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Launching a full-fledged real estate brokerage business in Dubai at this moment in time might seem like stretching it a bit. Sales transaction levels have dipped quite significantly since the second half of last year and remain subdued, apart from the occasional off-plan launch that investors might suddenly take a fancy to.
But Angus Raine, CEO of the Sydney headquartered Raine & Horne real estate services firm, is not deterred by how the local market has been behaving of late. “Agents on their own don’t make or break a property market... they have to respond to its whims and play accordingly,” said Raine, who was in Dubai to flag the opening of the new office. “Next month, we will be launching two local projects - already built, with one being residential and the other commercial - through exclusive sales and marketing arrangements with the developers. We will see how that goes.”
The plan to have a Raine & Horne flag in Dubai was mooted a good 12 months ago, at a time when property values looked like they would close in on the 2008 peaks. Overseas investors were still picking off new off-plan launches as soon as they were introduced.
But between then and now, quite a lot has changed. “Even if there aren’t that many international buyers looking to make an acquisition in Dubai right now, the market’s fundamentals haven’t changed all that much,” said Raine. “The office - with a staff of 22 - will offer the same set of services that our offices in Australia or Malaysia do.
“While that means marketing Dubai property to prospective overseas buyers, the primary role would to engage in brokerage activity in Dubai,” said Raine, who is the fourth generation from his family to head the business, which traces its origins to 1883. “Yes, there are plans to engage in the Abu Dhabi market as well.”
Meanwhile, an estimated Dh2.3 billion worth of residential property transactions were registered in Dubai during February. “Though they are off from the Dh3 billion or so that used to be the monthly average prior to the dip, raising Dh2 billion is still a fairly sizable amount for this market at this point,” said Chandrakant Whabi, CEO of Acrohouse Properties.
“If these numbers can be sustained, there will be enough activity happening to keep everyone interested until a full recovery happens. The biggest danger would be if transaction levels were to drop anywhere near what they were there during 2009-11.”
According to Acrohouse estimates, the average on residential property transactions in the first half of 2014 was Dh2.5 billion, and which dropped to Dh1.5 billion to Dh1.6 billion in the second half of the year.
For the first two months of this year, the average would be Dh2.2 billion. “The bulk of the activity relates to secondary market purchases,” said Whabi. “Off-plan is just not happening in high enough volumes anymore.”
Source: Manoj Nair, Associate Editor, gulfnews.com