Dubai: A 9,000 square-feet home on the Palm sold for Dh51 million — the costliest residential deal in the first quarter of the year, with second place also going to another Palm property fetching Dh50 million.

These provide clear indications that demand might be picking up — even if slightly — for super-premium homes in Dubai after a relatively quiet performance in 2018. In fact, sales across 15 upscale freehold locations in the city netted Dh10.6 billion in the first three months of the year — and that’s about 44 per cent higher than what it was in Q1-18, according to the real estate consultancy Luxhabitat.

Of the Top 10 costliest purchases in Q1-19, “50 per cent were bought off-plan (from the developer) and the rest from the secondary market,” said Luxhabitat’s sales director, Andrew Cleator. “Based on data, we have not seen a major shift in the gestation period — of how long it takes for a listed property to sell — in the past year.

“We are currently in a phase where some “vulnerable “ sellers might consider a large discount to speed up the gestation period. Of course, this doesn’t apply to all sellers as it’s more down to their personal circumstances and timing.”

After the two Palm deals, the next three spots happened at the Il Primo tower in Downtown, at prices between Dh43.55 million to Dh42.87 million.

In sixth spot came a Bulgari home on Jumeirah Bay, which brought the seller a cool Dh41.1 million.

But there are costlier properties that have been listed and awaiting a buyer’s nod of approval. A five-bedroom sea-facing villa on the Palm — and serviced by Emerald Palace — is quoting at Dh96.91 million. And for a buyer who wants something slightly less, there’s the Dh93.3 million, six-bedroom units, again on the Palm.

If it’s a plot the buyer wants, there’s one being listed for Dh70 million that spreads over 47,000 square feet. This is one of 125 plots available on the Jumeirah Bay, home of the Bulgari resort.

According to Luxhabitat data, more than 1,737 villas and 6,194 apartments got transacted in the first quarter of 2019 in Dubai’s residential market during the first three months. Transactions in the secondary market was Dh20.4 billion, compared to Dh18.5 billion in Q4-18 for a 10 per cent increase”

Property buyers checking out pricey homes can still feel they are getting a relative bargain — vales have gone up by only 2.5 per cent compared to what they were a year ago.

But the biggest takeaway for developers looking at the first quarter returns would be the spike in off-plan sales. Last year turned out to be a dull one for these direct-from-developer purchases.

But in Q1-19, these were up 28 per cent from Q4-18 ago to Dh7.4 billion. “The Dubai Harbour area recorded nearly five times the sales at Dh554 million,” the firm reports.

Top picks

The Downtown was the buyers’ top pick through the first three months of 2019, with apartment sales delivering Dh2.38 billion, according to Luxhabitat. The “multi-district” Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City roped in Dh2.15 billion, and could see further activity through the rest of the year as more upscale homes such as those in District 1 and the Hartland get delivered. The developer MAG has been aggressively pushing its MAG City cluster at Meydan, while Sobha released the second tower at its twin-tower Creek Vistas development.

Got Dh100 million and some spare change to invest? A developer is offering a ground plus six-storey building for Dh106.2 million at MBR City, which Luxhabitat says is the costliest listing on its books for a property sold directly from a developer.