مطالبات بقانون جديد لضبط سوق التأمين العقاري

مطالبات بقانون جديد لضبط سوق التأمين العقاري

فادت مصادر عاملة في قطاعي العقار والتأمين في السوق المحلي، أن «التأمين العقاري» ما يزال يفتقد إلى مجموعة من الضوابط واللوائح التنظيمية، التي تساهم في توضيح آليات التعاقد بين مختلف الأطراف، وتطبيق وتحديد الأسعار، إضافة إلى منع التلاعب بالبوليصات المتعلقة به.

وأضافت المصادر أنه بات من الضروري تشريع قانون واضح يحدد كل جوانب العلاقة بين شركات التأمين من جهة، والمستفيدين من جهة ثانية، ورفده بلوائح تنظيمية تغطي الجوانب العملية وشمولية التأمين، ليكون قادراً على تغطية مختلف أركان العقار الخارجية والداخلية.

وقالت: «لا بد من خطوات جريئة وسريعة لوضع منظومة متكاملة للتأمين العقاري، تشمل مرافقه ومستخدميه ومحتوياته، مع التركيز على محور بنود وأسعار بوليصات التأمين، لمنع أي محاولات للتلاعب بها على حساب المستفيدين منها».

وأكدت أيضاً أهمية التوعية بأهمية التأمين العقاري على المدى الطويل، وشن الحملات التثقيفية لتحقيق الهدف الأساسي منه في صون وحماية أملاك وحقوق المستفيدين، وهذا يتطلب التعاون والتنسيق بين الجهات والشركات المعنية في القطاعين العام والخاص.
ولفت مهند الوادية، الخبير العقاري، والمدير الإداري في شركة هاربور العقارية، إلى أن التأمين على العقار بشتى أنواعه وأشكاله ما يزال غير مطبق من الناحية العملية والقانونية في السوق المحلي، لكن العاملين في القطاع اجتهدوا جزئياً بهذا الشأن، من حيث إرفاقه ضمن ميزانية جمعيات الملاك للمشاريع التي تنطبق عليها شروط التملك الحر فقط.

وأضاف الوادية أنه من هذا المنطلق، تظهر مجموعة من المطالب التي تقع مسؤولية دراسة آليات تطبيقها على أرض الواقع وتوضيحها، على الجهات الحكومية المعنية بالتعاون مع القطاع الخاص، في سوقي العقار والتأمين، وربطها بلوائح تنظيمية وقوانين تشريعية، تكون واضحة وإلزامية من جهة، ونشر التوعية بأهميته بين الأفراد ذوي الشأن من جهة أخرى.

وأشار إلى أن التأمين على العقار يتجزأ إلى عدة أقسام أو أنواع، وهي أولاً: التأمين على المبنى والمرافق العامة التي يشملها، ثانياً: التأمين على محتويات العقار وما بداخله، ثالثاً: التأمين على دفعات العقار التي ترتبط بجداول سداد مرنة وطويلة الأجل، تتراوح بين 3 و5 و10 سنوات، والتي باتت رائجة في الوقت الراهن بين شركات التطوير العاملة في السوق المحلي.

وأوضح الخبير العقاري والمدير الإداري في شركة هاربور العقارية، أن قاعدة «أرخص تأمين هو أفضل تأمين» المتعارف عليها في سوق السيارات لا تنطبق على العقار؛ لذلك لا بد من خطوات جريئة وسريعة لوضع منظومة متكاملة للتأمين العقاري، تشمل مرافقه ومستخدميه ومحتوياته، مع التركيز على محور بنود وأسعار بوليصات التأمين، لمنع أي محاولات التلاعب بها على حساب المستفيدين منها.
وأكد أيمن خميس، المدير العام في شركة الشارقة للتأمين، أهمية تفعيل سوق التأمين العقاري بشكل أوسع وأكثر وضوحاً، من خلال شن حملات توعية لمختلف الأفراد المعنيين به، خاصة الملاك والمشترين، إلى جانب المستخدمين النهائيين، ولنجاح هذا التوجه لا بد من الانتقال إلى الجانب الإلزامي من حيث سن القوانين واللوائح التنظيمية، لحقيق الهدف الأساسي منه، وهو صون مصالح وحقوق جميع الأطراف.

