Population growth key to property market success

Dubai demonstrates strong growth in population compared to other economies around the world

The fact that the property industry is typically and notoriously cyclical is widely known yet quite often forgotten as viewpoints become blinkered due to current market performance, whether positive or negative. While some embrace cycles and their sometimes-associated market volatility that enables the opportunistic investor to profit from market fluctuations as they occur, other investors, those with a clear strategy and long-term plan, simply accept, foresee and plan for cycles in the industry. They are looking for longer-term sustainable growth rather than taking additional risks by trying to accumulate wealth by taking advantage of shorter-term spikes or dips. They are true managers of their property portfolios and have a much greater chance to succeed

A growing population is the fuel of any property industry, and it will be Dubai’s population growth that will enable the market to regain its equilibrium within the next three years

Investing in property has a very simple purpose: to create wealth over the long term. However, your property investment portfolio needs to be nurtured, maintained and managed to ensure its wealth-creating potential and capabilities are achieved as it rides the inevitable cycles that will occur in the industry. This, of course, is no different to managing a share portfolio, business venture or any other type of investments. Adopting a short-term vision and narrow perspective will engender reacting unreasonably to inevitable industry slowdowns which will lead to underperformance in the longer term.

The Dubai market is, having seen a period of falling values, rapidly approaching the bottom of its contraction phase, making 2018 a pivotal year for the industry. This contraction has been brought about by increased nervousness and uncertainty about global and regional geopolitical and economic events, the imposition of VAT, the distraction of alternative “new world” investments such as crypto currencies, along with the burgeoning oversupply in the highly competitive and lower margin per unit affordable segment. Developers, requiring greater sales volumes to achieve financial viability, needed to get financially creative to make their affordable offerings even more affordable and accessible for end-users and financially more attractive for investors

So, as we enter 2018, we are faced with a familiar situation. The market, despite lower than-promised delivery rates by developers, is in disequilibrium, particularly in the affordable segment. But this is no reason for excessive concern as the market is simply exhibiting the characteristics typical of its current cyclical phase. And while many of the issues that faced the world in 2017 remain, there are positive signs ahead: a growing world economy, rising oil prices and what appears to be an easing of some of the conflicts that have dogged the world in the last five years.

As for Dubai’s property market, its current predicament would be expected to last for quite some time, primarily as supply absorption rates are hindered by weak population growth, delaying the market’s emergence from the current phase. But Dubai has one string to its bow compared to a few other economies as the emirate has consistently demonstrated strong population growth, something many countries around the world have tried and failed to achieve.

A growing population is the fuel of any property industry, and it will be Dubai’s population growth that will enable the market to regain its equilibrium within the next three years, particularly as a spike in population growth is expected as the Expo creates an estimated 277,000 jobs.

It may come as a surprise to some that Dubai’s population is likely to exceed 3 million by end of 2018. This is up almost 331 per cent since the turn of this century. This amazing growth has been consistent during this period and is expected to continue at a rate of between 6.5 and 9 per cent over the next 10 years. This is fantastic news for Dubai’s property industry and the economy overall especially when other nations are facing stagnating population growth or, in the case of countries like Japan, falling populations.

The composition of the growth is also impressive as it will continue to be predominantly driven by people seeking to immediately benefit from and contribute to an economy that is expected to grow by a healthy and sustained 3.5 per cent in 2018 and beyond, as those who are seeking to progress and improve their economic well-being take advantage of the superior opportunities that Dubai will continue to offer going forward, courtesy of such major initiatives as the Expo 2020, in addition to the time-proven economic pillars of trade, finance and tourism.

So, the opportunities are there to capitalise on this population growth and resurgence in demand for property this year. The current situation is reminiscent of 2012 when the market started to emerge from the global financial crisis to foster a strong recovery peaking in 2014. The market has shown it has the capability to respond to favourable economic conditions, and as the absorption rates of properties start to build momentum with new aspirants entering the market, the positive effect on value and prices will see handsome returns being made by those who understood the market’s cyclical position and positioned themselves to capitalise on the imminent growth phase of the cycle.

Expert Eye, Gulf News, Dated: 19-04-2018 by Mohanad Alwadiya

Affordability matters most

This year’s Cityscape Global Exhibition and Conference is forecast to be the largest yet and comes at a time when Dubai’s Real Estate industry is expected to start entering a cyclical growth phase in the lead up to the World Expo 2020.

The importance of Cityscape Global cannot be overstated. As with many exhibitions, it provides a concentrated and focused forum which allows the industry to showcase its vision and capabilities and demonstrate what shape Dubai will take in the future. But Cityscape is much more than that.

Cityscape Global is an open invitation for all stake-holders to understand, evaluate, participate and prosper in an industry that continues to literally change the shape of Dubai. It is a meeting place of some of the biggest and brightest minds representing all stakeholders in the industry and a confluence of opinions, ideas and opportunities which are shared, debated and developed. It allows stakeholders to gain a macro sense of in-dusty direction and a micro understanding of the various elements that will shape the industry going forward.

