Residential sales prices and rents forecast to be more stable this year, although modest declines expected on average
According to the latest research by one of the leading international real estate services firm, Chestertons, Dubai's residential sector enjoyed a comparatively strong second half of 2020, supported by an increase in completed property sales and continued tenant demand across more-established villa communities.
The findings, revealed in the latest Observer: UAE 2020 Review and 2021 Outlook, showed that while the total value of residential property sales fell by almost 14 per cent over 2020, to Dh55.46 billion from Dh64.34 billion in 2019, completed property sales gained pace over the second half of last year, reaching Dh21.67 billion, a 35.5 per cent increase from Dh15.99 billion seen in the second half of 2019.
Villa sales prices recorded a comparatively moderate 3.6 per cent decline in 2020, with the overall annual fall eased by a robust final quarter. Apartment sales price declines were more pronounced, falling 9.5 per cent year-on-year, with continued unit completions continuing to place downward pressure on values. In the rental sector, villa rents witnessed an annual fall of 5.3 per cent, while apartment rents fell by 12.4 per cent.
Chris Hobden, Head of Strategic Consultancy, Chestertons MENA, said, "Dubai's residential sector enjoyed a comparatively strong fourth quarter, with sales activity continuing to gain pace since mid-last last year. While residential rents continued to see steady falls, the pace of price declines eased in the final months of 2020, with the market-wide average bolstered by several villa communities seeing minor uplifts in achieved prices.
"Overall, we expect to see modest declines in both average prices and rents this year, with ongoing unit completions likely to hamper performance. Price movements will increasingly vary by location and property type though, and we expect healthy demand for completed villas, across more-established residential areas, to continue into 2021.
On an annual basis, villas at Palm Jumeirah and The Meadows/The Springs saw the lowest price falls, with prices declining by just 2.1 per cent and 2.7 per cent, respectively. Values across Jumeirah Park and The Lakes saw the highest annual drop, falling by 5.2 per cent and 4.9 per cent respectively year-on-year.
In contrast, several locations saw modest uplifts in average villa prices over Q4, primarily driven by strong resale demand. Average villa prices across Jumeirah Park increased from Dh720 per sqft in Q3 to Dh725 per sqft in Q4, with average prices in Palm Jumeirah rising from Dh1,860 per sqft to Dh1,870 per sqft last quarter.
The largest annual price declines were witnessed in Discovery Gardens, with prices falling by 13.5 per cent annually to Dh498 per sqft, from Dh576 per sqft in Q4 2019.
Dubai Sports City and Motor City also saw comparatively sharp declines year-on-year, falling by 13.3 per cent and 12.8 per cent respectively. Prices averaged Dh600 per sqft in Dubai Sports City, with Motor City prices decreasing to Dh510 per sqft.
Business Bay and Dubai Marina witnessed more moderate declines over 2020, with prices falling by just 3.7 per cent to Dh973 per sqft, and 4.9 per cent to Dh980 per sqft, respectively.
In the villa rental sector, rates fell by 5.3 per cent on an annual basis. The Springs, Al Furjan, and The Meadows saw the steepest yearly declines, with rents decreasing by 10.1 per cent, 7.5 per cent and 6.9 per cent, respectively. The Lakes, Victory Heights and Arabian Ranches all saw annual declines of above 5 per cent, with a four-bedroom unit in each community averaging Dh212,000, Dh142,000 and Dh155,000 per annum, respectively.
While all areas saw annual declines, Q4 witnessed relative stability in average villa rents, with the majority of locations seeing rates hold steady, and a minority seeing modest improvements, leading to an average quarter-on-quarter drop of just 0.2 per cent. Palm Jumeirah, Jumeirah Golf Estates and Arabian Ranches all recorded slight uplifts in average rents over Q4. Palm Jumeirah saw rents rise by 0.9 per cent, with Jumeirah Golf Estates and Arabian Ranches seeing upticks of 0.4 per cent, respectively, quarter-on-quarter.
"With work-from-home policies continuing across parts of the private sector, and tenant demand for larger residential accommodation likely to remain strong, we expect villa rents to continue to outperform the wider residential average over the coming year," said Hobden.
For apartments, downward pressure on rental rates continued due to the economic impact of Covid-19, causing a year-on-year fall of 12.4 per cent. The highest annual declines were seen in The Views and Discovery Gardens, at 16.3 per cent and 16.2 per cent respectively, with two-bedroom units in The Views averaging Dh100,000 over Q4. In Dubai Motor City rates fell by 15.9 per cent, with three-bedroom apartments standing at Dh98,500, down from an average of Dh105,000 per annum in Q4 2019.
Studio units saw the sharpest fall over 2020, at 14.8 per cent, followed by one and two-bedroom units, which fell by averages of 13.2 per cent and 11.8 per cent, respectively. Three-bedroom units declined annually by 9.2 per cent.