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Villas, townhouses driving UAE residential market, says expert

The surge in demand is being driven by changing consumer needs when it comes to residential property purchase

Rising demand for villas and townhouses is driving a rebound in the UAE’s residential property market, according to a senior UAE banking official.

Spurred by trends including remote working and community-living, villas and townhouses are emerging as the preferred choice for residential property buyers, stated Cyril Lincoln, Executive VP and Global head of real estate finance and advisory, investment & agency services at Mashreq Bank.

The surge in demand is being driven by changing consumer needs when it comes to residential property purchase, he stated.

Lincoln pointed out that expatriate families were now looking for more open spaces in the form of detached or semi-detached houses.”

Affordability is still an important factor, but there is greater demand for community-centred homes,” he noted.

“Villas and townhouses are seeing greater capital appreciation when compared to apartments,” he added.

Since its launch on 1 October 2021, Expo 2020 Dubai has seen a healthy footfall. Its post-event impact on Dubai’s real estate sector, however, remains uncertain.

“Short-term leasing is definitely seeing an uptick in districts nearest to the Expo site, as visitors and staff are occupying homes on a temporary basis,” says Lincoln. “But we cannot be certain what the trend will be after April 2022.”

From a rental perspective, the market remained favourable for tenants well into 2021. However, Dubai is beginning to observe a rise in rates, with a 2.48 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y) increase according to data from property information firm ReidIn. Abu Dhabi on the other hand has seen a 2.56 per cent y-o-y decline.

The expo is playing an important role in positioning the UAE as an attractive opportunity for foreign investors, which Lincoln says will help propel the real estate market further. And it is expected that short-term visitors could turn into long-term residents, he added.


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