Property Finder releases first-ever zeitgeist which reveals the “sign of the times” for UAE consumer behaviour in 2020

The UAE shifted during Covid-19: Homes take center stage and market surges.

Property Finder released its first-ever Zeitgeist on the UAE property market. The “sign of the times” annual report reveals what consumers were searching for, how their behaviours shifted during the year and key trends that emerged based on activity and data derived from Property Finder.  The Property Finder Zeitgeist tracked trends in real-estate listings advertised on the portal, search trends by customers and an overview on the leads generated.

Key findings revealed:

  • The market has momentum. While industries and countries all over the world were severely impacted by the situation, Dubai’s property landscape is showing signs of a V-shaped recovery with an unexpected surge in demand in the second half of the year for secondary villas/townhouses. With 3,928 transactions worth AED 7.65bn, November marked the highest number of overall transactions to take place in the Dubai real estate market in nine months. To date the total number of transactions that have taken place in the Dubai real estate market amount to 33,537 worth AED 69bn.
  • Secondary villas and townhouses reigned. According to Data Finder, the real estate insights and data platform under the Property Finder group, the overall secondary property sales this November were the highest in the past 6 years and 7 months. September to November 2020 witnessed the highest secondary/ready villa townhouse sales historically, and in terms of apartment sales, November 2020 marked the highest secondary/ready unit sales recorded in 16 months.
  • Consumers wanted to upgrade. Since the beginning of the crisis, Property Finder has noticed a new trend in the demand for real estate. Despite the uncertainty and instability this year, the Dubai real estate market saw an increased appetite for upgraded housing solutions – be it to a larger, more spacious home situated on the outskirts of the city, or even if a move to a smaller space, but in a more prime location, people are looking to set themselves differently.  The number of villa and townhouses searches have increased by 400% since the start of the year, as compared to apartment searches that have witnessed a drop. Given the accessibility of the current real estate market, people are also looking to upgrade to more prime locations including the likes of The Springs, Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Lakes Towers and Arabian Ranches – as demand increased, the available units in these areas decreased and prices for properties in such localities are currently on the rise to balance the demand and supply.

  • Pent up demand led to record growth month on month. The demand and movement of the secondary villa/townhouse sector has boomed in the second half of the year. One of the reasons behind this trend is that when movement was restricted and people were confined to the four walls of their house, they started to yearn for more spacious units. What once served as simply a roof above their head, has now transformed into their workplace, their social space, an educational facility for their children, as well as where they dine and relax. People are now deriving pleasure by creating a home and a space that they are comfortable in and want to spend more time in. There has been a significant increase in people looking at properties to move in to, which has resulted in a jump in traffic at Property Finder – the biggest jump ever witnessed in the history of the company, consistently breaking records month-on-month.
  • The most popular category is the 3 bedroom unit. In villas and townhouses, 3 bedroom units were the most popular and searched for, while in the category of apartments, the majority of searches and inquiries were generated for 1 bedroom, followed by 2 and 3 bedrooms. While 1 bedroom apartments currently constitute a majority of the searches and leads, there has overall been a drop in inquiries in smaller configurations between January and November this year, with an increase in demand for 3, 4 and 4+ bedroom units. The searches for studio and 1 bedroom apartments have dropped by 4.6% and 4.7%, while searches for 3, 4 and 4+ have gone up by 1.4%, 2.3% and 1.7% respectively.

  • Search trends for 2020. Top searched keywords throughout the year included ‘upgraded’, ‘furnished’, ‘pool’, ‘payment plan’ and ‘sea view’ – implying that people are looking for houses that offer more value for their money, supported by more amenities and luxuries to improve their quality of life, given that they are spending more and more time indoors. The second half of the year saw ‘chiller-free’, ‘upgraded’ and ‘new’ as the most popular keywords, further emphasizing that people are levelling up their living solutions.

  • 2020 saw a surge in the suburbs of Dubai. As the city-centres continue to hold their stance as prime locations for property rental and purchase, the market has witnessed a surge in demand for larger and more spacious units situated on the outskirts of the city. People are starting to venture further away from the epicentre in search of alternative communities that promise unparalleled living solutions with an enhanced community experience. While the listed properties across Tilal Al Ghaf, Al Muhaisnah, Wasl Gate, Town Square, Mira, Rukan and Dubai Harbour did not increase significantly throughout the year, these areas seem to have grown exponentially in popularity with a spike in searches for both, apartments as well as villas and townhouses.

  • 2020 most popular search apartment localities. Central localities such as Dubai Marina, Downtown Dubai, Palm Jumeirah, Jumeirah Village Circle, Business Bay, Jumeirah Lakes Towers and Jumeirah Beach Residences continue to be key for apartments.
  • 2020 most popular searched home neighbourhoods. In the category of Villas and townhouses, Dubai Hills Estate, Arabian Ranches, Palm Jumeirah, DAMAC Hills (including Akoya by DAMAC) and The Springs were the highest searched areas in Dubai.
  • 2020 most advertised apartment and villa/townhouse communities. In terms of availability, apartment listings across Al Jaddaf, Jumeirah Heights, Al Barari and Al Kifaf have doubled over the past year, while listings within Mudon have gone up fivefold since January this year. Villa and townhouse listings in Nad Al Sheba have increased fourfold, followed by Meydan at a 76% increase.
  • 2020 most leads generated across apartment and villa/townhouse communities: Inquiries peaked across Dubai Marina, Downtown Dubai and Jumeirah Village Circle for apartments; and Dubai Hills Estate, Arabian Ranches and The Springs for villas and townhouses.