News Column

Dubai economic growth may hit 5.6%

August 26, 2014



Emirate sees stronger economic growth and more conservative spending



Dubai's economic growth could hit as high as 5.6 per cent this year if the global economy stays vibrant but the emirate's rebounding real estate sector faces a short-term price correction, Phidar Advisory, a recently established advisory firm specialising in real estate, said on Monday.







"The good news is that even if the global economy shows a tendency to apply the brakes, Dubai will continue show an upswing of 3.5 per cent GDP (gross domestic product) growth, and if it stays vibrant and robust then the emirate could hit as high as 5.6 per cent annually," Phidar said quoting International Monetary Fund sources.







The IMF predicted in a recent report that Dubai's ability to finance its debts had improved because of stronger economic growth and more conservative spending, but warned that the emirate would still be vulnerable in a major downturn of the global economy.







The Institute of International Finance also endorsed this view in its latest forecast. "We see Dubai growing at 5.6 per cent in 2014, driven by tourism, transportation, and trade," said Garbis Iradian, deputy director for Africa and the Middle East at the IIF.







In 2014-second quarter, residential sales prices and rents were still on the rise, but the rate of growth slowed dramatically for both sale prices and lease rates, leading to yield compression, Phidar Advisory report said.







Thee report states that as many as 30,000 additional units are needed in Dubai through 2018 to maintain rent stability. Phidar claimed that the figure is based on its internal monitoring of announced, launched, stalled and ongoing projects.







Thee report said that nominal prices for single family homes declined four per cent and apartments declined 0.6 per cent according to transaction data for the first six weeks of 2014 third quarter.







Phidar's House Price Index reflects real prices adjusted in representative projects across Dubai that have been completed since 2009.







"Residential development opportunities are still ample in Dubai, but the market would benefit exponentially from developer specialisation, particularly in the most under-supplied assets. In this case middle-income housing could be a tangible and powerful catalyst," said the report.







Phidar said that over this period another 15,000 units could be reactivated from stalled projects thereby creating a viable supply gap of as much as 20,000 units.







"While there are indications that transaction volumes are declining, the slack in the information in this sector makes it difficult to obtain a precise figure. All too often off-plan sales are not factored in because they are not reported consistently. Processing lags and inconsistent reporting create similar challenges to collecting and analysing real estate mortgage data," the report said.







The report observed that after the UAE Central Bank implemented mortgage restrictions linked to borrower's age, payment caps and maximum LTVs (loan-to-value ratio), mortgage-backed demand tapered. "This action was ostensibly taken to cool 'hot' money and was mandated. What is worrying is the possible fall in transparency: after over 12 years of reporting Real Estate Mortgage data separately, the UAE Central Bank consolidated Real Estate Mortgage data together with Loans, Advances, and Overdrafts in the quarterly Statistical Bulletin. Dubai real estate transaction data published through REIDIN, does not distinguish between refinance activity and new sales, so mortgage trends on a city or national level are difficult to quantify," it said.







Phidar said individual properties in Dubai should trade at a trade at a six plus per cent yield to account for increased risk profile. However, the average net yields for individual properties compressed to 5.6 per cent and 4.5 per cent for apartments and villas.







Net yields have compressed and that it could be a step too far, it said. Market transparency appears to be regressing and that could increase the risk profile. Since speculation pays a major role in this market the property sector will continue to display volatility. "In the short term, this will likely lead to a price correction, following a two-year period of exuberant investor sentiment."







Asiya Investments is also of the view that Dubai's property market is susceptible to overheating risks. "Fundamental factors indicate that prices should be increasing in Dubai. however, it is not clear to what extent the current growth rate of prices is sustainable."







Phidar report also suggests that long term capital appreciation due to strong demographics is a foreseeable scenario but the current supply trends and affordability constraints will pose challenges to sustained long-term growth.







issacjohn@khaleejtimes.com


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Source: Khaleej Times (United Arab Emirates)


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