Even though some buyers continue to maintain a ‘wait and see’ approach as property prices continue to soften, if you have invested in Dubai property, especially in key growth areas, then hold on to your portfolio. In fact, we would advise you to, if possible, add to your portfolio.

Dubai’s economy is still doing very well although the IMF forecast for UAE economic growth this year is down to 3 per cent compared to last year’s 4.6 per cent, which is quite understandable considering the after-effects of the recent oil price slump on economy. Having gradually weaned the country away from overdependence on oil, the UAE remains in a good fiscal position as it proceeds with economic diversification.

The UAE economy is being driven by tourism and trade, and a slew of successful new projects that will complement these important revenue-generating economic segments which continue to be a primary feature of Dubai’s growth outlook. In 2014, Dubai welcomed over 12 million visitors, continuing a growth trend of approximately 9 percent per annum since 2010, a statistic which is the envy of many nations.

The ‘soft landing’ of the UAE economy is by no means bad news as it is simply indicative of more gradual sustainable growth overall which, in turn, is supported by the following factors:

The market is in a healthy state of revaluation and consolidation, not recession. The reduction in growth rates is necessary to ensure the type of sustainable, profitable growth that long-term investors seek becomes a recognized characteristic of the Dubai market. The market has demonstrated its maturity and resilience by recovering post-global financial crisis and is now adjusting to more sustainable value appreciation levels.

Strong demand for property. When you are investing in real estate, you are actually investing in the economy, and the effect of the 2020 Expo on the UAE economy cannot be underrated in terms of generating demand for real estate assets. Hosting the World Expo will provide additional impetus for the industry to enjoy continued growth, and the predictable surge in demand for accommodation and commercial space of all types, from labor camps to offices to warehouses to apartments to executive villas, is sure to have a significant effect on property values.

Investor appetite and confidence remain for off-plan and under-construction projects especially for those launched by reputable developers. Outside of tier one developer-led schemes, there has been strong performance in recent launches outside of prime locations and emerging areas.

The low mortgage rates of today are unprecedented and, notwithstanding possible interest rate rises in the US later this year as the dollar continues to strengthen, will still be affordable in the ensuing five years. We should remember that affordable finance and demand for real estate assets are inseparable.

The market is approaching maturity. The on-going development of the industry’s regulatory framework and the implementation of laws to safeguard both consumer and investor interests, and the overall industry and economy at large from rampant and irresponsible speculative, predatory or unethical practices, reveal a mature and balanced approach to shaping an industry which will exhibit sustainable growth over the long term.

If it’s superior yield with minimal capital outlay that you are after, Dubai real estate is still hard to beat unlike older established cities like Hong Kong and Singapore which currently suffer from high costs of housing, especially the former where only 50 percent of residents own their homes. Affordable properties have all benefitted from Dubai’s recovering economy. Investors in these areas can reasonably expect rental returns of at least 7 percent per annum on top of annual capital appreciation. Given the relatively low cost of entry, even with the overall economic slowdown predicted to continue well into the coming year, buyers in growth areas such as Dubai land will see greater financial rewards for their astuteness and patience in due course.

There is definitely a shortage of affordable housing in Dubai. The number of developments that will be supplying housing affordable to the middle and lower income segments is definitely on the increase, more so in the run up to the 2020 World Expo. Historically, the established developments that were most associated with filling the affordable housing gap were international City, Discovery Gardens and, to a lesser extent, MotorCity. But there have been more recent additions that have provided realistic alternatives to these older developments, and several more to come.

Still, as both buyers and sellers are sticking to their negotiating positions with more determination and a greater propensity to walk away from the negotiating table if not satisfied, the real estate cycle will continue on its course. Prices may continue to soften, but what is more important is that the market does not go down on a steep fall, and keeps to its current sustainable path.

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