وأضاف خميس أنه لا بد من التعاون والتنسيق بين القطاعين الحكومي والخاص، لتحريك بوصلة نشاط التأمين العقاري، ورفده بالضوابط لمنع التلاعب بالبوليصات وأسعارها، التي تختلف فيما بينها حسب أنواعها وبنودها، وحجم الإضافات التي تغطيها، ومحاولة الالتفاف على المستفيدين. وبيّن أن التأمين العقاري يبدأ من المبنى الرئيسي والمرافق التابعة له، ثم على العقار نفسه سواء أكان شقة أو منزلاً أو مكتباً، كما يمكن أيضاً التأمين على المحتويات الداخلية للعقار نفسه، وهو سوق ضخم بدأنا بالتركيز عليه وطرح بوليصات خاصة به.

http://www.alkhaleej.ae/economics/page/8700160c-4ca4-4c40-a076-68a15bc17c1b

Mortgage trend continues this year

There has been a very pleasing trend that we first noticed in 2016 which is yet another demonstration of the development and maturation of Dubai’s Real Estate industry.

The marked increase in the utilization of mortgages to purchase properties in the emirate demonstrates a market that has undergone a structural shift to supply more affordable properties and the maturation of buyers in structuring their financial affairs to obtain a mortgage and buy the home of their dreams.

Historically, mortgages have represented no more than 30%-35% of property sales in the emirate. This ratio has now climbed to over 50%, in some months, levels of 60+% have been achieved.

This is great news for several reasons.

First, while this trend highlights confidence of lenders in the marketplace it also highlights the increasing confidence of consumers, mostly owner occupiers, in the market to the extent that they are prepared to take on the risks associated with committing to a mortgage for the sake of purchasing some property.

This is very important to the development of long term sustainable growth for the industry as the bedrock of any property industry is its owner occupiers.  They represent the core of the industry as it is they who view property as an investment in life, not just a way to make a quick buck. And yet, historically, they have attracted focus in a market still undergoing the maturation process which is falling short and not proportionate to their importance.

Owner occupiers see Real Estate in a different light. For them, it’s about creating a lifestyle. It’s about creating a home which will provide an environment that is safe and secure within which the individual, couple or family can grow and develop in all aspects whether physical, emotional, social and, of course, financial. In this respect, they have a lot more at stake than those investors with financial interests only.

Typically, they form the core of society, not overly wealthy, who are concerned with providing the family with a future. For some, the purchase of the first family home is the first step towards creating a legacy which hopefully, for the more romantically minded, will turn into a dynasty. These are the dreams which make owning their own home the most important decision they are likely to make. They are in it for the long term; there is a lot at stake, which is why availability of finance through mortgages is critical.

The second reason why this is such good news is because we are witnessing, in real time, the market adapting to legislative changes that were made in early 2014. There is no doubt that the implementation of the mortgage caps earlier in 2014 had affected the demand for many first home buyers who were relying on a mortgage to acquire their dream home.  I remember writing an article at the time of the legislative change and observing the following …

“At Harbor, we see 62% of our clients who were considering buying a property prior to the mortgage caps delay their purchase until they can accumulate the down-payment differential while 38% have settled (or compromised) for a cheaper property to get an initial foothold in the market.”

As predicted, “… the new mortgage caps have certainly produced a definite lag in demand as clients adjust to the new financial realities and many of these clients are planning to participate within the next three years.”

 I am pleased to say, that these observations have essentially been proven correct. The legislative change made by authorities was implemented to help cool what was then, a rampant market. The desired effect was achieved but buyers didn’t simply disappear, they modified their purchasing behavior, another sign of an increasingly resilient and maturing market.

Finally, a growing number of mortgages are being undertaken for properties that are purchased in the more affordable areas of Dubai, which further demonstrates the systemic shift to affordable housing in the Dubai property market is becoming even further entrenched as a long-term characteristic.

A natural occurrence within any economy that is growing rapidly and is formally recognized as maturing and transitioning from being a “frontier” to “emerging” market as Dubai did back in 2013, is that its middle and lower-middle income segments will expand to support the rapid rise in commercial activities and economic initiatives being instigated by entrepreneurs and corporate or government entities. This expansion is unavoidable if the economy is to grow and providing affordable housing to enable this expansion is a critical element to the future growth of Dubai and the development of the Real Estate industry into a mature model that can efficiently cater for a broad and diverse set of people with different incomes, tastes, preferences and requirements.

And demand is set to grow very rapidly. A case in point … the World Expo is predicted by independent analysts to create over 270,000 jobs. The vast majority of these jobs will not be for people occupying senior executive positions. They will be for people in middle management or lower positions, many with families, who will be seeking affordable accommodation.

