Ask The Agent

Mohanad Alwadiya CEO, Harbor Real Estate

Is there a state of oversupply in Dubai real estate? How does one know for sure?

It depends on an accurate estimation of construction timelines which are invariably fluid, and the demand for real estate assets due to Dubai’s growing population that is largely driven by overall economic growth going forward. In addition, it needs to comprehend a lag effect from the time the conditions conducive to development are identified by developers and when properties are finally released to the market. Given that the economy of the emirate is expected to grow at an estimated 5+ percent annually for the remainder of the decade, and initiatives such as the Expo 2020 are expected to generate an additional 270,000 jobs, the demand for housing and commercial facilities is expected to grow significantly. Much of the city’s planning comprehends the number of people living in the emirate to grow to 3.4 million by 2020, a 7 percent annual increase from today’s 2.25 million.

What property characteristics should I, as a buyer, pay close attention to in order to minimise any risks associated with my investment decision?

Location is the first factor to consider as it can drive up a property’s value. Prestigious locations like Palm Jumeirah, Downtown Dubai and Dubai Marina fared well in the post-GFC period, and affordable areas such as Jumeirah Lakes Towers, The Greens, Dubai Sports City, Discovery Gardens and International City followed suit. But there are other factors as well. The quality of the end-product and infrastructure, maintenance services, and the extent of completion must also be part of any consideration. Value for money and superior ROl must be considered if you are an investment buyer. Current and future supply levels of various asset types need to be examined. However, it is the fundamental drivers of market values which remain: location, product quality, features and benefits, and demand and supply.

We’re a startup company looking for an office space with the best value. Should we rent or buy?

At this stage, you need to keep costs down until you become fully established in the market. The old cliché “location, location, location” is all about the convenience and prestige it can bring to any business. Great value, affordable and well-constructed office spaces may be found in a particular area, but these may not work for you if the location is a hindrance to your operations. We always advocate businesses acquiring their own premises if they commit to operating long term in Dubai. There is no tax advantage in leasing in the UAE, and as long as your office space is appreciating, your balance sheet will grow stronger over time. If you decide to lease your premises, look for the best deal and lock it in for at least three to five years. Lease rates will soon increase going forward, so make sure you take advantage of current rates.

We purchased a villa in Dubai in 2010. Instead of continuing to rent it out, my husband and I decided to sell it. How do we find a good seller’s agent?

There is a large number of licenced real estate brokers in Dubai and the UAE. Finding the right agent to sell your property is something you need to pay close attention to because getting the best person is crucial to how quickly you can make a sale without compromising on your agreed-upon expectations. Factors such as years of experience in the UAE market, track record of success, in-depth understanding of market trends, area expertise, client testimonials, level of commitment, passion, dedication, professionalism and honesty are important. He/ she should also be a duly licenced RERA-certified real estate broker. Before committing to any realtor, make a list of all the questions you want answered first and see how they respond as doing so will help you gauge whether or not giving him/her your business is the best thing for you and your husband, and your property.

Question of the Week

What sort of documents are required after accepting an offer to buy my property?

The first (and most important) step is to prepare and sign an MOU which contains all the details and timing particulars of the offer. The buyer has to sign the MOU after reviewing its provisions. As with all legal documents, get a proficient broker or legal representative to draft the MOU for you. You also need to sign “Form F,” a contract between the buyer and seller. Ensure that the buyer and/or the relevant representative has their respective identification and/or authorisations so payments have been satisfactorily arranged. Step 2 will require the receipt of a “No Objection Certificate” from the developer. Step 3 is to pay the final utility bills so that the account is cleared and ready to be taken over by the new owner. If there’s a tenant, you will need to sort out any outstanding rent or payment details. Step 4 will require you to go to the Dubai Land Department offices or a trustee registration office together with the buyer and all relevant parties, and conduct the final transfer. Transfer of ownership will take place at the DLD with all monies owed by the buyer to you to be presented as part of the transfer procedure. Although the above procedure appears simple enough, I recommend you engage a professional to handle the transaction process for you. You will be surprised how little issues, many not foreseeable to the inexperienced, can delay the satisfactory settlement of your property sale.

