Dubai rents fall fastest in global prime cities index but yields remain attractive to investors

City offers the fourth-highest gross return for prime residential property globally, according to Savills

RYP3WE Amazing Dubai city center at sunrise, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Alamy
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Dubai witnessed the steepest fall in rents in a global index of prime properties, but the emirate still offers investors one of the most attractive rental yields in the world, according to a study by Savills.

The new Savills Prime Index: World Cities report found rents for the most exclusive properties in Dubai dropped 5 per cent last year.

Prices also dropped 5.8 per cent "as existing oversupply with continued high levels of completions impacted values". Average prices stood at €5,600 (Dh22,271) per square metre, making it the third-cheapest city in the index –ahead of Cape Town and Kuala Lumpur

Despite this, gross residential yields for investors across prime properties remained the fourth-highest globally at 4.6 per cent, exceeded only by Los Angeles, Moscow and Cape Town.

"Los Angeles is the highest-yielding city in the index, at 5.5 per cent. Yields here have been pushed upwards due to a shift from buying to renting, generally among younger age groups," the report said.

Globally, rents rose in 15 of the 21 markets for which 2019 data was given, but aggregate capital values were flat, averaging an increase of 0.1 per cent as many prime US cities witnessed price declines.

"Berlin and Paris were the strongest performers through 2019, with annual growth of 8.8 per cent and 6.4 per cent, respectively," the report said. "The German capital has seen strong interest from buyers and investors looking for income returns while prime property in the French capital is viewed as a safe long-term store of wealth. In both cities, undersupply remains a key driver of values."

Buildings are seen from Victoria Peak at night in Hong Kong, China, on Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019. Hong Kong's hotel industry is struggling with a collapse in bookings after thousands of protesters shut down flights from the territory's airport in an escalation of months of clashes with police. Photographer: Paul Yeung/Bloomberg
View of Hong Kong at night from Victoria Peak. The city remains the most expensive for property prices globally, at 44,700 euros per square metre, despite a 2.7 per cent decline in value during the last six months of 2019.  Bloomberg

In overall price terms, land-scarce Hong Kong remains by far the world's most expensive city, at €44,700 per square metre. This is despite a 1.5 per cent fall in price for the year, and a 2.7 per cent decline in the past six months as the city faced continued social unrest. New York (at €24,300 per square metre), Tokyo (€21,000), Geneva (€18,700) and London (€18,500) made up the top five.

Values have been falling in London since 2014, but with the UK's withdrawal from the European Union now finalised, this could change, the report said.

"The market appears to be at a turning point as more certainty returns as a consequence of political stability and prices look good value both in a historical and global context."

Dubai rents fall fastest in global prime cities index but yields remain attractive to investors

Dubai rent data

Savills' UAE property report for last year published last week, found that despite a 25 per cent year-on-year increase in the number of transactions, handovers were up 39 per cent, maintaining downward pressure on both rents and prices.

Although the number of new projects announced dropped 35 per cent to 15,000 units last year, "even with increased transactions and maybe a little bit of increased demand, it's still going to take some time for that residual supply to be absorbed", said Richard Paul, Savills Middle East's head of professional services and consultancy.