The importance of maintaining affordability for the average buyer is critical and the availability of affordable finance in the form of mortgages is vital to enable many to gain access this lucrative market going forward.

Understanding value-added tax (VAT)

Understanding value-added tax (VAT)

The UAE will implement VAT at the rate of five percent in January 2018. This is not breaking news but still many people are concerned as to how the VAT will affect them personally. The VAT will affect every individual and every institution in the UAE in some way.

The easy way to understand a Value Added Tax is to consider it to be a “consumption” tax. Put simply, for most goods and services, every time somebody sells a good or service to a customer, regardless of where they are in the supply chain, 5% will be added to the price which is collected by the seller and remitted to the governments tax department.

VAT is not a new phenomenon. It has been implemented in many economies around the world and is considered an efficient and equitable way for governments to collect tax revenue. As oil prices have declined significantly, oil dependent economies require new sources of revenue to continue to invest, innovate, develop infrastructure and provide services that are required for sustainable economic growth. The IMF has predicted that the USE may improve GDP by as much as 1.5% by implementing a 5% VAT. Some countries have applied 20% VAT’s to generate the revenues required by their governments.

For businesses, there are procedural and systems that need to be implemented to ensure that compliance with is achieved in the most resource efficient way possible.  Usually, this requires the implementation of an appropriate accounting solution package. Non-compliance could be expensive, with heavy penalties expected to be imposed for those businesses who do not comply.

Those businesses who are unsure of how the VAT works or will affect them, need to seek expert legal advice as to their obligations under the VAT regulations and engage accounting experts to ensure their systems and procedures are correctly recognising, applying, recording and remitting VAT.

Individuals, meanwhile, will be impacted in their everyday life. For example, Electricity and water services will be subject to VAT, so will most of the food that you buy and the purchase of that new car and any subsequent maintenance that it will require and private education will also attract the VAT.

Fittings and furniture for your new home will also attract VAT, as will services such as housekeeping, dry cleaning or laundering.

There are some goods and services that will be VAT exempt. Items such as fuel for your car, essential healthcare items, public education, air travel and taxis. It is important that, when a VAT is being applied, that the poorer segments of the population are not disadvantaged by taxing the necessities of life.

Technically, the VAT will not apply to your rental expense however landlords will be subject to VAT on items such service charges and maintenance, indirectly driving up the cost of rentals over time.

If you decide to purchase a new home, there will not be VAT applied directly to the purchase but it will be applied to the real estate agents’ fees. Of course, as a purchaser of a new home, your purchase price will certainly cover for the VAT that has already been paid on the charges for materials, labor, marketing and other services etc. that the developer had to incur to bring the project to market.

If you are selling your current house in the secondary market, the sale itself will be exempt from VAT, however, you will need to pay VAT on any Real Estate Agents fees, marketing fees, and maintenance or staging fees that you might incur.

For developers, VAT will affect virtually every supply and construction contract that exists. This will have an inflationary effect on the industry as the additional cost burden of the VAT will be passed on to the consumer. Developers need to ensure that they have the systems to recover the VAT cost and ensure that future planning considers the inflationary effect so that any possible drop in demand due to the rise in prices is comprehended with minimal effect on margins.

VAT is not something to be feared, but it is something to be understood, particularly by the business community. The only cost to business is the administration required and the expense of ensuring compliance while the consumer will only notice the effects at the cash register.

5 KEY QUESTIONS You MUST ASK YOURSELF BEFORE INVESTING!

 

I always recommend that clients consult with a financial advisor prior to embarking upon the purchase of a property. Investing in property requires careful planning and a clear understanding of what it will entail.

How much do you really know about property as an investment?

You must have some knowledge about any investment that you might be considering. Property is no different. The old adage of “Don’t invest in anything you don’t know” applies. You may not be an expert, but you need to be able to communicate intelligently and knowledgeably with the experts.

Do some homework on the industry and gain an understanding of where the industry is now, where it is headed and what is driving its direction and development. “Get a feeling of its composition and what it has to offer you in terms of wealth generation opportunities, how you might be able to engage those opportunities and when you envisage starting your foray into the property investing space.”

It’s difficult for anybody to accurately assess opportunities and the risks associated with those opportunities if they have little knowledge of what it is they are investing in.

 

Are your investment objectives clearly defined and well considered?

