Ask the Experts

Every month we invite you to have your property questions answered by an expert. This month, Mohanad Alwadiya tackles the task.

Q I’ve been looking at a few Union Properties developments, but am unsure about buying leasehold. How does this differ to freehold property in Dubai?

A The choice between freehold and leasehold property depends mainly on your particular needs and the asset type you wish to invest in. If you wish to buy a property for a limited number of years or you are buying a property to benefit from its annual rental yield, leasehold should be your preferable option as the cost would be considerably less compared to freehold. Similarly, the cost of leasehold for 30 years will be less than that for 99 years. Leasehold is common in many established overseas markets for high-rise apartments and integrated communities. This represents a benefit for owners in Dubai particularly as certain owners may visit infrequently and ‘forget’ to pay their maintenance bills. Under leasehold tenure contracts, the landlord could apply for an eviction order after a long period of non-payment, therefore safeguarding the integrity of the whole property or community.

Q Judging from the property classifieds, rents in Dubai Marina haven’t gone down much at all. Some even seem to have risen despite more supply coming on to the market. I’d like to buy an apartment to live in at the Marina; I’m just wondering which towers and areas of the Marina are the best options for long-term appreciation?

A During Q3 2009, Dubai Marina apartments witnessed a noticeable increase in rental rates, fuelled by the increased demand from visitors and tenants from Dubai and Abu Dhabi. This factor provided sellers and landlords with room to reconsider their offered prices with the aim of maximising their return on investment. Estimating long-term capital growth requires some careful thinking. This is where certain considerations such as location, property type, views, quality of structure, fit and finish, amenities, developer reputation and an estimation of future demand are taken into account.

You should seek some professional advice from property consultants. Given your personal objective is to maximise capital appreciation, I would recommend you consider towers in the central part of the Marina next to JBR (e.g. Al Sahab or Marina Promenade towers), and minutes away from The Walk.

Q I’m thinking of leaving my job and setting up a small company in a free zone. I’ve been impressed by some commercial buildings at Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT) as I do a lot of work in Abu Dhabi. Should I get a multiple-year lease at a discounted rate, or opt for something more short-term?

A I believe that the recession may be the best time to start a new business as you will be able to generate great savings and benefit from the reduced inflation rates which can impact your start up costs. JLT enjoys a strategic location and has a fantastic master plan. It also has a good balance between office and residential space.

Office tenants have the tendency to relocate less frequently compared to residential tenants due to cost of relocation, interior design and building client familiarity with their location. Since you will be able to obtain a better bargain from a long-term lease, I would suggest you opt for the multiple-year lease contract at a discounted rate which will only help reduce your set up costs and overheads over time.


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