Ask The Agent

Mohanad Alwadiya

CEO, Harbor Real Estate

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

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

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

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

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

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

Question of the Week

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

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

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.