By Sam Bridge
Savills says any disruption to the UAE's property sector caused by the new coronavirus is likely to be short-term
Any disruption to the UAE's property sector caused by the new coronavirus is likely to be short-term, according to Savills, the global real estate consultancy.
The company has shared its real estate outlook following the official announcement by the Central Bank of the UAE earlier this week which included a AED100 billion ($27 billion) economic plan aimed at containing the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
Richard Paul, head of professional services and strategic consultancy for Savills Middle East said: “The exact impact of Covid-19 is unknown, but any disruption to the real estate markets is likely to be a near term delay or a knee-jerk reaction rather than a fundamental downturn over the long term.
"There will be inevitable impacts on economic growth, tourism, high-street retail spends, and so forth but there are longer-term outtakes such as accelerating trends within flexible working, online retail and improving supply chain.”
His comments come as data showed an increase in sales transactions in the Dubai real estate market during the first two months of 2020, prior to the outbreak in the UAE, compared to the same period last year.
He added that the strong fundamentals of the local economy including foreign currency reserves of more than AED405 billion and monetary measures introduced by the Central Bank will help weather any economic slowdown caused by the pandemic.
Most of the companies across the UAE have been successful in implementing remote working options for majority of their staff, thereby ensuring business continuity and sustained economic momentum, Paul noted.
Murray Strang, head of Dubai Office at Savills Middle East said: “The real estate sector in the country has remained largely resilient during the first two months of 2020. The introduction of a stimulus package by the Central Bank will be a shot-in-the-arm to the property market in the medium-to-long term.
"We have already witnessed a gradual increase in demand, especially across the residential sector in 2019... Banks will likely step-up their exposure to real estate and the construction sector, a spike in re-mortgage activity may also be witnessed in the coming months due to attractive borrowing rates and other promotional discounts.”
According to Savills, transaction activity by residents may also increase.
Strang added: “A continued softening in asset pricing and completion of new projects over the next few months will offer value proposition to end-users to upgrade their current real estate to better quality stock. However, there is a possibility that the market may witness a slowdown in demand from international investors due to restrictions in travel.
"At a corporate level, key decisions relating to fresh office space requirements may get delayed or postponed, which may in turn increase the number of renewal activities as a knock-on effect.”
In Abu Dhabi, the Abu Dhabi Executive Council directed by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, has also announced this week 16 new initiatives to support businesses and the community.
Edward Carnegy, head of Abu Dhabi office at Savills Middle East said: “The upfront financial requirement to buy property has reduced... The Abu Dhabi government has also waived off (for the entire year) real estate registration fee of 2 percent. As a result, transaction activity by residents may increase as individuals who are currently renting will find it more affordable and lucrative to purchase their own property.”