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Housing in lockdown: Buying and selling property during Covid-19

Martin Altmann/Dubai
Filed on April 27, 2020

(Reuters)

Even during the best of times, the property market can be a stressful experience. Seasoned investors, first-time buyers, those looking to lease their property, and for many in Dubai, those looking to rent a new apartment, are often put off by the fear of the unknown. 

And this was before the impact of Covid-19. The global health pandemic is forcing everybody to try and adapt to a new reality, that is evolving daily. Safety has to be the priority for all right now, but we have to remember that these strange times will pass.

Over the last few weeks, more and more people have had to adapt by working from home. For many, their homes have become an office, a nursery, a school, cinema and library as well as occasionally offering some space to rest one's head. Our living space has never seemed so important. 

Recent transactional data suggests that to date, up to 50 per cent of buyers are non-residents which underscores the fact that a large proportion of the UAE's residential community has not yet directly invested in the property market. However, many do recognise the long-term benefits of getting onto the property ladder and while people are working from home, we're also seeing an upswing in traffic as people are researching the market that much more.

Before the coronavirus brought our day to day lives to an abrupt, but hopefully temporary, halt, mortgage lenders were very positive. As part of the most recent stimulus package, the CBUAE also announced an increase by five percentage points, the loan-to-value (LTV) ratios applicable on mortgages for first-time homebuyers, ensuring that houses are affordable without associated inherent risks.

Market and consumer confidence is generally, on an upward swing and the long term economic indicators are positive. Obaid bin Humaid Al Tayer, Minister of State for Financial Affairs, recently announced a growth of two per cent in the private sector in Q4 2019. This is the highest growth in the last seven quarters, with 38,765 net new jobs created. Obviously, in the immediate term, these figures may drop off slightly as businesses readjust but long-term, the signs are good.  

With this positive economic growth, the real estate sector has responded. Estimates for 2020 expect the delivery of circa. 50,000 units and critically, the units have a primary focus on the new areas of Dubai such as Dubai South, Dubailand and Mohammed bin Rashid City. The market has adapted and matured, recognising the need to offer the growing population properties that are able to fit every budget.  

For those looking to sell, the current climate offers a unique opportunity to re-evaluate how they are approaching their sales. We launched our service in 2016 to give investors the ability to maintain total control of their sales process. Through HOD.CO, clients can market, manage and sell their property - all on their own terms. We give them marketing support, market intelligence and information they need to take an active role in as much of the transaction as they feel comfortable with.

We've seen that people want to take more control of their property transactions. For sellers and landlords, they know their properties better than anyone else. With the support of our legal, marketing and sales experts, they can get the best out of their transactions. Similarly for prospective buyers and renters, this current period offers up real opportunities to re-evaluate their needs.

A separate space to work may have seemed a luxury six months ago but increasingly, we're seeing how people are changing their priorities. The extra time that people have on their hands is offering a unique opportunity to really research the market in-depth and make these critical decisions with even more valuable information to hand.

Martin Altmann is the commercial director for HOD.CO. Views expressed are his own and do not reflect the newspaper's policy.


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