It was an interesting first quarter in Dubai’s property market. While prices generally approximated those of the last quarter of 2016, they actually fell by around 8% from the corresponding quarter a full year prior.

Nevertheless, and maybe not too surprisingly, total transaction value jumped by 45% for a total spend of around AED 77 billion on the back of a 7% increase in transactions. Needless to say, there were some pretty big deals done in the 1st quarter.

The 1st quarter industry performance shouldn’t come as a surprise to many. The market has been approaching its cyclical bottom for some time now and it appears that, barring unforeseen events, the decline in property values experienced last year has just about run its course.

So, what does the rest of the year hold? Well, I wouldn’t count on a rapid and sudden turnaround in property values. We are likely to do a bit of bottom-dwelling for a couple of quarters yet.

The headwinds that beset the property market may have lost some of their velocity, but they are still strong enough to make any sudden upturn in values very unlikely.

Nevertheless, the market is offering the best value for some time and will continue to do so for at least the next couple of quarters … but I wouldn’t wait too long.

Affordability has been key to keeping the market bubbling along, and a slew of affordable properties have been launched over the past 2 years and there will be more launched in 2017. First home buyers have never had it so good in Dubai and affordability, or a lack thereof, as a reason to continue to rent is now more of an excuse to justify either procrastination or excessive conservatism.

The strengthening AED has been a headwind, no doubt, particularly where those investors purchasing with the pound, euro and yen are concerned. However, for those who have purchased recently or plan to do so imminently, the value of your property will be increasing as the US dollar continues to strengthen in 2017.

The US Federal reserve remains committed to normalizing interest rates in 2017 which is good news for investors who are holding assets denominated in or pegged to the value of the US dollar, while the angst associated with Brexit is only just beginning. Although interest rates will be increasing going forward, they will remain at very affordable levels for quite some time, making financing through mortgages still very attractive.

And the economic environment will improve from this time forward. Put simply, Dubai needs people to support an economy that is expected to grow at an estimated annual average of 5% for the remainder of the decade and to deliver initiatives such as the 2020 World Expo. The Expo alone is expected to generate an additional 270,000 jobs and drive demand for housing and commercial facilities that, by and large, don’t currently exist. Much of the city’s planning comprehends the number of people living in the emirate to grow to 3.4million people by 2020, a 7% annual increase from today’s population of 2.25million.

Meanwhile, oil prices continue to bubble around the USD45 to USD50 per barrel mark. Despite this obvious crimp on revenues, the governments Infrastructural spending continues unabated with the total budget outlay of Dh48.7 billion for 2017 being marginally up from Dh48.55 billion allocated to 2016. Looking at the 5-year budget plan of Dh248 billion, the average annual spending of Dh49.6 billion is higher by 6.5 per cent than Dh46.6 billion spent during 2014 to 2016 inclusive. This is significant as it demonstrates an unwavering commitment to economic and societal development with the investments in development initiatives being supported by revenues to be generated a newly introduced VAT in January 2018.

And despite global nervousness and uncertainty emanating from Brexit, terrorist threats, North Korean recalcitrance and virtually everything under the Trump administration, the global traveler is continuing explore the globe. Dubai’s economy continues to be driven by fundamentals such as tourism and trade and a slew of new projects to grow these important revenue generating economic segments.  Dubai welcomed almost 15 million overnight visitors in 2016 representing a 12% increase over 2015 to continue a trend of approximately 10% per annum since 2010. 2017 is expected to see the trend continue.

While it appears that the market may have been overburdened with a glut of new launches raising the prospect of an oversupply, the structural shift towards more affordable housing will not only serve to accommodate the expected rapid population growth associated with the 2020 expo, but also serve as an important factor in the development of the Dubai economy overall. Every emerging economy needs to develop a strong middle class as its expansion is critical to growing a sustainable economy and developing resilience in the face of external financial and economic shocks.

I stated earlier in the year that 2017 will be remembered as a year of the astute investor. Those that can recognize the headwinds and understand that every headwind eventually dies out, will do very well over the coming 7 years by investing in 2017.


