Jackie Johns

With more than three decades of experience marketing and selling exclusive properties around the world to high-net-worth individuals, how do you as Managing Partner at Christie’s International Real Estate Dubai evaluate the scope of properties in Dubai and the UAE?

The scope of properties will be endlessly harnessed by the city’s cosmopolitan nature and diverse lifestyles. Developers are currently reassessing their delivery with an added focus now on those with extremely deep pockets.

Dubai has something for everyone. Palm Jumeirah’s beachfront luxury, Emirates Hills’ opulent mansions, Downtown Dubai’s chic penthouses and Business Bay’s trendy, branded residences are all examples of the variety of luxury real estate available in the market today. Golden Visa reforms, tax-free processes and excellent standards of living enhance the scope of delivering a diverse portfolio of options.

In your view, how informed are clients here about global real estate trends?

Our clients already invest in international markets so they are incredibly well-informed. In fact, their global outlook drives one of our main services. As Christie’s International Real Estate’s only Middle Eastern affiliate, we are part of a network comprising over 950 offices in 47 countries, with an estimated 11,000 luxury properties worldwide.

Many of our clients approach us to enquire about how best to take advantage of our network and global real estate trends already knowing what markets they are watching. They use our global reach to find their requirements within their chosen market, most with an already clear view of their interests.

Dubai both exports and imports real estate trends. Some are uniquely Dubai’s, such as its blend of luxury lifestyles. Others hold true everywhere, like the preference for spacious and relaxing personal areas in the post-pandemic market. So, this is a constantly changing real estate landscape fuelled by our clients’ educated tastes. It is part of our industry’s excitement to evolve in response.

What is the one characteristic that makes properties here in the UAE unique from any properties found globally?

The Dubai freehold market only opened in 2002, so properties here are a maximum of 20 years old. This means that the city is naturally inclined to embrace emerging trends and technologies.

Developers have become increasingly confident in inviting new architectural styles and trends, whether these are from abroad or homegrown.

This means architects and designers have been given the freedom to freely express themselves. It can only lead to a distinct market, something we are already beginning to see in hotspots such as Jumeirah Bay, also known as Billionaire Island.

What are the main challenges you see in selling high-value properties in Dubai and the region and how do you overcome these obstacles?

Our challenges are actually extremely limited right now. Given the spate of boundary-pushing ideas a global destination like Dubai welcomes, luxury developers have taken great care to maintain the highest standards in their deliveries. Also, like us, they keenly observe the trends and desires of local and international buyers and adapt. This makes for a constantly maturing and expanding luxury real estate industry.

In fact, and this is the truth, my biggest challenge is a lack of inventory due to the burgeoning demand. I happily welcome it.

How do you read market demand evolving for high-value properties in the UAE over the next couple of years and how is Christie’s International Real Estate Dubai aligned to these demand shifts?

I believe that demand is set to rise, and then rise some more. In fact, Gulf News itself recently mentioned that the UAE could welcome 4,000 millionaires as long-term residents by the end of the year.

Billionaires, too are entering the market. This is largely due to the market’s positive, post-pandemic performance, as well as other factors such as recent geopolitical events. We continue to welcome the highest number of residential buyers from India, which has always been a strong investment source here. The UK and wider Europe follow. But, we are also delighted to see a significant amount of new clients from Russia, China and Canada.

Christie’s International Real Estate Dubai is uniquely aligned to these shifts. Our long-standing history speaks to our unmatched expertise and ability to position offerings to match demand. Even now, we are in discussions with established developers to secure our position as their agency of choice. This means we can offer our clients early access to the most luxurious upcoming homes.

As a business leader and a visible benchmark for real estate consultants globally, what are the three tips you would offer entrepreneurs hoping to make inroads in the sector?

Firstly, understand the legal framework of buying a home. I believe the most important step to success is to be a master of the entire process. Feasibility studies, Escrow accounts – at the end of the day, clients demand convenience. This is crucial in the luxury sector, but it’s true all across the budget spectrum.

Secondly, specialise in one area. Offering exclusive expertise is what makes a business successful – we bank on our track record, exclusive ties to trophy assets and international reach. Entrepreneurs must ensure they are remembered.

Lastly, be patient! Success takes time, especially in a rapidly growing Dubai luxury real estate market. You should always back your speciality. It is also vital to create networks of people who can provide your clients with maximum convenience.

I cannot emphasise enough how constant this process is. Even now, we are expanding beyond independent buyers to target those wishing to develop their plots, and we have had remarkable success so far. In fact, we are currently in the process of handing over one of our exclusive, 247 unit-developments. I am confident this will stand us in good stead as we widen our offerings.