As with any investment, investing in property is all about recognizing and capitalizing on opportunities that are consistent and supportive to your overall wealth accumulation objectives.

You must have a clear understanding of what you are trying to achieve and what role your property portfolio will play within a larger diversified investment portfolio. What proportion of your total investment portfolio is allocated towards property? towards stocks or bonds? towards gold or commodities? Etc.

The only person who can determine what you are trying to achieve is you so be sure you know you’re your objectives are before doing anything.

 

What is your source of finance?

Needless to say, investing in property is often a capital intensive exercise and, depending on your strategy, returns can be subject to relatively long lead times. A sufficient and robust finance plan is essential. What is your source of finance and where do the greatest risks lie in the event of an economic downturn or change in circumstances? How liquid might you need to be? How exposed will you be to interest rate increases and or exchange rate fluctuations? What level of gearing or leverage are you comfortable with? Will you be able to preserve capital invested in your property portfolio during cyclical swings in the market or will you need to move capital among portfolios?

All these questions (and many more) need to be addressed and the more skillful you are at conceptualizing your wealth generation schematic, the greater your likelihood of generating successful strategies to grow your wealth.

 

Do you have a financial advisor? (That you trust)

I always recommend that clients consult with a financial advisor prior to embarking upon the purchase of a property. Investing in property requires careful planning and a clear understanding of what it will entail; the effects it will have on lifestyle, the risks it may pose, the stresses that may emerge while, at the same time, the benefits of generating wealth in, what can be, a very lucrative industry . A financial advisor can help you understand and assess all these elements by helping you determine what you actually need to do (or do without) to achieve your objectives.

Ask yourself if you know definitively what you can afford, how best to use available finance, how to accurately assess alternative investment options, how best to utilize your current assets and how investing in real estate is going to enable you to grow your wealth in the future. A financial advisor will view your investment as one part of your overall financial landscape and should be able to guide you into committing the right type and the right amount of resources to acquiring that dream home that everybody aspires to.

As with any investment, investing in property is all about recognizing and capitalizing on opportunities that are consistent and supportive to your overall wealth accumulation objectives.

 

Do you have a team of professionals (that you trust) who can assist you in your quest?

Are you able to identify, engage and work with a professional in the industry? Do you have the skill to select the right agency? Do you know what separates professionals that will provide you with tangible added value rather than simply line their pockets with your money? It’s up to you to choose wisely and remember, cheapest is not always best. Do you know where to find an experienced and passionate team with people who really enjoy what they are doing? An agency that exhibits a breadth and depth of industry knowledge and expertise? This is important. Look for longevity and evidence of good relationships with key industry stakeholders such as the major developers or authorities such as the Dubai Land Department, RERA, DEWA or Economic Department. And finally, look for an agency that has received some form of Industry or peer recognition. These are the hardest plaudits to get! ■

Preparation is the key

The Cityscape Global Conference provides tremendous knowledge-sharing opportunity to investors

As a proud real estate professional, there is no more exciting time for me than when Cityscape Global opens its doors in Dubai and showcases to the world what a fantastic industry we have. And that time is rapidly approaching – Cityscape Global is just around the corner and this year’s edition will be as exciting and informative as those in years past.

For buyers and investors, there is no better place to gain an appreciation of the myriad opportunities on offer. I always advise my clients that the best way to get the most out of the event is to canvas all the interesting opportunities on display and gradually yet efficiently establish a shortlist of the best opportunities.

Establishing such a list from an exhibition as huge as Cityscape is not easy and requires a disciplined approach. This is where a property asset management professional can assist and it’s a role that keeps me extremely busy with my clients over the entire period that Cityscape is open and for some weeks subsequent to its conclusion.

A lot of the work in ensuring that investors and potential buyers make the most of their Cityscape experience is actually done beforehand in preparing an understanding of what the overall investment environment looks like. This enables efficient and focused assessment of all that is on offer.

It’s also important for investors to understand what they want to invest in and what their investment objectives are. Too many investors formulate the answers to these questions “on the run” during the exhibition. This lack of preparation just leads to confusion and ultimately poor decision-making.

As a general theme this year, I am advising most of my investors to look for value opportunities in the affordable housing segment, particularly in Dubai South, as this segment in this location is likely to be the subject of some very attractive easy payment plans to further enhance affordability and, to some extent, mitigate risk.