Why are Mortgages Key to Growth?

By Mohanad Alwadiya
CEO, Harbor Real Estate
Senior Advisor & Instructor, Dubai Real Estate Institute (DREI)

I read a very pleasing article over my morning coffee.

The article revealed that mortgage transactions, including refinancing, have represented approximately 50 per cent of all apartment sales September last year to date with some months achieving over 60 per cent. This is in stark contrast to what has historically been the case in Dubai, as mortgages rarely represented more than 30 per cent to 35 per cent of property sales for most of the prior decade.

This is great news for several reasons.

First, while this trend highlights the 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 to this lucrative market going forward.

Innovation… thriving where others do not survive


There have been a number of articles recently published describing the pressure that some real estate agencies are feeling as a result of the current correction in the Dubai real estate market. There have also been instances of real estate brokerages laying off a significant number of their staff or closing their doors altogether.

For some, survival was a short-lived ride on the post-Global Financial Crisis (GFC) wave, and the recent instances whereby entire businesses have struggled to continue surviving begs the question: what are the determinants of success in today’s market climate?

The answers are as simple as they are difficult to attain. They remain elusive for many companies; but those establishments that understand them, capture them, develop them and practice them stand a greater chance at enjoying unbridled success.

It may be a cliché, but a primary ingredient essential to success is passion. Without passion, you cannot be successful in this business. Any real estate operation must attract, develop, motivate and retain a passionate group ofprofessionals, and any serious client will recognize this. This is a people’s business, and without a passionate and professional team, survival will be impossible.

Experience is critical. We are in a business characterized by high capital requirements, a broad spectrum of risks and deep emotional involvement. Failure cannot be an option. That is why I know I am fortunate to be part of an executive team with over 20 years of experience in the Dubai real estate market. As we are all aware, the industry has been evolving rapidly and still remains one of the most dynamic in the world. The GFC did show us that this is not an industry for those who don’t know what they are doing, and to be able to draw deep on experience is invaluable.

Being flexible and developing the capability to adapt is a prerequisite to success, particularly in a market that is changing so rapidly. The GFC was a period of rapidly changing circumstances, which bore unprecedented challenges requiring immediate yet innovative solutions. This was a difficult period, but also one of great learning, which put those who were flexible and adaptable in a great position to capitalize on the opportunities that were to eventually emerge with the recovery. It was no easy task and it required a brutally honest assessment of individual capabilities, as well as the capabilityof the organization to continue to provide the services that clients required, but within a totally new environmental context emanating from what was essentially economic turmoil.

But it is a culture of innovation that separates the “thrivers” from survivors. There is no doubt that tried and true practices that worked in the past have required an overhaul in order to address new realities, and create and maintain a discernible edge in a highly competitive market. This is what really differentiates those that have thrived in the post-global recession period, from those that managed to survive only to falter as a result of the latest market correction. A key learning from the GFC is that innovation relevant to circumstances will always prevail regardless of the situation. Whether the market is hot or cold, innovation will always provide the competitive edge.

If you look at the industry today and compare it to the days of 2008, it has come a long way. The advances made in the legal framework, regulatory infrastructure and overall governance typify a market that is rapidly heading towards full maturation and the type of sustainable profitable growth that all stakeholders in the industry have been seeking.

As professionals who care about our business, we must continue to embrace and support any change that will improve the health of our industry. Because it is the health of our industry that really matters most. Those of us who are around to tell of our experiences during the GFC will recall that the initial objective was pretty basic: to survive in an environment that nobody in the industry had witnessed before and, in order to survive, we needed to adapt, innovate and develop as individuals and organizations. Those that didn’t fell by the wayside, for after all, that is what a recession is all about… survival of the fittest… and it is the fittest that will thrive.

