‘There is money in affordable’

Image Credit: Pictures courtesy of Binghatti DevelopersImage Credit: Pictures courtesy of Binghatti Developers

Family-run Binghatti Developers, its legacy dating back to 1890 as a multi-trading company, has made itself a name developing for institutional investors before launching its own buildings in the end-user market. It’s trademark: affordable quality, wrapped in unique designs.

“Our family was always into real estate,” says Muhammad Binghatti Aljbori, CEO and Head of Architecture, adding that being an architect has allowed him to differentiate the company’s offerings from the market. “The unique designs and the modern and iconic architecture are what our brand has become all about: contemporary with a traditional soul.”

* What is the inspiration of your designs?

The idea was to introduce something very new and contemporary, but influenced by traditional roots. For example, Binghatti Pearls, very modern and fresh, was inspired by the pearl fishing tradition, shaping the units like a pearl shell. The Bing-hatti Apartments [takes inspiration from] Arabic calligraphy and art. Why the extensive use of orange?

Because we live in a region that is very orange [with] the sun that is always shining and the desert.

* You say Binghatti Views creates a kaleidoscope with offset balconies taking into account the climate. How?

In this region the sun is an issue, so you need to provide shade. If you go to developments like Citywalk and The Beach, they offset the roof so you’re in a shaded area. Our balconies also block the sun. The other salient point of your designs is affordability. How is it achieved?

My vision compares property to the world of fashion. If you look at a brand like Zara, you find some very nice pieces, yet it is affordable and people think it looks much more expensive. It is value for money. So, I thought why can’t we apply that to property. Why can’t we do something that is very attractive and affordable at the same time?

Of course there is a little bit of a premium we pay as a developer, but at the same time we want people to believe in the brand. For example, we use parquet in the units, which gives a warm and cosy feeling, and marble tiles from Italy. We also try to push quality local brands like RAK Ceramics.

It is always possible to build quality and still be affordable and make a profit if you get the concept right. It’s also a question of being reasonable, by letting your investors benefit with you. Once people see that, they always come back.

* Isn’t it more expensive to build complicated non-lin ear designs, like Binghatti Pearl and the Views?

Yes, definitely there is a cost involved. However, if you compare it to cars like Lamborghini, Ferrari, etc., which have their customers but not everyone can afford them, I set out to provide an equivalent in property, but almost everyone can afford it — people with mid-range incomes of Dh15,000-Dh30,000 monthly. You should provide a building that everyone is able to afford; it’s housing, it’s shelter, it’s a noble cause.

* What is your price range?

Our price range is pretty stable. In Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO) it’s Dh800-Dh1,500 per square foot, sometimes it’s Dh750-Dh1,050. We try to be very fair in terms of the market price and tend to be on the lower side, but with no compromise in terms of quality. You’re always getting an excellent design, but the price is unaffected. Whether it’s Binghatti Residences or the Pearl, it’s the same price.

* Why choose DSO as a main development area?

It’s a brilliantly end-user master-planned community in a very good location with great views. It’s 15 minutes to Downtown Dubai and has 120,000 people living and commuting in the area. The good thing about that is that you always have a good rental yield of about 10-11 per cent. So if you buy an apartment for Dh1 million, you have a guaranteed rental yield of Dh100,000 a year, which is a great investment. Dubai Marina is about 7-8 per cent if you’re lucky.

* You also have a luxury building in the Dubai Marina, Swarovski-branded Sparkle Towers.

It’s a plot we purchased a long time ago and we decided to develop it in a joint venture with Tebyan Real Estate, which is the main developer. We’ve seen saturation in the luxury market, because almost every developer has entered that niche, so we decided to build a reputation in the mid-range.

* You started out providing buildings to institutional investors. Why did you decide to break into the consumer market?

It emanated from my passion as an architect to create something really unique; an experience for everyone rather than just one client. Today we maintain two strategies: one for end-user build ings and [another for] institutional buyers.

* Tell us more about your end-user buildings?

The Binghatti Apartments is sold out and already has residents. Bing-hatti Views is around 80 per cent sold with about 25 units remaining for sale, primarily two- and three-bedroom duplexes starting at Dh1.2 million. The development is scheduled for completion at the end of the year.

* You only launched some of these projects last year. How do you manage to complete them so fast?

We’re probably one of the fastest developers around in terms of completion. Our average construction time is one year to 15 months. For example, we finished the Binghatti Apartments, which has 222 units, within 11 months — a record I think. A lot of our operations are in-house, so we can control the process and sell ourselves.

Equally, our financial model is conservative based on in-house financing. As a family business we don’t rely on high leveraging from banks. It’s about risk management, being efficient and very straight and legal. There are no question marks in our policy.

* Tells us about Binghatti Pearls and Burj Al Amwaj in Sharjah.

We’re planning to launch the Pearls, a very arty building with 313 units, quite soon. One of our big developments, it is probably scheduled to complete by middle of next year. However, we’re still in internal discussions on whether to sell or keep it in our stock. The Burj Al Amwaj is off the hook right now as we’re in discussion with different sides on its development.

* What else do you have in store?

If all goes to plan, we’ll be launching something before the middle of this year. We have already invested around Dh1 billion in six projects in DSO and the figure is growing. The forecast is to invest about Dh2 billion within the next two years.

New areas we’re exploring are Dubailand, in the Dubai Residences Complex area, Jumeirah Village Circle, Sharjah and Business Bay. We already have some plots, while others are under negotiation. It’s a good time to go shopping for plots right now.




Source: Nicole Walter, Special to Property Weekly PW


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