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Dubai is now the capital of branded residences

One way to define “brand” is that it is “the sum of how a product or business is perceived by those who experience it.” And it’s a pretty awesome construct when you stop to think about it. Because if I perceive one brand to be superior to another — which might just mean that it better matches my sense of self — then there’s a good chance I’d be willing to pay more for that brand.

And if I happen to own a brand that people perceive to be valuable, then I can also monetize this brand by lending it out to other people for money.

It is for this reason that in the world of real estate development there is something known as branded residences. Broadly speaking, it involves a pretty simple trade. Person 1 has a brand that lots of people perceive to be desirable. Person 2 has real estate that it is looking to sell, but it doesn’t have a brand with the same kind of cachet as person 1.

So what happens is that person 1 offers the following trade to person 2: pay me $X (upfront and/or over time) and then I will let you use my highly coveted brand to sell your real estate. And hopefully you won’t screw it up by doing weird things with it. (But other than this, person 1 isn’t really taking on much risk with this trade.)

Because person 2 believes that they’ll be able to sell their real estate for more money and/or faster than without the brand, it gladly accepts the trade. And as long as the benefit it gains is, in fact, greater than the cost of using the brand, it should be a good trade and both person 1 and person 2 should be happy with the outcome.

Now here’s an actual example. Earlier this month, the proposed Baccarat Hotel and Residences in Dubai set a new pre-construction pricing record when it sold a ~14,507 square foot apartment for 203.1 million dirhams (or US$55.3 million). For those of you who are wondering, this works out to be about US$3,812 psf.

Supposedly this is the most that anyone has ever paid for a new place in Dubai, and there’s a strong argument to be made that the developer got this pricing because it was a branded residence.

Image: Bloomberg

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