توافره يعالج أهم العوائق في سوق التمويل ال

‏‏‏توافره يعالج أهم العوائق في سوق التمويل العقاري ويعزز أداءها
خبراء: تأمين تعثر الديون العقارية شبه معدوم في الإمارات‏
إطلاق برامج للتأمين على القروض العقارية ولو جزئياً يعزز من أداء السوق العقارية. الإمارات اليوم
‏‏أكد خبراء في مجال التأمين، أن منتجات التأمين ضد تعثر سداد القروض العقارية شبه معدومة في الدولة، نظراً لعدم وجود استعداد من قبل شركات التأمين لتغطية مسائل التعثر، خصوصاً تأمين الديون العقارية، إضافة إلى أن وثائق هذا النوع من التأمين عادة ما تُسعّر بقيم مرتفعة، ما يجعل من غير الممكن أن تكون في متناول المقترض.
وأضافوا لـ«الإمارات اليوم» أن هذا النوع من التأمين يحمي البنوك من تعثر المقترضين إلى أن يتم تحصيل الدفعات المتأخرة، أو التنفيذ على الضمانات الموضوعة للقرض، مشيرين إلى أن التأمين ضد التعثر في سداد القروض العقارية مربح جداً لشركات التأمين في أسواق أوروبا وأميركا.
وأكدوا أن شركات التأمين لا تشارك البنوك في تقييم الموقف المالي للعميل، وبالتالي فإن البنك يتحمل وحده مخاطرة عدم سداد العميل لأقساط القرض العقاري.
من جانبهم، قال مختصون في قطاع العقارات، إن إطلاق شركات تأمين، برامج تأمين على القروض العقارية، ولو جزئياً، يعزز من أداء السوق العقارية، مع تقاسم تحمل مخاطر عدم السداد بين البنوك وشركات التأمين، مؤكدين أن توافر هذا المنتج سيعالج واحداً من أهم العوائق المهمة في سوق التمويل العقاري�).
وأضافوا أن توفير منتجات تأمين على مخاطر عدم سداد القروض العقارية، سيشكل حافزاً أمام البنوك، لضخ سيولة للمشترين للحصول على وحدات سكنية من دون مخاوف من التعثر.
تغطية حالات التعثر
وتفصيلاً، قال مساعد مدير شركة «تكافل ري» لإعادة التأمين، تامر ساهر، إن «شركات التأمين في الإمارات لم تشارك مسبقاً في تغطية حالات عدم سداد القروض، لأنها لا تشارك في تحليل وتقييم الموقف المالي للعميل، وقدرته على السداد، الذي يتم في إدارة الائتمان في البنك المعني، لكنها تغطي حالات الوفاة والعجز»، لافتاً إلى أن «بعض الشركات لاتزال تغطي حالات فقدان الوظيفة في نطاق ضيق، نظراً لزيادة مخاطر وقوع هذه الحالات في ظل ظروف الأزمة الاقتصادية».
من جانبه، قال مدير عام شركة الوثبة الوطنية للتأمين، بسام جلميران، إن «منتجات التأمين ضد تعثر سداد القروض العقارية شبه معدومة، لعدم وجود استعداد من قبل شركة التأمين لتغطية مسائل التعثر، خصوصاً في موضوع تأمين الديون، إضافة إلى أن هذه الوثائق عادة ما تُسعّر بقيم مرتفعة، ما يجعل من غير الممكن أن تكون في متناول المقترض».
وأضاف أن «البنوك تمول العملاء على مسؤوليتها، وفي حال تعثرهم، فإنها تكتفي بالاستحواذ على الأصل العقاري لبيعه»، مشيراً إلى أن «هذه الوثائق متوافرة في أسواق خارجية، لكن انحسارها أخيراً يعكس الأزمة المالية العالمية التي كانت نابعة أصلاً من التوسع في هذا النوع من الإقراض».
وقال إن «هناك شركات تأمين كبرى تعرضت لخطر الانهيار لأن مخاطر هذا النوع من التأمينات عادة ما تكون عالية، حيث تعتمد درجة الخطورة على الوضع الاقتصادي عموماً، ومدى انتعاشه».