Ask The Agent

Mohanad Alwadiya

CEO, Harbor Real Estate

Can you please share some details on how rental increases are determined in Dubai?

Your landlord needs to give you a notice of increase at least 90 days prior to contract expiry. You should familiarise yourself with Law No. 43 which introduced the following restrictions (summarized) with regard to legally allowable rental increases: There should not be any rent increase if the rent for the real estate alit is no more than 10 percent below the average rent that a similar property commands within a neighborhood; The annual rent increases can range from 5 up to 20 percent according to how much the current rent s less than the market average, The market average rates are to be determined by the RERA rental index. The implementation of Law No. 43 is necessary to safeguard consumer interest, the overall industry and the economy at large from unjustifiable rental increases on existing rental contracts.

What documents do I need to provide so I can arrange for an agency to market and sell my villa? Give a proof of identity, usually a passport and/or Emirates ID, and a copy of the original sales and purchase agreement to be verified with the Dubai Land Department (DLD). If the property is leased, provide details of the lease agreement including the status of outstanding payments and any information pertaining to the history with the tenant. Also, provide the status of payments of service and owners association charges. The agency will sit and consult with you as to what your requirements are and prepare for you a letter of engagement which will contain the details of what you require from the agency and what fees have been mutually agreed upon. If you are located overseas and like an agency to represent you, you need to provide a power of attorney detailing the extent to which you would like the agency’s representation in the various facets of marketing and selling your property.

What property features should I prioritise when listing my apartment for sale?

If you have a listing agent or are already working with a realtor, they would know exactly what characteristics of your property should be highlighted to make it stand out from the rest and be highly marketable. But the most important features that will make or break your goal to sell your apartment include the fact that it must be competitively priced or paced just right for the market, its location or proximity to landmarks and important infrastructure such as transportation links and commercial districts, size, building facilities and community amenities, duality and current physical condition, whether or not it is being handled by a professional property management firm, or fully paid or financed. Also, make sure you mention any improvements done, and if it has special features such as a nice view, balcony, closed kitchen or extra storage.

I have just joined the market as a property investor. Can you please help me in determining an optimal rental rate to attract may first tenant? The simplest way to determine a good rental rate for your property is the sales comparison approach (SCA) which relies on identifying a factor that is homogenous to similar properties. For example, an apartment similar to your planned investment which attracts a monthly rental rate of Dh7 per square foot can indicate the likely cash flow you expect: however, as property managers, we do not advocate this approach. A more comprehensive method is the capital asset pricing model (CAPM) which comprehends levels of risk and opportunity cost as it applies to your investment. It identifies your potential return on investment derived from capital appreciation in addition to net rental income and compares it to other investments that you may be considering. This enables smarter investment decisions and, therefore, is the one that we use as standard procedure.

Question of the Week

With many attractive off-plan offers today, I am tempted to buy an off-plan property. But how do I know if I am buying one with real potential?

Whether you are buying ready or off-plan property, market fundamentals still apply. Make sure that an off-plan purchase is consistent with your property portfolio strategy. Location can never be disregarded. Considerations regarding how close the project is to commercial, educational and leisure hubs, medical and health facilities, public infrastructure, popular and established communities, and the manifold views one can enjoy all add up to the desirability of a property’s location. The asset type is also important. What type of asset will be in demand in the future: affordable apartments, townhouses or villas? Be smart about the “product” that you buy. Look for certain property types in locations which you believe will be keenly sought in the future. You need to do some careful financial analysis which will enable you to determine the value of the discount that you anticipate receiving by buying off-plan. Easy payment plans can ensure you limit your capital exposure before completion. Also, you need to be conversant with financial concepts such as net present value (NPV) and internal rate of return (IRR) to guide you in the decision-making process when assessing your alternatives.