Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 25 August 2019

Cityscape Abu Dhabi: affordable projects the key for real estate market

Property buyers opt for more affordable schemes over high-end developments, agents say

Affordable projects are driving Abu Dhabi's real estate market, agents said on the opening day of Cityscape Abu Dhabi.

The property exhibition opened on Tuesday, with dozens of residential developments on show from more than 100 real estate developers.

Experts said buyers want to get good value by opting for projects such as Aldar's Alreeman scheme over other higher-priced options.

Alreeman, which will be built in the Al Shamkha district, sold out in days, generating sales of Dh1.6 billion when it was launched in January.

It provided an early year boost for the owner of Smart Concept Real Estate, Isra Altal agency, who has faced more challenging times since.

“There are a lot of offers, a lot of availability, but we don’t have a lot of demand for buying,” said Ms Altal.

“March was maybe one of the worst months, ever. We didn’t have a single call. But January and February were good because they had a launch for Al Reeman. It was booming, this one. We sold a lot of them. But they had small plots and they were a good price.”

She had high hopes for Lea, Aldar’s newly-launched development on the north coast of Yas Island, where prices are significantly higher per square foot than Al Shamkha.

“At Alreeman, they started from around Dh700,000. But meanwhile here at Lea, they started from Dh1.35million, so it is double the price.”

Lea officially launched at Cityscape, but presales opened earlier, generating large interest but a smaller return.

A wide variety of new residential developments are on show at Cityscape Abu Dhabi. Reem Mohammed/The National
A wide variety of new residential developments are on show at Cityscape Abu Dhabi. Reem Mohammed/The National

“There weren’t that many closing. We had a lot of people coming, but they just looked and went. The conversion rate was very low. They said the prices were very high. But they are comparing two different categories, Al Shamkha with Yas Island, which is a mistake,” said Ms Altal.

She was also disappointed to see the “usual faces” at the sale, with no new buyers. The overwhelming majority were also Emirati, as is usually the case in the Abu Dhabi market, she said.

“Even at Alreeman, out of 100 you will find one expatriate. The rest are Emirati,” said Ms Altal.

Mouien Nabil, an agent for Property Point Real Estate, attended Cityscape to check out Lea, among other projects.

“I’m here to see new projects, especially Aldar. I came to see Lea for my clients. They are interested in it.”

Ahmed Garawish, executive sales manager at Metropolitan Premium Properties, said his clients were also eager to hear more about Lea.

“We already made a good number of presales two days ago,” he said.

But he agreed sales of new properties were fairly slow overall.

“In Abu Dhabi it is quiet, especially the primary market, new sales. Resales and rentals are going ahead,” said Mr Garawish.

The agents said they hoped the market would pick up later in the year, following a further dip during Ramadan.

Real estate consultancy ValuStrat said asking prices for Abu Dhabi sales and rental homes are between 10 and 20 per cent higher than the value of the property, amid rising supply.

The UAE property market has slowed in recent years on the back of a three-year oil slump that dampened demand and depressed both sales and rental prices.

Increasing supply is further softening real estate values, with analysts predicting the market will continue to decline this year, albeit at a slower rate, before bottoming out later this year.

Updated: April 17, 2019 09:25 AM

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