For buyers and investors, there is no better place to gain an appreciation of the myriad of opportunities that are on offer, but the sheer scale of the exhibition can become a little overwhelming, especially when you are looking to invest.

As a general theme for this year’s Cityscape, I will be advising most of my investors to look for value opportunities in the affordable housing segment, particularly in the Dubai South areas, as this segment in this location is likely to be the subject of some very attractive easy payment plans to further enhance affordability and, to some extent, mitigate risk.

This segment has outperformed its more luxurious alternatives for some time now and continues to show lots of potential, even though the recent cyclical correction. Affordable properties will continue to be on 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. And while the value is irrefutable, the risks associated with investing in the affordable segments of the industry as opposed to the luxury segments are much lower. Demand for affordable accommodation will continue to grow as Dubai’s population swells in the run up to the Expo. As Dubai continues to grow, so does the need for affordable housing.

Yet, although I see great value in investing in the affordable segment, it doesn’t mean some interesting opportunities won’t appear in other segments as well.

So, while you might focus on identifying opportunities in the affordable segment, you need to keep an open mind and be wary of unique opportunities that may be present.

I always advise my clients that the best way to get the most out of the event, is to canvass all the interesting opportunities on display and gradually yet efficiently establish a short list of the best opportunities.

Establishing such a list from an exhibition as huge as Cityscape is not easy and requires a disciplined approach. This is where a property asset management professional can assist…

Why? It’s important to understand what factors are going determine the potential of any investment. For property, these factors include everything from macro level influences such as global economic performance and policies, geopolitical issues, currency rates and oil prices to more regional or local factors such as industry supply I demand levels, consumer confidence, government policy and regulatory framework, industry cycles and liquidity in the marketplace.

So, in reality, a lot of the work in ensuring that investors and potential buyers make the most of their Cityscape experience is actually done beforehand in preparing an understanding of what the overall investment environment looks like. This enables a more efficient and focused assessment of all that is on offer.

But in addition to understanding the invest environment, it’s important for the investor to understand why he or she wants to invest in property and what the investment objectives are. Too many investors formulate the answers to these questions “on the run”, once they are traipsing around the exhibition. This lack of preparation just leads to confusion and ultimately, poor decision making.

Every industry has its shows, whether it’s the myriad of motor shows held around the world, film festivals, fashion events, airshows and the property industry is no different. What many don’t understand is that Dubai’s Cityscape Global has established itself as one of the best Real Estate and Property events globally… and its right on our very own doorstep!

So, for those of us with a passion for the industry, it is going to be an exciting 3 days. It always seems to end too early!

Why are Mortgages Key to Growth?

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

I read a very pleasing article over my morning coffee.

The article revealed that mortgage transactions, including refinancing, have represented approximately 50 per cent of all apartment sales September last year to date with some months achieving over 60 per cent. This is in stark contrast to what has historically been the case in Dubai, as mortgages rarely represented more than 30 per cent to 35 per cent of property sales for most of the prior decade.

This is great news for several reasons.

First, while this trend highlights the confidence of lenders in the marketplace it also highlights the increasing confidence of consumers, mostly owner occupiers, in the market to the extent that they are prepared to take on the risks associated with committing to a mortgage for the sake of purchasing some property.

This is very important to the development of long term sustainable growth for the industry as the bedrock of any property industry is its owner occupiers.  They represent the core of the industry as it is they who view property as an investment in life, not just a way to make a quick buck. And yet, historically, they have attracted focus in a market still undergoing the maturation process which is falling short and not proportionate to their importance.

Owner-occupiers see real estate in a different light. For them, it’s about creating a lifestyle. It’s about creating a home which will provide an environment that is safe and secure within which the individual, couple or family can grow and develop in all aspects whether physical, emotional, social and, of course, financial. In this respect, they have a lot more at stake than those investors with financial interests only.

Typically, they form the core of society, not overly wealthy, who are concerned with providing the family with a future. For some, the purchase of the first family home is the first step towards creating a legacy which hopefully, for the more romantically minded, will turn into a dynasty. These are the dreams which make owning their own home the most important decision they are likely to make. They are in it for the long term; there is a lot at stake, which is why availability of finance through mortgages is critical.

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.  I remember writing an article at the time of the legislative change and observing the following …

“At Harbor, we see 62% of our clients who were considering buying a property prior to the mortgage caps delay their purchase until they can accumulate the down-payment differential while 38% have settled (or compromised) for a cheaper property to get an initial foothold in the market.”

As predicted, “… the new mortgage caps have certainly produced a definite lag in demand as clients adjust to the new financial realities and many of these clients are planning to participate within the next three years.”

I am pleased to say that these observations have essentially been proven correct. The legislative change made by authorities was implemented to help cool what was then, a rampant market. The desired effect was achieved but buyers didn’t simply disappear, they modified their purchasing behavior, another sign of an increasingly resilient and maturing market.

