordable housing increases. As Dubai grows, so will the need for affordable housing.

Hospitality

The rise of Dubai as one of the world most preferred tourist destinations is a remarkable story. Tourism and associated commercial activities are flourishing in Dubai and the focus of investment has been on new projects to grow these important revenues generating economic segments and further diversification. The launch of 2 major theme parks in 2016 will ensure Dubai attracts over 15 million visitors in 2017, continuing a growth trend of approximately 10% per annum since 2010 and is well on track to attracting over 20 million visitors in 2020 with continual investments in infrastructure and attractions expected to generate 25-30 million tourists annually to the emirate by 2030.

The local market offers significant opportunity. The GCC, with a total population of just over 40 million people, has one of the youngest populations in the world. Approximately 50% of the population on the Arabian Peninsula is below 25 years of age. What a wonderful opportunity this represents for Dubai. The possibility exists for the construction of the only mega family entertainment destination in over 2,500,000 square kilometers of territory. From an economic point of view, the provision of memorable entertainment experiences for the youth and families of the region must have a multiplier effect on the economy.

Offices

All things being equal, offices in today’s market can provide an ROI significantly greater than that of residential properties. This is mainly due to lower per sq. ft. capital cost but also reflects the higher levels of risk associated with owning this type of property.

Managing tenants is also more straightforward. You will have a business-to-business relationship with your tenant and many of the emotional issues which can complicate residential leasing arrangements won’t exist. It’s easier to keep interactions professional and focused and relationships are built over time with the opportunity to attract a ‘blue chip’ tenant and are likely to rent your property for a long period and less likely to default on rental payments. In many cases, office tenants and property owner interests are aligned. The tenant wants an efficient operation which presents a favorable impression to his customers, business associates or peers and, in this way, is more likely to assist the owner maintain or even improve the property.

Establishing a true value of the investment is often easier with commercial property. Reviewing the current owners’ income statement and existing lease details will provide a good indication of the likely future cash-flows and help to establish an accurate valuation. Residential properties are often subject to more emotional pricing or developer inefficiency and cost recovery considerations.
In addition to lease rates and periods, negotiations can include such items as provision of fit-out assistance, maintenance, implementation of office and storage systems, insurance, lease to buy provisions and options … the list goes on. The variations are countless.

Labor Camps

One alternative that is not considered very often is the ubiquitous labor camp. Dubai is going through a high construction phase with a growing requirement for construction labor. Demand for this asset type has been very strong and continues to grow. Yields above 15% are not uncommon and by selecting the right tenant, longer term contracts can be negotiated. This investment is certainly worth consideration when economic activity is expected to increase or remain strong for extended periods of time.

WHY TRUMP WILL MATTER IN 2017

I read other day that Dubai developer Damac Properties has confirmed that work on its major golf-course projects including the Trump International Golf Club Dubai are on track. Good news indeed!
Regardless of what you think about Donald Trump, he has established an immediately identifiable global brand and there is no doubt that he will influence the economy of Dubai and, more specifically, the property industry here.

But I am not talking about the Donald who “dabbles” in real estate, construction, hospitality, entertainment, book and magazine publishing, media, model management, retail, financial services, board game development, food and beverages, business education, online travel, airlines, helicopter air services, beauty pageants (etc. etc.) here …

… I am talking about the next President of the United States or POTUS.

As POTUS, decisions (and Tweets for that matter) made by Donald will influence the strength of the US Dollar which just so happens to be one major issue that is likely to face Dubai’s Real Estate Industry in 2017. Already, the campaign promises, rhetoric and ubiquitous tweets have already given rise to the “Trump” effect and, combined with the US Federal Reserve interest rate increase of December 14, has already driven the USD to its highest level in almost 15 years.

What’s more, it is likely that, given the Feds intention to embark upon at least 3 interest rate hikes in 2017, the USD will remain at this elevated level for at least the first 6 months of 2017 which is likely to dampen the amount of investor capital that flows into the property market.

A strengthening US dollar, in an industry where 40% of purchases are made by investors that hail from countries whose currencies float freely, could have significant effects.

Potential investors from India, Pakistan and China will find it more expensive to invest in the emirate, just as Russian investors have over the past 3 years as the ruble devalued.

A strengthening US dollar will also make property in other markets such as the UK, Asia or Europe more attractive, essentially putting pressure on the amount of capital being invested in Dubai.
Meanwhile, it appears that the on-going saga of the Brexit implementation is likely to carry on for some time, probably leading to a continuance of a weak British pound for the foreseeable future. The local property market is likely to continue to feel the pressure of the Brexit effect.

So, what is the likelihood of a strong USD in the first half of 2017? … very likely !
But it isn’t all doom and gloom … far from it.

