In Dubai property, branded is what's selling faster as world's rich keep pouring in funds. Developers are only too willing to give them what they want. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Go branded.

As Dubai developers ramp up offplan launches to meet still swirling demand from overseas buyers, they are doing so with the help of some high-visibility names to help them. Whether that’s Fairmont, St. Regis or the One&Only. Then thrown in storied names such as Pagani (the Italian supercar maker), Bugatti, Aston Martin, Elie Saab and Cavalli, chances are the developer and his projects will get all the attention they need.

Dubai’s property market is seeing the rise and rise of ‘branded residences’. In this particular playbook, the bigger the name recognition the project can associate with, the better its chances to gain a buyer. More so, when offplan projects are getting launched by the week.

Also, these days, Dubai developers are selling as much to the international jetsetter as to the local/regional rich. Here too, alliances with the best-of-breed brands in hospitality, fashion and even auto marques matter.

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Mark Willis, CEO of Fairmont Hotels, knows a thing or two about brand associations. “It's clear branded residences are in high demand globally - and especially in Dubai,” said Willis. “Fairmont operates 15 branded residences globally, with 21 more in the pipeline.

“Two-thirds of these upcoming projects are located in the Middle East region, indicating significant potential for growth. Over 70 per cent of the upcoming pipeline for Fairmont will have a branded residence component.”

And Willis has a number to show off with. ”With more than $365 million of branded residence real estate sold under Accor (name) in Dubai in the last three years and more than $1 billion of branded residence currently licensed under the Fairmont brand in the pipeline, it's apparent there's a strong demand for branded residences in this market and beyond,” he added. (Fairmont Hotels is part of the Accor hospitality umbrella. Recently, Fairmont confirmed it will be shifting the global headquarters to Dubai.)

With a pipeline of 30 hotels to open globally, 70% of which will have a branded residence component, it is clear that branded residences will play a significant role the growth of our brand and of the hospitality sector in general

- Mark Willis of Fairmont Hotels

‘Trophy assets’

The property consultancy Savills on Friday (April 14) released a report that’s got its pulse on the buyer sentiment for branded residences. This interest in branded homes is nothing new for Dubai property, according to the report. “A strong domestic and international supply of buyers searching for trophy assets with lock-up-and-leave potential have boosted the growth of branded residential schemes in Dubai over the past decade,” it states.

"Luxury residential properties tied to a brand have always been popular, however, in recent years they became the absolute preferred choice when it comes to UHNW individuals. With success incomparable to any other project in Dubai, Bulgari Resort and Residences is the perfect example. The price of units has nearly quadrupled since the launch, setting the record for the highest price per square foot in the UAE twice during this period."

- Abdullah Alajaji, CEO of Driven Properties

Nowadays, prices start at Dh13 million for one-bedroom apartments, while the rent for the same units starts at Dh750,000.

- Abdullah Alajaji of Driven Properties

But there’s something far deeper running in the demand for such assets this time. Again, it goes back to what the global real estate investor is looking out for. Projects like the recently completed Atlantis The Royal residences benefited from the spotlight drawn on to them in the post-Covid buying boom. So did other ‘branded’ projects in Dubai that are either getting completed – or just been launched.

When it comes to the latter, the St. Regis Residences project from Adventz Group at the Downtown hit the Dh1 billion sales mark in an hour the other day.

The St. Regis Residences in Downtown. Branded homes carry a sizeable premium and that counts with today’s investors. Image Credit: Supplied

“Across EMEA, the number of HNWIs (high networth individuals) has grown by 27 per cent in the past five years, providing an expanding client base for branded residential schemes," said Rico Picenoni, Director Global Residential Development at Savills. "In Dubai alone, the number of HNWIs grew 18 per cent in the first six months of 2022."

It figures. Any rise in a city's resident base of the wealthy - and the super-wealthy - feeds immediate demand for homes. The sort of homes where price tags are inconsequential, so to speak.

Dubai catapulted to the forefront of the branded residential sector in the decade following 2010. Dubai is expected to demonstrate growth that will make it roughly 30% more active than the second most active market - South Florida

- Rico Picenoni of Savills

Do branded residences offer better RoI too?

That's as far as the selling goes. What of the returns investors can expect as and when they sell? Industry sources say it will be a year or two before the secondary market sees more of these homes being listed.

For the moment, it's all about selling. And selling new at a premium. "Branded residences in Dubai command significant price premiums over non-branded projects, typically between 25-35 per cent," said Sean McCauley, CEO of The Devmark Group.

"We tend to achieve faster sales absorption with branded residences, driven by the added credibility and long-term viability associated with the brand endorsement. Buyers have more confidence to transact, as they believe that branded residences are more resilient assets in the long-term, with better chances of maintaining resale values due to their limited supply."

How much that resale value will be is for future demand-and-supply to decide.

With one of the highest supplies of pipeline developments, Dubai is a leading global destination for branded residential schemes

- Sean McCauley of The Devmark Group