ولفت إلى «انخفاض نسبة مساهمة البنوك في القروض العقارية من 85٪ إلى 70٪، فيما يُموّل المقترض النسبة المتبقية، نظراً لارتفاع المخاطر في القروض العقارية».
وأوضح أن «هناك نوعاً شبيهاً بتأمين التعثر في سداد القروض العقارية، تسمى بـ(بوليصة تأمين على الحياة)، توفرها شركات تأمين بالتعاون مع بنوك في حالة الوفاة أو العجز الدائم، حسب عُمر الشخص ووضعه الصحي، وبموجب هذه البوليصة، يتم دفع المبلغ المستحق أو المتبقي من قبل شركة التأمين للبنك».
وثائق غير إلزامية
إلى ذلك، أكد مدير عام شركة دبي للتأمين، عبداللطيف أبوقورة، أنه «وفي ظل التوسع الكبير في الإقراض العقاري، لاحظت بنوك أن حالات التخلف عن السداد، أو التعثر من قبل مقترضين، عادة ما تكون بنسب قليلة جداً، لذلك فإنها لم تجد حاجة كبيرة لطلب التغطية التأمينية عليها، كي لا تضيف أعباء إضافية على المقترضين وعملائها».
وأوضح أن «البنوك أدركت في الوقت ذاته، حجم الخطر في حال وفاة المقترض، ولهذا طلبت وثائق تأمينية تغطي مخاطر السداد في حال الوفاة»، لافتاً إلى أن «شركات التأمين لا تمتلك خبرة فنية كافية وقدرات تؤهلها لتسويق هذه المنتجات في السوق».
وأضاف أن «معظم وثائق التأمين على الديون والقروض ليست إلزامية، ولا تطلبها البنوك، نظراً لأنها لم تتعرض لحالات عدم سداد أو تعثر كثيرة».
تأمين مربح جداً
بدوره، قال خبير التأمين، مدير عام شركة (وايت لو) لتقدير الخسائر والأضرار، يوسف جبور، إن «هذا النوع من التأمينات في السوق الإماراتية قليلة، إلا في حالات استثنائية جداً يجلب وثائقها بعض وسطاء التأمين من الخارج»، لافتاً إلى أن «نسبة هذه الأقساط من إجمالي أقساط التأمين في الدولة تقل عن 1٪».
وأوضح أن «البنوك ترى في العقار ضمانة، يمكن بيعه في حال التعثر، لذلك لا تطلب من المقترضين هذه الوثائق، إضافة إلى أن إمكانات شركات التأمين في المنطقة محدودة جداً، ولا تتوافر لديها خبرات وكفاءات قادرة على إدارة هذا النوع من التأمينات».
وبيّن أن «التأمين ضد التعثر في سداد القروض العقارية، مربح جداً لشركات التأمين في أسواق أوروبا وأميركا»، مستبعداً حاجة السوق الإماراتية لهذا النوع من التأمينات.
وأضاف أن «قيمة قسط التأمين على قرض عقاري بمليون دولار، يصل إلى نحو (1.5 أو2٪)، وفي حالات نادرة إلى 3٪ من القيمة الإجمالية للقرض في الأسواق الأوروبية والأميركية، حيث انه كلما ازدادت قيمة القرض، قلت النسبة التي تُحصلها شركات التأمين من المقترض».
تعزيز للسوق العقارية
وفي السياق ذاته، قال المدير العام في شركة هاربور العقارية، مهند الوادية، إن «إطلاق شركات التأمين، برامج للتأمين على القروض العقارية ولو جزئياً، يعزز من�أداء السوق العقارية، مع تقليل تحمل مخاطر عدم السداد بين البنوك وشركات التأمين».
