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Al Reef Downtown rents rise 17% in the first quarter

Housing rents in Abu Dhabi’s Al Reef Downtown rose 17 per cent during the first three months of 2014 while rent rises in the capital’s more glamorous areas slowed.

Average rents for a one-bedroom apartment in Al Reef Downtown, about half an hour’s drive from Abu Dhabi city centre, currently stand at Dh75,000 to Dh80,000 – up from Dh65,000 to Dh70,000 at the start of the year, according to the property broker Asteco.

Two-bedroom apartment rents in the area, which has been traditionally known as a cheaper alternative to living in the city centre, have risen from Dh80,000 to Dh85,000 at the start of the year to between Dh85,000 and Dh100,000.

Al Reef was also the area showing the greatest increase in villa rents over the period with an average 7 per cent rise over the quarter and by 23 per cent over the year to stand at between Dh130,000 and Dh140,000 for a three bedroom villa.

The news came just a day after reported that another budget area, Khalifa City, was the district most searched last year on its property portal as hard- pressed tenants looked for cheaper accommodation.

Meanwhile apartment rents in most of Abu Dhabi’s more well-heeled areas rose by between 1 and 3 per cent Asteco reported.

It said that average rents for apartments on the Corniche, still one of Abu Dhabi’s glitziest locations rose by an average of 3 per cent over the past three months standing at between Dh120,000 and Dh150,000 for a two-bedroom apartment. Meanwhile in the posh suburbs of Khalidiya and Al Bateen, rents did not rise at all over the quarter, remaining at Dh130,000 to Dh178,000 for a two-bedroom apartment.

Asteco reported that overall, apartment rents in Abu Dhabi remained static during the quarter, down from an overall 5 per cent average rise the previous quarter.

It said that average rents had fallen 1 per cent over the year as declines at the beginning of 2013 were erased by increases later in the year prompted by a government decree requiring all government employees to live in the emirate and a removal of the rental cap.

“Everyone has heard stories that the removal of the rent cap has suddenly meant that a friend of a friend saw his rent go up by 50 per cent,” said Jerry Oates, the general manager of Asteco Abu Dhabi. “But we haven’t yet seen those apocryphal stories coming through in our hard data.”

“Yes, we saw some increases last year when the decree came in and rents are now rising fast in Abu Dhabi’s few more affordable new areas but they don’t yet seem to be rising across the board,” Mr Oates added. “I suspect we will see a change at the lower end of the market over the next quarter as more aggressive rent demands for older properties start to come through.”

Asteco reported that growth in average sales prices for apartments in Abu Dhabi declined slightly from 11 per cent in the final quarter of 2013 to 9 per cent in the first three months of the year. It predicted that the pace of sales price growth would continue to ease through the year.

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