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.

A natural occurrence within any economy that is growing rapidly and is formally recognized as maturing and transitioning from being a “frontier” to “emerging” market as Dubai did back in 2013, is that its middle and lower-middle income segments will expand to support the rapid rise in commercial activities and economic initiatives being instigated by entrepreneurs and corporate or government entities. This expansion is unavoidable if the economy is to grow and providing affordable housing to enable this expansion is a critical element to the future growth of Dubai and the development of the Real Estate industry into a mature model that can efficiently cater for a broad and diverse set of people with different incomes, tastes, preferences and requirements.

And demand is set to grow very rapidly. A case in point… the World Expo is predicted by independent analysts to create over 270,000 jobs. The vast majority of these jobs will not be for people occupying senior executive positions. They will be for people in middle management or lower positions, many with families, who will be seeking affordable accommodation.

The importance of maintaining affordability for the average buyer is critical and the availability of affordable finance in the form of mortgages is vital to enable many to gain access to this lucrative market going forward.

Beyond promises, Dubai brings trangible benefits

The emirate has a lot going for it that make it attractive to investors from India and other countries

I was reading with interest an online article recently that underlined the top reasons why Dubai’s property was so popular with Indian nationals. The reasons offered are not really surprising and essentially summarize why investing in property in the emirate has had significant appeal for not just Indian investors, but those from every corner of the world.

Dubai is easy

Compared to many countries in the world, investing in Dubai’s real estate sector is relatively easy. Enlist a reputable brokerage, select your desired property, negotiate a price, write the necessary cheques and the property will be yours. Bureaucracy, which makes investing in other countries a pain, is virtually nonexistent and, as long as you follow procedural requirements, your property transaction will be processed efficiently and without undue delay.

Dubai provides superior value for money

When compared to the major Indian cities or big cities around the world, Dubai offers increasingly better value. A modern infrastructure that is continually being developed, a renewed focus on affordable housing, world-leading rental yields and finance rates that have been at historic lows for some time now, the value that is inherent in Dubai property is hard to beat in India or any other country in the world.

Dubai provides superior, tax-free rental yields

put simply, there are not many real estate markets in the world where an investor can enjoy an average 7 percent yield Without paying any local taxes. So, net of service charges, maintenance costs and property management fees, the rent that you charge your tenants goes straight into your wallet without the taxman taking his share. And with the cost of finance remaining at near historic lows, the interest on any borrowings you may have is easily covered by the rent that is being yielded by your property, leaving more free cash flow to pay down your principal.

Dubai doesn’t impose a capital gains tax

In addition, capital gains are not taxed upon disposal of the asset, which makes investing in Dubai property a very lucrative addition to any investment portfolio – when taken with a long-term view, a Dubai property investment will provide handsome returns. So from a total return point of view, there are few real estate investments that are better than Dubai.

World-best infrastructure and security

Many times, investments that provide such lucrative returns are normally associated vvith excessive risks or poor infrastructure. This is not the case in Dubai. Dubai’s focus has been on developing a World-leading infrastructure for the benefit of commerce, trade, tourism and habitation. The remarkable improvement that has been made in opening Dubai up for business, implementing the physical, digital and logistical infrastructures, legal framework and economic policies in the post—recession period

has been impressive. There is no doubt that Dubai’s future is looking very bright and investors globally continue to monitor its progress very closely.

Dubai’s brand value has never been stronger

There is no doubt that Dubai has captured the imagination of the world and there is no better barometer of this than its burgeoning tourism industry. Investments in revenue-generating sectors such as entertainment and hospitality have ensured that Dubai is increasingly being included on travellers’ bucket lists all over the world.

Dubai excels at economic entrepreneurialism

Dubai is excelling in an area I call economic entrepreneurialism. Already known for conducting world renowned exhibitions, there is no greater example than the upcoming World Expo, which Dubai will be hosting in 2020. Dubai is committed to making it the best ever.

Dubai is close to India and many countries

There is no doubt that Dubai is well placed geographically. With one-third of the world’s population within a four-hour flight and two-thirds within an eight-hour flight, existing emerging, economies such as Russia, India and China, and soon-to-be emerging economies on the African and South Asian continents will soon all share Dubai as a central hub. No wonder investors are so excited about the emirates prospects.

A multicultural and cosmopolitan society

Long a haven for expats that fulfilled employment contracts of limited duration, more and more people have decided to settle down and call Dubai home. This change in outlook has had a dramatic effect on the stability of the property market and the development of a society that, while incredibly diverse, is also less transient and more committed to developing the emirate as a long-term lifestyle solution. As a result, while there has always been a vibrant and strong Indian community; communities representing other nationalities are developing rapidly making it easier for new expats to make a decision to make Dubai their new home. History has proven that strong nations were built upon such diversity.