وأكد أن «إتاحة منتجات التأمين على مخاطر عدم السداد للقروض العقارية، سيشكل حافزاً أمام البنوك، لضخ السيولة أمام المشترين، للحصول على وحدات سكنية من دون مخاوف من عدم السداد»، لافتاً إلى أنه «يمكن لشركات التأمين أن تضع بعض الضوابط بالتعاون مع البنوك، لضمان أفضل تطبيق يجعل من هذا النوع من التأمين محفزاً للقطاع العقاري الذي ت�*زايد فيه الفرص، مع تراجع الأسعار بشكل ملحوظ خلال السنوات الماضية».
وأوضح أن «فقدان السيولة بسبب الأزمة المالية، أدى إلى معاناة نحو ثلثي بلاد العالم من الركود الاقتصادي»، مشيراً إلى أنه «وبحسب تقديرات الأمم المتحدة، فإن أكثر من 90 مليون شخص، يقعون في خانة الفقراء نتيجة للأزمة، كما تراجعت التجارة العالمية بنسبة 10٪ للمرة الأولى منذ ثلاثة عقود».
وتابع «تبلغ قيمة ديون البنوك في العالم نحو 4.6 تريليونات دولار، فيما يتطلب العودة إلى النمو زيادة معدلات الادخار»، لافتاً إلى أن «عدم وفاء المصارف بالتزاماتها في الوقت المناسب، يمكن أن يتحول إلى صدمة كبيرة، ويؤثر في وضع البنك وسيولته محلياً وخارجياً، ولذلك يجب أن تكون المصارف مستعدة للتعامل مع الصدمات غير المتوقعة من السيولة».
وأضاف أنه «يمكن للبنوك تأمين أموالها عن طريق شركات التأمين، التي بدورها تعيد التأمين لدى شركات إعادة التأمين»، موضحاً أنه «إذا واجه البنك مستثمراً متعثراً غير قادر على سداد التزاماته لأسباب خارجة عن إرادته، مثل الإفلاس، فإنه يلجأ إلى المفاوضات أو التسوية لحل الوضع، أو إلى بيع أو رهن الاستثمار».
وقال إن «البنك يقوم بجميع المحاولات لاسترداد أمواله لمدة ستة أشهر، وهو العرف المتبع، ومن ثم تتدخل شركات التأمين، لتقوم بعمليات تحقيق خاصة بها قبل تغطية المبلغ المفقود».
مخاطر طبيعية
من جانبه قال المدير الإقليمي في شركة «جونز لانغ لاسال» للاستشارات العقارية، فادي موصلي، إن «شركات التأمين المحلية تؤمن على القروض العقارية ضد مخاطر الوفاة، أو الحريق، أو المخاطر الطبيعية الأخرى، التي تتعرض للعقار، لكنها لا تؤمن ضد مخاطر عدم السداد»، مشيراً إلى أن «بعض الجهات الحكومية تنفذ هذا المنتج التأميني، عند توزيعها للوحدات السكنية للمواطنين، لكن ذلك غير ممتد للعقارات الخاصة، ولا تقوم البنوك بهذا الإجراء».
وأضاف أن «البنك هو الجهة التي تختص بالنظر في القوة الائتمانية للعميل، وتحدد ما إذا كانت ستمنحه التمويل العقاري أم لا، وبالتالي فإن البنك يتحمل وحده مخاطرة عدم سداد العميل لأقساط القرض».
وأوضح أن «شركات التأمين تعمل في التأمين على المخاطر العشوائية، لكن عدم سداد القرض العقاري يعد مخاطرة غير عشوائية لا تغطيها شركة التأمين»، مبيناً أن «توافر هذا المنتج سيعالج واحداً من أهم العوائق المهمة في سوق التمويل العقاري، لكنه يعتبر أحد العوامل غير الأساسية لتحريك السوق العقارية في الدولة».

