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Property: Hit the greens

Sports communities are a niche segment of the property market that is booming — and it’s about much more than just having access to nice facilities

Confidence in these specialised developments is certainly high. So, if you are an investor looking to add to your property portfolio.

Even insiders concede it’s not easy to predict trends in the real estate market. It’s even more difficult to predict what consumers will react most positively to — the world is littered with “exclusive” developments lying near empty or offering slashed rental prices that testify to that fact. The best industry professionals can do is make educated guesses, but often the big successes come from left field.

Sports communities are a good example of this. Originally seen as something of a novelty, they are now red-hot and Dubai is seeing a growing demand for these very niche communities — even at a time when the overall market is still rather flat.

The two sports that have really sold this concept for the UAE are golf and polo, both of which are known for having an international set of wealthy, passionate followers with money to spend on travel and property. This year sees the launch of several new residential developments centred around world-class sporting venues, including the sophisticated The Residences at Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club, and the chic Damac Hills at Trump International Golf Course.

Confidence in these specialised developments is certainly high. So, if you are an investor looking to add to your property portfolio.

The Residences is probably the most elite sports community to watch this year. Located in Dubailand, the almost-completed project backed by Mohammed Al Habtoor, vice-chairman and CEO of the Al Habtoor Group, offers the opportunity to lease a luxury villa close to impressive equestrian facilities.

The community will offer an upmarket residential environment for polo lovers, with a St. Regis Hotel as the centrepiece. The 126-key, five-star hotel will boast fine dining and diverse leisure amenities, as well as great views over international-sized polo fields — and real estate agents say interest in it is already high.

Speaking to the media at the end of 2016, Al Habtoor said the project had pushed through despite a dip in the economy, and that he felt confident in its popularity. “We had some challenges like any other business in this region due to the oil drop, even though Dubai has a diverse economy,” he said. “Dubai is very much a tourism destination — for hospitality and entertainment. We have witnessed a little softening in the market, but in general if you have a great product and a great location you will still get customers. This is not a problem for us.”

Areas in this segment are highly attractive to those who already enjoy the equestrian and golf lifestyles, and now want to soak up the sun and glamour of Dubai at the same time. It is truly a match made in heaven. Never slow to pick up on an opportunity, Dubai is focusing on constructing even more of these sports developments — Emaar is on course to launch the next major golf community at Dubai Hills in Mohammed Bin Rashid City, which it says will raise the bar for luxury golf course living. 

Our site data supports the perceived interest in sports communities. Even the racecar-lovers’ community Motor City next to the Dubai Autodrome has fared better than most during the recent contraction in rental rates. It would seem any area attached to sports is on the right path.

I recently asked a golf fanatic acquaintance about the appeal of these communities. Why not enjoy the sport but live anywhere else? He explained that these developments tap into a sense of unity and of being part of a special club. Polo people understand polo people, and golf people understand golf people — they appreciate the same things and this creates a bond between them. 

In an age when the word community can sometimes feel forced, it’s easy to see the allure.

Confidence in these specialised developments is certainly high. So, if you are an investor looking to add to your property portfolio it may be time to join this particular club. 

The writer is sales director at the website PropertyTrader.ae

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