What happens in the latter half of 2017 is a bit more of a mystery but, already, pundits are saying that the Trump effect will not last and that his campaign promises regarding fiscal, trade and immigration policies will be very difficult to achieve.

If so, and given the Federal Reserve’s history of changing course on predicted interest rate hikes, it is not unlikely that we could see a weakening of the USD sometime on the latter half of 2017. Once we get clarity on the likelihood of this occurring, we could see confidence growing amongst investors and capital flows reverse, to the benefit of the local market.

From a macro level, Dubai needs people to support an economy that is expected to grow at a targeted 4%+ in 2017 and beyond. Underpinning this growth trajectory is a commitment and determination to deliver on initiatives such as the 2020 World Expo and, in 2017, we will see the countdown to 2020 and the massive infrastructural investment associated with the event markedly gather pace.

While Dubai’s reliance on oil is minimal due to its economic diversification initiatives, the recent OPEC (and others) agreement to cap oil supply resulting in in higher oil prices is, nevertheless, welcomed. This augers well for a return of the Russian investor whose ruble has been the best performing currency for the last 3 months but should also see increased capital being available to local investors.

Tourism and trade is flourishing in Dubai and the focus of spending has been on new projects to grow these important revenue generating economic segments and further diversification. The launch of 2 major theme parks in 2016 will ensure Dubai attracts over 15 million visitors in 2017, continuing a growth trend of approximately 10% per annum since 2010 and is well on track to attracting over 20 million visitors in 2020.

So, I see 2017, the first year of Donald’s reign as POTUS, as being a year of two halves … first half of the year being really a continuation of the market uncertainty that has been such a characteristic of 2016, as the world comes to grips with what the new POTUS can actually achieve …

… while the latter half of 2017 to be more positive, with an increase in investor confidence and therefore investment activity, property values and first home ownership as the tangible and real effects of world events, such as the US elections and Brexit, that so surprised us in 2016, begin to become more apparent and the risks associated more assessable.

Rather sooner than later, I think!

why_the_dubai_water_canal_is_so_important

WHY THE DUBAI WATER CANAL PROJECT IS SO IMPORTANT …

Most of us have been witnessing the considerable construction efforts that have been underway in completing the Dubai Water Canal project. With an impending completion date of 2017, the canal which will run from Business Bay into the Arabian Gulf and include four hotels. An estimated 450 restaurants, new luxury housing developments, waterfront developments and extensive public spaces, this latest addition to the ever-changing Dubai landscape is the latest stunning achievement by the emirate.

While many people will marvel at the imagination and sheer scale of the project, very few will comprehend what a wide variety of benefits such a project brings to the emirate of Dubai, especially those which relate to the Real Estate industry.

For a start, the investment in the local economy will top 2 billion dirhams. Projects of this scale are of huge benefit to the local economy and the prosperity that is generated among businesses is essential to maintaining economic vibrancy and, logically, the demand for commercial real estate as well as residential real estate for those who are involved, contracted or employed to bring the project to its conclusion.

Then, of course, is the added value that the project itself brings to the real estate that borders the actual canal itself. Property developments situated on both banks of the canal will be comprised of over 5,000 residential units in addition to over 900 hotel rooms. The addition of these properties to the city’s “balance sheet” in the form of a new upmarket residential community and tourist destination situated in such a prime location are sure to grow in value, especially as the estimated 80,000 square meters of leisure areas, public places and facilities are completed.

The waterfront development will enable a lifestyle that will be the envy of many. Residents will enjoy a 5-kilometre boardwalk which will boast a vast array of food, beverage and retail outlets and tourists will participate in the vibrancy and excitement of what is sure to become a favoured destination for many. Running tracks, viewing areas and marinas will only add to the appeal of an already famous Jumeriah district which will be further enhanced with the re-opening of the Jumeriah Beach Park.

However, it is not just the waterfront properties that will benefit from an upward value adjustment. Any property which is within an easy walking distance of the waterfront attraction or newly reopened beachfront will reap the inevitable rewards of being located within proximity to the latest attraction in Dubai. Those existing owner occupiers living close to the canal, who have been affected by the projects construction, will reap the rewards of their patience and tolerance with the sharp increase of the values of their properties.

Meanwhile, the project will help ensure that tourism will continue to play its part in driving Dubai’s economic growth. This project is just one of a slew of new projects to grow this important revenue generating economic segment. Predicted by Mastercard’s Global Destination Cities Index to be the 4th most popular destination in the world by year end, Dubai will have welcomed almost 16 million overnight visitors in the by the close of 2016. This will represent a 12% increase over 2015 and continue a trend of approximately 10% per annum since 2010. The canal project represents just one more compelling reason to visit Dubai and the requirement for real estate to support the commercial activities that tourism will give rise to is only bound to increase.