Sales show improvement in key realty projects

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.

Realty prices projected to stabilise in 2010

Residential real estate prices are likely to stabilise in 2010, with buyers investing for the long term, according to real estate agents.

At the same time rents in Dubai’s commercial sector have stabilised over the past three months. While office rents in the emirate had been falling since late last year, the rentals have stabilised of late, revealed Better Homes data, shared exclusively with Emirates Business.

“Prices across villas and apartments will stabilise in 2010. Moreover, buyers investing in residences in Dubai will enter on a long-term basis, indicating a less speculative interest in the emirate for next year,” said Mohanad Alwadiya, Managing Director, Harbor Real Estate.

Just ahead of the new year, Emirates Business picked 12 residential projects in Dubai that received interest from potential property owners and tenants in the past 12 months.

Some of these projects saw increased sales and rental transactions, while some projects, such as Burj Dubai by Emaar Properties and the Villa Project in Dubailand by Al Mazaya Real Estate, are gathering a lot of interest just ahead of their handover.

Analysts attributed the stabilisation of rents to an improved economic environment, which has led to a slowdown in the restructuring exercises of local companies.

“The pace at which companies were restructuring and consolidating their plans to cut down their staff and give away additional space during the first half of the year have reduced over the past few months keeping the vacancy level of the office space stable to 25 per cent in the region,” said Porush Jhunjhunwala, Manager, Commercial Leasing at Better Homes.

Residential prices to stabilise on long-term buying

Residential real estate prices are likely to stabilise in 2010, with buyers investing for the long term, according to property agents.

“Prices across villas and apartments will stabilise in 2010. Moreover, buyers investing in residences in Dubai will enter on a long-term basis, indicating a less speculative interest in the emirate,” said Mohanad Alwadiya, Managing Director of Harbor Real Estate.

However, challenges to the real estate sector continue to remain. Alwadiya said: “While mortgage financing is easing, it is still limited in availability. Banks are lending but only to people with certain fixed profiles and according to rigid criteria. For example, people working in the real estate sector find it hard to source funding because of the risk associated to their job. Also, infrastructure in many developments needs to keep pace with the progress of the development.”

Vineet Kumar, Head of Sales at Asteco, said: “The buying trend has been towards ready properties, and mortgage finance is available for most projects from leading mortgage providers. Interest rates are in the range of 6.5 per cent to 10 per cent. Occupancy levels in developments handed over are generally in excess of 70 per cent. Locations such as Dubai Marina and Downtown Burj Dubai are being preferred by young families, while larger families have a preference for large villas in locations such as Emirates Hills and Jumeirah Islands.”

Just ahead of the new year, Emirates Business picked 12 residential projects in Dubai that received interest from potential property owners and tenants in the past 12 months. Some of these projects saw increased sales and rental transactions while some projects, such as Burj Dubai by Emaar Properties and the Villa Project in Dubailand by Al Mazaya Real Estate, are gathering a lot of interest just ahead of their handover.

Other major factors noted have been population shifts from other emirates and other developments in Dubai’s Discovery Gardens and International City projects.

“The reason for this is the attractive rental prices within these developments. In fact, recently, large corporates have looked to lease multiple units for their mid-level staff in International City,” said Alwadiya.

“The Motor City development, too, has witnessed an increase in occupancy rates from end-users and tenants seeking affordable and value-for-money residential units. Influx of people from neighbouring emirates, such as Sharjah, Ajman and Abu Dhabi, has further fuelled growth in occupancy rates within the development.”

How mergers could save the property and financial sectors

Mohanad Al Wadiya, Managing Director of Harbor Real Estate Brokerage, shares his thoughts on upcoming mergers

For many players in the local market, mergers and acquisitions appear to be a logical solution to stay afloat during the global financial crisis. Opinion is divided as to whether these mergers and acquisitions will have a positive or negative impact in the short and medium terms, and it is too early at this stage to predict success or failure. Nevertheless, it seems clear that without these actions, the result would be a freeze in financing facilities and diminishing activity in the property sector, which would have an adverse effect on the overall economy.

Within the financial sector, these kinds of mergers really started as early as last year. It all began when Amlak and Tamweel announced a merger to create Emirates Development Bank in November 2008. The new bank will have access to federal funds and hopes to strengthen the UAE’s home finance sector. The merger news gained considerable media attention and created veryhigh expectations.

In terms of property development, we have seen similar mergers within the last year. Dubai World, the major property and ports conglomerate, recently consolidated its management and property operations of Leisurecorp, Dubai Maritime City, and the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre, all of which it owns. The property divisions of these companies will now be run by Nakheel, another property arm of Dubai World.

There is also continued discussion of a merger between Deyaar Development and Union Properties, with news about the latter having liquidity problems and losing its long-time chief executive recently.

