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Dubai’s new launches aim for super-premium niche

Dubai: Dubai’s developers are busy with new launches to meet the premium cravings of the well-heeled investor. It indicates that the current upturn in the local realty space will continue to be dictated by what is on offer at the premium end of the property ladder.

Al Barari, with its focus on substantial villa plots set in a low-density community, is tweaking its development strategy slightly to come up with apartment blocks. However, on the pricing side it will remain decidedly upscale, with a one-bedroom well upwards of Dh2 million. At the top of the scale, the price tag would be Dh16 million. But there is more to the current expansion – named ‘Seventh Heaven’ – that just upscale homes.

“From the outset it was the plan to develop Al Barari as a mixed-use community, and the addition of commercial/retail elements now is part of that,” said Mohammad Zaal, CEO. “Even with the offices, these are not going to be glass-and-steel structures, but will blend in with the existing landscape through their “green-build” credentials.”

Three buildings will come up in this phase, with the first already selling more than 90 per cent of the 157 units. The second is to have the sales launch early April and the third post-summer. “Buyers who have bought now represent a mix of the new and previous investors, who want to buy another unit within the community for their extended family or as an investment option,” said Zaal. (There are 189 villas at Al Barari, with more than 90 per cent with investors/end-users and a limited number held by the developer as reserve stock.)

Another super-premium community is also figuring in investor options; Meydan Sobha has just launched villas at District One of Mohammad Bin Rashid City. Market sources say values at the City are well upwards of Dh1,800 a square foot and that the limited releases to date has been getting a lot of attention.

“Where there’s a relative scarcity currently is for villas priced between Dh10 million to Dh20 million,” said Cecilia Reinaldo, managing director at Fine and Country UAE. “The bulk of the available stock of premium/super-premium apartments have already been acquired by investors and it’s on villas that a supply gap is building up. We could see developers in select master-developments speeding up off-plan launches to plug the gap.”

Simultaneously, an existing upscale villa community could finally get its leverage right with prospective buyers, Reinaldo said. “Jumeirah Golf Estates is fixing its utility services and that would raise its attraction – the community has been through a few ups and downs on the pricing side, with the Dh2,000 a square foot at the peak crashing to Dh1,000 or thereabouts and now back in the Dh1,500 levels.”

Across Dubai, villa rentals were up 20 per cent year-on-year at the end of the fourth quarter of last year, according to the latest Asteco data.