And of course, all that increased tourism will require people to service it. They, in turn, will require accommodation. Such mega projects have definite effects the population growth of the emirate and population growth is the pre-requisite to real estate and property industry growth. This is where the Dubai economy has an advantage over many western economies in that, looking forward, there is a requirement for intellectual and human capital which is not residing dormant and unutilised in the economy and attracting this critical resource can only result adding to economic growth, providing additional impetus for Dubai’s Real Estate industry to enjoy the predictable surge in demand for accommodation and commercial space of all types, from labor camps to offices to warehouses to apartments to executive Villas. That demand, however, can only be created with the incremental economic activity that the initiatives such as the Canal project can provide.

Investors are already showing lots of interest in the project which is not surprising. Other projects that have been developed with a water based lifestyle theme such as The Palm, Dubai Marina and the adjacent Jumeriah Beach residences have done remarkably well and proven popular with both local and overseas investors. They all share one common characteristic … they offer wonderful lifestyles and the Canal project will be no different. The project is already demonstrating significant potential to satisfy the appetite for investment returns and the fundamental reasoning is compelling.

 

2017_a_year_of_transition

2017 – A Year of Transition

I will remember 2016 as a year of uncertainty with the occasional splash of surprise combined with a healthy dose of bemusement. Ironically,  I will also remember it as my most successful year yet.

So, what about 2017?

For investors, potential owner occupiers, developers or another industry stakeholder, 3 essential elements are of paramount importance in ensuring long term sustainable growth in an industry which itself, is a key ingredient to long term economic growth. The global events and developments of 2016 certainly challenged the strength of these 3 fundamental elements.

They can be identified as the 3C’s or, more specifically, Capital, Confidence and Clarity. The 3 C’s are interdependent whereby a shift or change in any one element will affect the other two. The relationship between all 3 C’s can be either positive or negative and can lead to a multiplier effect on growth or can increase the rates of contraction or decline.

Any forecast for the Dubai Real Estate Industry for 2017 needs to consider these fundamentals and how external and internal events and influences will affect them.

The major issue that is likely to face the industry in 2017 is a strengthening US dollar which, in an industry where 40% of purchases are made by investors that hail from countries whose currencies float freely, could have significant effects. Potential investors from India, UK, Pakistan and China will find it more expensive to invest in the emirate, just as Russian investors have over the past 3 years as the ruble devalued.

A strengthening US dollar will also make property in other markets such as the UK, Asia or Europe more attractive, essentially putting pressure on the amount of capital being invested in Dubai.

The likelihood of a strong USD is significant. The combination of the already evident “Trump” effect and the US Federal Reserve interest rate increase of December 14 already has already driven the USD to its highest level in almost 15 years. It is likely that, given the Feds intention to embark upon at least 3 interest rate hikes in 2017, the USD will remain at this elevated level for at least the first 6 months of 2017 which is likely to dampen the amount of investor capital that flows into the property market.

However, what happens in the latter half of 2017 is a bit more of a mystery. Already, pundits are saying that the Trump effect will not last and that his campaign promises regarding fiscal, trade and immigration policies will be very difficult to achieve. If so, and given the Federal Reserve’s History of changing course on predicted interest rate hikes, it is not unlikely that we could see a weakening of the USD sometime on the latter half of 2017. Once we get clarity on the likelihood of this occurring, we could see confidence growing amongst investors and capital flows reverse, to the benefit of the local market.

Meanwhile, it appears that the on-going saga of the Brexit implementation is likely to carry on for some time, probably leading to a continuance of a weak British pound for the foreseeable future. The local property market is likely to continue to feel the pressure of the Brexit effect.

But it isn’t all doom and gloom … far from it.

From a macro level, Dubai needs people to support an economy that is expected to grow at a targeted 4%+ in 2017 and beyond. Underpinning this growth trajectory is a commitment and determination to deliver on initiatives such as the 2020 World Expo and, in 2017, we will see the countdown to 2020 and the massive infrastructural investment associated with the event markedly gather pace.

While Dubai’s reliance on oil is minimal due to its economic diversification initiatives, the recent OPEC (and others) agreement to cap oil supply resulting in in higher oil prices is, nevertheless, welcomed. This augers well for a return of the Russian investor whose ruble has been the best performing currency for the last 3 months but should also see increased capital being available to local investors.

Tourism and trade is flourishing in Dubai and the focus of spending has been on new projects to grow these important revenue generating economic segments and further diversification. The launch of 2 major theme parks in 2016 will ensure Dubai attracts over 15 million visitors in 2017, continuing a growth trend of approximately 10% per annum since 2010 and is well on track to attracting over 20 million visitors in 2020.

So, I see 2017 as being a transitional year for the industry with the first half of the year being really a continuation of the market uncertainty that has been such a characteristic of 2016. As at the time of writing, there were still too many unknowns in the world today.

