There’s a Ford Mustang on the Empire State Building!

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Mustang, Ford planned a photo opportunity last month — placing the 2015 edition of the iconic vehicle on the 86th floor observation deck of the Empire State Building in New York City for a celebratory photoshoot — in a repeat of their original 1965 stunt. Wondering how the gleaming car got to the deck?

Turns out the engineers cut up one of the cars and took the pieces to the top of the skyscraper where it was reassembled in less than six hours! See how they managed to place the iconic car on the 86th floor of New York’s best-known skyscraper.

 

 

propertyfinder.ae launches myCRM – a free, intuitive real estate CRM solution for agents

myCRM

We’re excited to announce the release of myCRM – a mobile-ready real estate CRM solution that enables agents to intuitively manage contacts, listings and leads, all in one place. Boasting a sleek and user-friendly interface, access to published and unpublished properties and offering real-time insight into a lead’s activity, myCRM allows brokers to work smarter, faster and provide better service from the palm of their hand or desktop – absolutely free of cost.

Speaking to the media, our CEO and Founder, Michael Lahyani said, “We are excited to launch myCRM and look forward to more opportunities to drive change in the property industry and take our state-of-the-art CRM to the next level. The real estate industry is extremely dynamic, so we want agents to have access to incredible tools regardless of where they are or what device they may be using. Given that brokers need to be ready to respond at all times, our latest product packed with intelligent features allows them to save and store important data, export their listings to all major property portals in the UAE in just one click, stay connected with their clients and thereby close more deals – whether they are in the office or on the go.”

CRM

Developed by propertyfinder.ae’s expert technical team, myCRM is available free of cost for the portal’s clients, who are required to register for a demo. Renan Bourdeau, our Deputy CEO, also spoke about how myCRM promises to be the go-to destination for brokers looking to organise their business through a singular, focused area and added, “This is an important step in evolving propertyfinder.ae beyond a listings portal to an enterprise that offers a suite of services to help real estate professionals better manage and market their properties. Giving brokerage firms the agility they need to remain competitive, we hope that our intuitive solution will help agents close more transactions efficiently and raise the bar for customer service in the industry.”

Khaleej Times column: Infrastructure spending buoys Abu Dhabi realty

Abu Dhabi real estate

With Abu Dhabi set to receive over 30,000 new housing units in 2014, the outlook for the capital’s real estate market is brighter than ever, says CEO & Founder, Michael Lahyani.

Infrastructure spending buoys Abu Dhabi realty
Michael Lahyani (Property focus) / 4 May 2014

Abu Dhabi’s real estate market is on a roll. The capital received one of its biggest investments — an enormous Dh37.7 billion for infrastructure and service projects, with the government allocating Dh12.7 billion for housing and community projects — hot on the heels of the recently concluded Cityscape. The number of residential units in Abu Dhabi increased by 1,700 units in the first quarter of 2014, bringing the total stock to around 238,000. With the capital set to receive over 30,000 new housing units in 2014, an uptick in real estate activity in Abu Dhabi is likely to continue to play out over the course of this year.

The Galleria Abu Dhabi

The rebound in residential activity in Abu Dhabi over the past 12 months has been driven, amongst other factors, by government intervention and positive economic growth. The Abu Dhabi property market is showing strong signs of maturity as the emirate looks towards achieving its 2030 vision. The recent decision by Abu Dhabi Municipality to issue title deeds to property owners who have purchased apartments from Aldar Properties has created an additional layer of certainty for buyers. Aside from revealing new housing projects in Abu Dhabi, Aldar is clamping down on speculators by introducing strict resale restrictions on its latest projects, preventing buyers from selling units until they have paid 50 per cent of the purchase price. This follows Emaar’s recent attempt to curb speculation by disallowing the transfer of names on purchase agreements until buyers pay up to 40 per cent of the property’s value.

