All developers want to provide a high-quality lifestyle in their communities, but MAG Property Development (MAG PD) says it has come up with a unique model that increases the quality of life of residents buying into its MAG of Life community developments.
MAG of Life started out as a concept with the simple premise that people desired a quality lifestyle. The concept blossomed and MAG PD soon established an eponymously named division that focused on catering to this demand. But before Mag of Life, the developer had already announced an affordable housing project, MAG 5 Boulevard, based on a similar concept it calls Quality of Life.
“MAG 5 Boulevard is the first project we call ‘Quality of Life’,” says Talal Moafaq Al Gaddah, CEO of MAG PD. “We learnt that there is demand from consumers for quality projects.”
Located in Dubai South, MAG 5 Boulevard offers a suburban lifestyle close to nature, with amenities such as jogging and cycling tracks and plenty of play and shopping opportunities.
“Dubai is a huge rental market as it is actually hard for people to get on to the property [ownership] ladder,” says Al Gaddah. “The idea is to put up a quality, well-designed property in a green belt that gives a 10 per cent yield.”
Comprising 13 six-storey apartment buildings, MAG 5 Boulevard mainly houses studios, as well as one- to three-bedroom units, ranging from 480-2,050 sq ft.
“The studio feels spacious. It has a European look and feel, like you would get in London,” says Al Gaddah. “We don’t want [residents] living in a shoe box. We want things that help their wellbeing, as [so much] of their time is spent at home. So we looked at what is a quality project again. For one, it means functionality and world-class design, as well as [plenty of] air, light, space and ergonomics.”
With studios starting from around Dh390,000, one-bedders at Dh510,000, two-bedders at Dh780,000 and a few three-bedroom units on the ground floor at about Dh1.48 million, demand has been strong, although studios were the top sellers.
The developer expected more buy-to-let investors, but found end users snapping up a big chunk of the 360 units in phase one. The project, under construction since the summer, will have 1,174 residential units once completed in the fourth quarter of 2018. Three more phases will be launched until the middle of next year.
“Actually, we’re seeing people, who are paying high rents, getting a mortgage to buy [their own homes]. That’s new for us, but it’s good to see a change, and it proves people are looking for quality,” says Al Gaddah.
MAG PD initially offered a five-year payment plan extended after handover to make the project accessible to more buyers.
“Because of the demand, mainly coming from within the region, including expats, we changed the payment plan for the first phase,” the developer said in a statement. Buyers now pay a
10 per cent down payment, around 60 per cent during construction and 30 per cent on completion.
Focus on wellbeing
MAG PD believes there is not enough attention paid to the form and function within homes, which is an area it intends to build on through its MAG of Life concept.
“This is where we see the future. We started with Quality of Life, which flows into MAG of Life, focusing on light, air, water, ergonomics and a layout that supports your health and wellbeing,” says Al Gaddah. “Those aspects will become a standard across our developments. As developers, we see ourselves as the first movers into the health and wellness construction segment. Being in a healthy built environment is an absolute essential.”
Making it happen
To bring the necessary expertise on board, MAG PD has tied up with American firm Delos, a consultancy with years of research into what it terms “wellness real estate”, providing the solutions to create a healthy living environment.
“The idea was to infuse wellness into real estate, due to the evolution of people over the past 100 years, from being most of the time [staying] outdoors to living 90 per cent indoors, and 65 per cent of it in their homes,” says Alfredo Carvajal, President of Delos Signature. “The focus has been on creating greener, more sustainable buildings, but we have done very little to make our homes healthier.”
He says research shows that the quality of indoor air in homes is now 10 times worse than outdoors, representing what he terms a global epidemic for health. He points out that lawsuits have been filed around the world against the use of formaldehyde in paints, and that the sick building syndrome due to humidifiers and bad air circulation is well known.
Carvajal believes that unhealthy homes, coupled with stress and lack of sleep, have been fostering diseases, with people unaware of that they are living in an unhealthy home environment until they get afflicted with various chronic conditions, such as asthma and allergies.
“We’re trying to educate the market about the importance of bringing wellness into homes. People need to, and are increasingly, taking ownership over their health,” says Carvajal.
While the home design features good ergonomics, wellness technologies and high maintenance standards, residents will ultimately be the key to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
“We will give them a manual on how to use the home, such as cleaning air filters, as well as programmes on things like the use of lights to induce melatonin to help kids sleep and [cure] jet lag,” says Carvajal.
The cost to increase wellbeing on a mental and physical level isn’t as high as one would expect, says Carvajal. “It doesn’t cost that much; it’s a question of education. The additional cost in terms of materials and technology required to implement the wellness concept is about 1-2 per cent, depending on the level of construction and location,” he says.
As a developer, Al Gaddah says he was attracted to the concept as he was interested in keeping costs reasonable, while creating a better quality of life.
“Materials are always available, technology as well, [so] it’s not about construction and cost. But how can I provide an improved home? We will use local solutions and import [other materials] from wherever required,” says Al Gaddah.
Delos has already tested its solutions extensively in the US, China and Australia, and is continuously measuring the effect of its products.
“The value to people is amazing; it is like buying organic fruit, attracting premiums of over 10 per cent,” says Carvajal. “People want to feel the difference and in our existing buildings you can sense it the moment you walk in — you feel good. We have chosen the UAE as our entry into the Middle East as the government is so focused on making people happy.”
Michael Reimar Muller, chief projects officer at MAG PD, says that MAG PD’s investment in wellness real estate underlines the company’s belief that wellness isn’t just a fancy addition to a home’s attributes — it is the future of home development.
“Mobile phones will soon be able to check air quality indoors, so anyone walking into an office or a house will know how healthy a building is and make a decision accordingly,” says Muller. “As a developer, you invest in quality life, which over time will come back to you as a return.
“You need experience and we have done the research to know how it can make sense commercially.”
The first project under the MAG of Life brand will rise along the Dubai Creek. To be built in two phases, the residential resort will feature 17 villas, around 60 high-end apartments, 150 smaller one-and two-bedroom units, and a hotel with around 100 keys.
Phase 2 will include what will be the biggest wellness centre in the world. The entire project is expected to be completed in three years.
“The idea is to create quality life in this master plan — a full ecosystem of wellness options, partnering with the best hospitals,” says Muller.
Service charges may be a little higher, but in return residents can benefit from Delos’ tie-up with the Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic, which will offer residents programmes to deal with stress, sleep and nutrition.
“Within five years we’ll look back and see how people live in it, and where the concept will take us,” says Muller.
Al Gaddah says the project will help create a blueprint for future developments. “This product will demonstrate how to live a healthier life, but the idea is to integrate the wellness concept into our upcoming projects worth $2 billion [Dh7.34 billion], including more affordable homes. There are 200 nationalities living in Dubai and one thing they all hold close to their hearts is their health,” says Al Gaddah.
The developer intends to work with Delos in future developments, with plans to build tens of thousands of units with Delos’ input.
“We entered into an exclusive relationship for the UAE with MAG PD because we feel they are serious and we won’t just target high-end projects, but basic features for the wider market,” says Carvajal.