Money spent in Dubai by overseas property investors declines 40%

The amount of money spent by overseas investors in Dubai last year plummeted by more than 40 per cent compared with a year earlier as currency fluctuations hit Indian and British investors, prompting developers to slow housing completions.

According to property broker Core Savills, the total amount of money invested in property by investors from outside the Arab region fell to Dh44 billion last year from Dh74.6bn in 2015. It found that the total number of non-Arab, non-GCC investors into Dubai fell 35 per cent to 22,834 in 2016 from 35,162 in 2015.

Core Savills analysed Dubai Land Department data to show that the total amount of money spent by Indian investors on Dubai property fell 42 per cent last year to just Dh12bn from Dh20.8bn in 2015. The broker said that the total number of Indian investors buying property in Dubai fell 28 per cent to 6,263 in 2016 from 8,756 in 2015.

At the same time the total amount of money spent by British purchasers on Dubai property fell 46.7 per cent to Dh5.8bn in 2016 from Dh10.9bn in 2015. The total number of British home purchasers in Dubai fell 31 per cent to 3,372 in 2016 from 4,889 in 2015.

And the total amount of money spent by Saudi Arabian investors on Dubai property last year fell 15.7 per cent to Dh8bn from Dh9.5bn, even though the number of investors stayed roughly static.

“Looking at real estate investment in Dubai in 2016, we witnessed a year-on-year contraction in the total number of investors — notably amplified by non-regional buyers,” said David Godchaux, the chief executive of Core Savills.

“A strong dollar continues to affect the traditional buyer nationalities such as Indians, British and Pakistanis as their currencies have devalued significantly over the last year. We also saw receding regional demand from GCC investors.”

Overall Core Savills estimated that total residential sales in Dubai last year fell 32.9 per cent to Dh91bn in 2016 from Dh135.7bn in 2015, while the total number of investors fell 24.9 per cent to 42,018 in 2016 from 55,955 in 2015.

The broker said that weak demand in the market was prompting property developers to slow down construction and complete fewer homes than they had predicted.

Core Savills estimated that developers handed over just 3,100 completed homes in the first three months of 2017.

The broker said it anticipated that only another 15,000 units would be brought to market throughout the rest of the year – roughly half the anticipated amount.

Property consultancy Cavendish Maxwell has said that 2,500 new homes were completed during the first quarter of the year, but 35,000 are forecast to be due over the remainder of this year. Senior consultant Manika Dhama said that developers are likely to delay many of these handovers to prevent too much stock coming on to the market.

“While some projects are delayed as a result of financing issues and extraneous factors, the majority of delays over the last 12-18 months stem from a conscious staggered delivery schedule being set by developers.

“This acts as a supply control mechanism to align handovers with demand and project sales potential and to avoid flooding the market with units that cannot be absorbed,” said Ms Dhama.

Already there have been signs that handovers are affecting prices, especially in villa communities as more smaller, affordable houses are launched.

The company’s house price index shows the average selling price for a villa or town house dropped to Dh2.2m at the end of March from Dh3.5m at the end of 2016. This is because more villas are being launched in communities such as Dubailand with starting prices of Dh1m.

On a like-for-like basis, average prices for completed units dropped by 1 per cent year-on-year.

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