Aldar - Penthouse Collection at Gate Towers

The rise in demand for Abu Dhabi real estate amongst buyers and renters has been strong primarily due to the launch of new major infrastructure and construction projects such as the airport expansion and Etihad Rail, which is in turn fuelling job growth. The ‘live local’ policy directed at reducing the level of government employees commuting from Dubai and the narrowing of the rental gap between Abu Dhabi and Dubai as leasing prices in Dubai continue to increase, have also driven property demand in the capital. Year-on-year, sale prices for apartments and villas in the capital have risen sharply with apartment values increasing by 13 per cent and villas by 40 per cent. Whilst prices are yet to reach their 2008 peaks, they are expected to continue on an upward trajectory over the course of 2014.

Abu Dhabi property

Looking at the numbers in our recently released quarter one report, we see Al Reem Island enjoy a 30 per cent and Hydra Village a 60 per cent rise in property views on the site by potential buyers since the first quarter of 2013. Similarly, Saadiyat Island welcomed a 50 per cent increase in views since second quarter last year. When we look at the renting situation, the removal of the rent cap has had a huge impact on rents as residents are relocating to off-island communities such as Khalifa City and Mohammed Bin Zayed City. For instance, in comparison to Q1 2013, views of properties in Khalifa City on our site have risen by over 60 per cent whilst those in Al Reem Island have seen a 14 per cent increase.

Nareel Island

The revival of the residential sector is also likely to encourage further, new development launches over the coming months, and see work restarting on stalled projects. Progress is also being made on the establishment of Abu Dhabi’s first financial free zone — the Abu Dhabi Global Market — on Al Maryah Island. Construction is gathering pace and is expected to encourage more international companies to base their operations in Abu Dhabi. The increase in retail spending by residents and tourists is furthering the demand for retail space in the capital. Abu Dhabi has seen a huge spike in tourist numbers, reporting record figures of 834,771 in the first quarter of this year — an impressive 32 per cent rise from 2013.

Abu Dhabi

All in all, the outlook for the emirate’s real estate market is brighter than ever, aided by the market’s maturity and positivism. However, sustainable performance will be dependent upon the government managing the sharp upswing in property prices, taking steps to stimulate demand and engineering a market recovery that will continue to attract fresh foreign investment and benefit from expansion in sectors such as finance, hospitality, aviation, healthcare and tourism.

Law on wheels: Abu Dhabi launches first mobile court in the UAE

Law on wheels

The capital has rolled out its first mobile court aboard a double-decker bus.

According to the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department, the mobile court will make it easier for people that cannot make it to the city’s main courtroom to attend trails, such as those with special needs. The 4.5-metre-high and 14-metre-long bus is fully equipped for trials, with enough room for judges, prosecutors and clerks. The top level will be dedicated to administration and public inquiries. Electronic equipment on board is also linked with the department’s information systems, so that it can register cases and take fee payments. The three large displays on-board will serve as information portals for members of the public.

The mobile courtroom that was recently inaugurated in a ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi, has been launched as part of the emirate’s efforts to provide world-class judicial services. As part of the initiative, the double-decker bus will travel across Abu Dhabi visiting schools, universities and residential areas to raise awareness about judicial procedures.

Mobile courtroom

World’s top 6 restaurants with gorgeous views

Whilst there are thousands of great restaurants around the world that offer amazing gastronomic experiences, only a select few are able to offer a view to match. Check out these cool restaurants that offer sumptuous food and views.

At.mosphere, Dubai

At.mosphere, Dubai

Sitting just two levels below the top observation deck of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, At.mosphere is currently the world’s highest restaurant, holding the Guinness world record for the highest restaurant from ground level.

The Dining Pod at Soneva Kiri, Koh Kood, Thailand

The Dining Pod at Soneva Kiri, Koh Kood, Thailand

Enjoy picture-perfect vistas as you are winched 16 feet into the air above the shoreline in the dining pod. Seating up to four people who will be served by a flying waiter harnessed to a zip-line, this is an experience not to be missed.

Mount Burgess Dining Room, Emerald Lake Lodge, Canada

Mount Burgess Dining Room, Emerald Lake Lodge, Canada

Enjoy rocky mountain cuisine as you look out over the Emerald lake in Yoho National Park. The restaurant is open year-round and offers a seasonal menu that includes free-range elk, bison and caribou.

