UAE: Residents still prefer to stay in bigger apartments, villas despite drop in Covid cases

Open-plan and larger homes have now become a necessity, say property industry executives


Waheed Abbas

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Published: Tue 6 Sep 2022, 12:38 PM

Last updated: Tue 6 Sep 2022, 5:54 PM

Despite the drop in Covid-19 cases in the country, residents in the UAE seem to still prefer villas and bigger apartments as tenants now feel that larger units have become a necessity.

The demand for bigger units had grown exceptionally in the UAE after the outbreak of the pandemic in early 2020, due to restrictions on the movement of people in order to contain the spread of the disease.

The number of daily coronavirus cases in the country had peaked in early 2021 to close to 4,000 cases, later dropping to double digits in November last year. Cases had spiked to over 3,000 in January 2022, but they have now fallen to below 400.

Property industry executives say that Covid has impacted the mindset with which people choose a home, as open-plan and larger homes have now become a necessity for most residents.

“While things are getting back to normal, we have noticed that people still prefer to continue staying in their existing villas, mainly because of the increased convenience, better view and the in-house facilities available", says Ayman Youssef, vice-president, Coldwell Banker, UAE. "Villa and townhouse communities offer a number of amenities within the premises such as gardens, dedicated areas for various sports, walking tracks and more. This is not available at stand-alone properties and buildings.”

Photo: Ayman Yousef
Photo: Ayman Yousef

“As the Covid cases drop, we are seeing an increase in demand for good quality apartments in Downtown, Dubai Hills, Dubai Marina, Creek Harbour and Palm Jumeirah. Rent increased by 23 per cent in Dubai Marina apartments and by 40 per cent in Dubai Hills. These areas are mainly preferred by locals and expats who have been in the country for a long time, as well as people with big families and long-pstay residents,” he said.

According to real estate consultancy Asteco’s second-quarter report, apartment rents jumped between 16 to 23 per cent in the second quarter of this year, and between four to 19 per cent in the affordable category.

Morgan Owen, managing director, Provident Real Estate, said that as the number of properties in Dubai is slowly increasing compared to the number of residents, there has been a surge in demand for end users in villas and townhouses as opposed to smaller units such as apartments.

Photo: Morgan Owen
Photo: Morgan Owen

New young tenants

Youssef revealed that a new influx of younger people, who are flocking to the UAE on flexible visa options announced by the government, are generally opting for apartments located in the heart of the city, with easy access to retail outlets, restaurants, nightlife and more. “This has led to an increase in demand for properties in areas such as Dubai Marina and JLT,” he said.

Rizwan Sajan, chairman and founder of Danube Group, said people’s choices in homes are determined by their lifestyle, culture and their financial capabilities – not by the pandemic.

Photo: Rizwan Sajan
Photo: Rizwan Sajan

“Covid-19 forced people to go into temporary isolation, but it didn't change their choices or lifestyle. However, due to an increase in employment, young professionals –bachelors or couples – might be moving into smaller homes,” he said, adding that more and more people are now buying homes.

“In addition to new families who are relocating to Dubai due to economic opportunities, many tenants are also buying a home to live in, which will save them from rent-related inflation in the coming years,” said the Danube Group founder.


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