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With more stock coming online in Dubai's residential real estate market, buyers have also become extra demanding, prompting many developers to offer more generous terms to attract attention. Deferred payment plans, reduced down payment and a wider selection of interior finishes are some of the schemes. A wide range of payment plans for off-plan projects have also been introduced, bundling them with luxury items such as cars to lure customers.
Flexible payment plans are attracting strong attention from buyers in all price categories, says Manish Khatri, Vice-President of Business Development at SPF Realty. ''The post-handover payment options are popular in the market, wherein the balance is payable after handover for a set period of one to three years, and in some cases even more than that,'' says Khatri. ''Some large and medium-sized developers are also offering deferred payment plans on ready property, where a buyer pays down payment to move in the unit and the balance is paid over a set period of time.''
Ashraf Khan, Sales Manager at Exclusive Links Real Estate, agrees that deferred payment plans are becoming a norm. ''For mid-range properties, some developers have extended plans of up to six years from the launch date. For example, G&Co, a developer in Meydan, is offering 40 per cent to be paid until handover and then 60 per cent paid quarterly over three years. Then there are developers in Dubai Sports City and Jumeirah Village offering payments up to 50-60 per cent until handover and the rest within two years. For high-end properties, payment plans in the market include 50-50 or 40-60 options, where 40 per cent is paid in a year or 18 months, with the balance at handover.''
According to property agents, many buyers also now expect much better interiors. Areas that often get upgraded include tiles, floorings, kitchens and bathroom fittings, as well as whatever else that will get the customer in the door. ''Italian fixtures, bamboo hardwood floors or European roof tiles are [among those] being used,'' says Khatri. ''Buyers are also demanding to view specs in writing, and they want to see mood boards.''
Khan says marketing strategies are also becoming very competitive, with some offering 3D walk through of the properties. For high-end properties, developers invest in premium imported materials when building show apartments and villas, he says.
''Many high-end developers also have mood boards even before a show villa is on display, hence even at the conceptional launch of the project materials and finishes can be seen and felt by buyers,'' says Khan. ''Some developers of high-end projects give buyers a choice of materials to be used in the finished villa; typically two to three choices of finishes, styles and colours are offered.''
Developers of affordable and mid-range properties are likewise spoiling buyers with more choices, from a selection of finishes to a choice of closed or open kitchen. Khan says buyers have become very fussy and selective and do not want to compromise on finishes, regardless of the unit's price.
Most developers are going back to the traditional channel partners to market their projects, Khatri says, adding that they are choosing exclusive agents as part of their extended sales arm. How a project is packaged is also keenly observed by buyers. ''A premium product needs to showcase and market something that the competition doesn't have, as many developers have entered the marketplace,'' says Khatri. ''All developers are looking at ways to outdo one another when it comes to features, pricing and payment plan. Those who are building mock-up units are having good success rate, as customers really want to see the features that a developer is going to use in the development and not just see it in a mood board.''
Buyers of premium property prefer to see a finished product before investing, says Khatri. What a customer gets for his or her money is of prime importance for every buyer these days, he adds. Khan says the prime property segment is doing well, as there are still buyers for property in areas like the Palm Jumeirah, Dubai Hills or Jumeirah Golf Estates, although other areas such as Dubai Marina have lost favour with high-end investors.
''Even prestigious locations such as Emirates Hills and Al Barari are starting to look a bit tired, but Dubai is always calling out for higher-end options of quality,'' says Khatri. ''The premium property market always has buyers. A property sale of Dh90 million in District One at Cityscape is testament to this.''
There are plenty of buyers for the mid-range properties as well, and this is reflected in the healthy sales of projects such as Afnan in Deyaar's MidTown development and Jade at Fields by G&Co in Meydan. There are also more affordable developments like Nshama's Town Square, says Khan.
''What people need are good prices with exceptional payment plans,'' he says. ''Deyaar offered a 30-70 payment plan and Jade had a six year payment plan. Affordable property by a trusted developer with a good payment plan will always be a success story.''
Khatri adds that investors and buyers of mid-range and affordable property consider factors such as a developer's reputation, location, payment plan and even rental yields. ''The trend is definitely more on payment plan, terms and price. The longer payment plans and the less amounts to be paid are the biggest draws to the mid-range and affordable housing sector,'' he says. ''When a buyer takes possession and rents out the properties and his returns are higher, it makes it an attractive proposition.''
Have a look at the luxury homes set for completion in Dubai Sports City
Source: Hina Navin, Special to Property Weekly