Most home renters have no plans to relocate says survey

MANAMA: The vast majority of home renters in Bahrain have no plans of moving house in the next twelve months, shows a new survey.

The Lockdown Living Survey which Savills carried out online across the Middle East region found that only 20 per cent of respondents in Bahrain indicated that the pandemic has encouraged them to move.

The survey was carried over the summer and captured the sentiments of individuals towards residential units pre and post lockdown.

Savills Bahrain associate director and head of professional services Hashim Kadhem told the GDN that similar to the rest of the region at an average 64pc, a significant share (almost 55pc) in the country are currently renting private unfurnished units.

In recent years, the Bahrain residential market has primarily been a domestic one.

Mr Kadhem

“Local investors buy in order to diversify income and store wealth, or purchase homes in lifestyle destinations. This remains the case and buyers intend to invest for the long term,” added Mr Kadhem.

“International buyers have been less prevalent over recent years, and would either buy a home to live in if they plan to be in Bahrain for a long time, or invest in smaller apartments with the aim to achieve higher yields relative to their home markets, and benefit from tax free rental income.”

According to him, the introduction and activeness of the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) has given a new level of regulatory confidence.

“However, this is yet to be reflected in prices.”

Unlike Bahrain, close to 47pc of respondents across the region have been encouraged to move in the next 12 months due to the pandemic.

About a fifth (21pc) of the Middle East respondents have indicated that they would be relocating in the next 12 months to save money.

At the same time, 15pc would move to downsize their space and save on rent.

On the other hand, close to 28pc of respondents would consider moving to upgrade their lifestyle in some form.

A majority (68pc) of regional respondents currently privately rent unfurnished accommodations as they adopt a wait-and-see approach to understand how the socio-economic landscape will evolve in the twelve months.

The share of owner-occupied properties, both mortgage or otherwise, is roughly 18pc.

Richard Paul, head of professional service and consultancy at Savills Middle East, said, “After a prolonged period of confinement, people gradually emerged into a new norm of live, work and play as lockdowns eased across the region. Even though activity levels have bounced back, albeit still lower than pre-Covid levels, a general inhibition towards spending a lot of time away from the home has, in turn, led people to relook at their current residential space. In most cases, this means either relooking their current residential set-up and making necessary upgrades, or considering relocating to suit their newfound lifestyle. This has led to a marked shift in how residential spaces are perceived.”

Since most countries in the region have a high share of expatriate population, respondents of the Savills Lockdown Living Survey were essentially from this segment.

Hence, a large percentage of this population prefer to rent properties, and this provided an opportunity for investors to rent out a property with ease.

Swapnil Pillai, associate director for research at Savills Middle East, said, “This has also led to healthy yield level which in turn has driven investment activity. On the other hand, for developers, it means that along with the strong investor base, there’s a substantial pool of population that can be targeted for upcoming projects.

“When it comes to choosing the right property, the price, the size and the proximity to work emerge as the apparent differentiating factor.”




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