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Cluttons: Lack of affordable housing in Abu Dhabi

The growing problem of the lack of affordable housing in the Abu Dhabi is incredibly clear, says real estate consultancy Cluttons

During the third quarter, average residential capital and rental values stagnated.
During the third quarter, average residential capital and rental values stagnated.

The lack of affordable housing in Abu Dhabi provides a major opportunity for developers to fill the gap with ‘genuine affordable’ housing, according to Cluttons.

As per their Abu Dhabi 2015/16 Winter Property Market Snapshot, the growing problem of the lack of affordable housing in the Abu Dhabi is incredibly clear, sighting a 34% increase in average house prices since 2010.

Edward Carnegy, head of Cluttons Abu Dhabi, said: “Abu Dhabi is clearly short of affordable neighbourhoods. This issue of affordability has been building for some time, initially following the introduction of the federal mortgage cap and doubling of property registration fees. These had the desired effect of cooling the market, but now many people are forced to pay premium rents, limiting their ability to become owner occupiers in the long term. This presents a major opportunity for developers to deliver housing that is ‘genuinely affordable’, while still of a high quality, with the potential to offer flexible access to home ownership through models such as ‘rent-to-own’.”

Newly planned legislation around fixed quotas for “affordable homes” which may help to ease access to the property market has been drafted; but details are yet to be confirmed.  

Faisal Durrani, head of research at Cluttons said: “In order to truly tackle the problem of affordability, it’s important to run the numbers. An average expat household aspiring to purchase a home in Abu Dhabi has to contend with an average annual rent of $55,541 (AED204,000) against an average household income of $54,179 (AED199,000).

Furthermore, there are signs that a liquidity crunch may be bubbling away in the background. During October, The National Bank of Abu Dhabi reported a AED 56 billion decline in government deposits between September 2014 and September 2015 across the UAE banking system, which is likely to curb mortgage lending, putting home ownership out of reach for many.”

Carnegy commented: “Coupled with the federal mortgage caps, this will no doubt curtail the level of mortgages extended to end users, particularly if the era of low oil prices persists, adding to the affordability issue. The lower oil prices continues to impact the rate of job creation in Abu Dhabi, which has filtered through to the residential market in the form of weakening demand leading to an unsurprising slowdown.”

During the third quarter, average residential capital and rental values stagnated, pushing the annual rate of change down to 1.7% and 2.9% respectively. 

Durrani explained: “The strength of capital value growth in recent years, coupled with the severity of shortage of stock in the rental market has driven households out to peripheral locations in search of what they perceive to be better value for money. The sheer strain on budgets and the depth of demand for something ‘affordable’ is reflected in the fact that three-bedroom villas in Hydra Village, for instance, recorded an extraordinary 32% uplift in rents between January and September, compared to just 2.5% for the emirate as a whole.

“There is a clear need for this disparity to be decisively addressed and we look forward to the anticipated legislation on affordable housing”.

 

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