While these developments are important for the sector, the most significant merger in the region is currently being discussed between Dubai Holdings’ ‘Big 3’ companies and Emaar, a most popular developer in the Middle East. Dubai Properties, Tatweer, and Sama Dubai—collectively known as ‘The Big 3’—are fully-owned subsidiariesof Dubai Holding Commercial Operations, a holding company of Dubai Holding Group with total assets of Dh126bn at the end of 2008, as quotes by Emaar.

There is a growing consensus among the officials involved that allowing healthy businesses to acquire companies in jeopardy of failing could stabilise the economy by bolstering confidence in both the financial and property sectors. For some of these companies, merging with a partner that has a strong balance sheet is a pressing and essential step in preventing dissolution. Other benefits include leveraging economies of scale and having stronger negotiation positions with regard to suppliers and contractors. The mergers will allow companies to work together to achieve long-term, strategic benefits by uniting complementary businesses into a single, sufficient and more successful operation. For the property sector, these mergers will also allow consolidated companies to have better control of the overall supply introduced into the marketplace and the quality of the products and services offered. This will definitely have a positive impact on the market in the long run.

On the other hand, there are concerns that these mergers will place heavy burdens on the stronger companies
involved. These partners are not just taking over assets, but may also be inheriting large liabilities and debts. Furthermore, these mergers are likely to generate a lot of uncertainty among the investors and shareholders involved. Investors might have to accept further delays until these mergers are finalised, and will then have to evaluate the impact of the mergers on their investment.

Whatever the impact, the number of mergers involving financial and property organisations is increasing. For these new companies, the ability to provide prompt, transparent, and practical information that guide all stakeholders through the merger process and expected outcomes could make the difference between success and failure from the public’s point of view.

UAE Banks in Position to start lending soon Reveals Harbor Report

أآد السيد مهند الوادية المدير الإداري لشرآة هاربور للوساطة العقارية بأن البنوك
الإماراتية في وضع قوي يمكنها خلال الفترة الحالية من استئناف عمليات الإقراضفي
المجال العقاري حسب تقرير هاربور الفصلي الذي سيصدر في نهاية الشهر الحالي،
حيث ذآر السيد مهند رئيس تحرير التقرير بأن البنوك الإماراتية تعاملت مع الأزمة
الإقتصادية العالمية بشكل يعزز رؤوس أموالها من خلال التدابير التي اتخذتها بقيادة
البنك المرآزي، فوصلت قيمة رؤوس أموال البنوك إلى 200 مليار درهما خلال شهر
مايو الماضي.

وقال السيد الوادية “إن أهم هذه التدابير التي طبقتها البنوك هي تقديم أسعار فائدة أعلى
للمدخرين واتخاذ نهج متحفظ على عمليات الإقراض، حيث أن هذه الإجراءات وبلا شك
ستساهم بشكل آبير في تأمين القطاع المصرفي بالإمارات من المخاطر المحتملة وبالتالي يساعد دولة الإمارات على
الإنتعاش من الأزمة الإقتصادية”

ويتطرق تقرير هاربور الفصلي إلى الأسباب التي أدت إلى انخفاض حاد في السيولة في الأسواق إضافة إلى طرحه
لدلائل تفيد بعودتها للتدفق بشكل بطيء، آما يؤآد التقرير على أهمية اتباع قانون معلومات الإئتمان ويسلط الضوء
على حقيقة أن البنوك الإماراتية حاليا مازالت متشددة في اعتمادها لمعاييرإدارة المخاطر لديها .

وذآر مهند الوادية في تقرير هاربور الفصلي بأنه على الرغم من ظهور علامات بدء تدفق السيولة إلى أسواق
العقارات الإماراتية والعالمية إلا أن عدداً آبيراً من المستثمرين العقاريين الحاليين والمستقبليين يشعرون بالإحباط
نتيجة لبطء هذا التدفق. فليس فقط انخفض سعر الفائدة المشترك بين بنوك دولة الإمارات العربية المتحدة
“إيبور”مقارنة بأسعار الذروة التي بلغت 4.78 % في تشرين الثاني / نوفمبر من العام 2008 مقابل 2.46 % فقط
في الربع الثاني من العام الحالي 2009 ، ولكن العديد من البنوك مازالت تحافظ نوعا ما على مستويات القروض
المنخفضة نسبيا مقابل الإيداعات المصرفية.

