Dubai: Overall land transaction levels recorded a marginal drop of 8.25 per cent to total Dh218 billion last year compared with 2013’s tally of Dh236 billion.

The numbers were in keeping with Dubai’s stated goals of “maintaining sustainable” levels of transaction activity while pushing the market “towards maturity”, according to Sultan Butti Bin Merjen, director-general of the Dubai Land Department, which has issued the numbers.

Business Bay, not surprisingly because of the number of projects that were launched in 2014, was the location recording the highest number of apartment sales — 4,315 transactions with a combined value of Dh7.2 billion. It was followed by Dubai Marina with 4,121 transactions valued at Dh9.17 billion).

The Al Thenaya Al Khamesa locality came in at third with 2,615 transactions at a value of Dh3.4 billion. Interestingly, Al Thenaya Al Khamesa and Dubai Marina were the most popular investment choices in 2013.

In all, last year, 53,871 land and property related transactions were registered in Dubai, with those defined as sales making up 51 per cent (Dh112 billion from 38,113 transactions). Those based on mortgages made up 44 per cent of the total, comprising 12,511 deals with a combined value of Dh97 million.

Deals involving outright cash sales and mortgages related to plots came to Dh157 million, with commercial land (those already built on) having the dominant share with 38 per cent. Property based deals had a valuation of Dh60 billion.

“Currently, we are seeing a lot of interest from investors within the Business Bay area and the Furjan development [in Dubailand] for both commercial and residential plots,” said Robin Teh, counter manager at Chestertons Mena.

“A residential plot in Business Bay would be Dh350-Dh550 a square foot [on built-up area basis] and for commercial, it is Dh200-Dh400. In Dubailand, the plot values would be Dh75-Dh150 and Dh100-Dh150 a square foot respectively.”

According to Sameer Lakhani, managing director of Global Capital Partners, “We are witnessing — perhaps — a structural shift in the market. It’s not glamorous, and it’s certainly not early days. Developers and brokers alike are finding it harder to close deals and are responding — in the short term — by offering cheaper per square foot products like in International City and Discovery Gardens, or buying land parcels where affordable units are on the anvil. Recently, developers have started offering mid-sized offices in Arjan and Majan.”