The First Quarter of 2020 started with strong momentum in the market, with an uptick in sales transactions across the UAE, despite the unfavourable floods and political tensions that shook the Middle-East region early this year. At Betterhomes, we have seen remarkable growth in numbers across different business units during the first two months of 2020. Unfortunately, these positive trends started dwindling during the last week of March as the coronavirus began spreading rapidly around the world and forcing the countries to shut down the borders and most of their non-essential businesses.
Even though we felt the impact of the pandemic in late March, sales transactions at Betterhomes have actually increased by 18% in Q1 2020 compared to the first quarter of the last year. We have seen a significant rise in both buyer and tenant registrations in Q1, with the number of registered buyers increasing by an impressive 36%. Interestingly, our report has also shown a remarkable increase in the value of units sold in the first two months of 2020, with the average price of the unit sold increasing by 20% compared to Q1 2019. Total value of properties sold has risen by 3%, amounting to AED20,498,327,612 in the first quarter.
When it comes to sales, the most popular areas were Jumeriah Village Circle, Downtown, Business Bay, Muhammed Bin Rashid City, and Dubai Marina. More buyers have opted for a mortgage in Q1, more specifically we saw 30% more DLD mortgage registrations over this period. What are buyer’s preferences? Well, similar to the previous quarters, off-plan transactions were undoubtedly more popular with the investors, with 56% of sales transactions going towards off-plan investments.
What are the trends in the leasing sector? Again, we had some positive numbers, with our report showing an increase in tenant registrations by 5%, as well as an increase in leasing transactions by 8%. Tenants at Betterhomes have chosen more flexible tenancy contracts with 39% contracts signed with four cheques and more.
When it comes to the most popular areas in Dubai, tenants are choosing Dubai Marina, Downtown Dubai, JLT, Business Bay, and Palm Jumeriah if they live in an apartment. For tenants looking to settle in a villa or a townhouse, the choice was one of the following neighbourhoods: Arabian Ranches, JVT, Springs, Akoya, and JP.
In the current situation, the real estate industry, with many other sectors in the UAE, will be facing challenges in the following weeks. With 24-hour national sterilisation program taking place across Dubai, we are seeing an overall slowdown in economic activity and delayed investment decisions. However, with the Central Bank raising the loan-to-value for first-time home buyers by a further 5% and introducing a comprehensive 100 billion dirham ($27.2 billion) economic plan aimed at containing the impact of the outbreak, we expect the market to bounce back in the following months.
We responded swiftly to this unprecedented situation by ensuring a safe working environment for our employees and introducing contactless leasing process. Our highly experienced agents and customer care representatives are now able to provide the full scope of services virtually, making it possible for clients to buy or lease a property without leaving the comfort of their home. From virtual tours, electronic contract signing, collection and delivery, to our in-house EJARI and DEWA registration, we have been helping tenants and buyers move without any issues during these challenging times.