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Dubai’s luxury villas just won’t sell

Resembling a large white castle located on one of the fronds of Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah, this sumptuous six-bedroom, seven-bathroom villa appears to typify the Dubai dream.

With direct access to a private beach, a large heated and cooled private swimming pool, outside seating area and landscaped garden with views of the Burj Al Arab, each vista seems like a shot from a luxury lifestyle magazine.

It was villas such as these, built by the Dubai developer Nakheel from 2006, that helped to spread Dubai’s image as a millionaires’ playground.

Inside, the villa is just as luxurious, with a grand staircase and gallery, spacious entertaining areas, marble floors and contemporary fittings spread over a built-up area of 7,400 square feet and on a 13,600 square feet plot.

But, despite the current owner spending the past two years on an ambitious upgrade programme to replace the original bathrooms, kitchen, external areas, pool and driveway, this villa has been on the market for the past six months as potential buyers balk at its Dh48 million price tag.

So why are high-net-worth individuals not buying, even in Dubai’s most high-profile beachfront neighbourhood?

The property broker Luxhabitat, which is marketing the villa – one of 4,000 luxury villas and flats that Nakheel built nearly a decade ago on the world’s largest man-made island – blames Dubai’s slow property market.

It says potential buyers, concerned about low oil prices and economic upheaval, are waiting to see if prices fall further.

Privately, other estate agents suggest that the asking price is too high in the current market.

According to the property data company Reidin, prices for villas on the Palm fell by 16.4 per cent last year to Dh2,499 per square foot in October, compared with Dh2,992 a year earlier.

That compares with an estimated 8 per cent decline in average villa prices across Dubai in 2015 reported by Cavendish Maxwell last week.


Anne Ogilvie, Palm Jumeirah villa sales specialist at estate agent Luxhabitat:

Why hasn’t this villa sold yet?

This is a very beautiful villa and the current owner has done a lovely job but the market is so slow at the moment that very few villas like these are selling. Last year just five of these large signature villas on the Palm were sold all year. Most years I usually sell around 30 villas – and that’s just me.

Will it ever sell at this price?

Yes. Demand is still there. The Palm is always in demand from high net worth individuals because it is the only beachfront property you can buy. And a lot of the people who do want to buy here don’t want to have to spend time and effort upgrading bathrooms and kitchens. The beauty of this place is you could just move into it with a suitcase.

How much more will prices fall here?

People are still holding off buying at the moment so I think the market has not quite bottomed out just yet but things might be looking up a bit. We know that Dh200 million of deals was transacted on the Palm in December and January looks to be on the same sort of level so it has been a good start to the year. We’re quite hopeful for this year but I think it will be another year or two before we are back to the boom time.

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