Downtown Dubai has the highest number of listings by most realty agents.
Downtown Dubai, Emirates Living, Dubai Marina and Dubailand top the listing chart for sales and leasing queries, according to agents.
“Downtown Dubai has the highest number of listings by most realty agents in Dubai. The second popular area is Dubai Marina with a large focus on Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR),” said Mohanad Al Wadiya, Managing Director, Harbor Real Estate.
For Harbor Real Estate, the number of listings in these areas has increased by 20 per cent to 25 per cent in 2010. “Business Bay with a larger focus on the recently launched Executive Towers comes third, according to us,” he added.
Al Wadiya said Downtown Dubai and Dubai Marina have always been ranked high and are one of the most sought-after areas in Dubai.
“The location of both these areas is good, which is the most important decision investors take while investing. Further, the current price points have also made these two districts more attractive as they have became more affordable.
“Another key reason for this increased attention and demand is the fact that both these areas include popular attractions such as The Dubai Mall, The Marina Mall, The JBR walk, The Marina walk, the free beach in JBR and Burj Khalifa.”
Better Homes’ Liz O’Connor, Director – Residential Sales and Leasing, said: “Our top-selling districts between November 2009 and February 2010 have been The Emirates Living District, Marina District, Downtown District and the Dubailand districts.”
“For us, between November 2009 and February 2010, we received the most listings for the Emirates Living District, such as The Greens, Emirates Living, Jumeirah Village, Jumeirah Lake Tower (JLT), followed by Dubai Marina, Dubailand and Downtown Dubai districts,” said O’Connor.
Vineet Kumar, Head of Leasing and Sales – Dubai, Asteco Property Management, said: “Majority of listings we received in the past two months are for recently handed over projects such as the Loft apartments in Downtown Dubai and the Executive Towers in Business Bay.
“Other areas, which have received good level of listings are Dubai Marina and JLT, villas in Emirates Living such as Springs and Palm Jumeirah.
“Also, Sheikh Zayed Road continues to draw interest from tenants looking for quality residential buildings.
“Listings are always linked to the status of handed-over projects. As more projects have been handed over, or are nearing completion, we have seen a growth in the number of listings in these select locations,” he added.
Real estate agents said the main reason for these areas recording the highest listings has been due to recent handover within these areas and the fact that these communities offer a complete lifestyle with lesser construction happening in these areas.
Al Wadiya said: “The overall market condition in Dubai is stabilising and the appetite of all the stakeholders in the property market is improving as there is a general consensus that the prices have bottomed out and if there is any further decline, it will be very marginal and will not affect areas or developments that are completed.”
O’Connor said: “For residential real estate, location plays a big role in the demand for these areas. People want to live in popular areas that provide them with a good lifestyle and one which are easily accessible.
“Our customers are increasingly looking for The Emirates Living district, followed by Dubai Marina, Dubailand and Downtown districts,” she added.
Kumar said: “Buyers will show interest in master-plans that are developed and offer convenience of living and at rates which are attractive. Further those buyers who receive handover of their property and do not wish to occupy them for self-use will often offer these for sale or leasing.”
Meanwhile, listings for properties (sales and rentals) in JLT and Discovery Gardens has dropped due to buyers looking at other value for money investments in other parts of Dubai.
Al Wadiya said: “During the second half of 2009, we were seeing more listings for JLT and Discovery Gardens. The listings have been reduced in these areas mainly because of the shift of focus to the more popular areas of Dubai such as Downtown Dubai and Dubai Marina.
“Prices are more affordable in these areas, hence buyers especially end-users and investors are shifting to these areas. In addition, Downtown Dubai and Dubai Marina offer a more established community lifestyle with less construction going on in the area,” he added.
He said the number of transactions in these areas could have fallen during 2010. According to Better Homes, no significant drop in listings has been noted in any particular areas.
“There are always shortages of a particular type of properties within a certain area for the right price which leads to a shortage in particular communities. Certain communities in Dubai, particularly those with villas, do not have many units becoming available as they have end users living in them who are there for the long term.
“The villas in Phase I Green Community are an example,” said O’Connor.
“Further, not having listings in a particular area could mean a number of things, such as a shortage of property within these areas for the right price.
“It could also mean that property owners are leasing rather then selling in these places,” she added.
Harbor Real Estate said the company does not remove any particular area from its listings.
“However, we focus more on the areas that have more demand. Having said that, we continue to provide minimum support to off-plan projects as the demand for these projects is still very low,” said Alwadiya.
