Riyadh property market swells as mortgages surge 250%

Residential mortgages for individuals in the Kingdom recorded a growth rate of more than 250 percent, with the value of contracts rising over 160 percent. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 29 January 2020

Riyadh property market swells as mortgages surge 250%

  • Vision 2030 economic reforms and major infrastructure projects encourage investment into capital’s real estate sector

LONDON: Riyadh recorded a 250 percent jump in mortgages last year as the value and number of property deals surged in the Saudi capital.

The volume of real estate transactions rose by 53 percent in 2019 compared to a year earlier while the value of transactions was up 63 percent according to a report from broker CBRE.

“The recent economic and social initiatives and legislation introduced by the Saudi Government have already had an extremely positive impact on the country’s real estate sector,” said Simon Townsend, head of strategic advisory at CBRE MENAT. “We are already starting to witness impressive growth across major real estate segments including residential, hospitality and retail, and this upwards trajectory is likely to continue in the short to medium term.”

Ongoing economic reforms under the Vision 2030 initiative have encouraged investment into the real estate sector while spending on major infrastructure projects such as the Riyadh Metro and tourism developments on the Red Sea coast have helped to boost confidence despite oversupply concerns.

“Overall, the country is making great leaps in its efforts to become a global business hub and world-class tourism destination, and the market is expected to continue to react positively to the efforts of the public and private sectors alike,” added Townsend.

Residential mortgages for individuals in the Kingdom recorded a growth rate of more than 250 percent in terms of the number of contracts signed from January 2019 — November 2019, according to the CBRE data. The value of contracts rose by more than 160 percent in the same period year-on-year. 

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At the end of last year, the capital’s residential supply stood at 1,290,000 residential units with an expected delivery of 111,000 additional units by 2023.

In October 2019, the Ministry of Housing launched an initiative to support residential renovations by providing financing for residential units more than 15 years old which is expected to result in higher activity among existing aging stock within the central districts of Riyadh.

Beneficiaries of the Saudi Ministry of Housing’s ‘Sakani’ initiative aimed at increasing the national rate of home ownership, grew by about 14 percent in 2019.

At the end of last year, the capital’s residential supply stood at 1,290,000 residential units with an expected delivery of 111,000 additional units by 2023, CBRE said.

Hotel occupancy is also on the rise in the capital and is expected to receive a further boost from Saudi Arabia hosting the G20 summit this year.

The opening of Qiddiya entertainment giga project which is scheduled for 2023 is also expected to benefit the tourism sector.

There are currently about 17,700 hotel rooms in Riyadh with another 4,500 expected to enter the market by 2023. Hotel occupancy has risen by 5 percent year-on-year, CBRE said.


NMC Health removes CEO amid investigation of UAE firm’s finances

Updated 27 February 2020

NMC Health removes CEO amid investigation of UAE firm’s finances

  • Chief Executive Prasanth Manghat was dismissed with immediate effect
  • Chief Operating Officer Michael Davis was appointed as interim CEO

NMC Health has removed Chief Executive Prasanth Manghat with immediate effect and granted its finance chief extended sick leave, as more details emerge from an investigation into the UAE health care firm’s finances.
Abu-Dhabi based NMC said after Wednesday’s market close that it had appointed Chief Operating Officer Michael Davis as interim CEO to succeed Manghat and said Chief Financial Officer Prashanth Shenoy had been placed on longer leave.
Manghat had been with NMC for about 10 years in various roles, including deputy CEO and CFO, and had seen the company through its 2012 listing on the London Stock Exchange.
The moves are the latest blow for the firm whose shares have lost about two thirds of their value since US-based short-seller Muddy Waters late last year questioned its financial statements.
NMC had said at the time that the report was “false and misleading,” but had opened its own investigation into company finances. The review is being led by Louis Freeh, who was director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States from 1993 to mid-2001.
NMC on Wednesday said the investigation committee had identified supply chain financing arrangements that were entered into by the company and “which are understood to have been used” by entities controlled by founder BR Shetty and former vice-chair Khaleefa Butti Omair Yousif Ahmed Al Muhairi.
Reuters was unable to reach Manghat, Shetty and Muhairi for comment outside business hours on NMC’s latest statement.
The company, which operates clinics and hospitals, specialized maternity and fertility clinics, and long-term care homes in 19 countries, said the committee was reviewing a drawdown of its facilities that had not been disclosed or approved by the board.
Its shares closed 6.6% higher before Wednesday’s statement.
NMC also said it had suspended a member of its treasury team over possible discrepancies in its bank statements and ledger entries, and said it would be unable to publish its annual results till at least the end of April.
Indian billionaire Shetty resigned as NMC’s co-chairman this month, after British regulators said they were looking into NMC following a disclosure that he had misstated the size of his stake.
Shetty had said this month that his NMC shareholdings were under a legal review looking into a large portion of his shares signed to two of NMC’s top investors in 2017, while some of his other stock had been pledged as security against loans.