The UAE real estate market is in a phase of uneven recovery, with residential real estate prices in Dubai rising substantially, while other market segments, especially office space, are recovering at a slower pace, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has noted in its latest report on the UAE.
According to the IMF report, the UAE's economic recovery continued in 2012 supported by favourable oil prices, capital inflows and the country's safe haven status amid the regional political and social unrest.
Overall GDP growth is projected to have reached 4.3 per cent in 2012 as hydrocarbon production expanded by around 5.2 per cent, and non-oil growth accelerated to 3.8 per cent.
The IMF report also says the UAE's banking system maintains significant capital and liquidity buffers, and non-performing loans may finally have peaked at 8.7 per cent in December 2012.
The report noted that the real estate recovery in Dubai is largely concentrated in high-quality residential properties, helped by robust non-oil GDP growth, increasing numbers of expatriates, and Dubai's relative stability as an investment destination.
"Residential real estate prices rose on average 16 per cent year-on–year in April 2013,” the IMF said. "Supply growth was modest in 2012 but is expected to increase in 2013. Hotel occupancies and room prices have increased significantly because of a substantial rise in tourism,” it added and said that despite a large increase in the supply of office space, a recovery in rentals started in late 2012.
On the other hand, the IMF report highlights that the recovery of the real estate market in Abu Dhabi has been lagging. "Price increases in the residential market have been modest (4 per cent year-on-year in April 2013),” it said. "New supply of office space has remained substantial, with constant high-quality rental rates since mid-2012, while lower quality office leases are still facing downward pressure,” it said.
"Retail supply could grow significantly in 2013, which could place downward pressure on rentals, which have been flat in nominal terms since 2009. Demand for hotel rooms has not kept up with supply in 2012, and significant further capacity is expected to come on stream this year,” it added.
IMF maintains that the UAE's external current account surplus rose to almost 17 per cent of GDP supported also by buoyant non-hydrocarbon exports.
"A broadening recovery in construction and real estate, and on-going growth in tourism-oriented sectors are expected to underpin a further acceleration in non-oil growth to 4.3 per cent this year,” the report states.
"At the same time, growth in oil production will likely slow in the context of ample global supply. Non-hydrocarbon growth is expected to remain strong at above 4 per cent in the medium term, though subject to substantial external risks. Inflation remained subdued at 0.7 per cent in 2012, and is expected to pick up only moderately in 2013,” it adds.
"Aiming to build on its achievements in becoming a regional services and tourism hub, Dubai recently announced plans for several new megaprojects in real estate and tourism that will be executed to a large extent through its Government-Related Entities (GRE).
"Dubai's GREs are increasingly regaining access to external financing in an environment of ample global liquidity, while their debt continues to be high. While GRE debt restructurings related to the 2009 crisis are nearing completion, several large maturities are now drawing closer, including on restructured debt, between 2014 and 2018,” the IMF report maintains.
"The banking system maintains significant capital and liquidity buffers, and non-performing loans may finally have peaked at 8.7 per cent in December 2012. Nonetheless, further restructuring of GRE debt, including possibly on already restructured debt, could still add materially to this level,” it cautions.
"Despite the accommodative monetary stance under the peg to the US dollar, lending to the private sector has remained sluggish,” it further adds.