ويتابع التقرير، بالرغم من وجود قابلية ضئيلة للمخاطرة فإن السيولة ستتدفق في القريب العاجل بالأسواق وأنه يمكن
لوآالة ائتمان منظمة الحد من المخاطر المرتبطة بعمليات القروض ومساعدة الدولة على الإنتعاش.
” ينظر إلى تطبيق قانون معلومات الإئتمان على أنه خطوة إيجابية نحو الشفافية والحد من المخاطر التي تواجهها
البنوك وسيخلق هذا القانون إطاراً من الحقوق والإلتزامات لمقدمي البيانات ومستخدمي المعلومات والأفراد على حد
سواء”. اضاف السيد مهند الوادية

وأوضح بأن هذا القانون له آثار إيجابية بارزة تترتب عليه وخاصة من خلال مبدأ الشفافية الذي سيتيح الفرصة
للمصارف بأن تكون سريعة في اتخاذ قراراتها والتخفيف من حدة المخاطر المالية والتقليل من النظام البيروقراطي
آما أنه يعد خطوة إيجابية نحو نضج واستقرار وآفاءة القطاع المالي، مما سيؤدي مرة أخرى إلى ازدهار قطاع
العقارات في الدولة .

سيكون تقرير هاربور الفصلي متاحاً على شبكة الإنترنت اعتباراً من نهاية شهر تموز/يوليو الحالي ويمكن تحميله
www.harbordubai.com/harborreport : من خلال موقع شرآة هاربور للوساطة العقارية

Ask the experts

Every week, we invite you to have your property questions answered by an expert. This week, Mohanad Alwadiya* tackles the task.

Q.. With banks willing to offer financing for apartments, I’m thinking of buying somewhere like The Residence in Downtown Burj Dubai. Do you think this a good ove? Can I expect a decent appreciation over, say, a five year period?

A.. I would say it’s definitely a good move. The Residence, Downtown Burj Dubai represents fantastic value at this time and with the market approaching the ‘bottom’,
the opportunity to make solid capital gains, particularly with a five-year investment horizon is very strong. In addition, with the Burj Dubai approaching completion, your
capital gain in the short-term will be accelerated. Remember that your future capital gain, regardless of property, will be heavily influenced by the decisions you make today. The fundamentals still apply and considerations such as the view, location, fit and finish, configuration and overall quality will have a big bearing on your ability to command a premium when you decide to resell in the future.

Q.. I’m thinking of buying an apartment in a reasonably priced new development, maybe Discovery Gardens. I’m just wondering if there are any hidden charges should I be aware of?

A.. First of all, you need to consider the charges associated with the transaction itself. If you purchase an apartment through a real estate agent, you will normally need to pay a 2% agency commission at the time of purchase. In addition to this amount, transfer fees of 2% will be payable to the Land Department and registration fees of Dh5,000 will apply. If you are financing your purchase, there are additional charges payable to your finance provider. These will vary between 1% and 1.5% of the total loan amount. Once you have moved into your new Discovery Gardens apartment, you will then need to pay an annual maintenance fee, which is currently about Dh30/ft², and includes your central cooling charges. However, this amount is currently under review and is expected to reduce significantly according to April 2009 press reports. Additionally, a further reduction is expected once the Owners Association is formed in accordance with the new strata title legislation. Alhough they’re not really‘hidden charges’, don’t forget that you will need to budget for property and contents insurance and, unless you want to live in the dark, you will need to account for DEWA (Dubai Electricity and Water Authority) expenses as well.

Q.. I’ve been told prime investment properties such as villas on Palm Jumeirah have suddenly become difficult to buy, as prices have dropped and sellers are withdrawing their properties from the market. Do you think prices have bottomed out there?

A.. By and large, yes. I think prices for villas have reached a bottom on Palm Jumeirah and it is extremely difficult to breach this floor.