Al Mahara at Burj Al Arab, Dubai

Al Mahara at Burj Al Arab, Dubai

Al Mahara, ‘The Oyster Shell’ in Arabic, is an underwater themed restaurant which begins with a mock submarine ride from the reception to the dining area. The tables are situated around a giant glass aquarium adding to the restaurant’s submerged theme. The stunning floor-to-ceiling aquarium sets the scene for a meal prepared by an international team of award-winning chefs.

Restaurant 6.8, Palopo, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Restaurant 6.8, Palopo, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Marvel at the uninterrupted views of Lake Atitlan and the surrounding volcanic landscape as you sit down to dinner at 6.8 Palopo. Sunset is an especially beautiful time to soak in these dramatic sights from the relaxed dining room or from the glassed terrace.

Skyline restaurant, Queenstown, New Zealand

Skyline restaurant, Queenstown, New Zealand

Located on Bob’s Peak and perched high above the resort town of Queenstown in New Zealand’s South Island is Skyline Restaurant. A scenic gondola ride will take you high above Queenstown where a unique dining experience and breathtaking panoramas of Coronet Peak, Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, the Remarkables and surrounding mountains await you. You can also enjoy a mouth-watering four-course buffet lunch or a six-course buffet dinner that offers the very best of New Zealand’s local produce. Also feast on South Island salmon, seafood, salads roast meats and delicious desserts.

Le TK, Tsara Komba Lodge, Madagascar

Le TK, Tsara Komba Lodge, Madagascar

Perched on a hill overlooking the Indian Ocean, Tsara Komba is a luxury ecolodge situated in the northwest of Madagascar. Tucked away in the heart of a breath-taking tropical botanical garden, The Eden Garden, the eight lodges with their terraces and sea views back onto a private wild nature reserve. Aside from amazing views of Madagascar’s Grande Terre island and the Tsaratanana Mountains, you can also experience the bird songs, sapphire blue sea and golden sandy beaches.

 

Dubai Marina, Dubailand and Downtown highlighted most searched rental locations in April

Dubai Marina

Dubai Marina, Dubailand and Downtown were the most searched locations by renters on our site, propertyfinder.ae, during the month of April – three communities that have consistently figured in the list of top rental neighbourhoods . Achieving 17 percent of the total searches, Dubai Marina remains the hot favourite amongst renters given the community’s waterfront ambience and popularity amongst expats. In second place was Dubailand, a residential district that has received much attention lately for its affordable pricing and upcoming infrastructure, garnering close to 9 percent of the searches for rental properties on the site. In third place was Downtown, with 8 percent of the views.

Dubai real estate

Since we released our quarter one report recently, we’ve noticed certain trends that are recurring and others that have accelerated. Whilst Dubai Marina also topped the list of rental communities in quarter one, we see Dubailand move up two spots from its 4th position last quarter. Downtown, on the other hand, has moved down one place since quarter one, probably due to the surge in rents given its status as one of Dubai’s most affluent, expensive and vibrant districts. Interestingly, despite rental increases, we see Arabian Ranches, a premier villa community that did not figure in the top 10 in Q1, move up to 9th place in April. With escalating rents in Dubai a source of concern for many residents, it is perhaps not too surprising then that well-priced areas such as Dubailand are moving up the list of most searched communities.

Dubai property market

Aside from rises in leasing prices for apartments and villas, Dubai is also seeing an increase in rental demand given its growing expat population and visitor numbers, increasing corporate activity and the Expo opening up trade opportunities. Compared to January this year, views of Dubailand properties have risen by 50 percent whilst Dubai Sports City properties have enjoyed a 33 percent hike in renter interest. With most of the upcoming residential supply expected to be handed over in Dubailand, Dubai Silicon Oasis, Dubai Sports City and Jumeirah Village – areas which serve the middle income housing segment – it seems likely that more people will be driven to renting in these areas over the course of this year as leasing prices continue to soar.

 

Al Reem Island sees a 30 percent rise in buyer interest since Q1 2013

Abu Dhabi skyline

Now that our report for quarter one of 2014 is out, here are few of the interesting findings we revealed to the media about the Abu Dhabi property market.

