Mohanad Alwadiya, MD of Harbor Real Estate & Instructor at the Dubai Real Estate institute, the official training 81 cortication arm of the Dubai Land Department

The UAE property market slowdown aside, it is great to know that the country’s real estate landscape has gone a long way from its humble beginnings. Aside from the landmark development in 2002, when UAE property (specifically in Dubai) was initially offered to be sold on freehold basis to expatriates by the Dubai government, another important milestone and sign of industry maturity, though relatively untapped, was the introduction of real estate investment trusts (REITs) into the country, with the first REIT entity, Arabian Real Estate Investment Trust (Areit) established in 2006.

And as people continue to agonize over the current market state of affairs, l would advise ambitious though financially limited would-be investors to look into the viability of investing in REITs rather than sitting and waiting for chance to buy property they can actually afford. But what differentiates a REIT-owned property from traditional property out for sale in the market? Before moving any further, let us try to understand what REITs are first and foremost, beyond the words that make up the acronym itself a REIT is a trust company which accumulates a pool of money through an initial public offering (/PO) and buys, develops, manages and sells real estate assets. REIT5 allow both small and large investors the ability to invest in real estate without investing large amounts of capital or devoting a lot of time in directly managing a property portfolio. Investors have the opportunity to buy a unit in a REIT which is actually a portion of a managed pool of real estate; this pool of real estate then generates income through the renting, leasing, selling and financing of property and distributes it directly to the REIT investor on a regular basis. Investors in REITs can expect returns without having to deal with the headaches of maintaining, managing and marketing their real estate assets. Units held in a REIT can be bought and sold like a stock on a stock exchange so investors also have the option to make a safe exit from the property marketplace whenever they decide to do so. There are three types of REITs: equity REITs, mortgage REITs, and hybrid REITs. Equity REITs invest in and own properties and, therefore, are focused on increasing the value of those properties while also accumulating revenues from their properties’ rents. Mortgage REITs deal in the investment and ownership of property mortgages while hybrid REITs combine the investment strategies of equity REITs

And mortgage REITs by investing in both properties and mortgages. A REIT can provide portfolio diversification because of the large amounts of pooled funds available to the REIT management team which, in turn, enables the accumulation and operation of different types of property assets in different locales. This provides the REIT management greater flexibility to minimize the effects of any cyclical downturn by enabling them to focus on opportunities that always exist and emerge from any correctional period to provide a superior return. If you are a landlord or building owner,

the advantages of getting into business with a REIT are manifold; because, in effect, property owners become “shareholders” in a single real estate company, landlords can reasonably expect a safer, more secure and regular source of income in the form of rent through an easy, fuss-less, flexible, liquid and maintenance-free investment. For tenants, REIT—owned buildings, whether they are malls, business parks or towers, are usually well maintained and professionally managed, so being part of or being under a REIT establishment is a win-win for both landlords and building tenants.

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