This segment has outperformed its more luxurious alternatives for some time now and continues to show potential, even through the recent cyclical correction. And while the value is irrefutable, the risks associated with investing in the afford-able segments of the industry as opposed to the luxury segments are much lower.

But not every Cityscape attendee will have a check book in hand. The Cityscape Global Conference, which is held as a precursor event at the Conrad Hotel on September 10, is a fantastic opportunity to gain a high level of understanding of the factors shaping the industry. This conference always forms part of my preparation for the exhibition and I always recommend that my investor clients avail themselves of this tremendous knowledge sharing opportunity.

The developers who do well out of Cityscape are those who utilize the event as a part of an overall “go to market” strategy. Prior preparation of at least 12 months in will increase the chances of maximizing the returns from participating in the event.

So, for those of us with a passion for the industry, it is going to be an exciting three days. It always seems to end too early!

Affordability matters most

This year’s Cityscape Global Exhibition and Conference is forecast to be the largest yet and comes at a time when Dubai’s Real Estate industry is expected to start entering a cyclical growth phase in the lead up to the World Expo 2020.

The importance of Cityscape Global cannot be overstated. As with many exhibitions, it provides a concentrated and focused forum which allows the industry to showcase its vision and capabilities and demonstrate what shape Dubai will take in the future. But Cityscape is much more than that.

Cityscape Global is an open invitation for all stake-holders to understand, evaluate, participate and prosper in an industry that continues to literally change the shape of Dubai. It is a meeting place of some of the biggest and brightest minds representing all stakeholders in the industry and a confluence of opinions, ideas and opportunities which are shared, debated and developed. It allows stakeholders to gain a macro sense of in-dusty direction and a micro understanding of the various elements that will shape the industry going forward.

For buyers and investors, there is no better place to gain an appreciation of the myriad of opportunities that are on offer, but the sheer scale of the exhibition can become a little overwhelming, especially when you are looking to invest.

As a general theme for this year’s Cityscape, I will be advising most of my investors to look for value opportunities in the affordable housing segment, particularly in the Dubai South areas, as this segment in this location is likely to be the subject of some very attractive easy payment plans to further enhance affordability and, to some extent, mitigate risk.

This segment has outperformed its more luxurious alternatives for some time now and continues to show lots of potential, even though the recent cyclical correction. Affordable properties will continue to be on high demand as Dubai’s population growth gains momentum during a period of expected strong economic growth leading up to the end of the decade. And while the value is irrefutable, the risks associated with investing in the affordable segments of the industry as opposed to the luxury segments are much lower. Demand for affordable accommodation will continue to grow as Dubai’s population swells in the run up to the Expo. As Dubai continues to grow, so does the need for affordable housing.

Yet, although I see great value in investing in the affordable segment, it doesn’t mean some interesting opportunities won’t appear in other segments as well.

So, while you might focus on identifying opportunities in the affordable segment, you need to keep an open mind and be wary of unique opportunities that may be present.

I always advise my clients that the best way to get the most out of the event, is to canvass all the interesting opportunities on display and gradually yet efficiently establish a short list of the best opportunities.

Establishing such a list from an exhibition as huge as Cityscape is not easy and requires a disciplined approach. This is where a property asset management professional can assist…

Why? It’s important to understand what factors are going determine the potential of any investment. For property, these factors include everything from macro level influences such as global economic performance and policies, geopolitical issues, currency rates and oil prices to more regional or local factors such as industry supply I demand levels, consumer confidence, government policy and regulatory framework, industry cycles and liquidity in the marketplace.

So, in reality, a lot of the work in ensuring that investors and potential buyers make the most of their Cityscape experience is actually done beforehand in preparing an understanding of what the overall investment environment looks like. This enables a more efficient and focused assessment of all that is on offer.

But in addition to understanding the invest environment, it’s important for the investor to understand why he or she wants to invest in property and what the investment objectives are. Too many investors formulate the answers to these questions “on the run”, once they are traipsing around the exhibition. This lack of preparation just leads to confusion and ultimately, poor decision making.

Every industry has its shows, whether it’s the myriad of motor shows held around the world, film festivals, fashion events, airshows and the property industry is no different. What many don’t understand is that Dubai’s Cityscape Global has established itself as one of the best Real Estate and Property events globally… and its right on our very own doorstep!

So, for those of us with a passion for the industry, it is going to be an exciting 3 days. It always seems to end too early!