Kumar said: “We have identified certain locations and focus on those areas alone. However, we have not removed any areas.
“You may find we do not have a presence in certain areas such as Downtown Jebel Ali and Dubai Waterfront. We will revisit these locations once we believe the market will be interested from a price-point which is agreeable to the sellers.”
Real estate agents said delivery of new properties in Dubai is likely to increase the number of distress sales.
O’Connor said: “Delivery of new properties in Dubai are likely to see a number of ‘distress sales’ coming into the market. In fact this is already happening. In all situations the reasons to sell are unique; however, we generally expect to see distress sales coming from areas where projects are not expected to be completed or cancelled.”
She added that in the case of a property with mortgage attached, the extent to which a seller is willing to sell his property would depend on the mortgage finance, as the final selling price must cover the bank’s finance amount. In the case of cash sales, however, there is no limit to which a seller may sell.
Kumar said: “As more inventory gets delivered there will be sellers who will prefer to exit from the purchase but the value will be linked to quality of project, status of the master community etc.
From the buyers perspective, this is a good time to buy a piece of real estate at realistic value with the aim of holding the property for the mid to long-term.”
He added that the term, “distress sales” should never be used, as selling a property is a seller’s personal decision.
“The reasons for selling the property at the value they deem right is the seller’s choice. We might use the term ‘motivated seller’ but not distress. Quite often such sales are at lower than market price and could translate into a financial loss for the seller. However, market conditions may be only one reason for such sales.”
According to Harbor Real Estate, the term ‘distressed sale’ emerged during the early days of the crisis during the last quarter of 2008 and has soon become a common property jargon.
“Few people really know what it means and how to qualify a property as a genuine distress sale,” said Al Wadiya. “The global credit crunch has hit the property industry hard. Developers find themselves in the position of having built projects which now have no buyers or the people who bought off-plan are now trying to pull out and recoup their deposits,” he said.
He said that distressed properties are properties that are in danger of facing foreclosure proceedings or that have already been scheduled for sale as a result of default on the part of the owner.
“A property is said to be distressed when an owner gets behind on mortgage payments or a direct payment to a developer and the lender or appropriate debt collector begins to start the necessary proceedings to sell the home in order to collect the outstanding debt.
Distressed properties can cover any kind of real estate, from commercial spaces to apartments. It’s a great chance to save, often ranging anywhere from 40 per cent to 60 per cent off their actual market value or buying price, but it’s also a great chance for making a good investment, since purchasing for a discount often means creating a huge margin for future profits,” he said. O’Connor said: “It is important to understand that a ‘distress’ sale is really only where the seller is willing to sell for less than he paid for, particularly if the property is off-plan.
“Some sellers are willing to sell for the original price of the property or less, but many sellers – in particular those with ready properties rather than off-plan – are unable to emotionally ‘let go’ for less than they think it should be worth.”
She said that many sellers will describe themselves as ‘distress’ sellers, even though they may expect to receive quite a bit more than they paid for the property.
“However, in the case of investors off-loading their off-plan properties, those that are prepared to incur a loss will generally accept up to 40 per cent less than the original price in order to just get some of their investment back,” she said.
“Owners looking to sell are increasingly twitchy about moving their properties off the market and banks have large numbers of repossessed property stock effectively sitting on their balance sheets when what they really need is liquid cash sitting in the coffers. All of this adds up to something that buyers love more than almost anything else – the opportunity for a bargain,” said O’Connor.
O’Connor said the situation occurs mainly with cash buyers. “This is a worse situation for a finance buyer, because he has to pay the bank and pay the difference directly from his pocket; in many of the finance distress sales, the client will walk away.”
“It is important to say that using the term ‘distress sale’ without the permission of the owner is considered a breach of the agents code of ethics introduced under by-law No 85 of 2006 because agents are supposed to be trusties for the owners and they should not disclose the owner’s financial status under any circumstances,” she said.
The real estate agents said some properties like JLT, Greens, Dubai Marina, Downtown Dubai are providing some good value for money investments for buyers.
“Some of the apartments in JLT are value for money and will prove to be a good investment when the infrastructure of the community is complete and the metro is fully operational. However, investors need to choose carefully. Those towers on Sheikh Zayed Road side of the community are proving to have the most popular locations,” said Al Wadiya.
“Greens is due to shortly handover and many investors are anxious to off-load their property at original price and in some cases for less,” said Al Wadiya.