Thursday, December 12, 2019
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Community enhancements as a selling proposition

Dubai’s residential market now has more completed stock which has introduced a new variable in a property’s positioning by developers. Community enhancements are being introduced by them to raise the profile and these go beyond providing basic amenities such as a gym or swimming pool, which are more or less a regular part of the package now.

As more residents with families move into the emirate they are looking for a lifestyle package from their communities. With a large stock of completed properties, these tenants now have more options than ever before to choose from.

Community enhancement is the next step after completion of a project. Once residents start moving in, the enhancement process starts with profiling them and improving the community in requirement with tenant needs. For instance the retail mix of the community must coincide with the specific demand of community residents.

On-going community events can be initiated to encourage two-way communications and participation of residents in all aspects. This is common in developed countries where tenants choose communities based on the lifestyle it offers and their own personal requirements.

As residents have to shell out 50-100 per cent more rent from their pockets, they will look to get value for money and will be paying more attention on extra facilities that communities must provide such as availability of schools, clinics, sports centres and even the overall look.

Proximity to the city centre is losing its appeal for many residents as rentals go beyond affordable ranges in such areas. With the extension of the Metro’s Green Line, secondary locations such as Ras Al Khor, Dubai International City, Silicon Oasis and Dubai Academic City will become more accessible.

This will increase rental demand in the communities. This is a good opportunity for many projects located away from the city centre such as Dubailand to attract more residents by enhancing community-specific amenities. These could range, but not necessarily confined to, a convenience store, clinics, sports facilities and open areas for recreation. This is a key factor why community-themed projects such as Dubai Investments Park, Motorcity, Discovery Gardens and Remraam are becoming more popular with families despite their distance from the city.

Community enhancements can be reflected in terms of higher rental and sales values, and clearly observed from the higher values in Dubai Silicon Oasis as compared with Jumeirah Village or Dubai Sports City. We feel communities that fail to address this aspect will suffer from lower values and demand.

Most high profile communities already have a community strategy in place. The Downtown has clearly set the bar in terms of community enhancements, with free wi-fi being the latest addition. Community events are also a part of the master-developer Emaar’s strategy to create a sense of belongingness for residents towards the community.

Another leading developer, Dubai Property Group, recently unveiled further enhancements at its Remraam community in Dubailand, including plans for a supermarket set to open in the first half of the year. Communities such as JLT have gone virtual with a website, a community TV and magazine which provide regular updates on events in the community. More information increases the marketability of the project by communicating with residents and prospective investors alike.

However, many communities still lack such strategy. For instance, Dubai Marina, which is one of the most popular communities with high-income expats, has no platform of communication or involvement with residents. As more completed stock makes its way into the market, more developers will have to look for ways to distinguish their community from the others. Enhancements could provide a solution.

— The writer is UAE country head at Chesterton International.