You need a professional property manager

Many people misunderstand the role of the property manager, thinking that the role does not extend beyond the collection and remittance of rental receipts and acting as a buffer between the landlord and the tenant. Little do they realize that a good property manager will generate a greater return from their property portfolio and enable a long term portfolio strategy to be realized. So what should you look for in selecting a professional to manage your property(s)?

Well, first of all, you need a professional who is experienced in the market. Not just any market, but the Dubai market. Typically, if you find somebody with at least 10 years of experience, you would find somebody who has survived the global recession, and that should provide a reasonable indication that they are in the business for a long time and that they had the skills to navigate and survive Dubai’s property slump. Many didn’t.

A competent property manager will provide a whole host of services for you but the most important is the development of a Property Portfolio Strategy. Your chosen professional must be able to articulate and present his thoughts after conducting a thorough assessment of your personal situation and property portfolio. He must be able to provide you with a credible strategy and activity plan which is designed to harness the true potential of your property and provide you with the maximum rate of total return. It is essential to have a well thought out strategy for your property portfolio if you are to maximize your returns.

Not just anybody can formulate a credible and implementable strategy. It requires years of expertise and a fundamental understanding of what makes Real Estate such a worthwhile and superior investment. A true professional will have a strong knowledge base on topics including industry history, current market factors and trends, risk factors, and the likelihood of relevant future events that will affect the performance of your property investment. This knowledge should span global, regional and local landscapes and will require a good understanding of economic factors, industry knowledge extending to government policy and regulation, finance and market dynamics.

Forming a strategy is one thing, but being able to bring the strategy to life is quite another. You will require an activity plan which will include details of pricing and marketing, customer relationship management and tenant management and policy for the entire portfolio. Essentially, this area of expertise is related to the “topline” or revenue generation and management of the property.

Equally important is the cost management and maintenance supervision of the property. Many times, I have seen excellent “topline” performance being eroded due to poor operational and maintenance cost controls.

Managing your property portfolio will also require proper performance measurement, communications and review schedules, and status reporting and financial statements. You should always seek examples of these elements as transparency and candid performance appraisals are essential for managing your portfolio correctly by addressing shortfalls to objectives, issues requiring addressing and opportunities for performance improvement, in addition to your peace of mind.

You also need to choose a property manager who you can work with and who, you believe, has your best interests at heart. Your property manager must be a customer centered and, unfortunately, in this business, this is not always the case.

There is no point entering a business relationship that is lacking in mutual trust and respect. You must have confidence in his ability to manage a business… your business… which just so happens to be a property portfolio. As with all investments, but especially investments in property, there will be good times and challenging times. There is no such scenario as “set and forget”. It doesn’t exist. If you do not respect the manager you have appointed, the relationship will not survive the challenging times and you will need to go through the whole process of finding a replacement. So take your time but invest your time to your benefit. Be sure to ask for referrals and call some existing clients. Seek out success stories. Ask to see examples of client reports and so you can have an idea of their completeness, continuity and timeliness. Ask your property manager carefully thought out questions to enable you to gauge the depth and breadth of knowledge that he possesses.

Ensure that the organization you are dealing with has the resources to support the manager of your portfolio. In these times of eliminating overheads, individual performance can be inhibited because of a lack of organizational support. You should ask to meet the team.

Finally, remember, it’s your investment, and you need to ensure it’s in good hands providing you with the returns you expect with as little hassle as possible. Once you appoint a property manager, your ultimate return on your investment is largely in his hands. Choose wisely.

 

Managing your property portfolio will also require proper performance measurement, communications and review schedules, and status reporting and financial statements.

ASK THE AGENT

Which would be a better investment, buying a townhouse or an apartment?

In the UAE where there is a great deal of variation in the properties on offer, making a choice becomes all the more difficult for those who are new to property investment. The market rarely moves uniformly. There is always a difference in the investment returns to be expected from different asset types, in different areas, at different stages of completion, over different periods of time, being completed by different developers. Invest in affordable apartments or construct a portfolio of affordable apartments and townhouses, and even villas, as the case may be. But do take note of the keyword here which is “affordable.” There are many projects scattered all over the country that are filling the affordable housing void. These offer high quality, reasonably priced and extremely spacious homes with the potential to provide excellent returns as affordable housing will continue to be in demand.

 

I want to give my tenant a one-year notice to vacate the flat. Is there a format and any other formalities?

