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Lootah CEO outlines top 5 trends that will transform UAE’s real estate sector in post COVID-19 era

Lootah Real Estate Development CEO, Saleh Abdullah Lootah, provides an analysis on the real estate sector as the UAE adjusts to the new normal and outlined the top 5 trends that will shape up the local property market in the era post the COVID-19 pandemic.

In its assessment of short-and medium-term changes that will arise in the aftermath of the pandemic, Lootah said that amongst the biggest trends to turn up is the focus on building developments that enhance the quality of life through the application of integrated safety, sanitation and automation principles.

  1. Focus on safety, sanitation and automation

Thanks to Abu Dhabi and Dubai being hailed as the top two most livable cities, respectively in the Arab world, according to the latest Global Liveability Index issued by The Economist Intelligence Unit last March 2020, this foremost trend will shore up the local real property sector’s path to fast-track recovery, said CEO Saleh Abdullah Lootah.

“We are heading towards a new direction in terms of market demand, which will zero in on the core principle of health and safety in the face of the new normal. The UAE’s top rank position in the liveability index will pay off in many sectors, particularly in the real estate – helping us mount a successful comeback,” Lootah said, adding that this rebound will be harnessed by the UAE’s remarkable global feat as the safest nation in the world.

This, he said, will pave the way for the rise of the next generation of property designs that will automate the principles of safety and sanitation.

  1. Preference for lower-density properties

There will be a high demand for lower-density properties and locations, as most potential investors, owners, and tenants alike would opt for more livable spaces in view of adapting to the new normal, Lootah said.

The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the higher operational risk of contagion in high-density properties. The higher the density of occupants is, the higher the risk of infecting others.

“The industry will be rethinking about the design of the space in order to maintain new distancing standards,” he said.

In addition, other emerging real estate and property trends that will enjoy a share of new demand include optimisation of enhanced property standards, mixed-use developments, as well as digitalisation, according to Lootah.

  1. Enhanced property standards

Since the market preference is expected to shift towards new standards, property developers will see the need to evaluate building stipulations and provide better infrastructure such as through retrofitting.

In addition, building layouts will see a major revamp by allocating extra spaces and contingent designs that solidify various aspects of safety to add more value to potential investors and tenants.

“In the new normal, people will still have the mindset to observe physical distancing as a means to ensure safety against any viruses or diseases. This will be the guiding principle of many investors in choosing a property,” Lootah explained.

As an industry leader, Lootah has urged his peers in the sector to stay committed to studying materials specification and procedures on property management, as well as recalibrating policies.

  1. Mixed-use, community development

As people are now more cautious about health and safety standards as a result of the pandemic, mixed-use developments, or those that blend commercial, residential, and industrial activities into one location, will turn out as one of the most sought-after properties in the new normal.

Increased number of developers will aim to construct residential developments that are closer to or include health and lifestyle centres, retail stores and supermarkets, and learning institutions.

Lootah said that this type of development will introduce the idea of a “community within a property” as more tenants are expected to refrain from doing unnecessary travel for a while to avoid crowded places.

The company has been championing this concept through Ewan Residences, the company’s flagship mixed-use gated community in Dubai Investments Park, which was launched in 2006. “We have been listening to the people who buy and live in our communities and we remain focused on the improvement of their lives and well-being.”

  1. Digital adaptation

Even prior to the dawn of COVID-19, the concept of virtual reality has already been gaining so much traction, enabling potential property buyers to experience the property without physical visit.

Lootah is actively involved in harnessing its IT infrastructures to strengthen its virtual reality capabilities, and it forecasts that most UAE developers will follow suit in employing virtual showrooms and touchless sensor technology, such as voice-activated elevators, hands-free light switches and mobile phone-controlled room entries.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the need for the private sector, including the real estate, to align with the UAE’s vision of digital transformation. The sector will hold fast to it, drastically transforming business interactions. Through the adoption of artificial intelligence and smart technology, like what we did in our customer relationship management (CRM) platform and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, developers can ensure that they are always within the reach of their clients,” explained Lootah.

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