For one, Reem Island continues to hold its ground as the capital’s most popular community for investment, drawing in the most number of views on our site. The Abu Dhabi property market is showing strong signs of maturity as the emirate looks towards achieving its 2030 vision, in addition to being identified as one of the world’s fastest growing premium real estate markets.

Al Reem Island

Our latest report also reflects the huge uptick in Abu Dhabi’s property sales market. For instance, we see Al Reem Island enjoy a 30 percent and Hydra Village a 60 percent rise in property views on the site since the first quarter of 2013. Similarly, Saadiyat Island welcomed a 50 percent increase in views since quarter 2 last year. The recent decision by Abu Dhabi Municipality to issue title deeds to property owners who have purchased apartments from Aldar Properties has provided an additional layer of certainty for property buyers and is expected to attract longer-term investors to the capital.

Abu Dhabi city view

Residential rents in the emirate have risen by over 10 percent during the first quarter of 2014, with the recent removal of the five percent rental cap greatly impacting leasing prices. With affordability emerging as a serious concern for Abu Dhabi residents, we are seeing a trend similar to that in Dubai play out, with off-island communities such as Khalifa City and Mohammed Bin Zayed City becoming go-to choices for tenants. For example, in comparison to Q1 2013, views of properties in Khalifa City have risen by over 60 percent whilst those in Al Reem Island have seen a 14 percent increase – clear indications of the upbeat nature of Abu Dhabi’s rental market.

Have you checked out our Q1 report yet? Click here to download your copy.

Business Bay, JLT and DIFC rank amongst top commercial locations so far in 2014

Dubai commercial real estate

Business Bay continues to dominate the list of Dubai’s most searched district for buying and renting office space in Dubai in the first quarter of 2014. When we ran the numbers for our Q1 2014 report , we also noted a 35 and 55 percent quarter-on-quarter rise in sale and rental values respectively, of commercial property in Dubai.

Whilst the top two locations for buying office space in Dubai, namely Business Bay and Jumeirah Lake Towers have not changed, we’re seeing a 15 percent increase in views of properties in these locations, quarter-on-quarter. In addition, DIFC, which placed 9th in Q4 2013, has moved up in popularity, securing third spot and a huge 45 percent hike in property views, over the same period. This year’s results are particularly interesting because they reflect a huge uptick in the rate of growth of the commercial real estate sector, which has been trailing behind the residential market in terms of pricing and investor and tenant interest.

Dubai commercial property

With Dubai emerging as a go-to investment destination for the world’s wealthy and it being one of the world’s fastest growing premium property markets, international investors are driven to seek opportunities in the emirate. Whilst Indian, British and Pakistani nationals account for majority of the foreign investment into the Dubai property sector, interest from other overseas markets is also growing. For instance, Chinese investors are ramping up their investment in the Middle East in order to diversify their asset base. In January this year, the government issued a law establishing the Dubai Investment Development Agency to boost Dubai’s reputation as an international business hub and attract investors to set up projects in the emirate.

Dubai real estate

Speaking to the media about the expected rise in property values in line with the improving investment climate and economic confidence in 2014, our CEO and Founder, Michael Lahyani said,” Office sale and rental prices are rising, providing strong capital returns and yields for investors. For instance, rents in Business Bay in Q1 2014 were 27 percent higher than those in Q1 2013 whilst leasing prices in Jumeirah Lake Towers rose by over 15 percent during the same period. With over 250,000 jobs estimated to be created within the next six years, more multinationals and start-ups are expected to establish offices and invest in expansion in Dubai. This is in turn likely to cause consumers to spend more and positively impact businesses.”

Like to view the complete Q1 report? Download your copy here.

Khaleej Times column: Commercial realty market on the rise

Dubai commercial real estate

Will commercial property pick up this year? CEO and Founder, Michael Lahyani, discusses Dubai’s high quality infrastructure and geographical location – two factors which position it as one of the best cities in the world to live and do business.

Commercial realty market on the rise
Michael Lahyani (Property focus) / 20 April 2014

Dubai real estate

Commercial real estate values are on the rise, as Dubai’s office market continues to pick up this year. There are a number of reasons to remain optimistic about the prospects for commercial real estate. For one, market fundamentals are strong. Dubai is also benefitting from its tourism and retail boom, driving up visitor numbers particularly at its malls, which is in turn benefitting big and small businesses. Numerous companies have taken advantage of the surging retail market and asset prices to plan public offerings.