You need a valid reason for requesting the tenant to vacate the premises. Has the tenant breached the tenancy agreement? Has the tenant broken the law by utilising the premises for an unlawful purpose? Do you want to sell the property or occupy it yourself? if the tenant has breached the agreement or broken the law in some way, you must serve a 30-day notary public notice. It must clearly state why the tenant is being given the notice. If the tenant does not respond to the request, you can go to the Rental Dispute Settlement Center and request an eviction order. If you want to sell the property or use it yourself, you need to give a 12-month notice stating your intention through the notary public. The notice should be delivered by courier. Keep a record of the delivery report as evidence of receipt by the tenant if he refutes receiving your notice.

 

I am interested in working for a real estate broker as I have experience in the US. Can you please advise.

Since the UAE market is unique while sharing some general characteristics with global real estate hubs, I suggest you join a company that will enable you to fast-track your learning and mastery of the UAE property market. Go for a full service company to gain a greater understanding of what the local real estate business is all about, who the key players are and the procedures you need to be familiar with. The company you choose should be prepared to invest in you by providing you with the types of learning experiences that come with formal training (mandatory to become a licenced agent in Dubai) and in-house training. This may involve being assigned to a mentor, being placed on an internal rotation scheme to enable a broader knowledge of the business, or being given special projects that will facilitate learning. Firms that invest in high-potential people typically succeed. Surround yourself with people who are passionate about the industry.

 

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

Initially, your landlord needs to give you the notice of increase at least 90 days prior to the expiration of your current contract. You should familiarise yourself with Law No. 43 which introduced the following restrictions (summarised) with regard to legally allowable rental increases:

  • There should not be any rent increase if the rent for the real estate unit is no more than 10 per cent below the average rent that a similar property commands within a neighbourhood
  • The annual rent increases can range from 5 up to 20 per cent according to how much the current rent is 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 rampant and unjustifiable rental increases on existing rental contracts.

 

Question of the Week

I have mortgage on an apartment that I live in and I happen to have some cash currently. Should I settle my loan or invest the cash elsewhere?

It all depends on what interest rate you are paying on your mortgage, and what return you could expect if you invested elsewhere. If you can achieve a return greater than your mortgage interest rate, then you should invest the cash elsewhere and take advantage of the low mortgage rate you will be getting. There are some very attractive mortgage products in the market, with a few mortgage providers offering rates for as low as 3.99 per cent or even 3.49 per cent. If you have a mortgage with such a low interest rate, it would not be too difficult to find an investment that will yield in excess of your mortgage rate. For example, you may consider investing in an apartment which will provide you with a net annual cash flow of 5 per cent, and over a period of five years, an annual capital appreciation of anywhere between 5 per cent and 7 per cent. This would be a more lucrative allocation of your cash. If, however, you are not confident about achieving a return on your cash that exceeds your mortgage rate, then I suggest you pay down your mortgage outright as you will definitely be able to save on interest costs.

Escrow and how it can protect you

Off-plan investors urged to take other steps to boost self-protection.

Anybody can open an escrow account, but not anybody can open an escrow account for property development in Dubai.

With Cityscape just around the corner, more people will be considering purchasing their first home or investment property, or expanding an existing investment portfolio by making an off-plan purchase.

An important feature of any off-plan purchase is escrow there are not many people who understand the concept of escrow and how this legally binding arrangement can provide protection to investors.

An escrow is a legally recognised financial instrument held by a third party (typically a bank) on behalf of two other parties (typically a buyer and a seller) who have agreed to conduct a particular transaction in accordance with certain conditions. Funds are provided by the buyer and held by the party providing the escrow service (bank) until the latter receives formal advice that certain agreed obligations of the seller have been fulfilled, upon which time, the seller can receive funds in the amount specified in the agreement.

The use of escrow accounts by Dubai developers has been mandated by law to protect buyer prepayments. This limits developers from gaining access to funds until certain construction milestones are completed.

Anybody can open an escrow account, but not anybody can open an escrow account for property development in Dubai. The developer must first be registered as a bona fide developer with the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA) which involves the provision of an expansive array of documents.

RERA requires that the land subject to development should be fully paid and a title deed should be issued in the name of the owner. Where the owner of the land cannot register as a developer, RERA permits the land owner to enter into a contract with an existing registered developer to develop the project on behalf of the land owner. The property development contract, however, must be approved by the senior legal adviser of DLD to be accepted by RERA.

