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Developers can't build super-luxury villas fast enough. What that means is those holding such assets are upgrading and selling big to the world's rich. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Dubai: With Mukesh Ambani buying villas for eye-popping prices in Dubai, those wanting to sell super-luxury homes to billionaires (even millionaires will do) are using the oldest strategy in the book - renovate, makeover, customise and sell.

Because right now, there aren’t that many new super-luxury villas that are ready for purchases, and it could be anywhere between one- to three years before a fresh set show up. And billionaires aren’t ready to wait too long.

They want villas ready, they want it now. This is why individual sellers holding premium villas are at an advantage vis-a-vis most developers. They can upgrade/customise their properties and sell it to the highest bidder.

- Firas Al Msaddi, CEO of fam Properties

This is why these days, selling Dh100 million or over properties in Dubai sounds a bit tame. Because buyers such as Ambani, among the world’s richest, are ratcheting up the stakes in the local property market, first by acquiring a Dh280 million home on the Palm earlier in the year and then going for a Dh600 million one just recently, also on the Palm. In between, there was another buyer - identity unknown - who bought a brand new Palm villa for Dh302.5 million from Alpago Properties, who is building a cluster of six super-luxury homes on the Palm’s Frond G. And calling it the ‘Billionaires Row’… The ‘429 per cent’ value gain It’s not all happening at the Palm alone. Recently, there was the sale of a mansion at Dubai Hills - fast establishing its credentials as a luxury home hotspot - for Dh205 million. All good, but check out these details.

The mansion - set over 42,000 plus square foot - was initially sold in February for Dh38.78 million (Dh913 per square foot). “When the resale happened recently, the same home fetched Dh205 million (Dh4,824 psf) within a few months,” said Al Msaddi. “The seller went in for a major bespoke customisation, and that’s paid off handsomely.”

To the tune of 429 per cent…

Value in ‘older’ properties

AHS Properties was launched late 2021 for the specific purpose of carving out ‘real value’ from Dubai’s existing collection of older luxury/super-luxury homes. Owned by Abbas Sajwani, AHS recently completed sales of its initial made-over homes, and in the process making some cool returns. The company wants to build a portfolio of $500 million by year-end, according to its website.

According to one estate agent, “Many owners who sold their villas as the first wave of demand hit in early 2021 would be feeling they have missed out on the mark-ups they would have got if they held back and sold now.

“But holding on would have still required them to invest heavily in topping up, in making their home fit for a millionaire/billionaire. That’s being confident enough to bet on upgrades that could run into the tens of millions of dirhams.”

Start of the Dh100m run

It was in March 2021 that Dubai’s luxury home market got off to a solid run, and which sure is continuing. At the time, details emerged of a $32.5 million transaction of the ‘One100 Palm’ located on Frond N of the island, with its private cinema, private beach and gourmet kitchens.

It was followed by multiple Dh100 million-plus sales, and then came Ambani’s Dh280 million purchase ahead of this summer.

There is also a Jumeira Bay island property going through its own customisation for a potential Dh350 million sale. Or will that be revised given how demand is playing up?

“When deal values suddenly escalate to Dh600 million, it’s a whole new ball game,” said the estate agent. “If anyone has a luxury villa and wants to sell, there are ready buyers if the seller can make it into a super-luxury home in the shortest possible period.”

Upgrades - that’s the hottest ticket in Dubai property market
A new investment segment is shaping up in the Dubai real estate market, led by investors and property development/management companies.

Experienced real estate investors have realized the immense value they can create by building customized luxury villas in Dubai. They noticed most large developers building decent luxury villas - but these are not unique. And today’s UHNWIs need unique.

- Firas Al Msaddi of fam Properties