The first quarter of this year was particularly noteworthy for the return of IPO and capital raising activity. Emirates Reit, a UAE-based real estate investment trust, recently launched shares on Nasdaq Dubai. Emaar’s shares rose significantly after the master developer disclosed plans to choose Nasdaq Dubai and London to list its shopping malls and retail subsidiary. By listing in London, the major stock market for emerging companies, Emaar’s move is likely to attract a greater pool of foreign investors.

Dubai skyline

Dubai holds a unique position from which international businesses can operate globally, due to its central location, lack of foreign ownership restrictions, tax-free environment and international workforce. The city has been identified at the forefront of cities that demonstrate the combination of strong short-term socio-economic and commercial real estate momentum and longer term foundations for success. Earlier last month, Abu Dhabi and the UAE Central Bank agreed to refinance the $20 billion loan that was extended to Dubai at a lower rate — positive news for Dubai and further reassurance for investors of Dubai’s economic growth. Further, the emirate’s huge concentration of high-net-worth individuals and improved global connectivity are driving international investors to seek opportunities in the emirate. Dubai Internet City and Dubai Outsource Zone recorded strong growth in 2013, with around 181 firms joining the two clusters.

Whilst Indian, British and Pakistani nationals continue to lead the Dubai property charge, investment from other overseas markets is growing. Chinese investors are ramping up their investment in the Middle East in order to diversify their asset base. Not only has China’s biggest contractor tied up with a Dubai firm to build a luxury resort on the Palm, individual Chinese investment and the numbers of companies setting up operations in the region are expected to grow strongly. The emirate’s diversifying investor base was also reflected in Dubai Land Department’s report which revealed that in 2013, buyers from 162 countries purchased over Dh100 billion of real estate.

Throughout 2014, property values are expected to rise markedly in line with the improving business outlook and economic confidence. Over 600,000sqm of office supply is expected to come online by the end of 2014 and infrastructure projects worth over Dh12 billion are in the pipeline to get Dubai ready for 2020. Given that job creation is key to increasing demand in the commercial real estate sector, with over 250,000 jobs estimated to be created in the next six years, more multinationals and fledgling enterprises are expected to establish offices and invest in expansion into Dubai. The increase in employment is in turn likely to cause consumers to spend more and positively impact businesses, large and small.

Our quarterly report for 2014 revealed that Business Bay remains the most searched community for buying and renting office space in Dubai — in addition to accounting for close to 50 per cent of the new supply between 2014 and 2016. Dubai International Financial Centre and Dubai Silicon Oasis are also tipped to see new completions during this period. Additionally, there has been a considerable uptick in rental values. For instance, rents in Business Bay in Q1 2014 were 27 per cent higher than those in Q1 2013 whilst leasing prices in Jumeirah Lake Towers rose by over 15 per cent during the same period.

Dubai aerial view

In a bid to make Dubai attractive to global investors and businesses, the Dubai Investment Development Agency was formed earlier this year. By reviewing the emirate’s business climate, drawing up policies and strategies and planning new long-term projects, the new body is expected to ramp up the inflow of investments worldwide.

Over the years, valuable lessons have been learnt and everyone’s grown smarter and wiser. As the retail market continues to improve alongside the launch of new real estate projects and burgeoning tourism and hospitality industries, there’s little doubt that the commercial property sector will emerge as one of the key talking points this year.

Like to step inside Noe Valley, San Francisco’s most expensive home?

Take a look at the most expensive home ever sold in the Noe Valley neighbourhood of San Francisco for USD 7 million.

This ultra-modern four-bedroom, six-bathroom home has a modern, angular facade.

At nearly 6,000 sq. ft., the house is estimated to cost $1,167 per sq. ft.

A wall of windows offers sprawling views of San Francisco.

The kitchen offers plenty of storage space and a prep island with a sink in the centre.

The dining room bleeds into the living room.

The front balcony is great for entertaining.

The home also comes with a private backyard.

Source: Sotheby’s International Realty