Only when a developer is recognised as a “registered developer” with RERA can they apply for an escrow account. When selling off-plan, the developer must ensure all proceeds of the sale of the units are deposited into the escrow account and are used solely for the construction of the project. Failure to comply with the Escrow Law can lead to hefty fines or criminal charges. Once the developer has submitted all the required documents to RERA and is granted the authority to sell units off-plan, RERA will issue an NOC to allow the developer to open an escrow account with an authorised bank.

The bank which will be providing the escrow service needs to understand all the details of the underlying agreement to ensure that it acts in accordance with the provisions. In this way, the bank can help protect the buyers’ pre-paid funds.

But while the introduction of escrow as a legal requirement for developers has helped safeguard the funds of off-plan investors, there are other steps that investors must take to provide additional self-protection.

Buyers need to make sure they are dealing with – a reputable developer regardless if the developer is registered with RERA. Ask around or seek professional guidance.

Warranties and any quality assurance policies should be discussed in detail. Have the sales and-purchase agreement reviewed by a professional to ensure you have legal recourse should any quality issues arise and make the effort to exercise your right to inspect (snag) your property and report any legitimate issues to the developer for rectification. Remember, once you have taken ownership of the property, the developer is obliged to fix any issues for 12 months following the transfer of ownership.

ASK THE AGENT

I have accumulated a portfolio of apartments and villas in Dubai. Is there still a way to make any profit during this slowdown period?

There are too many investors who are under the illusion that investing in property is almost a “set and forget” proposition, but nothing could be further from the truth. The property industry is incredibly dynamic and requires constant attention as factors influencing its performance as an investment are as broad as they are complex. Investing in property is no different from investing in any other assets. Its purpose is to create wealth but it needs to be nurtured and managed just like any other investments. With a portfolio this large, you need professional help to manage your investment, particularly during times when yield is harder to generate. You need a good property manager who will ensure that you maximise returns from your property portfolio and enable your long-term strategy to be realised.

 

We’re a new 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. For instance, great value, affordable and well-constructed office spaces are found in areas like Business Bay, but may not work for your business 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 in Dubai will soon increase, going forward, so make sure you take advantage of current rates.

 

How do I know if my property consultant is giving me the correct advice?

In any relationship, trust is key. Do some research to verify the veracity of his claims and assertions. If in doubt, seek alternatives as there are plenty of property consultants out there hungry for your business. Look for experience and passion. Ask friends who recently conducted a real estate transaction and listen to their feedback. Find a consultant that exhibits a breadth and depth of industry knowledge, and expertise. Look for an agency that has been in the industry for a long time and has built good relationships with major developers or authorities such as DLD, RERA, DEWA or DED for they will be able to operate more efficiently. And finally, look for an agency that has received some form of industry or peer recognition as they lend credence to the reputation of the realtor in question.

 

I come from overseas and I am looking to rent a home. I heard about “district cooling.” What exactly does it mean?

District cooling for the provision of chilled water has emerged globally as a way to provide cooling to buildings in a more environmentally sensitive way. It is considered to provide great benefits in the long run and helps save on the costs of electricity. Most units serviced by chilled water district cooling are offered at slightly lower rental rates. However, ask how your cooling charges will be calculated and which are included in the cost. As to consumption charges, I assume you will have a BTU metre installed in your apartment. If so, you will be billed directly by the cooling services provider. The DEWA savings will be offset somewhat as you may incur an additional utility charge as some unit owners equipped with district cooling will be passed on the slightly higher utility charges involving the remuneration of the capital cost of providing the infrastructure.

 

Question of the Week

I am looking at the UAE as a possible destination for retirement. I would like to buy a property here, rent it out initially and later use it myself. Any advice?

The key to choosing your property is determining the right balance between the amount to be invested, the returns you require in the interim period before you retire, and what type of property you want to enjoy during your retirement. The good news here is your tastes are likely to be shared by your tenants in the interim so renting it out should not be a problem. There are many quality properties available; however, if you want to purchase in the prime areas of Dubai, either in Downtown Dubai or somewhere close to the beach or with a golf course view, the amount is double or triple. You can expect a minimum net rental return of around 5 to 7 percent which, given the cheap financing available at the moment, makes for a solid investment in preparation for outright ownership and retirement. Be careful with fluctuations in exchange rates. Factors such as location, the developer’s record and reputation, quality, service fees, building management and a functioning owners association will require a reputable local real estate professional to help minimise risks in your investment, whether during the procurement stage or until you are ready to assume occupancy.