However, I expect the latter half of 2017 to see an increase in investment activity, property values and first home ownership as the effects of world events that so surprised us in 2016, begin to become more apparent and the risks associated more assessable. In addition, the inevitable organic growth from a population increase within the emirate, which will emanate from the infrastructural investments and economic activity associated with the countdown to the 2020 Expo, will provide a welcome and long awaited boost to demand for property, of all types, throughout the emirate.

AN AMUSING STORY… IF IT WASN’T SO SERIOUS!

By Mohanad Alwadiya
CEO, Harbor Real Estate
Senior Advisor & Instructor, Dubai Real Estate Institute

When it comes to amusement, I have always thought that Dubai has a definite competitive advantage in that it is uniquely placed. With its geographic location, infrastructure, stability, cultural diversity and existing reputation as a leisure destination of note, development as the destination of choice by, not only GCC families and youth, but visitors from all over the world who desire amusement, adventure and unique experiences, will play an increasingly important role in building a strong, vibrant and resilient economy and, of course, property industry.

So, it was with excitement, not amusement, which I read about the latest addition to a city already swelling with entertainment and activity alternatives – the IMG Worlds of Adventure. This amusement park took three years to build and cost more than 3.6 billion dirhams. To be labelled “the world’s largest indoor theme park” is no idle boast, with the complex covering over 1.5 million square feet or around 20 times the size of the pitch at Emirates Stadium in London.

And, wait for it… there is more to come…

The next six months should see an even bigger development which, built at a cost approaching 10 billion dirhams, will include such entertainment icons as LEGOLAND and Bollywood, and a giant water park.

The new theme parks will play a key role in ensuring the emirate’s target of 20 million visitors will be visiting the emirate annually from 2021 will be achieved. Very impressive stuff!

But the reason why I love these latest theme parks is not because I enjoy rollercoaster rides … I will leave that for the more adventurous. I am excited at the effect these fantastic initiatives will have on the economy and, more specifically, the property industry that is so close to my heart.

From an economic point of view, this is very serious business indeed!

Aside from the obvious direct benefits of tens of billions of dirhams being invested into the economy, few people realize the enormous economic contribution theme parks make to the overall economy post launch. It is a cliché, but the world is a small place and the war for providing entrepreneurial and employment opportunities is waged on a global battleground and a successful entertainment and amusement industry is just one economic weapon that Dubai can employ to great effect.

And being a global growth industry, participation cannot be ignored.  Consider the following which was sourced from the TEA/AECOM 2015 Theme Index and Museum Index:

In 2015, there were …

…420 million visits to attractions run by the top 10 global theme park groups, up by 7.2 percent.
…236 million visits to the top 25 amusement/theme parks worldwide, up by 5.4 percent.
…146 million visits to the top 20 amusement/theme parks in North America, up by 5.9 percent.
…131 million visits to the top 20 amusement/theme parks in Asia-Pacific, up by 6.9 percent.
…61 million visits to the top 20 amusement/theme parks in Europe, Middle East and Africa, up by 2.8 percent.
… 29 million visits to the top 20 water parks worldwide, up by 3.7 percent.

In a world that is struggling to generate any form of impressive economic growth, the growth within this industry is truly impressive.

Without doubt, the current world leader with regards to amusement parks is the southern US state of Florida. It’s a fact that theme parks are a major reason why people visit this American state. Here are the top theme parks in Florida and the number of annual visitors they attracted in 2014 according to the TEA/AECOM Theme and Museum Index…

… Magic Kingdom – 19.3 million
… Epcot -11.5 million
… Disney’s Animal Kingdom – 10.4 million
… Disney Hollywood Studios – 10.3 million
… Universal Studios – 8.2 million
… Islands of Adventure at Universal Studios – 8.1 million
… SeaWorld – 4.7 million
… Busch Gardens Tampa Bay – 4.1 million

Truly impressive numbers which only highlight that the economic advantages created by having such a robust entertainment industry are staggering. The state estimates tourism brings in a whopping $82 billion in visitor spending while the State Department of Economic Opportunity says that of the approximately 9.1 million workers in Florida, 1.1 million of them hold jobs directly attributed to tourism. That’s better than 1 worker in 10!

Obviously, the job creation potential of this industry, both direct and indirect is staggering… which is why amusement parks are such serious business. The true long-term value of these projects lies in the long-term economic advantages of employing people and creating commercial activities in order to develop a unique capability to entertain the families and youth of the region and beyond.

And job growth fosters population growth which is critical to any property / real estate Industry. It is the undisputed catalyst to industry growth and the population growth generated by the substantial increase in investment and employment opportunities that a successful foray into the entertainment industry would generate would be and have huge and long-lasting benefits for the property / real estate industry downstream.